What is a Registered Agent or a Resident Agent, and why does my company need one?
A registered agent is the individual or company that serves as the corporate entity’s contact to receive service of process in legal matters in the U.S. Virgin Islands. All corporate entities are required to have a registered agent on record with the Secretary of State’s Office or in the case of the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Office of the Lieutenant Governor.
Anytime a person is sued, the law requires that they be given proper notice of the lawsuit so as to have an opportunity to defend against it. This notice, usually the personal delivery, home delivery or mailing of a summons and complaint, is called “service of process”. When an individual is sued, there is an identifiable, living and breathing person who can be “served”. This, however, is not the case with business entities. In the event a business has an office open to the public, one cannot just serve the receptionist or another employee and then proceed with the case.
Instead, U.S. Virgin Islands law, like that in all 50 states, requires every business entity to appoint an “agent” for service of process. Although sometimes referred to as a “resident agent”, “registered agent” or “authorized agent”, this is the person responsible for accepting service of process on behalf of a business entity if and when it is ever sued. The name and address of the agent for every registered business entity in the Virgin Islands is required to be on file and regularly updated with the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, Division of Corporations and Trademarks. Therefore, in most cases, to properly serve a business entity, one simply needs to inquire with that Division to determine who the registered agent is. Virgin Islands law further requires the Division to provide this information by upon telephone request. In the event the publicly-available information regarding the agent is outdated, incorrect, or otherwise missing, a plaintiff can then serve the lawsuit on the Lieutenant Governor.
Whether your business entity is formed in the U.S. Virgin Islands or in another state but is qualified to do business in the Territory, it is important that a proper agent be selected. Although the agent must be a U.S. Virgin Islands resident, the agent does not have to be an officer or owner of the business. Many business owners prefer to use an established law firm such as BoltNagi PC, with a corporate compliance team in place for this service. It is a relatively inexpensive option and provides the business owner with a stable agent and compliance with the law. Selecting and properly appointing a resident agent is just one aspect of establishing your company in the U.S. s Virgin Islands. While not too difficult, making sure it’s done effectively and efficiently can be another matter. As a new business owner, you will want to make sure that you have a team of lawyers with business law experience in the Territory. BoltNagi PC works with entrepreneurs and business owners on a regular basis in entity formations, mergers, acquisitions, and other operational matters. BoltNagi PC, one of the largest and highest regarded law firms in the U.S. Virgin Islands, has attorneys within their Corporate, Tax and Estate Planning Practice Group working with corporate compliance paralegals, all with the skills and business experience to assist your company to adhere to requirements of the Territory. Contact the attorneys at BoltNagi PC today to discuss your business concerns and receive sound, authoritative advice on your local business needs.