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Thinking about forming an LLC?
Well, good for you. Because compared to other business entities like S or C corporations, the process of forming an LLC is considerably cheaper and much faster. So, you’re bound to have a smooth sailing overall.
However, for that to happen, there’s something you might need to prioritize. You see, one of the most critical steps during the formation process is securing registered agent services.
And, as it turns out, this is not one of those optional extras you can afford to ignore. In most US states, businesses are required to acquire registered agent services (sometimes referred to as statutory agent) as they apply for an LLC or a corporation. There are no two ways about it.
So what are the best services to automate the process?
These are the best registered agent services for 2020 (frequently updated):
Table of Contents
If Northwest’s charge of $225 and Harbor Compliance’s $399 puts you off, you could try forming a company through Incfile.
This particular solution has been in the industry since 2004, which translates to over a decade and a half worth of registered agent experience.
Compared to the rest, Incfile happens to be when one of the best-registered agent services when it comes to affordability and package value. Forming an LLC here can be as cheap as $49 if you exclude your accompanying state fees.
And that’s not all. Purchasing such a package means you also get registered agent services for 12 months at no additional charge. So, in a way, Incfile is a perfectly desirable option for small startups operating on a budget.
Ok, I know what you might be thinking at this point. That there’s no way such a price translates to genuinely professional registered agent services. So what’s the catch?
Well, believe it or not, you’ll hardly find a caveat here. $49 plus the applicable state fees essentially entitle you to lifetime customer support, free business tax consultation, online order status tracking, next business day formation procession, preparation and filing or articles, verification of company name availability, and free registered agent services for an entire year.
We’ve tested these solutions and we can confirm that Incfile is seeming as professional as they come. Besides, you’ll find numerous positive reviews of the company on various online platforms.
The bulk of Incfile’s over 250,000 clients are satisfied with their experiences so far. Only a handful of critics have left negative reviews of Incfile’s registered agent services. While there are pros and cons, the cons are few and relatively minor.
That said, Incfile is particularly ideal for online-based businesses. It comes with a wide range of add-ons that online merchants would find handy. We’re talking about things like business contract templates, custom documents, and more.
Then for information about compliance and other commerce-related issues, Incfile provides a pretty comprehensive learning center. It features business entity comparison charts (e..g llc vs s-corp vs c-corp), state information on both LLCs and corporations, business checklists, requirements for filing various stuff in different states (e.g. Delaware), etc.
Forming an LLC or corporation with Incfile will cost you at least $49 plus your state’s fees. While this comes with a decent set of extras like business owners consultation and free registered services for 1 year, there are more benefits if you alternatively choose either the Gold or Platinum package.
Gold, for instance, costs $149 excluding state fees and it’ll save you from paying an additional $70 for an employer identification number, $40 for an operating agreement, $50 for preparation of an IRS form, and more.
Then Platinum, on the other hand, offers even free domain name and email, in addition to expedited filing services. But, that will cost you $299 plus state charges.
When the subsequent free 12-month period lapses, renewing registered agent services on Incfile will cost you $119. Sadly, there are no discounts for volume purchases.
Incfile Registered Agent Services Pros
Since 1998, Northwest has been in the business of registered agent services for US companies. That translates to over two decades of experience, which has seen the firm interact with various types of businesses across all industries.
Then get this. Northwest has maintained an impressive track record over the years. You’ll even have a hard time finding negative reviews on Google. This registered agent solution happens to boast of numerous positive testimonials from an extensive array of past clients.
Now, the one area where Northwest stands out from the rest is customer service. Its support framework is undeniably the best in the industry, as the staff members here are seemingly trained to go the extra mile.
At the core of the whole system are personal support representatives, who are assigned to individual clients. Yes, that’s right. You get your own personal assistant to serve your company throughout. You can freely reach out to them at any time, even when you have a minor concern.
Well, after testing them a couple of times, we can confirm that the representatives know their stuff as well. So, you can rest assured that you won’t be getting into any legal trouble due to simple documentation compliance issues.
And speaking of which, documentation is another thing that Northwest takes very serious. As a matter of fact, it happens to be the only countrywide registered agent solution that has a policy of locally scanning every single client document they handle.
While other registered agent services scan only as far as the law compels them, Northwest attempts to be as thorough as possible. So, of course, you can rely on them not to miss the important stuff.
The cost of applying for LLC or a corporation with Northwest registered agent services is $225 plus state filing fee. They’ll then generously extend their services to cover a full year without any extra charge.
So, after the application sails through you can proceed to capitalize on Northwest’s local scanning, as well as online tools like annual report compliance reminders for free.
Beyond that, however, the cost shifts to a standard flat rate of $125 per year for a single state. But, interestingly, Northwest is willing to revise that rate if your package has more than 5 states. The cost will essentially drop to $100 per year per state.
Summary: ZenBusiness offers a much more automated and streamlined barebones registered agent service, with less hand holding and sales tactics but perhaps the fastest process from start to finish.
Summary: Offering standard registration services for C Corps, S Corps, LLCs, Non Profits, and DBAs, Swyft (like the name suggests) is all about getting your business set up quickly, with a laser focus on registered agent services.
Swyft Filings Prices: $49 basic incorporation service, variable pricing beyond (buffet menu of options).
Summary: Inc Authority is a brand new service (started end of 2019) offering a similar level of service to LegalZoom, but offering a better overal incorporation and formation experience and service.
Inc Authority Prices: Inc Authority offers 100% FREE barebones entity formation (not including state fees). YES, we actually checked by registering an entity… They do offer premium packages if you need additional services like EIN registration, Operating Agreements, Tax Consultation, etc…
Summary: Filenow is even more recent and they are attempting to one-up the market leaders like Incfile with faster service and more complimentary services included.
Summary: CorpNet is another full-suite business registration service, covering LLCs, Corporations, Non Profits, and DBAs. It feels a bit more geared towards corporate setups, including trademark registration services and even corporate office supplies.
Harbor Compliance hasn’t been around for as long as Northwest Registered Agent Services, considering it was only founded in 2012. So, in essence, Harbor Compliance Registered Agent Services has served clients for barely 7 years so far.
But, make no mistake about it. While it might not be the most experienced registered agent solution, Harbor Compliance has seemingly secured its fair share of the market. In fact, it quickly rose through the ranks to establish itself as one of the best-registered agent services in the US.
A lot of it has to do with the fact that Harbor Compliance achieves a perfect balance between pricing and the corresponding features. Although it might not be the cheapest solution in the market, Harbor Compliance manages to outshine many competitors that seemingly offer the same quality of service.
And if you’re wondering, the answer is yes. Northwest is one of its principal competitors. While their registered agent services have a couple of notable pricing differences, the two solutions match up to each other when it comes to customer service.
You can bet, for instance, that you’ll find the Northwest-style personalized customer support system on Harbor Compliance. Its clients are assigned “Compliance Specialists” who happen to be dedicated account managers. And their main job, of course, is handling your company’s registered agent services.
If you ever need any form of assistance, you can get in touch with them via Harbor Compliance’s site contact form, email, or phone. You’ll find then to be quite handy, especially in legal compliance matters and related legal services.
Harbor Compliance Registered Agent Service Features
Registered agent services on Harbor Compliance will cost you just $99 per year for each state. But, it can drop by up to 10% if you choose to pay for five or more states. The same discount rules are applied to clients who make an advance payment covering two to three years.
Forming an LLC, on the other hand, will cost you at least $399. No cause for alarm though, because Harbor Compliance’s formation package offers fully-managed startup services. In other words, registered agent services are supplemented by extras like articles of organization drafting, operating agreements, application tracking, etc.
While Incfile is an economical option for forming a company, InCorp wins that title when we switch to full-time registered agent services. Although it’s one of the biggest and most established registered agent services providers in the US, InCorp has managed to maintain a low bar in the pricing department.
A year’s worth of registered agent services starts at $99. And guess what? It can get cheaper if you add more years into your prepaid package. A 5- year subscription, for instance, will cost you about $66 a year. That’s a rate you won’t be able to get from other registered agent solutions.
But, what do you get in return?
Well, if the experience is one of your primary concerns in the selection process, then there’s no reason to worry here because InCorp comes with plenty of that. It has provided registered agent services since 1998, which translates to two decades of professional experience.
And get this. Most of the clients who’ve been part of InCorp’s journey over the years have nice things to say about the firm. So much so that various review platforms on the web are littered with positive testimonials about InCorp registered agent services.
Thankfully, things are not slowing down anytime soon. As a matter of fact, it seems like InCorp is gradually improving the level of services it offers.
The current customer service framework, for example, integrates web live chat, email, and phone support channels. You’re free to contact InCorp’s agents through any of these channels at any time between 9 AM and 9 PM, and they’ll assist you accordingly. You can even switch to Spanish if you prefer since InCorp is all about bilingual customer support. The choice is yours.
Forming an LLC or a corporation via InCorp will cost you $99 plus the applicable state fees.
Then registered agent services, on the other hand, start at $99 per year. But, if you choose to pay for 2 years, you get to save close to $20 overall. The annual price essentially drops to $89.10.
A 3-year subscription makes the rates even friendlier by charging you $80.52 per year. The biggest savings, however, are made by choosing the 5-year plan, which reduces the costs to $66.56 per year.
The following are some other options to consider, in no particular order:
Quick Summary: RocketLawyer not only handles your basic business setup and compliance items, but offers a robust legal retainer service “in case you need it” covering a wide variety of business law questions and documents. Great for businesses in need of semi-regular and variable legal consults (or just as an insurance policy).
Quick Summary: LegalZoom is definitely the market leader in the space, having originally distrupted the industry over a decade ago. Today, it’s the incumbent that has a big fat target on it’s back. Still, it can be a great option depending on your needs.
Quick Summary: MyCompanyWorks narrows down on LLCs and Corporate registrations specifically and the site feels very much geared towards starting and managing a company (versus ancillary legal services and legal advice).
Quick Summary: BizFilings offers the widest array of registration services, including non-profits, DBAs, and LLPs, PC/PLLCs, in addition to standard LLCs and Corporations.
Ok, I’ll admit that some states allow you to appoint yourself the registered agent. Fair enough. But, here’s the problem – designating yourself means exposing your personal details like name and address to the public.
And that alone translates to an unending streak of junk documents in your mailbox. Plus, of course, you’ll have to deal with reduced personal privacy.
So, whichever way you look at it, registered agent solutions are unavoidable if you’re dealing with a serious business.
But, where do you even begin?
Now, if you’ve tried looking around, you’ve probably noticed that there’s an overwhelming host of options out there. Perfect for competition. But, it would take you a heck of a lot of time to go through them.
So, allow us to save you the trouble by walking you through the best-registered agent services. We took the time to sample a wide array of options that enjoy good ratings across all the states. Then using the information we’ve subsequently compiled a solid list of the top registered agent solutions, all of which have a proven track record of outstanding services.
Before we dive into that, however, let’s explore what the concept of registered agent services entails and why it’s too much of a big deal.
According to state laws in the U.S, every single business is expected to proceed with registered agent services while setting up a company.
It doesn’t end there though. Full compliance means maintaining a registered agent for the long haul. So, in short, you can think of registered agents as your company’s partners.
If you choose to ignore all that and choose to apply for a Limited Liability Company (including Limited Partnership) or a corporation without a registered agent, the application will probably be rejected by the state.
The ramifications are much worse if you fail to maintain registered agent services. A typical civil lawsuit, for instance, might end disastrously for you, with the judge penalizing your company heavily over something that would have been easily handled by registered agents. We’ve also seen cases where the state proceeds to suspend or dissolve a company completely.
Sorry to say, but yes, it’s that serious. Registered agent services are critical to not only the creation of your company, but also its survival over the long haul.
That said, some of the services you should expect from a certified registered agent include:
And speaking of which, the type of documents registered agents handle on behalf of their clients include:
As we’ve established already, the process of identifying the best-registered agent services for your company may turn out to be extremely hectic. There are way too many firms that are now specializing in registered agent solutions and their seemingly identical offers can be confusing.
But, here’s the secret to making the selection much easier. Simply vet your registered agent options based on:
While your primary concern at the beginning would probably be the LLC or corporation application process, don’t focus on that alone. You can go ahead and review the subsequent set of solutions that various agents offer.
In essence, a good registered agent should supplement the standard services with a few notable extras.
Legal Zoom and Rocket Lawyer, for instance, go above and beyond the typical provisions to provide even attorney services like consultations, creation of wills, drafting of legal documents, etc. Your preference depends on your business’ setup as well as its projected needs in the near future.
Thankfully, only the smallest firms are affected by this. The bulk of the established registered agent solutions are capable of handling business in every state. That translates to less paperwork for you.
So, take your time and evaluate the accompanying software features. A good one should not only be robust and user-friendly but also fairly comprehensive. The software should pack just the right set of automation plus tracking functionalities.
12 hours a day for normal business hours is good enough for most companies, and this should be accompanied by several customer service channels. Plus, the corresponding registered agent staff must be responsive and polite at all times.
Instead of comparing just the quotes, assess your selected agent services according to their package value. That means weighing their respective prices against the corresponding package features.
You’ll notice that so far, most of the low priced registered agent services offer only basic solutions, while their costly counterparts come with advanced provisions like personalized compliance support and legal benefits.
Now, let’s cut to the chase by reviewing the best-registered agent solutions on the market, in no particular. And to keep it neutral, we’ve ensured that each of the options here is authorized to work in every single state.
And there you have it. The best-registered agent services providers in the United States.
A point to note though. Considering we’ve only featured countrywide agents, you might want to find out all the available options in your state. You never know, you could discover a much better-registered agent solution from your local firms. And if you do, feel free to share the story in our comments section. We’d be glad to learn all about the most outstanding state-specific registered agent services providers.
Till then, all the best in the journey to finding the most suitable registered agent for your business.
Here are other related articles you may be interested in when started your new business:
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