When a corporation forms or registers to do business in a particular state, there is usually a requirement to appoint a registered agent, or agent for service of process, on the filing they make with the Secretary of State or other department in charge of company registration. In some cases, a company must appoint a registered agent when applying for licensure with other government departments or agencies. We will discuss two of the most commonly seen situations, appointment of registered agent with a state Insurance Department for insurance companies and service of process appointments with the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration (FMSCA).
Appointing an Agent for Service of Process with the State Insurance Department
When insurance carriers register with the Insurance Department, either as a domestic or a foreign insurance company, they are usually required to appoint an agent to accept service of process in the state. In most states, this is done using the Uniform Consent form, indicating whether it is an original designation with the initial application or an amended declaration if the company is changing the registered agent for the insurance carrier. On the Uniform Consent, the company is appointing a registered agent in the state that is either the office which should be served or the office to which the Insurance Department (or in some cases the Secretary of State) should forward process served on it.
In many states, the appointment is required for a foreign insurance carrier, which registers with the Department of Insurance only, but not for a domestic insurance company which registers with the Secretary of State and is licensed by the Insurance Department. Please note that there is a great deal of variation among the states in how insurance companies are licensed and registered, so it is important to consult an attorney to determine how the laws of a particular state apply.
Not all states rely exclusively on the Uniform Consent form. Some states, such as Arkansas, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island and South Dakota, have state-specific forms or procedures to appoint or change the registered agent. There are also two states where a registered agent is not appointed. In Illinois, process must be served on the principal office of the insurance carrier. In North Carolina, service is made on the Department of Insurance, which then forwards process to the principal address.
Appointing an Agent with the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration (FMSCA)
A motor carrier, broker or freight forwarder is required to designate a process agent “in each state where it is authorized to operate or in each state traversed during such operations.” Because an FMSCA license is a federal license, this usually means the motor carrier must register in all contiguous United States (Alaska and Hawaii are not included). The company cannot limit the filing to the states in which they are currently operating. The company appoints a registered or process agent by filing Form BOC-3. They must maintain a copy of this filing at their principal place of business.
The BOC-3 form has space for listing the name and address for a registered agent in each state, but can also be used to make a blanket appointment. To make a blanket appointment, the name of a nationwide registered agent provider is inserted at the bottom of this form. For the registered agent provider to act in this capacity, it must have filed a list of process agents for all 48 states and the District of Columbia with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Other Instances Where the Appointment or Listing of a Registered Agent is Required
The two appointments mentioned above are not the only agencies and filings requiring the appointment of a registered agent. Other commonly seen appointments include:
- appointments with the Education Department for non-resident schools
- appointments with the Board of Pharmacy for non-resident suppliers of pharmaceuticals/medical supplies
- appointments under the PACT Act
It is also quite common to see a requirement that the name and address of a corporation’s registered agent be listed on a license application or registration form. It is important to understand that this is not always an appointment of agent for service of process with the licensing authority, but simply an indication of who is appointed the company’s registered agent on the filing made with the company registry in that state. The registered agent is not taking on additional responsibilities due to the provision of this information on the form, as is the case in an appointment with the Department of Insurance or the FMCSA.
Not all professional registered agent service companies will act as agent for service of process outside of the typical appointments made when forming or qualifying a company to do business in a state. When you do need to appoint an agent for service of process for licensing purposes, working with a nationwide provider can provide consistency and simplify the application process.
This article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered, or relied upon, as legal advice.