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When incorporating your business, there are two ways you can choose:
A ‘do-it-yourself’ approach, which is time-consuming, difficult, and probably will leave you disappointed with an idea.
Or, you can go to an online incorporation service and delegate all the work to them. Bonus tip: an incorporation service can also serve as your online storage for docs and a compliance board!
All you need to do is to choose one of the best online incorporation services we’ve carefully selected for you!
A Quick Preview:
Our Selection of the Best Incorporation Services on the Market
Best Overall — Zenbusiness
So, let’s start our selection of the best online incorporation services with the absolute cherry on top — Zenbusiness. The company is launched in 2015 and obtained a pretty good reputation among other services thanks to its fast operation, ease of use and one of the lowest price points on the market.
Zenbusiness allows you to register LLC or traditional corporation. The company handles all the required paperwork, while also acting as your registered agent service, so you can keep the documentation neat and organized.
Speaking of the pricing, Zenbusiness offers you three packages:
- Basic ($39/year). This includes standard filing service during 6-7 business days, registered agent, and a template of an operating agreement.
- Pro ($199/year). Along with all the benefits of the Basic package, with Pro, you will also get your Employer Identification Number, compliance calendar, and banking resolution templates.
- Premium ($299/year). This package includes all features of the previous one and tops it with your business website, domain name, and e-mail.
So, let’s sum up the strengths and weaknesses of Zenbusiness.
- Appealing price — only $49 per year for the Basic package that contains all the essentials.
- First 12 months of registered agent service for free.
- Expert customer support.
- Their turnaround time estimates can often differ from reality.
- Relatively young company.
So, if you’re incorporating your first business or look for a service that has everything you might need, then Zenbusiness might be a great pick for you.
The Cheapest Incorporation Service — Incfile
Incfile isn’t just the best, it’s also the cheapest incorporation service. If you choose the Silver package, you’ll have to pay only state fees and purchase an operating agreement template! Plus, all the packages include a free 12-month registered agent service which is essential for registering your business.
Incfile can handle the paperwork for 4 types of business entities: traditional corporation, an LLC, an S-corp status, and a nonprofit. Depending on your needs, you can choose from three packages:
- Silver ($0). Contains the essentials: registered agent, filing all the paperwork and an unlimited business name availability check.
- Gold. The Silver package + EIN, operating agreement, banking resolution, business tax guidance, and a compliance calendar.
- Platinum. The Gold package + expedited filing speed, business email and domain name, and business contract templates.
- Works with four business entities: C-corp, S-corp, LLC, and nonprofit. Most similar services can register only LLC or a non-profit.
- Free registered agent service for the first year, followed with $119 per year, which is still cheaper than most services.
- Lots of positive reviews and a stable reputation.
- Expedited filing is free only in platinum package, for Gold and Silver plans you have to pay $50.
- Lots of upsells before checkout.
Incfile will be a great choice for entrepreneurs who look for a budget-friendly incorporation service with all the essential features and good usability.
Best Customer Support — Northwest Registered Agent
Another contestant in our selection of top-rated online incorporation services is Northwest. This company made their customer service the most prominent feature, along with a convenient pricing plan, and the Privacy by Default option that keeps your data protected.
So, Northwest offers you only one pricing option, which is $225 per year. This price contains a filing fee ($100) and a registered agent ($125). Note that you also have to pay state fees that can fluctuate from $20 to $300 but this is a one-time payment.
The company helps you handle the paperwork for traditional corporations, LLC, and nonprofits, so you can register any business entity.
Finally, Northwest assigns you their customer service representative. This is a real person with a lot of business expertise, who will guide you through the tedious process of business registration and resolve any question you might have along the way.
- They scan every document they receive, unlike other services that scan only legally required government forms.
- Privacy by Default® option minimizes your data exposure and protects it from theft.
- Same business day filing that speeds up the formation process a bit.
- Few reviews on Google and they’re mixed.
- More expensive than competitors.
Legalzoom easily claims its place among the best online incorporation services because of its huge experience in the field and perfect reputation. The company has helped millions of entrepreneurs since its formation in 1999 and offers all the necessities to register any type of business entity you can come up with.
As with most business formation services, Legalzoom has three pricing packages:
- Economy ($149/year). Name check, all the essential paperwork, lifetime support, tax savings analysis, and a digital storage to keep your files.
- Standard ($329/year). All the above plus expedited processing and a business kit with an organizer and seal.
- Express Gold ($349/year). Standard package + order priority for the Secretary of State and express delivery of the final documents to your doorstep.
The tricky part is that things like registered agent service, compliance calendar, and a smart employer service aren’t included in any package, and you have to purchase them separately. This can drastically elevate the final cost.
- Their customer service is available throughout the week and has extended work hours.
- Offer business incorporation and personal legal services.
- The website interface is incredibly easy to use.
- Highly reputable company with extensive media presence.
- The filing speed is much slower than in other services: 30 working days for the Economy, 15 days for the Standard, and 10 days for the Express Gold.
- Registered agent service isn’t included and costs $249 per year.
Best for Compliance — Bizfilings
Bizfilings is our final candidate on the list of top-rated online incorporation services, but this doesn’t mean that it has nothing to offer. This company was founded in 1996 and helped millions of businesses to stand out. Plus, it operates on the base of Wolters Kluwer, a massive law and compliance company, which means that it offers solid long-term solutions.
So, Bizfilings allows you to choose from three pricing points:
- Basic ($99/year). Includes only legal formation of your business and registration with the State.
- Standard ($229/year). This package gives you operating agreements and other customizable forms to keep your business compliant.
- Complete ($329/year). Includes Federal tax number obtainment service and educational DVD on compliance that will help you with all the questions that may arise after you launch your business.
- Has a convenient incorporation wizard that helps you determine what type of business entity you need.
- Offers 6 months of free registered agent service, which is less than competitors do, but still valuable.
- Works with corporate entities, LLC, s-corporations, and sole proprietorship.
- There are a lot of cheaper services.
- Registered agent service is $164 per year after the trial expires, which also makes it more expensive than competitors.
BizFilings will perfectly suit those who aren’t sure which business they want to register or those who want a solid compliance service and are willing to pay for it. If this sounds like you, then definitely make BizFilings your go-to option.
Benefits of Online Incorporation Services
Online incorporation services remain a popular solution for those who want to register their business with the state.
And there are several reasons for that:
- Quicker processing time. If you’re filing the paperwork for yourself, it may take more time for you to figure out all the details and fill the forms correctly. An incorporation service is a large team of experts that will process all the paperwork more quickly.
- More accurate. The same level of expertise allows the representatives of the incorporation service to fill the paperwork following the ever-changing state and federal laws and make fewer mistakes.
- More organized storage. An incorporation service gives you a personal account, which serves as an online folder for all of your documents. Plus, a registered agent service with an e-mail and the business phone keeps all the documentation away from your assets and minimizes the exposure of your data to the state.
- More opportunities for long-term use. Most online incorporation services include the compliance calendar and tax report help, so you can keep all the permits and reports updated as long as it’s needed.
What makes the best incorporation service?
The best incorporation service is easy to use, reasonably priced and will handle all the paperwork for you without any hassle.
The main requirements for incorporation include registered agent service, filing the Articles of Incorporation, obtaining licenses and permits, obtaining EIN, opening a corporate bank account, filing tax reports, and maintaining compliance. These are the services you should look for, and then add other features if you want to.
Can I incorporate my business on my own?
You can incorporate by yourself, but note that it’s a long and pretty detailed process.
You will have to do everything: search for a business name and check if it’s available, appoint a registered agent and register business email and phone, file articles of incorporation, company bylaws, and banking resolution.
Furthermore, you will also have to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) and learn how to file tax return forms with the IRS. Most likely, at some of these steps, you will need an attorney consultation.
An incorporation service does all this work for you, and you get all the paperwork to start your business right away. And if you have some questions during the process, you can address them to customer service for free.
When is a good time to incorporate?
It’s better to incorporate at earlier stages, but not too early, otherwise, the cost of incorporation might be higher than maintaining a sole proprietorship. Here are some suitable milestones for incorporation:
- before any large deal or contract, so you can enjoy limited liability protection and present yourself to your business partners as a more stable legal entity;
- if you plan to expand or hire your first employees;
- if you plan to appoint a co-owner or add a business partner.
What types of corporations can I register with online services?
The majority of incorporation services have feature packages tailored to forming a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or a traditional corporation. However, some of them can also help you to file for an S-corporation status or form a nonprofit.
What fees do I have to pay to incorporate my business?
Most services will require you to pay their filing fee — this is usually the package price — and a state filing fee, which varies depending on the state you choose to operate in. Plus, some additional features, such as compliance or unlimited attorney calls, may require a separate payment.
Does incorporating have any disadvantages?
Yes. The most common disadvantages include:
- Higher start-up costs compared to other business structures.
- Double taxation — corporations are frequently taxed on both state and federal level unless you form a business with a pass-through tax model.
- Extra paperwork — you have to keep annual meeting minutes, share and transaction registers, audit books, bank transaction records, etc.
- Lack of ownership. If your corporation is publicly traded, your shareholders can own its parts, and hence, have a right to vote during important procedures such as appointing the board of directions.
Do I have to incorporate again in a new state?
If you plan to operate in a state different from where you incorporated, you need to register your business with that state’s Secretary of State. This is often called “foreign qualification”.
You need to obtain a Certificate of Authority from the non-resident Secretary of State and pay the state fee to register your business.
Note that certain states may require from you a certificate of good standing from your resident state.
This certificate shows that your taxes and licenses in the resident state are up to date, so don’t neglect your compliance.
Registering a corporation or an LLC is a long and difficult process, but you can save your nerves with these five online services. All of them are suitable for different demands, and we’re pretty sure that you’ll find the one that is perfectly tailored to your needs.
However, the one that impressed us the most is Zenbusiness. Despite being a relatively young company, Zenbusiness is one of the cheapest on the market and offers all the essentials even in the most basic package. Plus, it’s incredibly easy to use even for beginners and has highly-experienced customer support that will gladly answer all your questions.
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