Do You Need a Registered Agent in Massachusetts?


Massachusetts requires every business entity to maintain a registered agent, but it’s also just a good idea to have one. 

It’s pretty much impossible to complete business formation without a registered agent. Having one is also a huge help when it comes to meeting your business’s compliance requirements because it can issue compliance alerts or annual report reminders to keep you abreast of important filing deadlines with the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth. 

Keep scrolling and I’ll tell you what a registered agent is, how to choose one for your company, and why a registered agent is required in Massachusetts. 

What Is a Registered Agent in Massachusetts?

A registered agent is an individual or business entity posted at your designated registered agent’s address to receive service of process and accept legal documents, mail, and tax notices during regular business hours from government agencies (like the Secretary of the Commonwealth or the IRS) on behalf of your Massachusetts LLC or business. 

It probably seems a bit backward to send your business’s mail and legal documents to a different person at a different address. But that’s where the other part of a registered agent’s services comes in: document delivery services. 

Using either mail forwarding or online document management services, Massachusetts registered agents are able to keep their clients informed about the legal documents and service of process they receive while also letting them know about annual reports and other filing deadlines with the Secretary of the Commonwealth. 

Furthermore, if your company is registered as a business entity, it’s legally required to maintain a registered agent in every state it operates in. You’ll either have to designate a registered agent in each state or hire a national registered agent to cover all of the bases. 

Sometimes a Massachusetts registered agent is referred to as either a resident agent or a statutory agent. They’re all terms for the same business service. 

What Is the Purpose of a Registered Agent in Massachusetts?

You’ve probably thought up some kooky scheme involving a PO box for your business that you check somewhat frequently for mail and service of process. But that’s not going to work, and here are three reasons why: 

First, Massachusetts requires that your registered agent or resident agent is physically present at your registered office street address during regular business hours. This means you can’t just check your PO box whenever you have free time. 

Second, the Secretary of the Commonwealth specifies that your Massachusetts registered agent must have a physical street address, which means you can’t use a PO box anyway. Sorry!

Lastly, there are lots of other services a registered agent service can provide!


It can be really hard to remember compliance filing deadlines because they typically only come once a year. But Massachusetts registered agents keep track of compliance dates for you. 

Your Massachusetts registered agent functions as a contact between you and government agencies, and as such they send out compliance alerts when important filing deadlines approach so that you don’t forget to file an annual report or lose your company’s good-standing status. 

Management of Important Documents

The business address you choose is important for more reasons beyond meeting the street address stipulation of the Secretary of the Commonwealth. This is also where all of the mail will be sent for your business, and you need to keep things like service of process and other legal documents for your company’s records. 

Many of the top registered agent services provide online document management systems where they scan and upload your mail and documents the day they’re received, which you can access with an online account. 

There are two reasons why this is superior to basic mail forwarding. First, it’s much faster to receive your documents this way than by waiting for them to come through snail mail twice. Second, it provides you with an online storage system for your business documents, which is more convenient than dealing with mountains of physical copies. 

Who Can Be a Registered Agent in Massachusetts?

Some requirements for resident agents are standard nationwide. Here are some of the requirements that your Massachusetts registered agent will be required to fulfill: 

  • State laws. Some states have laws specifically for registered agents. So to make sure your choice of Massachusetts registered agent complies with state law, read up on the laws in Massachusetts regarding registered agents. 
  • 18+. Every registered agent in Massachusetts must be at least 18 years old. 
  • Physical address. The Secretary of the Commonwealth stipulates that your business address must be a physical street address, which means that Massachusetts resident agents can’t list PO boxes. 
  • Who you can designate. You can designate anyone you like as your registered agent in Massachusetts, just as long as they meet all of the requirements— a friend, family member, or a professional (like your lawyer). They just need to be reliable and available during normal business hours..

What Happens If My Business Operates Without a Registered Agent?

Say for some reason your Massachusetts registered agent isn’t at your registered office during normal business hours to receive service of process from a process server. What happens next? The process server will deliver the service of process to the Secretary of the Commonwealth. 

This isn’t ideal because now the government agency has your legal documents, not you. You’ll have no clue about the legal actions being taken against your company and won’t be able to mount a proper legal defense. From here, a court can proceed with legal action against your company and issue a default judgment against it—all without your knowledge. 

Failure to maintain a registered agent in Massachusetts or to meet compliance filing deadlines is illegal, and you can lose your company’s good-standing status as a result. Loss of your company’s good-standing status could result in your business becoming ineligible for business loans, not being permitted to expand to other states, or being allowed to legally conduct business in Massachusetts. 

One particularly annoying side-effect of losing your company’s good-standing status is that you’ll also lose your company’s business name reservation. While your company name is in limbo, other companies can snatch it up and use it themselves. And no matter how quickly you move to clear up this legal issue, you may never regain the legal use of your business name. 

A Massachusetts LLC is particularly affected by the revocation of good-standing status. A limited liability company without its good-standing status is subject to what is known as “administrative dissolution,” which is when the Secretary of the Commonwealth revokes the company’s legal authority because it failed to meet its compliance requirements or legal obligations. 

It’s risky to run a limited liability company without official LLC status. You won’t have limited liability protection, and without that protection, you’re considered personally responsible for the company, and your personal and financial assets are on the line if the company is sued. 

Of course, the results of failing to maintain a registered agent in Massachusetts aren’t limited to LLCs. Massachusetts corporations and sole proprietorships also experience many of these ramifications as well. 

Can I Be My Own Registered Agent in Massachusetts?  

No law specifically forbids you from being your own Massachusetts registered agent. But you should weigh the pros and cons of being your own registered agent vs. hiring a professional registered agent service.

Cons of Being Your Own Registered Agent


Missing a service of process can lead to catastrophic consequences, like losing your business’s good-standing status or dealing with default judgments. 

Lack of Privacy

If you choose to be your own agent, your personal information will be listed on the public record, where everyone has access to it. Unfortunately, cybercriminals and hackers are part of the general public and they can use your information to commit identity theft and ruin your credit score. 

There’s also something inherently creepy about everyone having your phone number and address. 


The one thing that puts the kibosh on most business owners acting as their own registered agents is the vast amount of time the job takes up. You have to be present at your office address during normal business hours as a registered agent, and unfortunately most businesses also operate during that time. 

And unless you’re some sort of wizard or have access to groundbreaking technology that the rest of us could only dream of, it’s not possible for you to be in two places at once. 

Pros of Being Your Own Registered Agent

The only benefit of being your own MA registered agent is that you won’t have to pay fees to a professional registered agent service. But once you learn about the risks associated with being your own agent and how time-consuming the job is, it’s easy to see why many business owners happily pay for registered agent services. 

In the end, only you can decide whether hiring a registered agent service is the right move for you and your business. But it’s worth stating that I always recommend new businesses hire a registered agent service. 

Should I Use a Registered Agent Service?

There are a number of reasons that a business owner may choose to hire a registered agent service: 

  • You won’t forget about upcoming compliance filing deadlines for important stuff like your annual report. 
  • You’re less likely to miss a service of process and deal with the fallout (losing good standing status, default judgments, etc.) 
  • You won’t have to work two full time jobs (as both your own agent and a business owner), so you’re free to run your business efficiently. 
  • If your company operates in multiple states (i.e. foreign corporations or LLCs) and you hire a national registered agent service, you won’t have to hire multiple registered agent services just to meet your business’s legal requirements. 
  • Any business that doesn’t operate under what are considered normal business hours (like bars, game rooms, or restaurants) can benefit from a registered agent service—you’ll be able to sleep during the day.  
  • If your company doesn’t have a physical office or physical address located in Massachusetts, hiring a resident agent service will keep your info off the public record. You can list your registered agent’s name and information on the public record in place of your own. 
  • A registered agent receives junk mail on behalf of your business and dispatches it for you.
  • Some registered agent services supply premium services, like special business insurance types and payment of state fees. 
  • Some registered agent services offer business formation services. This allows you to take advantage of bundle offers, like free registered agent service for a year when you sign up for a business formation package. 

What Is the Best Registered Agent Service?

Several factors decide the top registered agent services. Here are some of the things you should keep in mind when choosing your business’s registered agent service. 

Service Features

The market is full of registered agents with catalogs full to the brim with registered agent services, all at different price points. Even if you’re on a tight budget you don’t have to settle for less than you need. Choose a Massachusetts registered agent service that meets all of your company’s needs. 


A good tool to use when determining the quality of a registered agent service is to compare the provider’s services to its fee. If the company has a skimpy registered agent service catalog but charges a high price for the few services it provides, then that company doesn’t offer very good value. 

Having said that, I should warn you about “budget” registered agents. These tricky registered agent providers advertise rates as low as $39–$59 per state, per year to lure in new customers before charging them heaps of additional fees for basic services like online document management systems or compliance alerts. Whatever you do, avoid budget registered agents. 

Easy Sign-Up 

Some registered agent services have sign-up processes that take weeks or months to complete and require you to fill out mountains of paperwork. Nobody has time for all of that. The formation process is stressful enough without having your time wasted! So, choose a Massachusetts registered agent service with a straightforward and automated sign-up process. 

User-Friendly Interface 

Have you ever worked for a company that has a computer system that’s slow, confusing, and headache inducing? That’s exactly the same situation you’ll encounter with some registered agent services. To avoid that stress, choose a Massachusetts registered agent service with a foolproof and user-friendly interface. 

Customer Service 

You could pick the Massachusetts registered agent service with the best product catalog, most affordable rate, most straightforward sign-up process, and most simple system and you’d still inevitably encounter a technical issue or have questions about your service. And because your Massachusetts registered agent service could literally make or break your business, stellar customer service is a must

I combined these factors with my four-stage investigative process to discover that Northwest Registered Agent is the best registered agent service. If you’d like to learn more about registered agent services or how to choose your company’s registered agent service, read my guide, the Best Registered Agent Services


New business owners are required to learn a lot of new information fast. Unfortunately, they also have to keep track of annual reports and other compliance filing deadlines. But Massachusetts registered agent services can lighten the workload of business owners and make their jobs less stressful. 

If you’ve yet to choose a structure for your Massachusetts business and are interested in learning about the LLC formation process, read How to Start an LLC. If you’d like added support and guidance throughout the formation process, check out my guide to the Best LLC Formation Services

Massachusetts Registered Agent FAQs

What’s the Difference Between a Commercial and a Noncommercial Registered Agent?

A noncommercial registered agent service is one that’s registered with the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth as a commercial registered agent. In some places, every professional registered agent service is required to register with the state as a commercial registered agent service.

Noncommercial registered agents consist of every individual or business entity that hasn’t registered with the state as a commercial agent. This means that if you’ve designated a family member or friend as your registered agent, then they’re technically a noncommercial registered agent. 

How Do I Change the Registered Agent for My LLC?

Thankfully, you aren’t stuck with the same registered agent service for all eternity. You can easily change your registered agent in Massachusetts by filling out a Statement of Change of Registered Agent form and submitting it to the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth. 

You’ll need to enter your new registered agent information, including your registered agent’s name and registered office address, and pay $25 in state fees upon submission. 

How Much Does a Registered Agent Cost? 

The cost of a registered agent varies based on a number of different factors, like which services your business requires and which provider you choose. But generally speaking, a registered agent service can cost between $39–$299 per state, per year. 

To learn more about registered agent pricing and registered agent services, read the Best Registered Agent Services

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