What Florida Home-based Business Owners Should Know About Registered Agents
Although most home-based businesses begin as sole proprietorships, it is not uncommon for them to change their business structure as they expand. Some Floridians even start out as a corporation or a limited liability company to shield their personal assets. If you are an LLC or a corporation doing business in the state of Florida, you must have a registered agent.
What Is a Registered Agent?
A registered agent is an individual or entity that has a physical address in the state in which you are transacting business. Furthermore, registered agents must always be available at that address during normal business hours so that they can receive any legal notices on your behalf. Your registered agent’s address will also be used by government agencies when mailing the forms that you need to file, official notices, and other communications.
Whom Should I Choose for My Registered Agent in Florida?
Theoretically, you can choose any individual with a physical address in the state of Florida; you can also name an entity, but you cannot name your own business entity. However, the addresses of registered agents are public records in Florida, so the person you choose will be sacrificing a certain amount of personal privacy. The requirement to always be available can potentially prove problematic to individuals who prefer to come and go as they please. At PhysicalAddress.com, we can provide you with an extremely economical virtual business address to keep your privacy intact, and we also provide you free registered agent service.
How Do I Change My Registered Agent in Florida?
When you filed with the state of Florida to form your corporation or LLC, the name and address of your registered agent was included. Over time, you might find it necessary to change your registered agent. Perhaps you initially named your attorney or accountant, but they could be charging you as much as $200 a year just for serving as your registered agent, and you feel that the money could be put to better use. Maybe you named an employee who is moving out of the state, or you named a relative who is retiring to another state to be nearer their grandchildren. Fortunately, Florida makes it relatively simple to change your registered agent by offering two different methods.
1. If you are ready to file your annual report, you can make the change when you file, and there will be no additional fee. To file your annual report online, you will need the entity document number appearing on your filing notice, your Federal EIN, and an email address. You can pay the filing fee online with a credit card, or you can submit your payment through your Sunbiz account. Alternatively, you can file online, print a Department of State Check Payment Voucher, and mail the voucher with your money order or check within 10 days.
2. If you have already filed your annual report for the year, you can complete a form that you obtain from the Florida Department of State Registration Section. The form is called a Statement of Change of Registered Office or Registered Agent. The filing fee is $25 for an LLC or $35 for a corporation. If you are in the Tallahassee area, you can deliver the completed form, cover letter, and payment to the Clifton Building in person. Otherwise, you should mail your form, cover letter, and money order or check to the Amendment Section, Division of Corporations, PO Box 6327, Tallahassee, Florida, 32314.
What Else Should I Know About Registered Agents?
Registered agents are required to sign the application or change order as a way of confirming that they accept the obligations involved. If you choose an entity, a principal of the entity will sign. Otherwise, the individual named will sign. If you are making a change when filing your report online, the registered agent you have selected should type their name in the block for the signature.
If I Fail to Change My Registered Agent Immediately, What Is the Worst That Could Happen?
The state could suspend or revoke your permission to transact business in Florida and remove it from the list of companies in good standing. As a result, you could be prevented from expanding into additional states, be barred from filing lawsuits, or denied financing. Furthermore, once businesses lose their good standing, they risk losing the rights to their name in Florida. If your LLC is dissolved, you immediately become personally responsible for any debts or lawsuits if you continue to operate your business without a valid LLC.