Plainly put, a registered agent is a person or entity that receives service of process for a business entity (think limited liability company, corporation, not for profit corporation, partnership, etc.) The logic comes from the idea that business entities are incorporeal, literally meaning without a body. So if you wanted to sue the business entity, to whom would you give the summons, or complaint, or service of process if the entity has no body? Could you simply leave it at the front desk of the principal address of the entity? Imagine slipping and falling in a fast food restaurant, who would you sue? Could you go back to the fast food joint and simply leave the complaint or summons on the window? Needless to say, without registered agents, the way law suits would start would get ugly. So, the state of Florida and every other state created the institution of the registered agent. The registered agent is a person designated to receive such notice on behalf of the business entity. Thereby, avoiding many of the issues I’ve noted above.
Usually, you can serve as your own registered agent, so long as you are in the state that you are conducting business in. So, if you are registered to do business in Florida, and you live in Florida, you can be your own registered agent. However, if you are registered to do business in another state and live in Florida, you need to hire a registered agent in that state. Namely because the registered agent has to be in the state in which you are operating the business. Lots of people form businesses in Delaware but, don’t live there. For those who don’t live there, they need to hire a company, like CT Corporation, to act as their registered agent.
Bay Area Corporate Counsel, a Tampa Bay business law firm and I, a business attorney, act as registered agent for many of my clients. Usually my clients feel more comfortable knowing that if they are served with a law suit, that I will get it first and contact them and they don’t have to worry about missing the notice. You only have 20 days to respond to the notice, so you really don’t want to miss it.