A registered agent is your business’ point of contact with the State of Ohio. In other words, a registered agent is simply a person or entity appointed to accept official mail and service of process on behalf of your business entity.
A big reason why the State of Ohio requires a listed registered agent is to ensure that your business maintains a reliable way to be contacted by the court. Since a lawsuit against your business cannot move forward in court without your business being properly notified first, the registered agent must have a physical address within that state and be available during business hours to ensure that someone suing you can easily locate you within the state. Otherwise, a large corporation could potentially hide behind its thousands of employees in order to make it more difficult for the court or potential plaintiffs to determine who is the proper person to receive service of process on behalf of the entity.
If you are forming business entity (such as a corporation, limited liability company, etc.) in Ohio, you are required to have a registered agent and a registered office. But this does not mean that you need to hire a registered agent service. In Ohio, you are permitted to appoint yourself or your business to be its own registered agent. In fact, the majority of small businesses (10 employees or less) do not hire registered agents.
Therefore, you may be wondering why anyone would hire an outsider to serve as their registered agent. There are many legitimate reasons why a business owner might appoint an attorney or registered agent service to be their registered agent. Here a few possible reasons for doing so:
If you work from home and list yourself as your business’ registered agent, you will probably be listing your home address as the business’ point of contact. This puts your home address on public record and anyone who wants to officially contact your business (typically with tons of junk mail) will find your home address. If the prospect of sharing your home address worries you, you can hire a registered agent (the agent’s address will be listed on public record, not yours). It is important to realize that there are many marketers out there scraping your data from state databases, putting it on the web and/or selling it. Therefore, your personal information could be out there indefinitely. State records are permanent, so you should ask yourself if you really want your personal name and home address on the web ten years from now.
No physical address
One problem that many small, web-based businesses encounter when dealing with the bureaucracy of maintaining a business entity is that their business has no physical location. If the business owner does not want to list their home address, hiring a registered agent service solves this problem, as service of process and official mail from the state can be delivered to their registered agent and their home address stays off public records.
Unusual business hours
A registered agent not only needs a physical location, but they need to be available during regular business hours to accept service of process and official notices from the state. Some business owners who are not available during business hours opt for registered agent services, so they can maintain irregular work hours.
Business locations in multiple states
In each state that your business operates, you will need to register with that state, and in every state you register, you need a registered agent with a physical location in that state. For this reason, many business owners choose to hire registered agent services in order to comply with state regulations and to be sure all important notices to the business are kept in one place, with their registered agent.
The Bottom Line
For many small businesses, hiring a registered agent service simply does not make sense. They have a regular storefront, keep normal business hours, only operate in their home state, and they are not concerned about their privacy. If that describes you, then you may not need an outsider to serve as your registered agent. The business owner would be the best person to list as the registered agent for the business so that an important document does not get dropped off with an employee. But if any of the reasons listed above seem important to you, then hiring a registered agent might be a great move.