Can A Virtual Office Be Used As A Registered Agent?
Many business owners nowadays work from home and use a virtual office to receive mail and conduct in-person meetings. Because some states (such as Illinois where I practice) make information regarding the business owner public, some people may not want to list their home address as their registered agent address. So, can a virtual office be used as a registered agent?
To be clear, this article is about whether a business owner can use the virtual office address and list himself as the registered agent rather than whether the virtual office itself can serve as the registered agent.
As a refresher of why your registered agent is important, the registered agent for a business is the designated person or entity that receives legal documents such as the company’s annual report from the state, possibly the company’s tax forms, and the complaint and summons in the event the company is sued.
Under Illinois law, the registered agent must be either a person whose business address is the same as the registered office of the company or a company authorized to serve as a registered agent in Illinois.
So long as the virtual office is your business address, the Illinois statute does not prohibit you from listing yourself as the registered agent and your virtual office as your registered agent address. However, the problem with using a virtual office is that, as a practical matter, you may miss important documents that require a timely response if you don’t check your virtual office mail on a regular basis.
With that in mind, although the letter of the statute allows you to use the virtual office, you’re probably better served using a registered agent service. They will be required to notify you as soon as these important documents come in and can accept service of process so you’ll immediately know when a lawsuit is filed.
That way, you can contact a lawyer right away to make sure anything that needs to be filed in connection with the lawsuit will be handled in a timely manner. In Illinois, the cost of using a registered agent service is about $150-$200 on an annual basis.
It is up to you weigh the factors of cost, efficiency, and privacy in deciding whether you’d like to use the virtual office, a registered agent service, or your home address.