Hiring a registered agent vs. DIY

Unless special circumstances are present, a new corporation or LLC generally registers in the state where the business is located. Certain hassles of incorporating in another state (such as finding a registered agent in that state) outweigh any benefit the corporation or LLC may reap from incorporating in that other state. However, if your corporation or LLC has decided to register in another state, or if your corporation or LLC is ready to expand into another state, then there are a few options for finding a registered agent in that state. Generally, the registered agent must be a resident of that state and must be able to provide a physical address where there will be persons available during regular business hours. Also, a business entity may act as a registered agent (most states require the business entity to be legally authorized to conduct business in that state).

With this in mind, here are some ways to find a registered agent in another state:

  • Have your professional act as the registered agent. All states allow CPAs and attorneys to act as the registered agent. Often, larger accounting firms and law firms have multiple branches throughout the nation that may be used as a registered agent within those jurisdictions (oftentimes these firms are very expensive and probably not an option for most startups). At minimum, an independent CPA or attorney should have some service to provide his or her client with a registered agent in any state the client chooses. However, if your business uses an in-house accountant or counsel (or none at all), then the next method may be your best choice.
  • Hire a registered agent service provider. For a corporation or LLC that uses a service provider to incorporate, the corporation or LLC should ask its provider to be the registered agent as most of these providers will also have a service to act as the registered agent in any state the client chooses. For a corporation or LLC that does not use an incorporation service provider, the corporation or LLC can hire an independent registered agent service provider.

Conducting Business in the State

For corporations that will conduct business in that state, there are some other options:

  • Have the corporation/LLC act as the registered agent. Some states allow the corporation or LLC to act as its own registered agent. However, these states still require the corporation or LLC to have a physical address within the state with persons available during business hours. Unfortunately, many states require a third party to be the registered agent.
  • Have a corporate officer/director/manager/member act as the registered agent. All states allow a corporate officer and/or director to be the registered agent. If a corporate officer or director or LLC member or manager resides in the state, that person can be the registered agent for the business entity.

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