How to Get a Registered Agent in Tennessee

Memphis Tennessee | Swyft Filings

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Swyft Filings is committed to providing accurate, reliable information to help you make informed decisions for your business. That's why our content is written and edited by professional editors, writers, and subject matter experts. Learn more about how Swyft Filings works, our editorial team and standards, what our customers think of us, and more on our trust page.

Alexis Konovodoff
Written by Alexis Konovodoff
Written byAlexis Konovodoff
Updated September 11, 2023
Edited by Zachary Ace Aiuppa
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Staying compliant as a Tennessee business owner is not easy. You need to abide by countless requirements, and one of them is having a registered agent. 

We’ll explain what a Tennessee registered agent does and why this role is essential in this guide.

Key Takeaways

  • A Tennessee registered agent is the business entity that receives documents on your behalf, allowing you to avoid face-to-face meetings with a process server.

  • A corporation or LLC registered agent has many responsibilities, such as being the person of contact for the reception of legal documents and being available during regular business hours.

  • Working with a Tennessee registered agent service provider is superior to designating yourself as the registered agent for your company.

Ensure Compliance With a Top Registered Agent in Tennessee

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What Is a Registered Agent?

A Tennessee registered agent is a company or person that provides business services by accepting legal correspondence on your behalf. 

Whether you have a Tennessee limited liability company (LLC), corporation, small business, or non-profit, the Tennessee Secretary of State requires you to designate a registered agent. The only exception is for general partnerships.[1]

A registered agent is one of the most critical state requirements because it helps ensure Tennessee LLC business owners and other organizations remain in good standing with the government. A registered agent also helps protect your reputation and reduce the risk of missing critical notices by receiving and delivering legal documents on the same day.

Registered Agent Responsibilities

The state requires all businesses to have a Tennessee registered agent to keep the owner in good standing with the Secretary of State. The agent accepts legal mail such as service of process. If your organization faces a lawsuit, the delivery to your registered agent creates a record that you’ve received the necessary paperwork. 

Service of process isn’t the only documentation a registered agent handles on your behalf. Your registered agent receives many other papers and performs an array of duties, including:

  • Subpoenas for specific information

  • Official state and federal correspondence

  • IRS tax notices

  • Tax notices from local authorities

  • Annual report reminders

  • Legal notices

  • Mail forwarding

  • Document scans

  • Summonses for appearing in court

  • Online filing

  • Corporate filing notifications

  • Wage garnishment notifications 

  • Biennial or annual report filings

  • Various corporate filings for the public record

The authorities deliver these legal documents and notifications to your agent’s registered physical address in Tennessee. Your agent must be present at their registered location during regular business hours, and the address cannot be a P.O. box.

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Choosing Your Tennessee Registered Agent

The first year you are in business will likely be the most confusing regarding paperwork, so having someone in the know on your side will be most beneficial. While you must appoint a Tennessee registered agent, you must first familiarize yourself with the essential requirements for this role.

Tennessee Registered Agent Requirements

An individual or company must meet the following requirements to operate as your Tennessee registered agent:

  • Be at least 18 years old, if an individual

  • Have a physical street address (registered office) in the state of Tennessee

  • List their address and name on your formation documents

A registered agent can also be a domestic or non-profit corporation whose business office overlaps with its registered office. A foreign profit or non-profit corporation is another option, as long as the entity has the authorization to transact in the state.[2]

Failure to appoint a registered agent to handle service of process for your Tennessee business puts you at risk of fines. Even worse, it compromises your good standing with the state and can force officials to terminate your company or revoke your license to do business. These consequences will prevent your company from expanding, filing lawsuits, and receiving financing.

Can I Be My Own Registered Agent in Tennessee?

You can designate yourself as your own registered agent. The most significant benefit of this move is that it eliminates the expenses associated with hiring third-party providers. You may take the DIY route if you can better use funds otherwise spent on a registered agent.

Another reason to consider appointing yourself as the registered agent for your business is to keep things simple. You don’t have to enter into agreements with third parties, which means all critical documents go straight to your home office address. You keep confidential data under your eyes only and tackle all legal paperwork yourself.

Advantages of being your own registered agent:

  • Keeps all paperwork in-house

  • Removes the extra costs of hiring a third party

  • Avoids extra eyes on sensitive documents

However, being a self-designated agent is far from perfect. You need to be aware of the many drawbacks, such as privacy concerns. 

When you file your corporation or LLC paperwork with the Tennessee Secretary of State, you must provide your registered agent’s contact information. If you run your company from home, your home address is on the public record, dramatically lowering your privacy.

Taking on a registered agent’s duties also increases the amount of daily mail received. The mass of correspondence can overwhelm a small business owner and cause critical notices to go unnoticed. Furthermore, you must be available during normal business hours to accept paperwork, preventing you from focusing on more critical activities or taking a day off.

Finally, it’s essential to note that you need a registered agent for every state you operate in. Since you can’t use a P.O. box for your registered office address, you will have to open more brick-and-mortar locations if you take the DIY route, which is expensive. Plus, many other filing fees are associated with moving to another state, making a self-designated agent costlier than it seems.

Disadvantages of being your own registered agent:

  • Raises privacy concerns with the registered office address

  • Increases the amount of mail, which can quickly get overwhelming

  • Forces normal business hours

  • Leads to long-term expenses, which neutralize the initial savings

Benefits of a Third-Party Registered Agent

Appointing yourself as the registered agent for your organization can be beneficial, but hiring a third-party provider is a much better option. Here’s what you can gain from a Tennessee registered agent service.

Lower Chances of Non-Compliance

The best Tennessee registered agent can help you avoid legal trouble and expensive fines. These professionals have the expertise and experience to meet Tennessee deadlines and regulations, protect your reputation, and maintain good standing. A third-party registered agent like Swyft Filings even provides an LLC formation service to help you get started on the right foot. 

More Time to Build Your Company

Compliance requirements are mandatory, but they’re labor- and time-intensive. You often need to complete lengthy and confusing forms with data from numerous sources.

You can’t afford to waste your energy on these administrative tasks. A registered agent can do them to ensure you stay compliant while allowing you to streamline your company.

Flexible Schedule

Business owners who designate themselves as the registered agents of their firms must be available during regular business hours. That’s not the case if you hire a third-party provider to serve as the point of contact on your behalf, giving you more time to focus on money-making activities, travel, or make other out-of-office plans.

Guaranteed Privacy

Receiving vital documents at your business address might not seem problematic at first, but it can have a negative impact on your customers. For example, they might catch a glimpse of a process server, making them believe you’re not as reputable as you claim to be. This can hurt your reputation and push clients to your competitors.

By contrast, working with a third-party Tennessee registered agent guarantees a private reception of legal documents, including lawsuits. Police officers who deliver service of process and other paperwork don’t show up at your business and potentially intimidate your customers. Instead, they go to your registered agent’s office, who will forward the mail to you at your discretion.

Expansion Opportunities

When registering your corporation or LLC to do business in a state outside Tennessee, you need a separate registered agent for each state. Doing so yourself is nearly impossible, but a registered agent provider can set up the service in as many states as necessary to ensure compliance.

Reduced Mail

As previously indicated, a lot of junk mail may arrive at your address if you use your home as your business premises. Marketers and unwanted visitors may send you paperwork, and sorting it can be overwhelming. Having a registered agent will drastically lower the amount of unnecessary paperwork sent to your business.

Address Changes

You can’t be your own registered agent if your only business address is a private address or P.O. box. In that case, hiring a registered agent is your best option since all providers have physical addresses.

The same goes if you plan on changing your business address. Being your own registered agent would require you to file a change of address with the Tennessee Secretary of State, which comes with a fee and formal filing. By contrast, using an agent provider lets you avoid this expense since you can move to a different business address without changing the location of your agent.

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How to Set Up Your Tennessee Registered Agent

Entrepreneurs need a knowledgeable registered agent to abide by government requirements. However, business owners in Tennessee set up their registered agents differently than in some other states.

If you’re ready to elect your agent or want to switch to a new provider, we’ll fill out the paperwork, file it with the state, and serve as your reliable registered agent. We’ve also outlined the steps below if you’re interested in filing yourself.

Electing a Tennessee Registered Agent

You must list the name of your registered agent in your formation documents, but before you can include them in the paperwork, you must submit a request to the Tennessee Secretary of State.

If you’re forming an LLC, you must first download and complete your articles of organization. The state fees are currently $50. You must provide the information about your registered agent in Section 4.

You can submit your form online to the Secretary of State or mail the request using the following address:[3]

Tennessee Secretary of State 312 Rosa L. Parks Ave, 6th Floor Nashville, TN 37243-1102

Changing a Tennessee Registered Agent

If you’re unhappy with your current registered agent, you can appoint a new one for your Tennessee LLC whenever you want.

To do so, fill out the Statement of Change of Registered Agent or Office by Entity or Agent. The state fees are currently $20. You may also need your registered agent to sign a consent form. However, the step varies by state and the elected provider.[4]

Use the above address to submit your request in person or by mail. Alternatively, visit the Tennessee Secretary of State online platform to complete the process.

Why Choose Swyft Filings as Your Tennessee Registered Agent
  • Avoid Penalties: Every business is legally required to have a registered agent in any state where it operates.

  • Prioritize Your Privacy: We go on record with the government so you don’t have to, meaning any legal actions come to us, not your home or office.

  • Stay Flexible: We are always available at a physical address during business hours, so you’ll never miss an official notice.

Secure My Registered Agent


Who can be a Tennessee registered agent?

A Tennessee registered agent must be a domestic or foreign company authorized to transact in the state or an individual who is at least 18 years old. Your registered agent also needs a physical street address in the state, and you must provide their information on your formation documents.

How much does a registered agent in Tennessee cost?

Many people assume the cost of a third-party registered agent service is exorbitant, but that’s not the case. Most registered agent providers only charge around $100-$300 per year, which is a negligible expense for helping keep your business compliant with state laws.

How can I change my registered agent in Tennessee?

To change your registered agent in Tennessee, you must fill out and submit the Statement of Change of Registered Agent or Office by Entity or Agent to the Secretary of State. The fee is currently $20, and you can submit it in person or online.

How can I find a registered agent in Tennessee?

You can find a registered agent in Tennessee by looking up services online, using an online registered agent database, or asking for references from friends and family members.

What is a Tennessee registered office?

A Tennessee registered office is where your registered agent receives service of process and other legal documents. It’s separate from your home or business address, and agents can’t use P.O. boxes as their registered address.

What’s the difference between a registered agent and a resident agent or statutory agent?

While all businesses must have a registered agent, some use different terms for this role. They all mean the same thing but emphasize various aspects of the profession.

  • Registered agent: agent is registered by a company

  • Resident agent: agent must reside in the state

  • Statutory agent: a statute mandates a registered agent

What is a registered agent service?

A registered agent service is a third party that fulfills the registered agent requirements on behalf of the business. Swyft Filings offers a reliable registered agent service that maintains your privacy, provides immediate access to vital documents, and gives you more time to focus on your business.


  1. Tennessee Secretary of State. “Frequently Asked Questions.” Accessed December 19, 2022.

  2. Justia US Law. “2010 Tennessee Code Title 48 – Corporations and Associations Chapter 208 – Registered Agent.” Accessed December 20, 2022.

  3. Tennessee Secretary of State. “Articles of Organization Limited Liability Company.” Accessed December 19, 2022.

  4. Tennessee Secretary of State. “Registered Agent Change.” Accessed December 20, 2022.

Originally published on May 05, 2023, and last edited on September 11, 2023.
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