How to Find a Company’s Registered Agent
Tracking down a company’s registered agent may seem difficult, but when a company files for formation with the state, they have to list their registered agent on their paperwork. After their business is formed, their documents become public information. Whether you’re looking for the registered agent of an LLC or a corporation, the process of finding their information is the same.
Sometimes a quick Google search can lead you to the company’s registered agent’s information. But sometimes, registered agent information is a little harder to find. Luckily, a little digging can get you what you need.
Why would I need to find a company’s registered agent?
Process servers are generally the ones who will be looking for a company’s registered agent. A process server is someone whose job is to serve legal documents to someone involved in a court case.They’re tasked with delivering what’s known as “service of process.” Service of process is notice of legal action, such as a legal complaint, summons, or subpoena.
In order to serve a company, a process server will need to deliver service of process to the company’s registered agent, who serves as a company’s point of contact. However, contacting a company’s registered agent isn’t just limited to service processors. Individuals or businesses who are struggling to get in contact with a business might seek out its registered agent too.
How to find the registered agent of a company
Whether the business is domestic, with one location, or foreign with their headquarters in another state, they are required to have a registered agent in the state where they are operating, i.e. the state where you are serving papers if you’re a process server. This is the registered agent you’ll typically want to contact.
Find the state agency for business filings
In the state of operation, you’ll need to contact the state office where the company originally filed their formation documents. For most states, businesses are registered with a division of the Secretary of State or the Department of State. In a handful of states, however, business registrations are done via different state commissions or departments:
- Alaska: Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development
- Arizona: Arizona Corporation Commission
- Hawaii: Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs
- Maryland: Department of Assessments & Taxation
- Massachusetts: Secretary of the Commonwealth
- Michigan: Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
- New Jersey: Department of the Treasury
- Utah: Department of Commerce
- Virginia: State Corporation Commission
- Wisconsin: Department of Financial Institutions
Most filing offices give access to business registration information on their website.
Conduct a business entity search
A business name search or business entity search will often get you the information you need. If the state you’re looking into has an online business search, you’ll usually be able to find a company’s registered agent by doing the following:
- Go to the Secretary of State’s (or other state agency’s) website. Look for a tab or link labeled something like “Businesses,” “Business Entity,” or “Corporations.” Sometimes the tab will read “Search Businesses” or “Business Search.”
>> Checkout our complete list of Secretary of State Name Searches
- Enter your search details. Once you’ve found the state’s business search, you’ll be directed to a search box or boxes with advanced options. You can search for the name of the company you are looking for here. Keep in mind that several different companies may be included in your search result if their names are similar, so it’s important to search with the exact name of the company you are interested in.
- Review company documents. Now you have access to the company’s public business filings. Often, these can be found under “filing history.” Make sure you are looking at the most recent document(s) filed with the state—these documents include the company’s articles of incorporation or articles of organization, amendments, and other reports. You’ll be able to find a company’s registered agent’s information here.
Not every state has an online business search. If you need to call to inquire about a company’s registered agent, call the filing office directly. Let them know you are looking for the registered agent of that specific company. You’ll need to provide the exact name of the company. If the company was formed by that state filing office, they will have the registered agent’s information on file.
What if a company doesn’t have a registered agent?
Nearly every state requires a business to appoint—and publicly list—a registered agent when it files for formation. A few states don’t require registered agents per se. For example, West Virginia statutes say a registered agent “may” be appointed. If a West Virginia business doesn’t have an agent, the Secretary of State can receive service of process, per WV Code § 31B-1-111 (b). States like Minnesota and Pennsylvania don’t require a named agent, but they do require a registered office (i.e. an address where service of process can be received).
Also, not every business type is required to have a registered agent. While registered agents are nearly universally required for LLCs and corporations, sole proprietors and general partnerships, for example, are not legally separate entities from their owners and don’t file state formation paperwork or appoint registered agents.
For sole proprietors and partnerships, the owners receive service of process. The name of the business will either be the owners’ names (making it easy to contact the owner directly) or a DBA (“doing business as” name). DBA filings are public information. Depending on the state, DBA filings may be processed at the state, county or city level.
Is a company’s registered agent public information?
Yes. All state filings are public information. While a business’s owner(s), managers, or officers may not always be listed state filings, a registered agent’s name and address is public information.
Why can’t I find a company’s registered agent?
There may be many reasons why you’re having trouble contacting the registered agent listed on a company’s formation paperwork:
- The listed registered agent may have moved or cut ties with the company.
- If a company listed a family member or friend as their registered agent, they may not understand the full responsibility of the role.
- The company may have failed to maintain an agent or failed to update the state about a change of agent in a timely manner.
- The agent may be deceased, imprisoned, or otherwise incapacitated.
- The registered agent company may have gone out of business.
- The registered agent may simply just not be doing their job.
Overall, some companies unfortunately make poor choices when it comes to their registered agent, such as appointing individuals with little experience, availability, or interest in the position.
What if I can’t find a company’s RA?
If you are unable to contact the listed registered agent after three or four tries, notify the state’s business filing office.
It’s the company’s responsibility to maintain a registered agent with the state. The consequences for failing to properly maintain a registered agent range from the business losing its good standing with the state to a court case proceeding against the company without a defense lawyer present.
Have more questions about registered agents?