Maintaining a Pennsylvania Registered Agent is mandatory for every LLC operating in the state. You will need to appoint a registered agent before you file your LLC’s Certificate of Organization with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Corporations.
The address of the registered agent can also work as the registered office address of the LLC. The registered office address in Pennsylvania can also serve as a general point of contact between the state and the LLC. This includes documents like tax notices, business notices, and other communication from the state.
However, the primary purpose of a Pennsylvania Registered Agent, and several of the requirements for the same, is to receive the service of process. This includes legal documents like lawsuits, summons, complaints, and subpoenas.
Service Of Process And PA Registered Agent
In a simplistic way, the service of process is a way for court systems to track and manage the delivery of legal documents. Often, this will include process servers visiting the desired address and delivering (or serving) court papers.
Ideally, the process servers should be able to deliver the papers to a competent person. This person or entity is your registered agent. If the registered agent can’t be served, an attempt might be made to serve the documents to the secretary of the company at its principal address. If the secretary can’t be reached either, there is a good chance that the court case will continue.
This may cause problems as the case (and subsequent judgment) might happen without you knowing that a lawsuit against your LLC has been proceeding.
The state also takes a somewhat unique approach in the way it treats the PA registered agent. While most states require a name and address for the registered agent, PA only needs the address. As such, the state seems to have more interest in the Registered Office than a person as an agent.
This also makes good sense as several businesses choose to have commercial registered agents. In many of these cases, it is reaching the office that is necessary and not some specific person.
Who Can Be A Pennsylvania Registered Agent
PA allows a wide berth for choosing the Registered Agent. The requirements for a registered agent are fairly simple and straightforward. These are:
- The registered agent must be able to accept legal documents.
- Registered agents must have a physical street address in the state. No PO Box or similar services.
- If the agent is a business entity, they must be allowed to do business in the state and have an office in PA.
As you notice, this leaves a very wide array of options available to you. As such, you could have the following as the Registered Agent for your Pennsylvania LLC.
- You can be the registered agent.
- Your friends or family can take on the role of the agent.
- You can hire a commercial registered agent.
It’s worth remembering that the job of the registered agent is to provide a registered office. A physical street address, where the service of process can arrive. Similarly, the address is necessary for receiving notices and information from the state.
So, if you were wondering, yes, you can serve as the registered agent of your LLC in Pennsylvania.
Things To Know Before Becoming Your LLC’s Registered Agent
As we’ve established, you can be the registered agent for your PA LLC. Or, you could have your friends/family take on that role. You might save some bucks going this route rather than hiring a commercial registered agent. However, there are some risks that you should be aware of.
A very important role for the registered agent is to receive the service of process. Failing which, there can be serious consequences for the LLC. As such,the agent should be at the registered office during normal business hours.
That can be difficult for most people. You or your friends/family may sometimes take a vacation or be otherwise unavailable when the service of process arrives. Similarly, you might end up missing some notices or reminders from the state. Either of these is a very problematic situation.
To be fair, it is difficult to quantify this risk. The chances of process servers arriving when someone’s away for vacation is pretty low. Plus, a competent registered agent might have arrangements that reduce the risk. However, there is still something of a risk to consider.
Another point worth noting is that the information of the registered agent is added to the public record. This means the address and other information available with the state will be freely available. Many people may not be thrilled at the prospect of having their address and contact details so freely available to the general public.
These (among others) are reasons why many people choose to hire commercial registered agents rather than taking the DIY route.
Responsibilities Of A Registered Agent
A registered agent must fulfill the following responsibilities:
- Maintain a registered office where service of process can be delivered.
- Immediately inform the LLC of receiving the service of process and forward documents to the relevant person/department in the LLC.
- Being available during normal business hours in case the service of process arrives.
- Receiving other documents and notices from the state on behalf of the LLC.
Can I Change My Pennsylvania Registered Agent?
Yes, it is possible to change the PA Registered Agent of your LLC. PA is more interested in the registered office rather than the name of the agent, so you’ll file for a change of the Registered Office of the LLC.
You can download and fill the form for Change of Registered Office. Alternatively, you could file it online with the Pennsylvania Department of State, Corporations Bureau. The filing fee for this form is $5.
The form is applicable whether you have a friend/family member taking on the role, or if you’ve hired a Commercial Registered Office Provider (CROP).
Should I Hire A Commercial Registered Agent For My PA LLC?
For most companies, it can be a good idea to hire a commercial registered agent. There are several advantages of taking this approach, including:
- Professional Service: A CROP is likely to have a well-staffed office. They are likely to be able to provide the services your LLC needs off the registered agent.
- Privacy: Since the registered office address for the LLC will be the address of the CROP, there is an element of privacy. Your (or your friends/family’s) address won’t become a part of public record.
- Discreet: If service of process arrives for your business, it might be better to have a professional service receive it. This might be better than having process servers deliver documents at your LLC’s office.
- Convenience: There is a convenience to having a professional service take on the necessary requirements while you solely focus on your business.
If you choose to hire a commercial registered agent, it is better to do your due diligence. Pennsylvania registered agent search on the web will provide you with information on most of these agents. Reading reviews and understanding how well they do their work will help you make an informed decision.
You will likely find local and national Commercial Registered Office Providers. Both these options have their advantages. You might want to see what aligns best with your interest.
Commercial Pennsylvania Registered Agents often offer more services than simply receiving and forwarding documents. These services usually reflect in the cost and charges of hiring the agent. Generally speaking, hiring Commercial Registered Office Providers costs somewhat more than $100 annually.
One certain advantage is that hiring a CROP provides a more robust setup than taking the DIY route or having friends/family take the role.