July 14, 2022

Everything you need to know about a registered agent

With Firstbase since:

At Firstbase, Agent is an essential service we offer our users. Founders that use Agent can leave compliance issues to us, freeing them up to focus on other areas of their businesses.

However, most founders don't understand what registered agents do or why they need one. Let's look at the role of a registered agent for businesses that operate (or want to start running) in the United States.

What do registered agents do?

Registered agents act as the official point of contact for companies that do business in a particular state. Tax forms, legal notices, and other documents are delivered directly to the registered agent rather than the standard business address.

You can act as the registered agent for your own business, but only in your state of residence. That said, many business owners prefer to appoint someone else to avoid receiving official notices at home and making their address a matter of public record.

Keep in mind that the business cannot be its own registered agent — it must be an individual with an address in the state in question. This is a common stumbling block for founders from outside the US and American founders who want to expand to other states.

Do I really need a registered agent?

Yes, any business that operates in the US needs a registered agent in each state of operation. For example, if you live and work in California but have your company incorporated in Delaware, you will need a registered agent in both states.

Furthermore, you won’t be able to incorporate your business or complete a foreign qualification without appointing a registered agent to represent the company.

Foreign qualification (the ability to transact in states outside your registration state) rules vary from state to state, but you should expect to register in each state where you plan to hire employees, sell products or services, open an office, or apply for a professional license.

With Firstbase Agent, you can access a registered agent in all 50 states. There’s no hassle — just let us know where you want to operate, and we can easily set you up with a registered agent in each state. This can dramatically reduce your time to market and help your business make money sooner.

Why should I use Firstbase Agent?

On top of connecting business owners to registered agents in all 50 states, Firstbase Agent also comes with some other critical features.

After getting started with Firstbase Agent, you’ll receive an email notification whenever a registered agent receives documents on behalf of your business. All relevant documents will be posted in your Firstbase dashboard, making it easy to stay in front of any compliance issues.

What if I already have a registered agent?

Most of our founders use Agent to manage their ongoing compliance and expand to new states. However, we also work with founders who want to switch from their existing registered agent service to ours. 

Filing requirements can be complicated when you change to a new registered agent, especially if you want to switch your registered agent in multiple states. Our team can help you keep track of those obligations and seamlessly transition to Firstbase Agent.

What happens if I don't appoint or report a change in registered agents?

As a business owner, it’s critical to keep information about your registered agent up to date. If the government has inaccurate information, you won’t be able to receive essential documents such as tax forms and legal notices.

The state where you operate may also levy additional penalties against your business. You could be hit with significant fines or lose your business license altogether. That’s why it’s important to follow all regulations and quickly notify state governments of any changes.

What about filing requirements?

Filing requirements are another complex issue for businesses that operate in multiple states. For example, most states require annual or biennial reports with up-to-date data such as the name, address, and details about the registered agent. Some states also require businesses to file franchise tax reports.

Unfortunately, filing deadlines vary between states. Some states set individual deadlines for each business based on when it was formed, while others have the same deadline for every business.

Staying on top of filing requirements is hugely complicated for companies working in many states. Furthermore, missing even one deadline could result in severe problems for your company.

With Agent, Firstbase will monitor your company's filing obligations and ensure you know what you need to do to stay compliant. We can also file your annual reports and/or franchise tax reports for an additional fee.

How to get started with Firstbase Agent

Our goal is to get you started as quickly and smoothly as possible. Just fill out some information about your company, and let us handle the process of legally changing your registered agent.

With that, we’ll set up your dashboard so you can manage annual reports, franchise tax filings, and other essential compliance documents. We’ll also alert you to any new compliance issues that pop up as your company continues to grow. Check out our website to learn more and get started here. 

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