What’s the Difference Between Process Agent, Registered Agent and Special Agency?

By: Andrew Lundgren, COGENCY GLOBAL on Mon, Dec 31, 2018

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 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 about the role of a process agent, download our white paper.)

What Is A Registered Agent?

In most jurisdictions, a company that is forming or qualifying to do business must appoint a registered agent to receive SOP on behalf of the company in that jurisdiction. It 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.

What Is Special Agency?

A special agency arises when a unit of government requires an agent for SOP 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:

  • Alarm Systems
  • Alcoholic Beverage Control
  • Appraisal Management
  • Department of Banking
  • Collection Agency
  • Contractor’s Board
  • Department of Insurance
  • Employee Leasing
  • Department of Finance/Financial Institutions
  • Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (BOC-3 Registration)
  • Department of Labor
  • Mortgage Lending/NMLS
  • A.C.T. Act/Federal Tobacco Regulation
  • Board of Pharmacy
  • Public Service Commission
  • Public Utility Commission
  • Securities and Exchange Commission
  • Staffing – Conduit
  • State Tobacco Regulation
  • Telemarketing

What Is An Agent For Service Of Process?

Here are a few helpful examples that illustrate when you may need to appoint an agent for service of process.


This article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered, or relied upon, as legal advice.

Topics: Registered Agent, Process Agent