If you’re on the hunt for a registered agent service provider in the U.S., you’ll quickly find that there are a lot of options out there. How do you know which is the right fit for your business?
Companies, including nonprofit organisations, are generally required by law to appoint a registered agent or office for every state where they do business (in some states, you have the option to choose a commercial registered agent). The registered agent receives and handles sensitive legal documents, known as ‘service of process’, tax information, and compliance communications for all companies it was appointed to represent.
Wondering how to find a registered agent in the U.S. that satisfies your business needs and state legal requirements? We’ve got a few guiding questions to support your decision-making process.
What’s the True Cost of Service?
Registered agent fees can vary significantly between service companies. When comparing registered agent services, it might look like you’ll save a lot of money by going with a particular company, but you’ll want to make sure that you’re comparing ‘apples to apples’:
- What does the price include?
- Are there any extra costs for each service of process received?
- Are there any value-added ‘perks’, such as free annual status checks or free access to an online entity management system?
How Does the Change of Agent Process Work?
Before appointing a registered agent, get acquainted with how their change of agent process works. Some – but not all – registered agent companies will make the switch easier for you by preparing and filing the required paperwork at no extra cost. Some companies will even offer the convenience of initiating a Limited Power of Attorney so they can sign off on all change of agent forms, saving you time.
Alternatively, some providers may not absorb the cost of filing the change with each state and then pass those fees on to you. This could potentially wipe out any savings you were expecting by switching to a new agent.
Do They Support Your Business Needs?
First and foremost, you’ll want to check that the service provider offers statutory representation services in all of the states/jurisdictions where your company does business (or plans to do business in the future).
Beyond satisfying the registered agent legal requirement, scope out what other services are available to help manage your entities and stay compliant. Does your prospective service provider offer filing services to restore your entity’s good standing? Can they file annual/periodic reports or legalise/authenticate documents for international transactions? Depending on the nature of your business, it can save significant time and money to work with one provider who covers a wide range of these corporate services beyond acting as your registered agent.
What Entity Management Options are Available?
When you’re managing multiple companies, you’re most likely looking for an easy way to keep track of critical government communications and any service of process. Check whether a registered agent service company offers a robust entity management system that will help you stay on top of annual reports, business licence renewals, and other important deadlines. Is it offered free of charge as part of your statutory representation service, or is there an additional fee for access?
What Level of Customer Service Can You Expect?
Price can be an important driver in making decisions — until you’re facing a tight deadline. Many registered agent service providers in the U.S. offer good prices, but are they able to provide a fast, responsive service when the pressure is on without charging additional fees? Will you be working with a dedicated team who understands your needs, or will you spend precious time explaining what you need and why to several tiers of people?
Going through these five questions as you consider your options should help improve the chances of choosing the registered agent that’s right for your company.
This content is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered, or relied upon, as legal advice.