Do You Need a Registered Agent in Tennessee?


For many businesses in Tennessee, a registered agent is not only a legal requirement. It’s also a service that makes running a business easier. 

Tennessee registered agents are a crucial part of the business formation process, and you’ll find that it’s almost impossible to establish a business without one. The best Tennessee registered agent services will also send you compliance alerts to notify you about upcoming filing deadlines. 

Continue reading to find out what a registered agent is, what it does, and why your Tennessee business needs one. 

What Is a Registered Agent in Tennessee?

A registered agent is an individual or business entity that agrees to accept service of process, legal mail, and documents on behalf of your company by remaining stationed at your office address during normal business hours. 

You may be wondering why you would send your important mail and service of process to someone else at a different address. But the second half of registered agent duties involves document delivery services. Via either basic mail forwarding or an online document management system, your Tennessee registered agent will ensure that you receive your mail and keep you informed about compliance filing deadlines with the Tennessee Secretary of State. 

In some cases a registered agent in Tennessee is also called a resident agent or statutory agent. No matter which term is used, it all refers to the same service. 

What Is the Purpose of a Registered Agent in Tennessee?

If your plan is to cut out the middleman and fulfill your obligation to maintain a registered agent by setting up a PO box for your company and checking it for mail at the end of the day, skip to plan B. 

Your registered agent in Tennessee is legally required to be present at your official address—physical street address, that is—during business hours. So, checking a PO box at your discretion won’t do. 

But there are so many other things besides receiving service of process and supplying a physical street address that your registered agent in Tennessee can do!


Compliance deadlines for things like your Tennessee annual report generally only roll around once a year on the anniversary of your business’s establishment date, which makes them difficult to remember. Because of this, one of the most vital things your Tennessee registered agent can do is remind you about impending filing deadlines. 

As your company’s official point of contact, your registered agent in Tennessee works like an intermediary between your business and government agencies like the Tennessee Secretary of State. When important filing deadlines roll around, good registered agents send out compliance alerts or annual report reminders so that you don’t forget to file an annual report and land your company in legal hot water. 

Management of Important Documents

For businesses without a physical location, the physical address stipulation can seem a bit inconvenient. But choosing your office address should be a decision of great importance for reasons beyond meeting this legal requirement. 

All your legal documents and other mail will be sent to the business address that you list on your formation documents, and you need to keep all that stuff organized for your records. Many of the best registered agent services now offer online document management systems to help out in this regard. 

These registered agent services typically offer same day document scans, and you can quickly view your mail and documents using an online account, as well as storing your documents on the same portal. 

Who Can Be a Registered Agent in Tennessee?

In the United States, many registered agent requirements are standardized and therefore the same from state to state. Here are a few Tennessee registered agent requirements that your registered agent is obligated to fulfill. 

  • State laws. In some states, laws spell out the requirements of registered agents. So that you’re absolutely certain that your registered agent in Tennessee meets all of its legal obligations, make sure you know the state laws regarding registered agents. 
  • 18+ years old. Every registered agent in Tennessee is required to be at least 18 years of age.
  • Physical address. Your Tennessee registered agent must list a physical address, which means you can’t use a PO box.
  • Who you can designate. So long as your registered agent meets the requirements for a registered agent in Tennessee, you’re allowed to designate anyone you want. That could be an employee, lawyer, family member or friend. But be careful with this decision. You should choose someone who is dependable and available during business hours. 

What Happens If My Business Operates Without a Registered Agent?

Should your Tennessee registered agent fail to be present at your business address during normal business hours when a process server attempts to deliver service of process, they will deliver the service of process to the Tennessee Secretary of State in a further attempt to reach you. 

This is a standard procedure, not the process server being a jerk, but the result is still not great for your business. You’ll be completely oblivious to the legal actions that are taking place against your business. You can’t represent your company or even be present in court because you’re completely unaware of the situation. And a judge can issue a default judgment against your company in your absence.

Because it’s not legal for a business entity to fail to maintain a registered agent in Tennessee, the Tennessee Secretary of State can rescind your company’s good standing. This can result in loads of legal and financial dilemmas, like becoming ineligible for business loans, not being permitted to expand to other states, and being completely prohibited from conducting business in Tennessee. 

Limited liability companies can really feel the negative effects of being stripped of their good-standing status. A Tennessee LLC that’s had its good standing revoked can experience “administrative dissolution,” which is when the Tennessee Secretary of State moves to automatically dissolve a limited liability company if it fails to meet its legal requirements. 

Without legal recognition, a limited liability company that proceeds with business as usual takes on a lot of risks. Without a legally established Tennessee LLC, the company doesn’t have liability protection. Liability protection typically ensures a separation of the Tennessee LLC owner’s personal and financial assets and the company’s, but without it your hard-earned money and assets can be named as compensation if the business is sued. 

But the nasty consequences of not maintaining a registered agent in Tennessee aren’t limited to LLCs. If you own another type of business entity, like a Tennessee corporation, sole proprietorship or limited liability partnership, you could also deal with legal and financial repercussions of not maintaining a Tennessee registered agent. 

Can I Be My Own Registered Agent in Tennessee? 

There’s no legal reason that you can’t be your own agent. But you should know the pros and cons of being your own registered agent and how they compare to hiring a Tennessee registered agent service. 

Cons of Being Your Own Registered Agent


One of the biggest negative aspects of being your own registered agent is the adverse effects of missing a service of process. 

For most businesses, being served a service of process is rare and I hope that’s the case for yours, as well. But no matter how rare they are, missing one could mean that the Tennessee Secretary of State will repeal your company’s good-standing status, and default judgments could be issued against your company with disastrous results.

Lack of Privacy

Another disadvantage of being your own registered agent is having large portions of your personal information, such as your home address, listed on the public record. 

With this information available to the public, hackers and scammers can easily access it and use it to commit identity theft or other crimes. Your credit score could be destroyed in an instant—or worse. 

And what’s more disconcerting is the idea that every person on the internet could get their hands on your own address, name, and phone number, and there are some really odd ducks on the internet!


To meet the requirements of a Tennessee registered agent, you have to be present at your registered agent address during normal business hours to avoid missing a service of process. 

But most businesses are also operational during the same hours, which makes performing registered agent duties and managing your business nearly impossible to achieve at the same time—unless you’ve somehow mastered being in two places at once. 

Pros of Being Your Own Registered Agent

The sole benefit of being your own registered agent is not paying fees to a Tennessee registered agent service. 

But now that you know more about the legal issues that can result from being your own agent, and the amount of time the job takes up, you might just decide that it’s worth it to pay fees to a Tennessee registered agent service to save yourself some headache. The good news is that most registered agent services don’t have high fees. 

Should I Use a Registered Agent Service?

There are numerous reasons that a business owner may choose to use a Tennessee registered agent service: 

  • If you choose a good registered agent service that issues compliance alerts, you’re a lot less likely to miss compliance filing deadlines.
  • The likelihood of missing a service of process is significantly reduced if you hire a Tennessee registered agent service. 
  • You won’t be working as both a business owner and a registered agent if you use a registered agent service, which means you’re free to more effectively manage your company.
  • If your company operates in multiple states, then a national registered agent service can make meeting your company’s legal obligations effortless. 
  • Owners of businesses operating outside of normal business hours can hire a registered agent service to handle their compliance obligations during the day so that they can get some sleep. 
  • If you own a business without a physical address, hiring a registered agent service will allow you to keep your personal information off the public record because you can list your registered agent’s name and information rather than your own. 
  • Until you start a business, you don’t know about the crazy amounts of junk mail that businesses are sent. But if you hire a registered agent service, you won’t have to deal with any of that because they’ll dispatch it for you. 
  • There are some registered agent companies that provide premium registered agent services that may be attractive to you, like identity theft insurance or payment of state fees.
  • If you haven’t completed the formation process, then you can choose a registered agent service that also supplies business formation services. Many of these companies run promotions like a year of free registered agent service when you sign up for their formation services, which can come in handy for new business owners. 

As the owner of your business, you’re the only one that can decide whether a registered agent service is the best choice for your company. With that being said, I always recommend that new businesses use a registered agent service. 

What Is the Best Registered Agent Service?

There are quite a few important considerations when it comes to choosing the best registered agent service. Here are some of the things you should be thinking about when choosing your company’s registered agent: 

Service Features

It does you no good if your company’s registered agent doesn’t provide all the registered agent services you need. 

Some registered agent services offer online document management systems with same day scans and electronic storage systems that you can quickly and conveniently access with an online account, while other registered agent companies only offer mail forwarding, which can be painfully slow. 

Some registered agent providers offer worry-free compliance with compliance alerts so that you won’t forget to file annual reports or encounter legal troubles with the Secretary of State. Other registered agent services only supply a compliance calendar with compliance filing dates filled in, which is nice but is easy to forget about. 

Carefully consider the services that your company needs, and then choose a registered agent service that can deliver everything you need. 


You can typically tell how good a registered agent company is if you compare both its service catalog and its fee. If the registered agent company in question has scant services and an expensive price tag, then it’s not the best value on the market. 

Make sure you avoid “budget agents.” These registered agent companies use deceptive pricing practices to gain new customers before bombarding them with additional fees for services they need, like compliance alerts or online document management systems. While it’s important to find a good deal, budget agents are not the way to get one. 

Easy Sign-Up 

There are registered agent providers that have complex sign-up processes that not only require lots of paperwork but can also take weeks or even months to complete. One of the hallmarks of a good registered agent service is a quick, automated, and easy sign-up process. 

User-Friendly Interface 

Anyone who has worked for a company with a frustratingly complicated system will understand why it’s important that your registered agent’s system be easy to use. It’s something you’ll use frequently, afterall. Some registered agent providers have navigation systems that are a nightmare to learn, servers from the 80s and technical issues that are present throughout. Make sure to choose a registered agent service with a simple user interface.

Customer Service 

You can choose a registered agent service with a comprehensive service list, speedy sign-up process, and a foolproof system, but you’ll inevitably have questions that require answers quickly, or encounter urgent technical problems. And because your registered agent is in charge of crucial business duties, having good customer service is absolutely crucial. 

I considered these factors and used my four-stage investigation process to declare Northwest Registered Agent as the best registered agent service. If you want to learn more about registered agent services and how to choose the best one for your company, read my guide on the Best Registered Agent Services.


New business owners have to quickly process a lot of information. And on top of that, you’ll be responsible for meeting various compliance deadlines every year. But a quality registered agent can ease some of the workload of being a business owner. 

If you haven’t chosen a business structure for your business entity and you’d like to learn more about the LLC formation process, read How to Start an LLC. And if you’d like additional guidance through the formation process and assistance with filing your formation documents, check out my guide on the Best LLC Formation Services.

Tennessee Registered Agent FAQs

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

A commercial registered agent is a resident agent, statutory agent, or registered agent that has registered with the Secretary of State as a commercial registered agent service. In some states, it’s mandatory for all professional registered agent service providers to register as commercial agents. 

A noncommercial registered agent is an individual or business entity that hasn’t registered as a commercial agent. So if you’ve designated your Uncle Joe as your registered agent, he’s officially a noncommercial registered agent. 

How Do I Change the Registered Agent for My LLC?

You aren’t required to keep the same registered agent if you’re dissatisfied or find a better deal. All you have to do is file a Change of Registered Agent form and add your registered agent’s information (like your new registered agent’s name and address). You can submit this form to the Secretary of State in person or by mail, and there’s a filing fee of $20.

How Much Does a Registered Agent Cost? 

Your registered agent cost is based on a variety of factors, such as your LLC’s registered agent provider and the services you choose. Tennessee registered agent services can cost between $39–$299 per state per year. If you want to know more about registered agent pricing, read my guide on the Best Registered Agent Services

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