If you’re in the world of business, you’re probably aware you are legally required to designate a registered agent for your corporation. But with so many companies offering registered agent services, it can get a bit overwhelming deciding which is the best service provider for your company. That’s why we took the time to scour the internet and find the top five registered agent services available in the U.S. We dive right into each company to outline their unique selling points and provide you with a summary of pros and cons for each company.
A registered agent is an important part of your business, as having a third party that carefully documents all your tax and legal correspondence is a godsend when you’re already inundated with day-to-day operations. When you designate a registered agent, you can relax knowing they will keep you accountable to your filing deadlines and ensure your company remains in good standing throughout the time they provide you with their service. When your schedule is already packed just from running your business, finding a registered agent feels like just another task you’ll never get to. But, you have to. And we’re here to help you make that decision.
Top 5 Summary
- Northwest Registered Agent – Best for Privacy Protection
- Incfile – Top Choice for Entrepreneurs
- Harbor Compliance – Top for Ensuring Compliance
- ZenBusiness – Best in Additional Services
- InCorp – Best for Use of Innovative Technology
Registered Agent Services – Sites & Services
1. Northwest Registered Agent – Best for Privacy Protection
- Instant service online provides forms, reminders, documents, and access to all business services
- Same price every year
- Free mail forwarding
- Lifetime support from their corporate guides
Northwest Registered Agent knows pros like you need a service you can trust to maintain your business. They secure all your data and provide you with the privacy you need, including a promise to never sell any of your data.
Whenever you start a business, you need a registered agent. It’s one of the first steps to moving forward with your new corporation. Northwest Registered Agent started their business journey by opening offices in all states, so they could serve you no matter where your business is registered.
Going national also permits them to protect your privacy and use their own business address on all your company documents available in public records. They also work hard to provide free legal support after you form your company to ensure you are always in compliance. In line with their desire to expand, they managed to purchase entire buildings to enhance their privacy-focused services and offer additional support, like virtual offices and mail forwarding.
There are several reasons why people opt for Northwest Registered Agent services, including:
This ensures quality control, as every document received is scanned on the spot for you to quickly review on your account.
With these guides, you have a light that shines through the ever-confusing tunnels of state bureaucracy. And when you have questions, you can call to speak with a live person who has the answers you seek.
Privacy by Default®
They prioritize your privacy and promise never to sell your data. They list their own business information on your public filings, which allows you to keep your private details confidential. They don’t offer privacy as an add-on service, rather it’s embedded into their service by default.
Free Limited Mail Forwarding
Part of their registered agent service is to receive your state and legal mail. However, they also throw in five documents scanned per year at no cost to you. Sometimes, clients try to reach your business using the public information of your registered agent, so Northwest Registered Agent makes sure you get all those messages. With this service, you won’t see additional fees for any of your mail.
Northwest Registered Agent hasn’t scaled to the point they lose their human touch when providing this service. They’re also not so small that they need to outsource other registered agents to do the job they promise. This permits them to provide you with service that is not only reliable, but personalized so you don’t feel like just a number.
You can instantly access your account after signing up to retrieve all the documents you need for state filings and you’ll find all forms are pre-populated to make them easy to complete. Plus, in your account you’ll find a number of extra features, like filing tips and business maintenance assistance.
Online Tools Available at No Additional Cost
Once you’ve entered the information for your corporation, your forms automatically populate with all your information. You’ll receive annual compliance reminders along with instructions to guide you along the way. Plus, you’ll be able to access any scanned items that they’ve received for your company.
Northwest Registered Agent is straightforward with their rates. They won’t try to upsell you and they keep their rates flat, so you’re never surprised.
They don’t use gimmicks to lure you in then surprise you with hidden fees. They keep their service honest, offering you free mail forwarding, privacy protection, and the business support you need.
Learn more at NorthwestRegisteredAgent.com
2. Incfile – Top Choice for Entrepreneurs
- Can use their registered agent service for free if you incorporate your company with them
- Support for company changes, compliance, and IRS filings
- Automatic mail forwarding so your documents arrive directly to you
- Tailored notifications so you’re always up to date with your company’s notices and documents
- Incfile does not currently offer legal forms or legal advice plans to be added to their registered agent service
With Incfile, if you choose to use them for your business incorporation service, you receive your registered agent service for free the first year. Their registered agent service is available in all U.S. states, so you have someone to count on no matter where your business is located.
Incfile knows that business can be complex and they work to provide you with the accountability and convenience that allows you to focus on other aspects of your business, like sales and daily operations. They manage all your legal documents on your behalf and carefully guide you, so you don’t make any mistakes when filing. This helps you avoid unnecessary complications with your legal responsibilities.
Their free registered agent offering is especially important because they recognize the value of entrepreneurs and don’t want any costs to dissuade you from starting your company with them.
Incfile works to provide you with all the things you need whenever you need them, including amendments to your company information, fictitious business name filings, foreign qualifications when your business starts expanding into other states, and dissolution when you require termination of your business entity.
Incfile has a comprehensive registered agent service that includes all of the following:
They ensure they are always available to receive documents and notices on your behalf from important entities like the IRS and your state.
Easily and quickly access the documents they’ve received on your behalf online.
Notifications Tailored to You
If you prefer to receive your notifications via email, they will alert you via email when something requires your attention. You can even choose to receive your notifications by text as well.
Automatic Mail Forwarding
Easily receive all documents and information related to your company with the use of their automatic mail forwarding service.
When you choose to incorporate your business with Incfile, you get these services for free the first year, which is a $119 value. This offering tells of their desire to support business owners instead of bombarding them with hidden fees and upsells. These radical offerings, which also include the free support and business information they provide, are created because they believe in entrepreneurship and want to reward client loyalty.
Learn more at Incfile.com
3. Harbor Compliance – Top for Ensuring Compliance
- When you pay ahead for multiple years of use, you get a 5% to 10% discount on services
- Immediate online access to your registered agent so you can promptly file with your state
- Enjoy same-day electronic delivery of all your important documents
- Their annual fee covers your service with no hidden fees
- If you intend to incorporate with Harbor Compliance, you will find their fees for other services are higher than other companies. However, if you only intend to use them as a registered agent, their pricing is competitive.
With Harbor Compliance’s registered agent service, you can count on reliable handling and delivery of all your business’s important legal documents. They provide immediate online access and same-day electronic delivery of all the documents they receive on your behalf.
They are equipped with advanced compliance software, which provides you with the peace of mind you need when it comes to your legal notices and documents. Use their pre-filled state forms and user-friendly software to help you save time and headaches.
They also offer additional features like notifications you can customize and annual filing report reminders without any extra fees. Their local offices are available in every state within the United States and they remain open during business hours, so you are always on top of your time-sensitive legal requirements. Should you receive a notice of a pending lawsuit, they contact the primary person indicated on your account so you can take legal action fast.
As soon as you order Harbor Compliance’s registered agent service, you gain immediate access to their address. You can find this information right away in your client portal, where you’ll also be provided with pre-filled state forms that require their signature. In addition, when you choose Harbor Compliance as your registered agent, they work with you to keep your business in good standing in the state where you incorporated. Their software helps you track your annual reports and sends you the reminders you need to stay on top of all your filings.
To be appointed a registered agent with Harbor Compliance, all you need to do is follow three simple steps:
- Order your registered agent service before you submit a filing to your state. Their name and address are necessary for submitting all your state paperwork.
- Once your registered agent service has been ordered, go online to immediately access the information you need, including their name and address. Use their pre-filled form and follow their filing instructions for your state.
- Once you have all the information required, go ahead and file the paperwork with your state. If you would like Harbor Compliance to take care of filing for you, they can do so for a flat fee.
Once registered with the state, they will begin their service by receiving all legal documents and notices on your behalf and delivering them to you securely via your client portal. The annual fee for their registered agent service is $99.
Learn more at HarborCompliance.com
4. ZenBusiness – Best in Additional Services
- Rest easy knowing you have reliable service that’s always available to receive your correspondence during business hours
- Receive your important tax and legal notices directly in your company dashboard online
- Avoid fines and penalties for non-compliance
- You get accountability and assistance with keeping your important filings well organized in one place
- They do not provide an error-free guarantee; however, they are happy to correct any mistaken information
With ZenBusiness, you can easily secure a top registered agent service online. They handle all of your mail and notices, such as those received by your Secretary of State and other government entities. This way, you can focus on building your business and ZenBusiness can work to ensure you always have access to your important tax and legal documents.
When you choose the registered agent service offered by Zen Business, you gain a couple of benefits:
Compliance is ensured
When you form an entity, you are legally required to have a permanent physical address that is readily available during business hours to receive all your important correspondence. With a registered agent service by ZenBusiness, you can ensure your business stays in good standing. This way, you avoid potential fines and penalties for failure to comply.
You gain added protection
If you have a storefront business, it’s helpful to have a registered agent service. This prevents uncomfortable and awkward moments when a legal or tax notice is delivered to you in front of your customers and clients.
You have the help you need to stay organized
When your registered agent receives all your important documents and notices, you’ll be able to quickly access them online where you’ll be able to view, download, and print them any time you need.
ZenBusiness offers two registered agent options. The first is for standard coverage which provides you with online document access and expert support along with the registered agent service. They have another upgraded option that includes everything plus worry-free compliance, which ensures you stay in compliance with annual reports and filing deadlines in your state. The standard option is priced at $99/year while the upgraded option is priced at $149/year.
Learn more at ZenBusiness.com
5. InCorp – Best for Use of Innovative Technology
- Save money on their registered agent service by signing up for several years in advance
- They offer price matching on any of their services so you can get the best deal
- Enjoy the benefits of their innovative technology, Entity Watch®
- Receive a consolidated bill if you own a multi-state company
- Receive legal notices in real time
- Their website interface isn’t as intuitive or user-friendly as some of their competitors
Incorp offers registered agent service in all fifty states, DC, USVI, and PR. Their national registered agent includes several benefits, such as:
- A registered agent address so you can keep your information private
- Electronic service of process so you can tend to any legal proceedings quickly
- Online account access for your convenience
- Online forms library that you can refer to when it comes time for filing
- A dedicated representative to answer any questions you may have
- Online chat support for easy answers without having to call in and wait on hold
- Absorption of transfer fees so you can save money
- Price match guarantee because they’re confident in the value offered within their pricing structure
- Customized email notifications that meet your preferences
- An online compliance calendar that keeps you on track with all your filings and deadlines
Their registered agent service is listed at $99 per year; however, when you choose to use them for multiple years, that annual price goes down. For instance, if you choose to use their registered agent service for a total of five years, that annual price comes down to $66.56, which saves you a total of $162.20.
InCorp has a proprietary technology called Entity Watch® which uses software that links to most state databases. This access means you have all current information on the status of your corporation, including your filing status, your registered agent information, and any officers or directors as assigned in your corporation. Having this information at your fingertips helps you stay on top of changes and keep an eye out to prevent identity theft.
InCorp also helps you save time and money by:
- Providing access to their Entity Management System (EMS), where you can easily track deadlines with their compliance calendar, track your mail, and pay your invoices.
- Expediting your business filings.
- Being nationally registered so as your company grows, they are there to support you.
- Notifying you in a timely manner of any service of process notifications so you can address your legal matters promptly.
- Keeping you on track so you avoid paying any late fees to your state.
Learn more at InCorp.com
What is a Registered Agent?
A registered agent is either an individual or a company that you designate to receive notices on your behalf. These notices include anything from government communications to compliance-related documents that affect your corporation. The main function of a registered agent is to be an agent for service of process, which means they are there to be available for highly important legal documents that require your immediate attention.
What are the Requirements for a Registered Agent?
The requirements for a registered agent are:
- Registered agent must reside in the same state as the corporation
- Registered agent must always be available during business hours to receive correspondence
Can’t I just serve as my own Agent?
Yes, you can serve as your own registered agent; however, there are some items you should consider. For instance, when you choose to serve as your own registered agent, your home address becomes public record, which may make some entrepreneurs uncomfortable. This is especially troubling if you have a home-based business because you may be served legal documents in front of your family or friends.
In addition, you are required to be available for deliveries during business hours Monday through Friday. This means you are not able to leave your place of business, close early at any time or for holidays, because you must always be available to receive important correspondence. If you are not carefully tracking all your filing deadlines, you may miss one, which results in costly fines and penalties as applied by your state.
If you feel comfortable with each of these requirements, serving as your own registered agent may help you save money on the fees associated with designating a registered agent. However, the fee paid for a registered agent is nominal in comparison to the level of service you get.
In what Types of Situations is a Registered Agent most needed?
Since all states require you to designate a registered agent, you need a registered agent when you plan to incorporate a business or when your corporation has already been filed with the state and you’re looking to change to a new service.
Registered agents are there to offer a reliable and secure way of receiving all tax and legal notices for your business. Their primary purpose is to keep you up to date with your filings and ensure you receive all your important correspondence in a timely fashion.
Having a registered agent assists you with compliance as well and serves as the person who receives any lawsuit paperwork so you can prioritize legal action as soon as you’ve been served.
Is it okay to Hire an Attorney or Accountant to be my Registered Agent?
Yes, this is an option available to you when deciding on who to designate as your registered agent. Some people may feel more comfortable going this route because they already have a working relationship with either their attorney or their accountant. However, you may find that the fees associated with paying your attorney or accountant are significantly higher than using a registered agent service. In addition, if you plan to expand your business outside of your current state, you may encounter setbacks as your attorney or accountant may only have an address listed in one state.
Is a Registered Agent required when I form a Corporation?
Yes, you are unable to create a corporation if you don’t designate a registered agent. This applies to all 50 states.
Can I change my Registered Agent at any time?
Yes, if after you form your company, you decide to change your registered agent, then you can absolutely make that change. This process varies state by state but with most, you’ll find that a simple form that outlines the change is the only item required.
What happens if I don’t have a Registered Agent?
For one, you won’t be able to incorporate your company with your state, as designating a registered agent is a legal requirement. Over the years, you may forget to renew your registered agent service, or you may consider that since you already filed with one, you may not need one for the future.
However, this is a grave mistake. There are consequences for failing to designate a registered agent. When you fail to meet this legal requirement, your company loses its good standing with your state. In addition, you may be required to pay fines and penalties for failure to comply.
When it comes to legal action, if you don’t have a registered agent, you will not be able to enter into contracts or file a lawsuit. Plus, when you don’t have the support, reliability, and accountability provided by a registered agent, you risk missing an important tax or legal notice, which can result in another series of complicated actions taken against you.
Registered agent services are generally the same, but each company has a certain way of conducting business which makes them stand out from the crowd. You’ll notice pricing ranges between $99 and $125 for the options we listed above, which is still cheaper than some popular names with pricing that makes you look twice.
Northwest Registered Agent places a strong emphasis on privacy protection, which is exactly what you need when you hire a service to handle your tax and legal documents. Incfile levels the playing field, identifying themselves as entrepreneurs just like you who seek to support you in your business journey.
Harbor Compliance prides themselves on their reliability when it comes to keeping you compliant with your state, allowing your corporation to always remain in good standing. ZenBusiness sets themselves apart by offering two registered agent service plans at two different price points, to give you versatility in selecting the level of service you require. Finally, InCorp touts their proprietary and innovative tech which keeps you current with all your state filings and allows you to peek into your records in real time in most states.
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