Who Can Be A Registered Agent In Wisconsin?
A Wisconsin registered agent (also referred to as a statutory agent or resident agent in some states) is an individual resident or business that maintains a registered office address in Wisconsin and is willing to accept service of process and official mail on behalf of a Wisconsin LLC, corporation, LLP, or LP. The agent must be capable of accepting service of any process, notice, or demand required by law to be served on a business.
Related: How to form an LLC in Wisconsin
Sole proprietorships and general partnerships do not need a registered agent.
What are the requirements of a Wisconsin registered agent?
The requirements for an entity to have a registered agent are formed under Wisconsin Statute 183.0105 (LLC) and Statute 180.0501 (corporation), which mandate that registered entities will have and continuously maintain a registered agent and registered office within the state. The agent must be available during normal business hours to accept any service of process, notice, or demand pertaining to the entity and forward it to the appropriate individuals.
A registered agent in Wisconsin can be any resident of the state who is 18 years or older, a registered Wisconsin domestic business entity, or a foreign business entity authorized to do business in the state. An entity cannot designate itself as its registered agent.
The registered agent needs to have a physical street address (often referred to as a registered office or principal office) in the state of Wisconsin. This can be your home address, the address of a family member, an accountant or attorney, the address of the business, or a professional registered agent service. Any physical address in the state may be used, but PO Boxes and mail drop services are not acceptable since someone has to be available to sign for documents.
The agent will also need to be available to receive Service of Process on behalf of the business during normal business hours. Service of process refers to the delivery of legal documents, often a summons, subpoena, or lawsuit filed against a business entity.
How much does a registered agent cost in Wisconsin?
Depending on the services provided, a commercial registered agent service typically costs between $100-$150 per year. Northwest Registered Agent is a popular service that charges $125 per year and offers several extras such as document scanning and mail forwarding and Harbor Compliance has a basic service starting at $99.
Some entity formation companies, like IncFile, includes registered agent service at no cost for the first year when you register your corporation or LLC with them.
Can you be your own registered agent in Wisconsin?
Yes! Any individual, owner, member, officer, director, etc., of a business entity that meets the state of Wisconsin’s registered agent requirements can be a registered agent.
Why you may not want to be your own registered agent
Provided one of the owners, members, or officers lives in Wisconsin, it is less expensive to act as your own agent rather than hiring a service. While this is the route many businesses take, there are a few reasons to consider hiring a service.
– Privacy – The address of the registered agent becomes public record and is available for anybody to see. This can be especially concerning if someone is doing business on the side, and they don’t want their employer to know about the business. Also, if the business is sued, the notice will be delivered to the address on file. This could mean employees, customers, or even neighbors witnessing the event. There is also the remote possibility of a vindictive litigant or upset customer showing up at your house.
– Availability – Wisconsin requires the registered agent to be available at the principal address during regular business hours. The biggest issue with availability, especially if a home address is used, is if the agent goes on vacation or is otherwise away for some period of time and can’t be reached.
– If the Business Expands to Additional Locations – If the business has a physical presence in multiple states (offices, warehouses, employees, etc.), a foreign entity registration will often need to be filed with those states. A registered agent will need to be appointed with a physical address in each state.
– Due Date Reminders – Registered agent services provide annual report reminders and updates on any state requirements.
What happens if you don’t have a registered agent in Wisconsin?
Not only is a registered agent required when forming an LLC or corporation, but you must maintain a registered agent to keep the entity in compliance. Besides the requirement of designating a registered agent at the time of formation, there are several reasons to have one:
– Not Receiving Legal Notices – If the listed registered agent cannot receive legal notices, this lawsuit will still proceed. If a process server is unsuccessful in reaching the company’s registered agent, the court can proceed with the case. This could result in a judgment being placed against the business without the owners knowing.
– Administrative Dissolution – In Wisconsin, if the business doesn’t have a registered agent, the state can dissolve the entity.
– Penalties and Fees – By not maintaining a current registered agent, penalties and state fees can be levied against the entity and, in some cases, the owners too. Once an entity is no longer in good standing with the state, the owners may lose their liability protection and are at risk personally.
– Entity Closure – Waiting too long to remedy the lack of a registered agent may result in administrative closure or dissolving the entity.
Can a Wisconsin registered agent be changed?
If the registered agent changes, the entity is required to file a change of registered agent.
A registered agent can be changed by submitting the Registered Agent Change Form along with the filing fee to the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions.
Is a registered agent liable for the actions of the business?
The only liability a registered agent faces is a lack of timely transmission of correspondence. If the registered agent is negligent in sending documents promptly, and the entity suffers a financial loss, the registered agent is responsible for paying those damages.
Can a registered agent sign on behalf of an LLC?
Unless the registered agent is also authorized to sign on behalf of the entity, they are not legally allowed to.
Does a sole proprietor need a registered agent?
Only entities registered with the Secretary of State, such as corporations and LLCs, need to register a registered agent. Sole proprietorships and general partnerships do not.