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Starting a business entity can sometimes mean learning an entirely new language. In the business world, there are many terms that aren’t used in everyday conversation. Terms like LLC formation, service of process, Articles of Organization, to name a few.

Whether a business owner is forming a corporation, nonprofit, or limited liability company (LLC) in Tennessee, 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 Tennessee Secretary of State, Division of Business Services. 

This guide will assist entrepreneurs with selecting a registered agent and provide useful answers to frequently asked questions. To better understand how a registered agent fits in the process of starting a Tennessee business, here’s a look at how an LLC is formed in Tennessee.

What is a Tennessee registered agent?

A registered agent a point of contact selected by the business owner who is responsible for receiving and handling any important documents on your company’s behalf. This person or company will receive all important documents, which could include tax notifications, legal documents, and legal notices. Should your company be sued, service of process papers, for example, is delivered to a company’s registered agent’s address.

Read more:  What is a registered agent?

How does an owner select a registered agent in Tennessee?

A registered agent is selected by listing the person or company chosen on a company’s formation documents, called Articles of Organization or Articles of Incorporation. You will need to fill out information including the registered agent’s name and agent’s address on this document to begin doing business in the state. There is a state fee of $50 per member, with a minimum of $300 and a maximum of $3,000.

Some states require signed authorization from a registered agent to show a person’s willingness and awareness of the role. Tennessee doesn’t require such a document, but the person or company selected to serve in this role should give consent.

Do I really need a registered agent in Tennessee?

Yes. It is required by state law that all businesses in Tennessee must list a registered agent. The state needs to know that there’s a person on file ready and willing to accept documents if necessary.

Who can be a registered agent in Tennessee? 

Many different people can fill this role, including the business owner, family member, or another company employee. A professional registered agent service can also fill this role. There are a couple of requirements that need to be met no matter what route you choose for your LLC:

  • The agent must be an adult 18 years or older
  • If the agent is an individual, they must be a resident of the state who has a physical street address (cannot be a P.O. box)
  • If the agent is a company, they must be in good standing with the state and also have an office address in the state of Tennessee
  • The person or the company must be available to accept documents during normal business hours

Can I be my own registered agent in Tennessee?

Yes. The owner of a company can also be its registered agent. It’s common for an owner to fill this role, especially if he or she works out of the registered office consistently. However, the owner can elect another person or company if they wish.

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

The company owner can select a registered agent service to accept documents for the company. If a company is selected, documents are directed to the service and the owner is notified if something is received. There are benefits to working with registered agent service. The benefits include:

  • Convenience.  Paying a company a yearly fee to be on call for document delivery is ideal for some business owners. It’s easy to set up and provides a level of convenience that owners like. Many also offer an online account where you can easily and securely access any documents.
  • Peace of mind.  A registered agent service provides reassurance to most owners. They know that documents won’t be missed or mishandled with an experienced company in place. They’ll also be responsible for staying aware of any upcoming due dates and keeping you informed of annual report reminders, etc.
  • Privacy.  One of the documents that a registered agent could receive is the service of process papers, which are served during a lawsuit. To avoid “being served” at the company office, some owners opt for a registered agent service to ensure a level of privacy should something like that happen.

Read more:  Best Registered Agent Services

How much does a registered agent service cost in Tennessee?

Costs are a concern for every business owner, but a registered agent service is fairly affordable. For a company to accept documents and notify the owner, expect to pay $50 a year. For more advanced features like same-day document scans to an online account, assistance with compliance, or annual reports, expect costs to hover around $100-200 a year. There may also be additional state fees charged with certain services.

List of Tennessee registered agent services 

There are many registered agent services to choose from in the state. The secretary of state’s office can provide a list of options, but for those wondering about choices, here’s a list of a few companies and their features:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Tennessee registered agent FAQs

Can a company change its registered agent?

Yes. There is a change form on the Tennessee Secretary of State website that will allow you to switch a company’s registered agent or change any of the registered agent’s information. There is a $20 filing fee. The form can be submitted online or it can be downloaded and mailed to the state.

What’s a registered office?

A registered office is an official address listed on your LLC’s formation documents. This address will either be the address of the registered agent if you’ve chosen an individual, or the business address of the registered agent if you’ve chosen a company.

What’s a statutory agent?

A statutory agent, resident agent, and service of process agent are all the same as a registered agent. Different states use different titles. Most, however, use the title registered agent.

What’s a commercial registered agent?

A company has a commercial registered agent if a registered agent service is hired. If the owner or another employee serves as the company’s registered agent, the company has a non-commercial registered agent.