What's the Difference Between a Process Agent and a Registered Agent?

By: Pushkala Sivaramakrishnan, COGENCY GLOBAL, on Dec 16, 2020 2:54:11 AM

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 two 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 the case of a default, service on the foreign borrower can be completed in the United States. 

For more information, download 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.

Determining Which Type of Agency is Needed

Below are a couple of helpful examples to illustrate when you may need to appoint a registered agent or process agent.

difference between process agent and a registered agent

Still have questions about which kind of agent for service of process you may need? Get in touch with our team.

Learn About the Role of a Process Agent!


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

Topics: Global Subsidiary Management