Are you considering starting an LLC? If so, during the LLC formation process, you will need to provide a registered agent. You can save money by designating yourself as your company’s registered agent, but that choice comes with certain inconveniences.
For instance, your private information (name and address) will become accessible on the public record. Also, you must always be at your registered office address during normal business hours. Avoid these inconveniences by hiring registered agent services.
However, since so many options are available, hiring a registered agent that best meets your needs can be tricky. To help simplify your search, we have put together a review of the best-registered agent services. Before diving into our list, here’s a quick explanation of what a registered agent is and why hiring one could be in your best interest.
What Is a Registered Agent for
What is a Registered Agent? All states require the designation of a registered agent as part of the business formation process. A statutory or registered agent is a business entity or individual that collects legal documents on your behalf. The received documents could be process notices or government correspondence sent by your business’s host state.
After receiving documents on your behalf, your registered agent must notify you and forward them to you. If an agent fails to meet their responsibilities, such as forwarding a service of process or other legal documents on time, they can face legal action.
You can only use a registered agent service if the provider (be it an individual or company) resides in the state where you registered your LLC or corporation. The resident agent must also possess a physical address for receiving documents. Post office mailboxes are not acceptable.
Northwest Registered Agent is a leading registered agent service company with over two decades of experience. The registered agent’s services are available in multiple states, and the company charges $125 per year for each state in which you have a business formation.
Do you want to save money for multiple states? Northwest Registered Agent lets you pay $100 when you need a statutory agent in more than five states. Northwest also offers a free registered agent for 12 months when you ask it to handle your business formation.
While Northwest Registered Agent isn’t the cheapest available option, it is one of the most reliable. The corporation is also one of the few national-registered agents that locally scan documents they receive on a client’s behalf. Plus, Northwest backs every filing with its 100% error-free guarantee.
Another reason to choose Northwest Registered Agent is its excellent customer care. You can get immediate assistance from a knowledgeable corporate guide by simply picking up the phone.
The company’s excellent customer support and industry-leading agent services have earned it hundreds of positive online reviews. If you need dependable registered agent service in multiple states, Northwest’s volume discounts and outstanding services are worth considering.
Does your new business need a registered agent that’s super-affordable without compromising on quality? At $99 per year, ZenBusiness offers one of the best overall prices, and you don’t have to worry about hidden fees.
ZenBusiness further sweetens its offering by providing a free registered agent for a year when you contact it to register your company. Your free registered agent will accept service of process, franchise tax, and other legal documents on your behalf. The company will also offer you legal advice that ensures your compliance with relevant laws.
Even though the company has provided registered agent services online for less than a decade, it already has thousands of positive customer reviews. Many of its reviews showcase the company’s commitment to ensuring customer peace of mind, so business owners can focus on running their company.
If you need assistance, you can reach ZenBusiness’s customer care via online chat, email, or phone. Responses come quickly, and the customer care representatives are professional yet friendly.
ZenBusiness might be relatively new in the world of registered agent service providers, but its competitive price and highly rated services make it a worthwhile investment. If the company’s services don’t meet your business needs, you can always take advantage of its refund policy.
Harbor Compliance (HC) is another affordable choice for those who need a registered agent. The company charges annual fees of between $89 and $99, depending on your state of incorporation. You don’t have to worry about additional fees, and you can spend even less if you prepay for more than a year or for services in multiple states.
More reasons to choose Harbor Compliance are its free compliance guides and whitepapers that all customers can access. The company’s user-friendly software ensures that you don’t break relevant laws by tracking and filing annual reports on time and sending reminders. HC is also one of the few agents that offer same-day document scanning and delivery.
HC has served over 10,000 customers since it launched in 2012. While only a few hundred customer reviews are obtainable online, the available ones on Google and Facebook are mostly positive. The company also has 100% positive ratings with the Better Business Bureau.
However, HC is not ideal for a small business that requires business formation services. That’s because the corporation only incorporates business entities for large enterprise clients. If you own a large business and your priority is affordability and fast delivery of received documents, HC might be right for you.
If you choose IncFile, you can pay as little as $50 in annual fees, depending on your preferred registered agent service and your LLC’s host state. Regardless of the package you choose, IncFile will assign you a free registered agent when you ask it to incorporate your LLC.
The corporation’s reputation as a trustworthy online business services provider has remained untarnished since its launch in 2004. When it comes to support services, IncFile does a great job—but doesn’t beat Northwest or ZenBusiness.
IncFile does lead the pack when it comes to how easy it makes incorporating a business in any state. You can complete the entire process in three steps on the user-friendly IncFile website. As your registered agent, IncFile will send frequent reminders to ensure that you comply with filing laws and never miss a deadline.
Customer feedback regarding services from IncFile is mostly positive, but they contain recurring complaints about pricey add-ons and upsells. If you don’t mind frequent upsell notifications, IncFile could be a reliable and great value registered agent for your corporation.
Among all the online business services providing registered agents, Rocket Lawyer is probably the most famous. Over 20 million customers have already benefited from Rocket Lawyer’s various offerings, including its registered agent service.
Even though it serves millions, customer reviews on reputable platforms are mostly positive. However, all that quality comes at a price. If you want a registered agent from Rocket Lawyer, be ready to pay at least $149.99 per year.
You get 25% off if you opt for the company’s Premium legal services plan, which costs $39.99 monthly. Alternatively, pay $49.95 a month for Rocket Lawyer Accelerate legal services plan and get one year of services free.
Are you worried about not getting your money’s worth? Rocket Lawyer guarantees peace of mind by offering a 100% refund if you are unhappy with provided services. Based on customer feedback, you probably won’t need to use the refund policy. The company’s dependable customer support is also available to ensure a satisfactory customer experience.
If a long-standing reputation for quality is important to you, Rocket Lawyer might suit your needs. For small business owners looking to save money on LLC incorporation, the high prices might be a turnoff.
The most expensive registered agent service on our list is from LegalZoom. The company charges $299 annual fees but offers a 60-day full refund on your first purchase. Despite the high price, no LegalZoom formation package comes with a free registered agent.
The company has served over four million customers since its inception in 1999, and its track record for quality services is impressive. LegalZoom assists its customers by handling annual reports and providing various compliance reminders.
LegalZoom also offers prompt notifications and mail delivery when you receive the service of process and other official papers. If you already have a registered agent and are looking to upgrade, LegalZoom will handle all the necessary paperwork to switch to its services. It will also cover the switching fees.
Other interesting features that set LegalZoom apart are its unlimited cloud storage for business documents and $1 million in identity theft protection for customers. However, LegalZoom’s customer support doesn’t have the best scores in online reviews.
If you don’t mind that LegalZoom charges a high price for its experience and industry-leading brand, it could be the ideal online business services provider for your company.
CorpNet’s registered agent services cost $149 a year, making it cheaper than LegalZoom and Rocket lawyers but costlier than Northwest and ZenBusiness. If you have several companies in more than one state, you can access attractive volume discounts.
CorpNet makes our list of best-registered agent service providers because it delivers personalized customer support from experienced professionals. If you choose CorpNet as your registered agent service provider, it will collect the following on your behalf:
- Federal and state correspondence
- Information subpoenas
- Tax notices from federal and local tax bodies
- Court summons
- Corporate filing notifications
CorpNet has facilitated over 100,000 business formations and has plenty of positive reviews. While CorpNet’s prices are reasonable, we aren’t too happy with its hidden fees. You have to pay a separate shipping fee on top of the $149.
Unlike top competitors, like ZenBusiness, which offers a free registered agent for one year, CorpNet offers free registered agent services for only 60 days. However, you do get a 30-day refund policy that protects your interests.
If you need a registered agent that prioritizes great customer support and provides personalized services, CorpNet might be for you.
Pros and Cons of Choosing Online
Registered Agent Services
When it’s time to designate a registered agent, you can designate yourself or a professional. If you choose to work with one of the online business services providers on our list, here are the pros and cons to expect.
Convenience: Juggling registered agent duties and planning your new business can be overwhelming. Hiring professional registered agent services lets you focus on the more important aspects of starting and growing your LLC.
Compliance: Without an experienced agent, a registered company might struggle with complying with state laws. Hiring expert services ensure that your LLC obeys all the relevant laws of its host state and avoids liability.
Privacy: If you don’t want your address, name, and other details to be on public record, don’t become your company’s agent. An agent’s personal details have to be on public record so that state bodies know where to mail official paperwork.
Peace of Mind: The agent must always be at the registered office during normal business hours. If you hire registered agent services, you can leave the office whenever you want without worrying about missing important deliveries.
Flexibility: A registered agent’s address should not change. That means you can change your business location without worrying about missing correspondence from your state government.
Cost: Hiring registered agents can be pricey, but the cost is far less than the fines and criminal charges you might face if your LLC has no agent.
How to Pick a Good
Registered Agent Service
The right registered agent service for your LLC must offer at least the following:
A Real Office
Before you designate a registered agent, verify their office address. Remember that a post mailbox address is not acceptable. Without a legitimate office that’s open during regular business hours, the registered agent can’t receive federal or state correspondence sent to your LLC.
Every piece of federal, state, or legal documentation addressed to your corporation is important. Make sure that the registered agent service you choose offers unlimited forwarding of government mail. Otherwise, some of your mail could end up marked Return to Sender or thrown out.
It’s not enough that your registered agent sends legal paperwork to you on time. The agent must also have processes in place for confirming that you receive every forwarded document.
Personal Information Protection
Hiring a registered agent service is pointless if the private information of members of your corporation becomes public. Your registered agent service must provide sufficient protection to ensure that your sensitive information never becomes public knowledge.
Your registered agent service must have experience managing the various duties that keep your LLC compliant with relevant state and federal laws. Some of these duties include processing your corporate filings and annual report and ensuring the on-time submission of necessary paperwork.
Good registered agent service offers secure yet easy-to-access options for managing and storing your essential LLC paperwork. The best companies scan such files and store copies on secure servers that you can remotely access via the internet.
If you have an LLC in more than one state, choose a registered agent that can serve you in various states. The alternative is hiring multiple registered agent services in different states, which is expensive. Also, juggling multiple registered agents can lead to trouble keeping track of all your filings and other paperwork.
Every state requires that you designate a registered agent when filing Articles of Formation for an LLC. You can change agents by filing a Change of Registered Agent form within the state your company operates. If you fail to designate a registered agent, you risk facing serious legal consequences.
For instance, your company’s host state may stop considering your corporation as being in good standing. If that happens, your LLC may become unable to enter contracts or file lawsuits as a business entity. You may also have to pay fines.
Yes, you can be your own agent and avoid paying for registered agent services. However, paying for registered agent services from a professional is far more convenient and reduces the likelihood of accidentally breaching state or federal laws.
It depends on the registered agent services you choose. A top-quality registered agent service provider will offer a compliance monitoring tool for tracking important filing deadlines. The registered agent will also facilitate the correct and timely submission of every annual report.
Your company’s current lawyer or accountant can serve as your registered agent. However, working with your business lawyer or accountant can be pricier than hiring specialized registered agent services. Plus, your lawyer or accountant has limited capabilities as a registered agent. For instance, they can’t keep your business compliant if you choose to relocate to a different state.
A reputable and experienced registered agent can complete your business incorporation faster than you can and without making mistakes. That’s because the agent is more familiar with the process and knows how to get things fast-tracked.
However, the exact turnaround time for your business incorporation will depend on your host state. Some states take a few business days, while others take weeks. Some also offer Rush Filing options that cost extra.
Which Registered Agent Service is Best for Your Business?
The right registered agent service for your business depends on various factors, including your budget and business location. Among the providers on our list, our top two are Northwest Registered Agent and ZenBusiness.
We like Northwest’s diverse features, experience, consistent track record, and suitability for businesses in different states. ZenBusiness is an excellent option for a business that wants to spend less but enjoys highly rated services from a reputable company. The company’s customer care team is also one of the best.
Verify which registered agent is most suitable for your business needs by taking each service for a trial run. You can do this at no extra cost by taking advantage of each provider’s refund policy.