Before you can form a limited liability company (LLC) in Massachusetts, you need to appoint an official point of contact so that the commonwealth and others can get in touch with your business, especially for legal notices that must be delivered in person. That person (or company) is called a resident agent. We’ll tell you below what the resident agent is, their duties, and the requirements to be one.

What is a Massachusetts Resident Agent?

A resident agent (called a “registered agent” in most states) is an individual or other entity designated by the business to receive important legal documents on behalf of the business.

What does a Massachusetts Resident Agent do?

Under the Massachusetts Statutes Chapter 156C, Section 5, all LLCs must appoint and maintain an office, which may (but doesn’t have to) be its place of business in the commonwealth, and a resident agent. The agent’s primary role is to accept legal documents on behalf of the LLC. This position is necessary because it ensures that the correct people within an LLC are notified in the event of time-sensitive events such as service of process for lawsuits, garnishment notices against employees, a notice of annual reports, or notifications of taxes.

Who can be a Resident Agent in Massachusetts?

A Massachusetts resident agent in Massachusetts must be one of the following:

  • An individual resident of the commonwealth;
  • A domestic corporation/business entity;
  • Or a foreign (out-of-state) corporation/business entity authorized to do business in the commonwealth.

Should you be your own Massachusetts Resident Agent?

Serving as your own resident agent can cause problems, which is why registered (resident) agent services are popular. Here are some reasons to consider hiring a service to act as a resident agent.

  • Availability – A resident agent must be available at the principal address during normal business hours.  This could be a challenge for an LLC owner who doesn’t keep consistent office hours.
  • Reminders – Resident agent services often provide reminders for state requirements such as annual report filings. 
  • Avoiding Embarrassment – If you serve as your own registered agent and a lawsuit is filed against the business, you could have papers served to you at your office in front of clients. That could be bad for business in addition to being embarrassing.

How is a Resident Agent Appointed in Massachusetts?

You’ll need to name your resident agent when you complete the official paperwork with the commonwealth of Massachusetts to form your LLC, so you’ll need to decide who your resident agent or registered/resident agent service will be beforehand. Of course, you need to be sure to inform whomever you’re appointing and get their permission to serve in that role.

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