You can choose to hire a registered agent service, designate yourself, ask a trusted friend or family member to fill the role, or even hire a lawyer or accountant to be your registered agent.
The bottom line is that every LLC is required to have a registered agent.
The role of the registered agent is so important because it gives your state government a reliable point of contact for your business. Without a registered agent, the state may not know where it can deliver important items like legal summons, annual report reminders, and other vital documents.
For a number of reasons, we prefer hiring a registered agent service for this role. A professional service can help you maintain your privacy, cut down on your junk mail, and ensure that you never miss a delivery because you stepped out of the office. However, there are so many companies offering this service that it can be difficult to figure out which one is the best choice for your LLC.
With this in mind, we put together this guide to the four best registered agent services for limited liability companies. We analyzed pricing, features, customer support, and more in our quest to discover the very best options in a highly crowded industry. At the end of the day, we think that these are the top options:
- Northwest Registered Agent
Let’s discuss what sets them apart and which you may prefer.
Northwest Registered Agent ($125/year)
When your company name has the phrase “registered agent” in it, it’s clear that your focus is on providing this service to the best of your ability, and that’s definitely the case with Northwest Registered Agent. They’re actually the only major service provider in this entire industry that scans every document they receive for you.
While most of their competitors find it sufficient to only scan the government-issued docs that they’re legally required to as a registered agent, Northwest goes a step further to satisfy their clients. How do they fare otherwise?
We already mentioned how Northwest scans everything they receive as your registered agent, alerting you to each item delivered, instead of just doing this for government forms like service of process, annual report reminders, etc. They also have the best customer support in this entire industry, with a high level of personalization that no alternative can match.
There really isn’t much to speak of regarding disadvantages for Northwest, although if we had to pick something, we would say that there are less expensive services. In addition, while they do have good customer reviews, they don’t have very many of them.
With Northwest Registered Agent, you can purchase registered agent service at the rate of $125 per year. However, if you choose to also have them form your LLC for $225, they’ll bundle in a full year of registered agent service at no extra cost. Furthermore, if you need service in five or more states, they will provide it for just $100 per state.
Fast Facts About Northwest Registered Agent
- Northwest got their start in this industry in 1998, and they’ve served about two million business clients since then.
- They provide customer support using their “Corporate Guides” system. This essentially means that anytime you call or email them, you’ll receive a reply from an extremely knowledgeable support rep.
- We found right around 100 customer reviews for Northwest’s services, and the majority of them were perfect five-star scores.
ZenBusiness is best known for offering carefully crafted LLC packages and operating as a socially conscious organization. This company also offers registered agent service for a reasonable rate, so let’s take a few moments to examine how they stack up to the alternatives in some key areas.
ZenBusiness receives spectacular customer feedback, with nearly universal positive reviews from their clients. They also have an LLC formation package available for $39 for the first year ($119 after that) which includes registered agent service at no extra charge.
The main disadvantage is that they’ve only been open for a few years, so they lack the amount of experience and longevity compared to most alternatives.
ZenBusiness offers registered agent service for a rate of $119 per year. That said, if you purchase any of their business formation packages to create an LLC (starting at just $39), they’ll provide 12 months of registered agent for free.
Fast Facts About ZenBusiness
- ZenBusiness has only been around since 2015, but they’ve already served thousands of business customers. They state on their website that they aim to form over one million new business entities in the next five years, which would quickly elevate them to the upper echelon of experienced companies in this industry.
- Customer feedback is a significant advantage for ZenBusiness. We found nearly 4,000 reviews of their services online, and 95% of those reviews were either four or five stars (out of five). Their clients clearly appreciate what ZenBusiness has to offer.
Incfile is one of the industry leaders for online LLC formation services, and they’re one of our favorite overall services for registered agent service. Much like with Northwest Registered Agent, if you purchase any of Incfile’s business formation service packages, you’ll receive one full year of registered agent service at no extra charge.
Let’s see how they stack up in our other categories!
If you want to form an LLC and also receive registered agent service from the same company, Incfile is one of your best options. They also receive tremendous customer feedback, with thousands of positive reviews available all across the internet.
Incfile doesn’t have any registered agent-specific selling points like Northwest does with their local scanning. In other words, it’s hard to find many reasons to use Incfile instead of Northwest, unless saving $6 per year is a big deal to you.
Incfile has a flat-rate pricing model of $119 per year for registered agent service. That said, if you purchase any of their business formation packages to create an LLC they’ll provide 12 months of registered agent service for free. This deal gets even more impressive when you consider the fact that they offer a free LLC formation service (as long as you pay your own state fee).
Fast Facts About Incfile
- Incfile has been around since 2004, and over the years they’ve served 250,000+ business clients. They’ve also experienced 200% corporate growth over the last year.
- Customer feedback is a huge advantage for Incfile, as they might actually have the most impressive reviews of any company in the industry. With thousands of reviews available online, and only a small handful of negative feedback, it’s clear that the majority of their clients are highly satisfied with the service they receive from Incfile.
LegalZoom has more name recognition than any competitor in this industry, and it’s easy to see why. They have an enormous volume of clients numbering in the millions, and they also invest heavily in advertising across several mediums.
Of course, advertising costs money, which might be part of why LegalZoom’s prices are so high. Do they make up enough ground elsewhere to be worth using for registered agent service?
LegalZoom is the most popular and best-known service in the entire industry, with 3.6 million clients served to date. If using a service with millions of customers is important to you, LegalZoom is clearly a top-flight option for registered agent service. They also have good customer support, with some of the longest hours of availability we’ve seen.
Obviously, LegalZoom does not compete with any of the other services in this guide when it comes to registered agent pricing. In addition, their customer reviews are a mixed bag of positive and negative feedback, with significantly more critical reviews than these other companies have. Finally, LegalZoom does not include registered agent in any of their business formation packages.
If you order registered agent as a standalone feature from LegalZoom, it will cost you $299 per year, which is nearly three times as much money as some of the other options we’ve discussed. However, if you add registered agent onto another purchase (for example, if you also buy LLC formation service from LegalZoom), they’ll knock that price point down to $159.
Fast Facts About LegalZoom
- LegalZoom opened back in 2001, and they’ve helped over 3.6 million clients over the years. They have a volume of customers that only a select few companies in this industry can compete with.
- Customer feedback is not a strength for LegalZoom. They have more than 1,500 reviews available online, but those reviews are a roughly equal mix of positive and negative feedback.
- Their customer support team has the longest availability hours we’re aware of in this industry. You can get assistance from LegalZoom at any time between 10 am and 8 pm ET on weekdays, and 10 am to 7 pm ET on weekends.
Of course, there are many companies offering registered agent service these days. While the preceding four companies may be the most popular options for independent entrepreneurs, there are a couple of other services we would like to highlight for their impressively low price points.
If you felt like the four top options we presented are a bit lacking for one reason or another, perhaps Harbor Compliance or InCorp can better serve your needs.
Harbor Compliance ($99/year)
Interestingly enough, Harbor Compliance is regarded as more of a premium service when it comes to business formations, as they only offer business formation service to their large enterprise clients. However, they provide outstanding value in the area of registered agent service, with one of the lowest national price points we’ve seen. Is their service worth using?
In addition to their excellent price point, Harbor Compliance provides annual report reminders well in advance of your due date, which is a welcome bonus feature for their registered agent service. Harbor Compliance also receives strong reviews from their clients, and they even offer volume discounts.
If you want to purchase LLC formation service and registered agent, Harbor Compliance is not an option for small businesses. Beyond that, while the quality of their reviews is quite good, the quantity is a bit lacking, as we only found around 100 reviews online.
Harbor Compliance has a rate of just $99 per year for registered agent service, which is an excellent price point. Even better, they offer volume discounts for service in multiple states, or if you prepay for multiple years. They will knock $10 off your total cost for prepaying two years of service, $30 off for three years, $50 off for five years, and $100 off for ten years. Furthermore, if you need service in four or more states, they’ll provide a $5 discount for your 4th-9th states, and a $10 discount for registered agent service in 10+ states.
Fast Facts About Harbor Compliance
- We found 84 reviews for Harbor Compliance on Google, along with another 14 on Facebook. Overall, they average 4.75/5 stars between the two sites, so it’s obvious that their clients find their services to be well worth purchasing.
- Customer support is a major strength for Harbor Compliance. Each client receives access to a “dedicated Account Manager and Compliance Specialist” who can help you navigate a variety of issues related to registered agent services.
- Harbor Compliance is one of the more recently formed companies in this industry, as they’ve only been around since 2012. Still, they’ve served more than 10,000 business clients in those years, and they’re an up-and-coming player in this industry.
If you’re looking for the lowest possible prices for nationwide registered agent service, InCorp might be the right choice for you. Their base rate is already quite impressive, but with their volume discounts, you can drive your annual cost all the way down under $67 per year.
Let’s see what else they have to offer for registered agent customers.
With their prepaid discount system, you can access some of the lowest price points we’ve ever seen for registered agent service. In addition, they have a large volume of clients that makes them one of the most popular registered agent providers in the nation. They also provide customers with a compliance calendar, along with their exclusive EntityWatch program which monitors your business for signs of identity theft.
InCorp has just a few dozen reviews available online, and their average ratings are less than impressive. Their LLC formation service is a la carte and costs $99.
If you just want to buy one year of registered agent service from InCorp, they will charge a reasonable rate of $99. If you’re willing to prepay for additional years of registered agent, they’ll provide deep discounts that drive your annual fees down to $89.10/year for two years, $80.52/year for three years, and $66.56/year for five years.
Fast Facts About InCorp
- They have over 125,000 currently active registered agent customers across the country, making InCorp the fourth most-popular registered agent service provider in America.
- You can find 42 InCorp reviews on the Better Business Bureau website, with an average score of 3.3 out of 5. They have another 30 reviews on Facebook, where they average just 2.7/5 stars. Customer feedback isn’t a major disadvantage for InCorp, but it’s not a strength either.
- InCorp was founded in 1998, and they started offering registered agent service in 2001. Since then, they’ve served hundreds of thousands of customers from across the country.
All of these companies have their own advantages, and to be perfectly honest we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend any of them. These services are all highly reputable and trustworthy, and they have price points that deeply undercut any of the “leading” companies in this industry.
Overall, if you’re looking for a company that bundles registered agent with LLC formation service, we would go with ZenBusiness, or Incfile. Looking for the most popular company in the industry? LegalZoom is worth a look. Do you like the idea of receiving the best customer support in this industry? Northwest Registered Agent should be a great fit.
If you simply want the lowest price points and you’re willing to prepay for additional years, InCorp is an excellent option. Or, if you need service in multiple states and want discounts for that, Harbor Compliance should suit your needs quite well.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Shouldn’t I Serve as My LLC’s Registered Agent?
You are legally allowed to serve as your company’s registered agent, but it comes with some restrictions that make the task not worth it, in our opinion. To serve as your own agent, you’ll usually need to allow your personal address to be entered into public record. You will also need to be present at your business location during all standard business hours, because if you miss a delivery, the state is not obligated to continue attempting delivery. This could even lead to a lawsuit against your business progressing without you knowing about it.
Can I Form an LLC Without a Registered Agent?
Nope. If you try to form an LLC without designating a registered agent, the state will reject your filing as being incomplete. You would then need to get a registered agent and re-file your business formation documents to be able to form a compliant LLC.
How Do I Change Registered Agents?
Each state has its own method for changing registered agents, but there are generally three different ways this can be accomplished.
- First off, the vast majority of states have “change of registered agent” forms that you can file, which are simple documents that usually have a nominal fee attached.
- Another option in many states is to indicate your registered agent change as part of an annual report filing.
- Finally, some states also allow you to make this change as part of an amendment to your articles of organization.
Does a Registered Agent Service Include Compliance Assistance Tools?
While not all registered agent services provide ongoing compliance assistance, many of them do. Usually, this is in the form of an online compliance dashboard, where you can track due dates for your important business filings, and access digital copies of scanned documents. Some companies will even help you with your annual reports as well.
Should I Have My Attorney or Accountant Be the Registered Agent for My LLC?
Some LLC owners like to designate their lawyer or accountant as their registered agent, because they have experience working with them already, and they’ve secured their trust. The big issues with this start with cost, as attorneys and accountants can charge much higher prices for providing registered agent service, and they may not have much experience in this role either. Additionally, lawyers and accountants often only have offices in one state, meaning that if you expand beyond your primary state, you’ll need to find a new registered agent for the new state(s).