Does Anyone Know Why States Still Require Registered Agents?

In most states, if you are registering as a "foreign" corporation (in this context foreign means out-of-state) you have to have a registered agent in that state.  In some cases, this can be a person who works for you, but since our employees are seasonal in many states, this does not work for us.  So, we have to go out and pay some local attorney a few bucks each year to be our "agent".  The services of this agent seem to include mainly forgetting to forward important mail that the state insists on sending to the agent rather than to my corporate office.  I just got a $250 fine from California because I did not respond to some reporting requirement that they sent to my registered agent, who then in turn lost it or whatever.

Can anyone tell me why this requirement still exists.  Or, even better, why it ever existed.  Maybe it was useful in the days before the Pony Express or the telephone to have a nearby contact, but who cares now?

  • I'd bet a dollar that it's just out and out state protectionism. You want to do business there, you should be helping people there. There might also be some hook-in to regulation, that they have some regulatory power over at least that agent, but that's probably a secondary thing. Maybe it's also a stealth tax based on fees from you not paying on time. But that's just cynical me talking.

  • boo

    Perhaps you could expand on a viable alternative? I see the need because you are incorporated in one state, and doing business in another. Therefore, the only alternative I see is being able to incorporate a US (as opposed to state) corporation, with state corporate tax/reporting structures unified so you make one return, with the federal gov't. working out some formula for how the revenue gets distributed. I can't imagine that happening though.

  • Max Lybbert

    I've always believed this was so that people could more easily sue you.

  • boo-

    The issue is not registration in other states. The issue is why do I have to have a person who is a full-time resident of the state present as a contact. And, in California, why do those contact people have to be from a special list? Why can't I just give California my address in Arizona and they send everything I need there, rather than to some resident of California who has to forward it to me

    Coyote