In the representation and compliance business, the phrase ‘agent for service of process’ comes up quite frequently. It’s a broad term used to denote which individual or company is officially responsible for accepting legal documents on a company’s behalf.
There are different terms used for agents for service of process, depending on the context of the agent’s appointment. We’ve outlined a few common examples below.
What is a Process Agent?
In cross-border loan transactions, lenders will often require the appointment of a U.S.-based process agent to receive service of process (SOP) on behalf of a foreign borrower. The loan and/or note agreement governing the transaction will spell out the identity and location of the process agent. Naming a process agent gives the lender comfort that, in case of a default, service on the foreign borrower can be completed in the United States.
For more information, read our white paper ‘What is the Role of a Process Agent?’
What is a Registered Agent?
A company that is forming or qualifying to do business in a certain jurisdiction often must appoint a registered agent to receive SOP on behalf of the company in that jurisdiction. The registered agent serves as a legal address where someone is physically available during normal business hours to receive official notices and documents from the state. Failure to maintain a registered agent can lead to penalties or even revocation of a company’s authority to do business in a given jurisdiction.
Note that some states in the U.S. distinguish further between commercial registered agents and non-commercial registered agents.
What is Special Agency?
A special agency arises when a unit of government requires an agent for service of process as part of its own registration process. An out-of-state company registering with a Department of Insurance, Department of Transportation, Attorney General’s office, or similar government agency will often be called on to appoint an agent for SOP located in the jurisdiction. This appointment is separate and distinct from the appointment of the registered agent with the Secretary of State.
Here is a sampling of some of the agencies/industries that require a special agency appointment:
As the seat of the U.S. federal government, special agency appointments are especially common in Washington D.C.
Determining Which Type of Agency is Needed
Below are a few helpful examples to illustrate when you may need to appoint a registered agent, process agent or special agency.
Still have questions about which kind of agent for service of process you may need? Get in touch with our team.
This content is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered, or relied upon, as legal advice.