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

By: Pushkala Sivaramakrishnan, COGENCY GLOBAL, on Jul 5, 2023 5:31:47 AM


What this is: There are two terms used to determine what kind of agent you need for certain service of process. 

What this means: You will learn the difference between two terms used for agents for service of process depending on the context of the agent’s appointment.

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.

apple-touch-icon-120x120Need a process agent? Visit our process agent page to learn how you can appoint one fast. 


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.

Process Agent eBook

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

Topics: Global Subsidiary Management