Owning a business can be rewarding, but before you embark on that endeavor, you must attend to many details - including picking out the best registered agent service. With so many services competing for your dollars, you might have a hard time deciding. We’ve done some research to help you out.
- Great customer support
- Worry-free guarantee
- No hidden fees
- Free business formation
- Email and SMS notifications
- Digital dashboard
- Pre-filled state forms
- Same-day document scans
- Free resources
- Access to licensed attorneys
- Free legal documents
- Premium subscription discounts
Key Facts About Registered Agents
Before you choose a registered agent, you should know exactly what you’re signing up for. Considering everything that you must do to start a business, it’s easy to understand why this task might end up at the bottom of the priorities list. However, the choice is more important than you might think. That’s why we’ve prepared a short guide to registered agent services.
What Is a Registered Agent?
A registered agent is sometimes called a statutory agent or agent of process. It is a person or entity that is authorized to accept tax correspondence and legal documents on behalf of your business. The agent must be located in the state where your business was founded.
Do I Need a Registered Agent?
Whether you appoint a registered agent or not is not a matter of preference. You are obligated by law to name a registered agent for your company. This applies to every business entity registered in every US state.
Failing to have a professional registered agent can have serious repercussions. You’ll be unable to incorporate your business. You’ll lose your right to due process and certificate of good standing. You may be fined. You could face increased personal liability for business lawsuits. And you could lose your business entirely.
The bar for “professional” is pretty low, however. A professional registered agent must have a physical business address within the state and must be available at that address to accept official mail during normal business hours.
Who Can Be a Registered Agent?
In most states, the rules for registered agents are the same. A registered against can be a person who is at least 18 or a registered agent company. Corporations and LLCs can’t act as their own agents, but the role can usually be assigned to one of the company’s owners or employees. The physical address of your agent’s workplace must be in the state in which your business was established.
How Much Does a Registered Agent Cost?
If our warnings have convinced you that it’s a good idea to hire a registered agent, you are now most likely interested in knowing how much the service will cost you. After all, managing finances properly and controlling costs are important factors when running a small business, especially a startup.
Our research reveals that registered agent service providers typically charge $100 to $300 per year. That’s less than $10 to a high of $25 per month – an affordable price for a necessary service.
How We Evaluate Registered Agents
When you set up a business you want everything to be just right. It’s your company, so you want to dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s. Selecting a company that provides good registered agent services is a critical step in this process. You certainly don’t want someone incompetent handling your legal papers. Before we reveal our top picks, let’s take a quick walk through our evaluation criteria.
To identify the very best registered agent companies, we start by checking out their reputations. We look at the company’s history along with awards, customer reviews, and Better Business Bureau ratings. The sum of these factors is a relatively clear picture of how seriously these companies take their responsibilities and the effort they put into meeting them.
Once we have established a company’s trustworthiness, we move on to availability. This is of paramount importance. There’s no benefit in finding the perfect service, only to find that it does not maintain a presence in the state where your company was founded. For that reason, only the best registered agent service providers that offer agents nationwide earned a place on our list.
Most of the companies on our list provide LLC and corporation formation support in addition to registered agent services. Some let you purchase the registered agent’s services separately.
If you haven’t set up your business yet, you should look into a company registration service to handle the paperwork and make sure you’re paying the right fees to the right offices. They can handle the whole ordeal at a fair price. The à la carte services are best for those who already have a business up and running or wish to file registration paperwork themselves, and therefore need nothing but a corporate or LLC registered agent.
You should always try to get the most bang for your buck. That’s why we thoroughly evaluated everything these companies’ registered agents do for you. We made sure to check the quality of all their extra services, as you never know when you might need some legal advice or business-management assistance.
Any reputable company that wants to retain its client base will pay special attention to how it treats customers. And as a business owner, you’re bound to have a question or two about the professional registered agent services you have contracted for. We evaluate the speed and expertise of the support teams at registered agent companies and document the ways in which they can be contacted.
4 Best Registered Agent Services in 2021
- Northwest Registered Agent
- Rocket Lawyer
Registered Agent Service Providers - Reviews
- ⦿ Sleek website
- ⦿ Affordable prices
- ⦿ Numerous positive reviews
ZenBusiness has been around for only about five years, but in this relatively short period, it’s managed to raise the quality of its services enough to be placed among the best registered agents on pretty much any list you can find on the internet or offline. ZenBusiness registered agents are sure to fulfill all your expectations and probably even surpass them.
One of ZenBusiness’s notable characteristics is pricing flexibility. You can choose from three ZenBusiness pricing plans that include registered agent services and two plans that are limited to registered agent services. The three comprehensive plans – Starter, Pro, and Premium – are billed annually, with Starter being the least expensive. During your first year with ZenBusiness, you will find top-rated registered agent services included as part of the Starter package for a total annual cost of $49. After the first 12 months of service, you will be charged the renewal price of $129 per year.
The two plans that allow you to pay for registered agent services separately are called Standard Coverage and Complete Coverage. For $99 per year, the Standard Coverage service gives you a registered agent, expert support, and easy access to your documents online, where ZenBusiness keeps them safe and secure. The only difference between Standard Coverage and Complete Coverage is that the Complete plan offers ZenBusiness’s “worry-free compliance” service, which means the company reminds you of important deadlines and the need to prepare an annual report. This registered agent service will cost your company $149 per year.
If you find that you have any concerns or questions about its services, you will find the ZenBusiness customer support team provides quick, thorough assistance. You can chat with them on the website or call them on business days from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Central time or from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays. If you choose to send an email instead, ZenBusiness guarantees you’ll get a response from a representative within one business day.
Although ZenBusiness has glowing reviews from countless customers, this popular registered agent service was rated A- by BBB. This probably isn’t something you should worry about, since this is a pretty solid rating. But other companies earn higher scores from BBB.
One other negative aspect of ZenBusiness is a lack of experience, since the company was founded in 2015. Despite the short time it’s been at customers’ disposal, ZenBusiness has shown nothing but efficiency and devotion to their needs, so in our judgment, this is not a serious concern.
After having thoroughly scrutinized this registered agent and LLC formation business, we have concluded that there is no reason not to choose ZenBusiness to provide a registered agent for your LLC. Whether you are thinking of starting a business or you already have one, you need to have someone reliable take care of your document deliveries and official correspondence with government agencies. ZenBusiness is an affordable, professional, reliable way to go.
- ⦿ Award-winning company
- ⦿ Many free services
- ⦿ Good customer feedback
Incfile opened its doors in 2004. Since then, it has become known for its low prices, which make it perfect for those on a tight budget. If you’re looking for affordable registered agent services, then this company is worth a hard look.
Incfile was listed among Entrepreneur magazine’s 360 Best Entrepreneurial Companies in America for 2018 and 2019. Thousands of customer reviews further confirm the high quality of this company’s services.
One of the main reasons for Incfile’s popularity is that its pricing packages start at just $0 plus state fees. It doesn’t get any more budget-friendly than that. All three available plans – Silver, Gold, and Platinum – include a full year of free registered agent services. If you go with the Gold business-formation and registered agent pricing package ($234 per year), Incfile will also complete and file the paperwork for your IRS Employer Identification Number at no extra charge.
It might seem there’s not much more that the company could afford to give away, but that’s far from the truth. The Premium offer ($384 per year) might be the most expensive, but in addition to the other benefits, it provides a full suite of business contract templates, as well as domain name registration and email services. The list of services makes Incfile’s prices look like a bargain.
Incfile’s cheap registered agent services also include lifetime company alerts, which means that you’ll never have to memorize annual report deadlines, business license renewal dates, statement of information due dates, or any other deadlines.
The company’s friendly and knowledgeable customer service representatives and the easy-to-use client dashboard result in an all-around pleasant experience.
Incfile’s BBB rating and accreditation have recently been revoked. This could mean nothing more than that it’s being reviewed or updated. It’s too early to tell if its impeccable A+ grade has been lowered.
Considering how impressive Incfile’s pricing plans are, we were a bit disappointed to see that they don’t provide any stand-alone registered agent service pricing packages. The plans can be customized to a certain extent, but if you don’t need everything they offer, you are stuck paying for the services anyway.
Incfile is a true gem for those who have not yet formed their companies. Established businesses in need of a registered agent should probably look elsewhere.
- ⦿ Plenty of experience
- ⦿ Specializes in registered agent services
- ⦿ Personal customer support representative
Northwest Registered Agent is a company that makes the process of finding a registered agent for your business short and sweet. The company was established in 1998, so it has had two decades to accumulate a wealth of experience. Northwest is more than ready to offer you the benefits of those years of experience – and that might be just what you’re looking for if you need a trustworthy registered agent.
The first thing we find praiseworthy about Northwest is its area of expertise. Like other companies that offer similar services, Northwest has more than registered agents in store for you, but this is what it does best. That fact easily places it on our list of high-quality registered agent services. Its agents scan all the documents that they receive in your name so you can review them online. Most competitors scan only the documents that they are legally required to share with you.
Sometimes we all feel as if we could use a little help, and it’s of great importance to have someone to turn to in those times. Relax. The Northwest Registered Agent customer support team fits the bill. Team members are referred to as Corporate Guides, and every customer that chooses Northwest as its official registered agent provider can contact these experienced guides directly. In our experience, they proved happy to assist with solving whichever issues we had. The guides can be reached via telephone or email.
Northwest has a BBB rating of A+ and quite a few positive reviews on Google and Yelp. All of this shows its consistency in meeting customers’ demands for quality. What’s more, the company guarantees that all the reviews are genuine, attesting that it has never paid for a review and never will.
Even though Northwest Registered Agent reviews suggest that the quality of its services can’t be beat, we find them a bit expensive. At $125 per year, the company’s registered agent services may strike some people as too expensive. We suggest you do a cost-benefit analysis and see for yourself if this fits your budget before you pass up an opportunity to work with Northwest’s registered agents.
Although the website is eye-pleasing, it is a bit hard to navigate. For instance, finding pricing information could be a lot less complicated.
To conclude our Northwest Registered Agent review, we would like to say that it truly deserves its reputation as a reliable company with high-quality services. The company’s prices are higher than you’d pay for equivalent services from competitors, and that could be a make-or-break issue for some customers. If you can afford its rates, Northwest Registered Agent might be the perfect solution.
- ⦿ 100% money-back guarantee
- ⦿ 7-day trial
- ⦿ Abundant legal resources
Rocket Lawyer differs slightly from the other companies on our best registered agent service list because business formation isn’t its main focus. As you might guess from the name, Rocket Lawyer specializes in providing legal help. Launched in 2008, the company has grown rapidly and the growth shows no signs of slowing.
One of the first things to notice about Rocket Lawyer is the fact that the company offers a 100% money-back guarantee. If for any reason you are not satisfied with your registered agent, all you need to do is ask for a refund.
As a Rocket Lawyer premium member, you’ll receive legal documents, legal advice, incorporation filing, and a discount on the registered agent service. The membership costs $39.99 per month but you can test it out for free with a seven-day trial. Every one of these services is also available à la carte.
Even if you aren’t a Rocket Lawyers client, you can able to take advantage of its considerable legal resources, which are listed at the bottom of every one of the website’s pages.
The last thing we’d like to mention regarding Rocket Lawyer’s positive features is its dedication to customer security. All transactions and communications are protected with 256-bit SSL/TLS encryption.
If you’re in search of the most affordable registered agent, Rocket Lawyer won’t be a good match for you. As a stand-alone service, it costs $149.99 per year, which is not a lot of money but significantly more than other companies charge.
Those who are intrigued by the possibility of having licensed lawyers at their disposal will appreciate what Rocket Lawyer has to offer. However, you shouldn’t expect any face-to-face consultations, as this company doesn’t provide any.
You should consider Rocket Lawyer if you may need occasional legal advice. A Rocket Lawyer subscription gives you substantial access to legal information and lawyers at a very affordable price. If solid registered agent service is all you want, however, Rocket Lawyer shouldn’t be your first pick. We don’t mean to say that its registered agents don’t do a good job, but you will find ZenBusiness of Incfile a much better value.
Yes, hiring a service to take care of legally mandated registered agent obligations is worth it. You’ll have more time to run your business if you’re not the one who is tasked with receiving and signing for your company’s registered mail. Any top registered agent service will give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you can count on important official communications being received and transmitted to you properly.
Any individual who’s 18 or older can be your registered agent, but you should consider hiring a company that provides these services professionally. There are plenty of top registered agent services to choose from, and none will cost you an arm and a leg. Assigning the role to your nephew might be tempting but it’s always better to employ someone who knows exactly what they’re doing in an important position like this. Taking on the responsibility yourself would limit you in terms of managing your time and movements freely, since you’d always have this responsibility to be in the office during business hours.
Your company’s registered agent is there to assure the state that you can receive and sign important documents. Because a signature is needed to prove receipt, a post office box is not enough. Registered agents also keep track of official notices and due dates for reports to the government. The best registered agent services have infallible systems in place that assist them in notifying you about relevant information and deadlines. This is crucial for keeping your business in compliance with corporate legal requirements.
It’s completely legal to appoint yourself as your own registered agent. Furthermore, most states allow you to appoint your business to be its own registered agent. However, there are several reasons to find a registered agent instead of appointing yourself. First, there’s a high chance you won’t have enough time to always stay on top of all important correspondence and crucial government notifications. Second, if you list your business as a registered agent, and you’re working from home, your private address will become publicly known. Lastly, business owners without a physical address or those that work in multiple states will have a hard time complying with state regulations without hiring a professional service.
One of the companies that we consider a strong candidate to be the best registered agent service is ZenBusiness. This is because it has reasonably priced plans and superb customer care representatives.