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Whether a business owner is forming a corporation, non-profit, or limited liability company (LLC) in Florida, one of the first steps in the process will be choosing a registered agent (sometimes referred to as a statutory agent or resident agent) to have on public record with the Florida Secretary of State.

To better understand how a registered agent fits in the process of starting a Florida business, here’s a look at how an LLC is formed in Florida.

What is a Florida registered agent?

A registered agent is a point of contact, either a person or business entity, that is charged with the collection and organization of important legal documents on behalf of a Florida business. These tasks and legal documents might include things such as due dates, renewals, annual reports, legal notifications, or service of processes regarding potential lawsuits.

Read more:  What is a registered agent?

How do I select a Florida registered agent?

In many states, setting up a business entity is done through the Secretary of State’s website, but in Florida, it’s through the state’s SunBiz website. The registered agent’s name or company name is required when filing the Articles of Organization, which are the official LLC formation documents for the state of Florida. In other states, the forms are called Articles of Incorporation or Articles of Formation. The registered agent will need to sign and submit a form to the state. Be prepared to get a signature for this form before sending it in.

Who can be a registered agent in Florida?

In Florida, a registered agent can be the business owner or any full-time resident of the state like a friend or coworker. A registered agent can also be a company doing business in the state, so long as the company has a registered office. A company can also work with registered agent services.

A registered agent must be:

  • An adult, 18 years of age or older
  • The office address is a physical street address in the state, not a P.O. box
  • Be at their residence or company during normal business hours on normal business days

Can I be my own registered agent in Florida?

The Florida Division of Corporations does allow a business owner to be his or her own registered agent. The owner must be 18 years old, have a physical address in Florida, and be available during regular business hours to receive important documents.

Why would a company choose to work with a registered agent service?

There are companies that serve as registered agents. If an owner doesn’t want to be the company’s registered agent, and he or she would rather not elect a friend or a coworker, a registered agent service is an option.

For a fee, a registered agent company will accept legal notices and other official documentation on your company’s behalf. Here’s why some companies opt for a service:

  • Time-saving and convenient. Some business owners want to focus their attention on day-to-day operations and don’t want an additional chore on their plate. Electing a registered agent service is ideal for busy entrepreneurs looking to maximize their time.
  • A local business address. If you’re launching a new business in Florida, you may not yet have a storefront, office, or be a Florida resident. This might mean you can’t fulfill the requirement of having a physical address. By using a registered agent service, you’ll be able to use the agent’s address as your registered office while you continue to build your Florida business.
  • Privacy. If your company receives a service of process, it will be sent to the registered agent’s address instead of the business address, preventing the owner from being served in front of employees or customers. For some, it creates a layer of privacy that’s worth the annual fee for the service.
  • Online account access. Another perk of using a registered agent service is the ability to have all important documents regarding a business stored in a secure place online.
  • Compliance. To remain in good standing with the state, it might be helpful for a business owner to have an experienced agent help them keep track of the varying compliance requirements such as licenses, permits, or taxes.

Read more:  Best Registered Agent Services

How much does a registered agent service cost in Florida?

If you’re interested in using a registered agent service, expect to pay somewhere between $35-$300 a year. When selecting a service, explore their add-on services. You might be able to access LLC formation services or legal expertise, for example, that could also be helpful to your business.

List of Florida registered agent services

For entrepreneurs looking to work with one of the best registered agent services in Florida, here’s a list of choices:

  • ZenBusiness is fairly new to the market, but it’s grown a strong following. Business owners love the affordable rates for a registered agent service, which are as low as $99 per year. The company also offers worry-free compliance to help business owners file the necessary reports on time.
  • Northwest Registered Agent is one of the most recognized names in the registered agent business. The company has decades of experience and local offices scattered across the U.S. to serve small businesses like yours. The cost for a registered agent service is comparable to others. Business owners can also take advantage of additional services like report filing.
  • Harbor Compliance is a great fit for organizations that register in multiple states and for those who don’t want to pay excessive service fees. With their network and electronic document delivery, they help ensure your business never misses a legal notification.

Florida registered agent FAQs

Do I really need a registered agent in Florida?

Yes. To be in good standing with the Florida Department of State, all Florida LLCs or corporations must select a registered agent to handle all corporate filings for a company. Failure to do so can result in state fees or fines.

Do I need a certificate of good standing in Florida?

It’s not necessary to get your Florida business up and running, but you might need one if you decide to do business in other states, and apply for some business loans or insurance. This means it’s always a good idea to make sure your business remains in good standing with the state.

Can a company change its registered agent?

Yes. In Florida, a company can change its registered agent at any time. To do so, the company owner can go to the Florida Department of State’s SunBiz website to get the Statement of Change form, make the changes, and mail it in or deliver it in person.

The signature of the new registered agent is required on the form. Make sure the signature is added. Without it, the form will be returned.

To change registered agents, Florida charges LLCs $25 and corporations $35.

What is Service of Process?

This is the term for the legal process of informing a business entity that legal action is being taken against them, usually involving the business owner being sent legal documents.

What’s a statutory agent?

A statutory agent is the same as a registered agent. During your research, you might find different terms for a registered agent since different states use different titles. In addition to the statutory agent, you might also hear a registered agent referred to as a service of process agent or a resident agent. Again, the terms change based on the state where a company is being formed.

What’s a commercial registered agent?

While filling out the chosen registered agent’s information, you might be asked whether the registered agent is commercial or non-commercial. Don’t be tripped up by this wording. If the company opts to work with a registered agent service, you’re working with a commercial agent. If the business entity has listed a person as a registered agent, like the owner or a friend, you’re working with a non-commercial agent.