Laying Out the Differences Between a Registered Agent and a Virtual Office

[4 Minute Read]

Going through the motions of company formation can be stressful. There are so many terms and requirements. It can get confusing. 

You probably came across the term ‘Registered Agent’ by now. Maybe while browsing for a Registered Agent service, you came across a Virtual Office service. And now you’re wondering if it’s the same thing.

Is a Registered Agent and a Virtual Office the same thing? No, they’re not. 

A Registered Agent is a nominated person/ business that’ll receive official mail on your behalf.

A Virtual Office is an office space that allows businesses to rent on a short-term basis to hold face to face meetings.

Read this article to learn in more detail what these services are, how much they cost, and whether they’re the right option for your business. 

What is a Registered Agent?

Let’s start by mentioning that a Registered Agent service can also be referred to as Statutory Agent, Resident Agent, or Agent of Service for Process. Registered Agent and Statutory Agent are the most commonly used terms, but you might also come across the other two. 

A Registered Agent is a person or an organization that is elected by the business to receive official paperwork on its behalf. In other words, you have to name somebody who can receive notices and paperwork that is for your business. 

This person can be a member of your LLC, a private person, an employee, or a company that provides registered agent services. As long as they’re available at a specific address during business hours. 

What Does a Registered Agent Do?

The only role of a Registered Agent is to be present at the specified address to receive any official paperwork.

Do I Need a Registered Agent?

Most states require that incorporated businesses (LLCs and Corporations) have a Registered Agent. 

And a lot of businesses don’t have a physical location or run during normal business hours. For example, if you’re a digital entrepreneur or nomad, your business is 100% remote. 

Your options are either to list a private person (friend or family member) as your Registered Agent (which we don’t recommend doing) or to hire a Registered Agent Service. 

Why I Should NOT Make Friends/ Family as My Registered Agent?

Privacy. The details of your Registered Agent will be available for anybody to see as it has to be listed with the state. 

Apart from obvious privacy concerns, the nominated person will likely receive sales calls, junk mail, etc. 

What Does a Registered Agent Service Do?

Registered Agent service is a business that acts as the Registered Agent for multiple businesses. They have a physical office with staff, which is open during business hours. This way they fulfil the requirements set out by most states. 

A Registered Agent service will receive official correspondence on your behalf and alert you of any court proceedings, deadlines, etc. 

How Much Does a Registered Agent Cost?

Registered Agent services operate on an annual fee. Most range between $150 and $300. 

Most Registered Agent services are outdated and aimed at traditional businesses. 

Businessanywhere.io was designed specifically for digital entrepreneurs and nomads. Check out the modern Registered Agent platform here

What is a Virtual Office?

If you want a physical office to hold meetings, answer the telephone on your behalf, and receive your mail, without having to sign a long-term lease and manage the additional staff; then a Virtual Office is a good option for you. 

A Virtual Office is usually a large office building with meeting rooms, a mailroom, and staff who answer the telephone and deal with visitors. 

The staff and the premises are managed by the Virtual Office company, not you. Which takes the burden off your shoulders. 

A Virtual Office provides its services to multiple businesses at the same time.

What Services Does a Virtual Office Provide?

A Virtual Office will allow you to use the premises to hold client meetings. They’ll provide you with a phone number which you can use for your business. When clients call the secretary from the Virtual Office will take the messages. You can also receive mail at the virtual office, which you’ll have to pick up later. 

If you’re looking for a way to receive your physical mail electronically, from anywhere in the world, read about our virtual mailbox service here

Do I Need a Virtual Office? 

A virtual office isn’t a necessity. If you want to hold in-person meetings, then it’s the right solution for you. But if you don’t, then a virtual office can simply be replaced with a Virtual Mailbox.

How Much Does a Virtual Office Cost?

The costs vary, but you can expect to pay around $200 per month to use a virtual office. 

Can I Use a Virtual Office as My Registered Agent? 

You have to check with the Virtual Office provider, but in most cases no, these are two distinct services. 

A Virtual Office is focused on providing you with a physical space without the large investment. And a Registered Agent is specifically there to receive official paperwork on your behalf and is required by the state. 

A Registered Agent and a Virtual Office Provide Different Services

To summarize, these services differ.

A Virtual Office is designed to minimize the investment of renting a physical office for businesses. You can hold face-to-face meetings and use secretarial services when renting a Virtual Office.

A Registered Agent is required by most states. This service will receive official correspondence on your behalf in exchange for a small annual fee. They’ll keep your private information safe and alert you of any deadlines/ notices. 

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