How to find a registered agent in Georgia
Georgia registered agent requirements
All Georgia registered agents need to have a physical street address in Georgia. This cannot be a P.O. box. They must be available during normal hours to receive mail at this address.
Being your own registered agent
In terms of legality, any business owner over the age of 18 can be their own registered agent. You need to have a physical address in the state of Georgia, and you need to keep normal business hours so that you can accept important mail such as service of process on your business’s behalf. However, other than that, there are no restrictions.
You may choose to be your own registered agent, or you can have one of your employees handle this job. Some business owners even choose a trusted friend or family member to be their registered agent. You might also hire a lawyer for this position.
The benefits of being your own registered agent include convenience and saving money. It costs nothing to be your own registered agent. Likewise, if the goal is ultimately for you, the business owner, to receive mail as quickly and efficiently as possible, as long as you hold regular business hours and are available, receiving this mail yourself is always going to be the most efficient option.
With that said, many companies — especially as they succeed and grow over time — choose to hire a registered agent service.
Hiring a Georgia registered agent service
Registered agent services need to be registered in the state, have a physical Georgia street address, and hold regular business hours. Being able to receive mail on behalf of their clients is, of course, critical as well. They then must pass it on to their clients in a timely manner — either physically or by way of an online account.
One thing to look for in a registered agent service company is experience. Make sure they have other satisfied clients. You also want to make sure the company you hire is registered themselves in multiple states. That way, if you decide to expand and incorporate your small business in other states, you can stick with the same registered agent service company.
Recommended registered agent services
Why you need a registered agent
When you form a corporation or LLC in the state of Georgia, you will need to list who your registered agent (or resident agent) will be. A registered agent is the entity that will receive official notices on your business’s behalf — for example, federal and Georgia state tax information, service of process, and more.
This position can be filled by a business entity or an individual. For example, a business owner can list themselves as the registered agent for their own company, or they can hire a company that specializes in this service.
It is a legal requirement that all Georgia LLCs and corporations have registered agents. The main purpose of this position is to make sure businesses receive time-sensitive mail such as service of process right away. Otherwise, companies may miss deadlines and important legal appointments.
Typically, service of process mail, tax notices, and other such business documents will alert businesses if they are being subpoenaed or sued. Reliable registered agents will ensure that businesses know right away when documents like these arrive.
When you need a registered agent
There is a list of steps you must take in order to form a corporation or LLC in Georgia. Choosing a registered agent is certainly one of these important steps, but it is not the first.
Instead, the first step is to choose a name for your new company. Many new businesses already have their desired name in mind, but remember that you must always check with the state to ensure the name you want is actually available. In some cases, it may have already been taken by another business or organization in the state.
There are also words that cannot be used by certain entities in Georgia. For example, unless your business has special permission, you cannot use words like university, bank, insurance, or trust.
Your second step is to choose a registered agent. Some business owners will choose to be their own registered agent, but you can also hire a registered agent service. Sometimes, business attorneys will fill this role.
The next step is to obtain the necessary business permits, and from there, you can file your Articles of Organization with the Georgia Secretary of State. Finally, you’ll want to draft your company’s Operating Agreement in order to spell out the specific rights and responsibilities of all company owners.
Why use a registered agent service
Appointing a registered agent service company is the best decision for many incorporated businesses in Georgia. Whether you’re entrepreneurs and just starting out or have been in business for many years, handing over this position to a well-established company takes a lot of the weight off your shoulders.
You can travel more.
When you allow registered agent service company to handle this position on your behalf, they’ll be the ones ensuring that your business address is up-to-date, and they’ll be the ones holding normal business hours every day. You can come and go as you please.
They’ll take care of important correspondence.
It will also be up to them to hand over any important mail your business may receive. This includes service of process and other government and legal documents that you absolutely must have as soon as possible.
They’ll help you separate business affairs from private affairs.
Finally, one key benefit of hiring a service is that you’ll separate your business from your private life. Many businesses, especially as they’re just beginning, use their home address as a business address. While this may work for a while, you’ll soon find that you don’t want your business to be associated with your home.
This is because any business address must be in the public domain. Therefore, anyone could find your home address if they just looked up your business. Not only can this compromise your privacy, but it can make things complicated if state law enforcement were to show up to your home to serve your business legal papers.
In short, there are generally far more reasons to choose a registered agent service company to be your registered agent than there are to be your own registered agent.
Georgia registered agent costs
Hiring a Georgia registered agent service can save you a considerable amount of time and energy each year, but it does come with a cost. Generally speaking, most corporations and LLCs in the state of Georgia pay around $50 to $300 for a registered agent service every year. If you do decide to be your own registered agent, however, it is free. There are no state fees.
Additionally, most businesses who have not yet formed an LLC or corporation can reduce the cost of their first annual registered agent fees by going with an incorporation company that also offers registered agent services.
These LLC formation companies will often include registered agent services with their LLC formation packages. In subsequent years, however, your company would be required to pay an annual fee for continued registered agent services.
How to change your Georgia registered agent
At some point, you may want to change your point of contact (Georgia registered agent’s name). This often happens as businesses grow or move. Just remember you always have to keep an up-to-date registered agent’s address on file with the Secretary of State in Atlanta in order to remain in good standing.
You can request that your new registered agent service carry out this step for you. Or, you can do it yourself if you are becoming your own registered agent.
The easiest way to change your Georgia registered agent yourself is to amend your Annual Registration (similar to an Annual Report) with the Georgia Secretary of State in Atlanta. This can be done at any time of the year, or, if the alteration is not necessary immediately, you can simply perform the change during the annual process period.
Georgia allows you to amend your Annual Registration online. Keep in mind you’ll also need to pay a filing fee if you amend your Annual Registration instead of waiting for the yearly processing period.
List of forms
Below is a list of Georgia Secretary of State forms and links that may be helpful as you choose a registered agent and form your new limited liability company.
Who can be a registered agent in Georgia?
Georgia registered agents have often hired companies that perform registered agent services full-time for multiple businesses in multiple states. Alternatively, a business owner or employee can be a company’s registered agent or main point of contact.
Can you be your own statutory agent in Georgia?
Yes, as the owner of your company, you can be your own statutory (registered) agent in Georgia. You simply must meet certain requirements such as being over 18 years old, having a physical address (not a P.O. box) in Georgia, and being available to accept legal notices on the company’s behalf.
Does a Georgia registered agent forward regular mail?
This depends on the service. Most commercial registered agents will not forward regular mail. Their main duty is to accept and handle legal and other business notifications such as service of process mail and official documentation that comes from the Georgia Secretary of State’s office.