Introducing the Texas registered agent.
A registered agent in Texas is an intermediary for your LLC (limited liability company), a person or company that handles your communication with the state. They’re a vital part of any LLC’s success.
Before you file your Certificate of Formation, you’ll need to have a designated registered agent. How? Why? Who? Read on to find out.
What is a Texas Registered Agent & is it Necessary?
A registered agent is absolutely necessary. In fact, you can’t start an LLC or do business in Texas without first having one on file with the Secretary of State. This is required by law and the penalties can be serious. Maintaining a registered agent doesn’t just keep you in good standing. It also provides an important service.
Think of your registered agent as your ambassador to the state, handling all your LLC’s important legal, tax, and compliance information. This can either be an individual, as long as that person is a Texas resident with a physical address in the state. Or, you can use a company or registered agent service that’s authorized to do business in Texas.
As soon as they’re appointed, your registered agent must be consistently available in Texas to receive and act on mailed documents and service of process. Here’s what the Texas Secretary of State specifically says:
These screenshots come from an incredibly helpful FAQ page that contains some great registered agent information. Check it out if you have further questions.
Whatever you do and whomever you appoint, make sure that you continuously maintain a registered agent with the Secretary of State. In the event that you lose an agent, be quick on your feet because the state can administratively dissolve your LLC if you don’t bring on a replacement within 90 days.
What are the Requirements of a Registered Agent?
Your list of registered agent options goes on and on. There are a ton of choices, including almost any individual or business in Texas.
However, this doesn’t mean that they’re all good options, and it doesn’t mean that you can use anybody you’d like. The state maintains broad but important requirements for who you can appoint as your registered agent. Your agent must:
- Be an individual Texas resident or a corporation authorized to do business in the state.
- Have a physical address in Texas (P.O. boxes are not allowed)
- Have a mailing address in Texas (can be identical to the physical address)
You are welcome to appoint yourself as your LLC’s registered agent, although an LLC cannot be its own agent.
Whether you use an individual, a company, or yourself, you will need to include the registered agent’s information on your Certificate of Formation. So have an agent picked out before you sit down to start the application. Here’s what you’ll see as you fill it out:
Additionally, your registered agent will need to give their consent by signing an Acceptance of Appointment form. You do not need to include this form with your Certificate of Formation, but you must keep it in your own files.
When you’ve got potential options for your registered agent, review each one to make sure that they meet these requirements. If they do, you’re good to go! If not, you’ll need to keep looking.
Who can be a Registered Agent in Texas?
The Texas registered agent requirements are pretty broad, so you’ll have no shortage of options. On top of that, your agent can be either an individual or a professional service. But think carefully before choosing, because each option has its own pros and cons. Let’s take a closer look.
You may choose to appoint a single person as your registered agent. Some LLC owners take on registered agent duties themselves. Others appoint one of their partners or managers. Some will even appoint a family member. As long as the proposed agent fulfills the state’s requirements, they’re a valid option.
In addition to being a Texas resident, your agent must not currently be establishing residency or receiving benefits in another state, even if that residency is still forthcoming.
Some smart registered agent choices include attorneys, accountants, or other LLC partners, people who understand the ins and outs of business operations.
- Convenience – Having familiarity and mutual trust with your registered agent is extremely beneficial, and appointing an acquaintance can provide both. Plus, you’ll always know how to contact them.
- Cost – Hiring someone you know often won’t cost a dime. It’s certainly cheaper than a professional service.
- Scheduling – Part of a registered agent’s duty is being consistently available to receive mailed documents and service of process. If your agent goes on vacation or moves out of state, it will throw a wrench in your plans.
- Punctuality Risks – Some state communications and filings are very time-sensitive. If your agent is unavailable when documents are delivered, it could slow down the entire process and put you at risk for late fees and penalties. Even worse, a friend or family member could lose or misplace a document. So if you’d rather not interrogate Aunt Louise about the location of a particular tax form, you might consider using a registered agent service instead.
Registered Agent Service
If safety and reliability is your goal, hire a registered agent service. A business acting as your registered agent must be either a domestic entity or an out-of-state entity who has foreign qualified in Texas.
- Privacy – Some documents delivered to your registered agent will contain sensitive information. Do you want details about your lawsuit or taxes lost out there in the world? Definitely not. A friend or family member might misplace these documents, but a professional service will not. Plus, in Texas, all registered agent names and addresses are available to the public. This might make an individual uncomfortable, but hiring a company will keep this personal information off the record.
- Reliability – Handling and processing time-sensitive documents is a registered agent service’s specialty, its area of expertise, its main game. Hire a professional service and you can be sure that your filings will be submitted properly and punctually, so you’ll never have to deal with late fees or other penalties.
- Location – Many registered agent companies offer service in most or all 50 states, so if business is booming and you decide to expand outside Texas, you won’t need to find a new agent for each state.
- Cost – There’s no getting around it – hiring a service costs more than appointing an individual who’s willing to do it for free. However, for a reasonable price (roughly $100/year), you’ll receive premium services. Taking your car to a mechanic costs more than letting your neighbor try to fix it, but the mechanic gives you peace of mind that the job will get done right, and that may very well be worth the cost.
All of the other steps in the LLC formation process will keep you busy, but take some time to ensure you find a registered agent that fits with your business model, goals, and values. Do this, and your LLC will reap the benefits for years to come.
How to get a Free Registered Agent
Here’s a pro tip: you can get the reliability of a registered agent service and the cost-effectiveness of an individual. The best of both worlds. When you hire certain LLC services to start your business, they’ll throw in free registered agent service.
How it Works
Hire a company like IncFile or ZenBusiness to form your Texas LLC. In addition to taking care of your Certificate of Formation and other formation requirements, they will automatically include a registered agent. It’s a great two-for-one deal.
And an LLC service is pretty affordable – $300 for the Texas LLC formation fee, plus a small service fee. That’s great value for the number of benefits you receive. Some services will even cover and consolidate your LLC formation costs.
Take this route and you’ll sweep all formation paperwork and registered agent duties off your plate. Plus, to keep track of everything, these services provide user-friendly online dashboards, so you can follow everything they’re doing to keep your LLC in good standing.
Registered Agent Changes and Resignation
You may have a wonderful registered agent, someone who takes care of everything efficiently and who you trust completely. But you know what they say: all good things must come to an end. At some point in the life of your LLC, you may need to change your Texas registered agent.
Make the swap by filing for a change through the SOSDirect portal. You can also complete a Statement of Change form and submit it by mail (P.O. Box 13697, Austin, Texas 78711-3697) or fax (512-463-5709). Faxed documents must be accompanied by a Payment Form. Both the online and hard copy submission methods cost $15.
You might request a change for any number of reasons, but the most common is because of a registered agent’s resignation.
Having your agent resign is never fun, but the good news is that you’ll never be blindsided by it. Texas state law requires any resigning registered agent to notify their LLC before submitting an official resignation form.
That said, don’t delay your search for a replacement. After your registered agent resigns, the clock is ticking. Go longer than 90 days without appointing a successor and your LLC can be administratively dissolved.
Have Questions or Concerns?
This guide contains almost everything there is to know about Texas registered agents. However, you might have a unique situation that requires additional information. Reaching out to the Texas Secretary of State is easy, and they’ll have the answers you need. Here’s how to go about it:
Visit Their Website
The Secretary of State website has a “Business Services” section that contains a ton of great information about registered agents and LLC formation in general. You’ll likely find answers to your questions there.
Give Them a Call
Or, if you’d prefer to speak with a representative, call their Austin office at (512) 463-5555.
Alternatively, you could reach out to Northwest Registered Agent (the best registered agent service in our opinion) via phone or email. They’re quick to respond and very knowledgeable.