Q: For the purposes of my business’s public info (business card, website, Facebook page, etc.) should I list my registered agent’s address as my address?
Thank you to a customer from Washington for that great question! Some registered agent services—including ours—allow you to use their business address on public documents instead of your own. This can help you protect your privacy, especially if you have a home-based business and don’t want to give out your home address. However, in certain cases, it’s not the best idea to use your registered agent’s address as your business address. We’ll tell you what you need to know.
What is a registered agent?
A registered agent is a person (or business entity) appointed by a business to accept service of process on their behalf. LLCs and corporations are required to have a registered agent in almost every state. Your registered agent must:
- Have a physical address (not a P.O. box) in the state where your business was formed.
- Maintain regular business hours at this address.
- Accept important legal notices from the state on behalf of your business and pass them on to you.
You can serve as your own registered agent, appoint a trusted individual, or hire a professional registered agent service to do this job. You will need to include your registered agent’s name and address on your business formation document—typically called articles of organization for LLCs or articles of incorporation for corporations.
When should I use my registered agent address?
If you serve as your own registered agent, your business address and your registered agent address will be one and the same. However, if you hire a registered agent service, the answer is a bit more complicated.
First of all, not all professional registered agents allow you to use their business address instead of your own address—so you should first find out if your registered agent does. If your registered agent does allow you to use their address, it’s a good idea to ask them to put their address on public business filings—such as articles of organization and articles of incorporation—instead of yours wherever possible. That’s because business formation documents are part of the public record, and the addresses you share on these forms will be viewable online and are likely to be found by spammers.
However, there are other cases when you shouldn’t use your registered agent’s address as your own, including:
- IRS forms, such as your EIN application or your tax returns
- Business cards, website, etc., where you’re likely to get sent regular mail that isn’t from the state
- As a billing or shipping address for purchases
- For opening a business bank account
Why shouldn’t I use my registered agent address as my business address?
Your registered agent’s job is to accept legal mail and notices from your Secretary of State (or equivalent state agency) on your behalf and forward them to you. Most registered agent services will only forward a limited number of regular mail items to you before they start charging a fee. Also, certain government agencies, like the IRS, do not allow you to use your registered agent’s address as your business address on forms.
If you want an address other than your own to use as your regular business address, it might be worth getting a virtual address.
What’s the difference between a registered agent address and a virtual address?
While a registered agent address is only for accepting legal mail, a virtual address is a physical address where you can receive business mail and have it scanned or forwarded to you. Unlike a registered agent address, you can use a virtual address as your business address pretty much everywhere. Getting a virtual address could be a good idea if:
- You want your business to appear more legitimate (since using your home address as your business address could make people think your business is a scam)
- You don’t want to make your own address public
- You don’t want to deal with junk mail
Learn more about Mail Forwarding and Virtual Office services.