Your LLC must have a Florida Registered Agent before you file the Articles of Organization with the state. A registered agent is a person or business entity that agrees to receive the service of process on behalf of your LLC.
Service of process includes legal documents like lawsuits, complaints, subpoenas, etc. Once the registered agent receives the service of process, they’re supposed to forward it to the relevant person/department in the Florida LLC.
The state considers the registered agent as the point of contact for your LLC. As such, the agent might receive some general communication from the state as well. While the state may send general communication to the Registered Agent, the primary role of this agent remains receiving service of process.
Can I Be My Own Registered Agent In Florida
Yes, you can be your LLC’s registered agent in Florida. However, this is an important responsibility and needs to meet its own set of requirements. So, yes, you can be your own registered agent in Florida, provided you meet the state’s guidelines. These aren’t very difficult to meet, but there are some specific points to consider.
Who Can Be An LLC’s Registered Agent In Florida?
The requirements for qualification as a registered agent are fairly simple and straightforward. These are:
- Any individual (this includes you, or your friends and family) who has a street address in Florida.
- A business entity, whether foreign or domestic, which is allowed to do business in the state and has a physical location in Florida.
- A Florida registered agent must have a physical street address in the state. PO Box addresses aren’t accepted.
As you see, there’s a pretty wide range of who can take the role of a registered agent. It’s worth noting that while the state allows business entities to be registered agents, an LLC can’t be its own registered agent.
Incidentally, these business entities also include commercial registered agents. These are businesses that specialize in the role of a registered agent. Some of them might also offer additional services to their clients (LLCs in Florida).
What Are The Responsibilities Of A Florida Registered Agent?
There is good reason to put thought into the appointment of a Registered Agent. After all, this role does have its fair share of responsibilities. Chief among them are:
- Receive service of process on behalf of the LLC, inform the entity of the development and forward documents to the LLC.
- Receive other official papers on behalf of the LLC. These too should be forwarded to the entity.
- Maintain a street address in Florida. The Registered Agent’s office is the ‘Registered Office’ of the LLC. This can be the same as, or different from, the actual location of the LLC’s operation. However, this address must be a physical street address, and not a PO Box or similar service.
- Be available during normal business hours (9 am to 5 pm) in case the service of process arrives.
Apart from these, the Registered Agent might also offer additional services, though these are dependent on the understanding and agreements between the LLC and the agent.
Maintaining normal business hours is important, because that is usually the window for the arrival of the service of process. The court system often uses the service of process as a way to track and manage the delivery of legal documents.
Are There Risks To Me Being My LLC’s Registered Agent?
Technically, there is a risk to being your own registered agent (or having family/friends do it). It’s a small risk and the probability of trouble is low, but it is definitely possible.
The most important point is that the registered agent must be able to receive the service of process if/when it arrives. This means that it must be possible to reach the registered office during work hours for process servers.
Generally, this isn’t a problem. However, you or friends/family members may need to take a vacation or otherwise be away from the registered office. It’s also possible that the registered agent moves or changes address and you forget to update it with the state.
Florida takes matters related to registered agents seriously. While most other states do insist on continuously maintaining a registered agent, Florida is a bit more strict in this regard.
Also, registered agent information is added to the public record. It will be freely available. Your or friends/family may not be entirely comfortable with having your personal information (like address) being generally available.
Can My LLC Get Into Trouble For Not Maintaining A Registered Agent?
Florida requires LLCs to continuously maintain a registered agent. Failure to do so can attract severe penalties.
First off, you’ll need a Florida LLC registered agent when you submit Articles of Organization for your LLC. Whether you file online or via mail, the Articles of Organization must include the signature of the Registered Agent.
Even after the LLC is approved, the LLC will need to continuously maintain a registered agent in the state. Not maintaining a registered agent can have the following consequences for an LLC:
- Companies failing to comply with Registered Agent requirements can’t file or defend a lawsuit in Florida courts.
- A fine of $5 per day or $500 annually may be imposed.
- The state may choose a court action to enforce compliance.
- The Florida Department of State may choose administrative action and consider dissolving your LLC.
Should I Hire A Commercial Registered Agent For My LLC?
Hiring a commercial registered agent or a registered agent service is a popular option. Several businesses in Florida are available to handle this role. You might see local as well as national companies offering their services for this role.
While the offerings vary depending on the companies, there are several advantages to hiring a commercial registered agent. These are:
- Privacy: The agent address in the public record is that of the commercial agent.
- Discreet: If your LLC gets sued, the service of process arrives at the office of the commercial agent. That way, your employees, clients, and/or customers don’t have to see you get served.
- Professional Service: The commercial agent is likely to have a well-staffed office. As such, there shouldn’t be a problem with receiving service of process. They’ll also maintain normal business hours. Additionally, they understand the steps that they must follow and will handle the process.
- Convenience: It’s often easier and more convenient to just pay someone to do the job.
- Multi-state Company: If you have a multi-state company, or plant to expand to other states, having a national commercial registered agent service is very useful. These services can serve as your registered agent in multiple states. They’ll collect and send all necessary mail (from different states) your way.
Additionally, the commercial agent might also offer additional services for your LLC. Several agents offer assistance in forming the LLC, while others might offer their expertise related to permits and licenses. Others might just offer plain registered agent services.
Point is, there is a wide enough playing field for you to choose the commercial registered agent you want. However, do make it a point to thoroughly search and research Florida registered agent LLC reviews. This due diligence will help you in making the right choice.