In an earlier post, we discussed the difference between a registered agent appointment (which is usually named in formation or qualification documents in a given jurisdiction), a process agent appointment (required in international transactions) and a special agency appointment (also called “special agency representation”), which can be required as a part of registration with local or federal government agencies. Now we’ll explore some of the most common special agency appointments in our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.
Two Common Federal Special Agency Appointments
As the seat of the federal government, Washington D.C. is the home to most federal agencies that require special agency representation as a condition of registration. Two of the most common ‘SA’ appointments in D.C. are with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The primary mission of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation, is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries. The FMSCA monitors and ensures compliance with safety regulations for all motor carriers and commercial regulations for for-hire, non-exempt carriers. FMSCA special agency appointments (which, confusingly, they call ‘Process Agents’) are assigned on their Form BOC-3 (Designation of Process Agent).
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), an independent U.S. government agency overseen by Congress, regulates interstate and international communications by radio, TV, wire, satellite and cable. One division of the FCC, the Wireline Competition Bureau, has a mission to ensure access to affordable broadband and voice services, protect consumers, and foster competition. Their Form 499-A (the Telecommunications Reporting Worksheet), which is used by carriers to report revenue, requires the listing of an ‘Agent for Service of Process’. This is another very common instance of a Federal special agency appointment.
Special Agency Appointments in the District of Columbia
While not a state, the District of Columbia has a number of government agencies or organizations that businesses must register with and many of these require that the applicant name an agent to receive service of process (‘SOP’).
Like most states, the District has a Department of Insurance that licenses and regulates insurance companies, agents HMOs and retirement communities. The full name of the D.C. agency is the Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB), and registration with them requires the designation of an agent to receive service of process.
The District also requires most companies doing business in the city to have a business license, and many professions require further registration with the corresponding board or commission set up to protect consumers, review applications, grant certification and regulate their practice. Most of these municipal entities require an agent to receive SOP. Some examples of the specific professions and the entities overseeing them are:
- The Board of Accountancy regulates the licenses of professional accountants.
- The Board of Architecture, Interior Design and Landscape Architecture regulates the practice of architects, interior designers, and landscape architects.
- The Board of Barber and Cosmetology regulates the practice of barbers, body artists, and cosmetologists.
- The Board of Funeral Directors regulates the licensing of funeral directors and funeral home establishments.
- The Board of Industrial Trades, which governs asbestos workers, electricians, elevator tradespeople, plumbers, refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics, steam and operating engineers.
- The Board of Pharmacy, a division of the DC Department of Health, regulates the practice of pharmacy and the practice of pharmaceutical detailing.
- The Board of Professional Engineering regulates the licensing and practice of professional engineers and land surveyors.
- The Board of Real Estate Appraisers regulates the practice of real estate appraisal.
- The Boxing and Wrestling Commission regulates boxing, wrestling, martial arts and mixed martial arts within the District of Columbia, and protects participants and consumers by upholding the District of Columbia Boxing and Wrestling license law.
- The DC Metropolitan Police Department’s Security Officers Management Branch (SOMB) is involved in the licensing of security agencies, security officers, special police officers, campus police, and private detectives.
- The Real Estate Commission regulates the licenses of professional real estate agents.
The Probate Division of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia also requires the appointment of an agent to accept service of process in probate proceedings, and the agent must have a District of Columbia mailing address. If a conservator and/or guardian in a probate case is not located in D.C., then special agency representation may be required.
Whether you are conducting business locally or nationwide, if you have to register with a regulatory or governing authority, there is a good chance the application will require a special agency appointment to ensure their official correspondence and legal correspondence is properly received. In the District of Columbia, you don’t have to look far to find a plethora of local or federal agencies that require such an appointment.