Before you register your agency with the Secretary of State Office (SOS) in a non-resident state, you need to have a contact person, physically residing in the state, to receive a Service of Process (SOP) or other legal documents from the SOS and forward them to you for action. This person is your Registered Agent (RA). In a few states, the SOS acts as your RA, but elsewhere, you’ll need to find someone.
Outsourcing RA Services
Since most agencies don’t have a physical presence or a contact in each state, it’s common to contract with an RA services provider to act on your behalf. Consolidating your registered agent services with a single provider not only makes record keeping easier, it can even save you money! Another money-saving tip? Most RA service providers bill for their services annually (although this doesn’t always coincide with the calendar year). If you sign-up for services part-way through the billing cycle, some companies offer pro-rated fees for this first year. Be sure to ask about this when choosing a service provider, especially if you have expansion plans in the works.
Choosing a Registered Agent
We’re often asked, “Can anybody be a registered agent?” In most states, the answer is, “Yes.” Your RA doesn’t need to be a licensed insurance producer. So if your Aunt Bonnie lives in Massachusetts, and you want her to be your RA there, you can. However, your RA needs to be absolutely reliable and available during normal business hours – every day, no exceptions. AND it’s still your responsibility if she forgets to forward that time-sensitive letter to you … so maybe a professional service would be your best option.
Who Is My RA?
It’s also very important to keep track of who your RA is in each state where you’re registered. If you change registered agents, you must notify the state regulator. (Another great thing about using an RA service is that they handle such notifications for you – one less thing to worry about!) Many also absorb the state fees, if any, required to make the RA change.
If you don’t know who your RA of record is in a particular state, you can usually find this information on the state’s Secretary of State’s website. A lot of information about your business registration, including who acts as your RA, is available there. Try a Google search with the state’s two-letter abbreviation and SOS to find the website address.
Hope this information helps!