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It is important to have a registered agent (RA) for registering a business. As a third-party organization, they will take care of the paperwork and help protect personal assets. A lot of people have problems finding a trustworthy and experienced registered agent. In order to find the best registered agent services out there, you need to get familiar with them and make a choice. In this article, we have put together a list of the 5 best-rated registered agents to help you through your journey.
A Quick Preview:
Best Overall — Zenbusiness ($99/year) Best for the Customer Support — Northwest Registered Agent ($125/year) Best for First-Time Business Owners — Incfile ($119/year) Best for Market Presence — Legalzoom ($299/year)
Best for Reputation — Rocket Lawyer ($150/year)
Our List of the Best Registered Agent Services
Best Overall — Zenbusiness ($99/year)
- one of the cheapest offers on the market — only $99/year;
- has a package with worry-free compliance for further maintenance of your business;
- Zenbusiness is a trustworthy company with more than 4,000 positive reviews on Trustpilot.
You may probably know Zenbusiness as a company that helps you with business formation, and its pricing plans include a registered agent service for free during the first year of use. However, if you look for the RA as a standalone feature, you can also count on Zenbusiness. Its expertise, worry-free compliance service, and appealing price earned Zenbusiness the first place on top of our list of the best registered agent services.
Now, Zenbusiness offers you two pricing plans for their service. Standard coverage ($99) includes the RA itself, expert customer support and access to your virtual office. For $149 per year (complete coverage), you also get a worry-free compliance service, which is still way cheaper than similar packages in other services.
Note that regardless of the plan you choose, you also need to make a one-time payment for agent fees that vary by state.
- Affordable and valuable: costs way cheaper than competitors like Northwest or Incfile.
- The automatized filing process for faster formation.
- Experienced and fast support staff.
- Keeps your business compliant with federal laws.
- Relatively new on the market.
- Filing time may vary.
So, if you need an affordable, easy to use, and valuable RA service, then definitely go for Zenbusiness.
Best for the Customer Support — Northwest Registered Agent ($125/year)
Our second-best pick for you is the Northwest Registered Agent. The company is launched in 1998, so it has an impressive track record. Plus, it cares about personal data protection and offers the most prominent customer support in the industry.
Northwest has only one pricing plan, $125 per year, which is pretty reasonable. For this cost, you’ll get online access to your documents, annual report reminders, and convenient company management. Plus, Northwest representatives manually scan your documents and send them to your business e-mail as well, so you have a backup copy, just in case.
But the most prominent feature of the Northwest is its customer service. The company assigns you a personal representative — they’re called Corporate Guides — to whom you can address all the questions. Oh, and you can also count on lifetime support from them.
- Document scans are sent to your email and uploaded onto your account, which creates an additional layer of protection.
- Reasonable price for the well-rounded service pack.
- Lifetime support from the experienced corporate guides.
- If you choose an RA as a part of their business formation pack, it might be pretty expensive.
So, if you need a reliable registered agent service with tons of expertise for every state and a good track record, make Northwest your go-to option.
Best for First-Time Business Owners — Incfile ($119/year)
Incfile is one of the top-rated registered agent services because of its fast processing time, convenient interface and one of the most appealing costs — only $119 per year. Moreover, you can get your first year of RA service free if you choose Incfile for business formation!
So, what features does it offer?
First, Incfile quickly processes and handles all your documents and gives you access to a convenient personal dashboard where you can organize and view them. Also, it automatically forwards business emails directly to you, so you won’t miss anything.
Plus, the Incfile RA is equipped with a good compliance service that can keep your business running as long as you need it by filing annual reports and keeping the licenses up to date.
Finally, customer service is another prominent feature of the Incfile. You can contact a representative via the form on the website or the phone on weekdays from 9 am to 6 pm CMT.
- Perfect for beginner entrepreneurs.
- If you go for a registered agent as a standalone feature, you get one of the best prices per year.
- Your data on the website is protected by Norton and Websecurity.
- A bit slower processing time compared to Northwest or Zenbusiness.
Overall, Incfile is a great service for those who plan to start their first business, as ordering the registered agent within a free business formation pack might be your best bet.
Legalzoom was launched in 2001 but managed to help millions of entrepreneurs as a business formation service. This, along with heavy online advertisement, earned Legalzoom a place among the best registered agent services on the market. But there’s even more to that.
Legalzoom offers only one pricing plan that will cost you $299 per year. It contains a convenient compliance calendar ($69) that keeps you informed about important tax deadlines and annual reports. Plus, Legalzoom collaborates with Experian, which secures your data from identity theft, and this feature is also included in the package.
Along with that, Legalzoom cares about your customer satisfaction. It offers you a 60-day trial period, and if you aren’t satisfied with the purchase, the company will refund your full cost — except state fees — without any hassle. Additionally, Legalzoom will handle all the paperwork needed to switch to another RA service.
- A well-known company with lots of expertise.
- Cares about your data protection in many ways.
- 60-day money-back guarantee — two times longer than most services can offer!
- Features a convenient compliance calendar.
- Seems a bit overpriced.
- If you choose Legalzoom as a business formation service, you will have to pay for the RA separately, as it isn’t included in any package.
If an impressive track record, compliance and data protection are the essentials you look for in registered agent service, then don’t hesitate to choose Legalzoom!
Best for Reputation — Rocket Lawyer ($150/year)
Rocket Lawyer is the last but not least in this selection. Even though the company doesn’t offer you a set of outstanding features, it has a solid reputation among the users and more than a decade of relevant experience. Plus, the price is pretty balanced and the service includes all the essentials.
For $150 per year, Rocket Layer will equip you with a neat online space to keep all the documents, a convenient business address and contacts, and a compliance calendar, so you won’t miss any important deadlines and will maintain a good relationship with the state.
If you plan to form a business, you can also subscribe to the Rocket Lawyer’s premium membership for $40/month and get a 25% discount on a registered agent service (it will cost you about $112 per year) along with tons of other features.
- Includes all the essentials to conveniently manage the business documents for you.
- Send backup copies to your business email.
- Keeps the track of important deadlines and annual meetings with a convenient compliance calendar.
- If you purchase a formation package, RA service still needs to be bought separately.
With that being said, Rocket Lawyer might be a good choice for those who need a well-known company with solid expertise or those who own several companies.
Benefits of a Registered Agent Service
So, a registered agent is a legal requirement for everyone who wants to incorporate their business, and there are several ways to appoint it:
- you can hire an attorney or a lawyer who can act as your representative with the state;
- you can even register yourself as a RA if you own a small business (less than 10 employees);
- and finally, you can delegate this job to an online service.
And here’s why the last option is the best:
- Fewer worries and paperwork. Your registered agent keeps your track record instead of you. All businesses are required to file annual reports, tax returns, hold board meetings, keep their permits up to date, etc. RA will monitor all of these important things and will keep all the business documents stored in one secure place, so you will save your nerves.
- An additional layer of privacy. Corporations and LLC are separate legal entities, so they need an operational bank account, social security number, address, business email, and contacts. This will keep your assets and private information from unwanted third-party solicitations.
- Regular business schedule. A registered agent needs to be available during normal working hours, so the state can quickly contact them. This will come in handy if you, as a business owner, work irregular hours or travel often.
- Opportunities to develop. At some point in your business journey, you may want to open your company in other states. And you will need a registered agent in all of these states, so your business can stay compliant. Online services today are typically available nationwide and allow you to store all important documentation in one place.
Finally, RA services are usually cheaper than hiring a personal attorney, which is especially important for small businesses and nonprofits.
What Are Essential Things to Have in the Best Registered Agent Service?
Finally, our last piece of advice on how to choose a professional registered agent service. We used this checklist to select the services for our guide, so it may come in handy for you.
#1 Check the Reputation and Market History
Working with state and federal laws requires a huge amount of knowledge and responsibility. Plus, you certainly don’t want to trust your business to unqualified people. That’s why make sure that the company you choose is known to the market:
- Check reviews. Sometimes, an official website can exaggerate things a bit to seem more reliable, so don’t be afraid to look for the reviews elsewhere. Trustpilot, for example, gives you a more honest picture, but you can also search for opinions on LinkedIn, Google Maps, etc.
- Browse through the company’s history. Well-known names on the market usually mean solid expertise and convenient service. There are a lot of well-known companies and new names on the market today. But be sure to check the company’s history before you trust them with your money. Thankfully, many of the modern RA services offer you a trial period or a money-back guarantee for a worry-free experience.
#2 Choose Nationwide Providers
Again, many of the RA services today operate in all 50 states, but it’s always better to double-check, especially if you’re planning to expand your business in the future. Thus, you won’t have to go through the process of changing your RA service and will have endless opportunities to grow your empire.
#3 Think About Compliance
Compliance is crucial to keep your business in good relations with the state. Most RA services offer you minimal compliance, such as reminding you of important deadlines. Others might appoint you a compliance assistant, who can file all the paperwork with the state for you, but this is usually a paid feature.
#4 Choose Value Over Price
Every business owner has different requirements for their registered agent service. But the most important thing a RA should do is to deliver all the paperwork to you — preferably, via several channels such as your account and email — and require minimal participation from you. So, be sure to choose a service, which:
- has a convenient document management system;
- offers online storage;
- backs up the documents on your email (or even send you hard copies on your business address);
- offers same-day document upload.
These are essentials, and you can layer some additional features over them to get the perfect registered agent service.
Why do you need a registered agent?
Incorporation turns your business into a separate legal entity. This means that you need to separate your personal information and data — address, contacts, and assets — from the company. All businesses are required to have a registered agent, otherwise, the state won’t accept your incorporation docs.
What’s the difference between a resident agent and a registered agent?
These are different names for the same service. Some states can also use the name ‘agent for service of process’.
Is a registered agent free?
No. Even if you obtain it by yourself, you still have to pay a state fee. Online registered agent services might give you a free trial period, but in most cases, it will be as a part of their incorporation package, so you will have to pay for it as well.
Why can’t I just hire an attorney to be my registered agent?
You can appoint an attorney to do the job, or even register yourself as your own RA if you run a small business (less than 10 employees). However, a RA service is usually cheaper than an attorney and keeps things neat and organized, so you only need to keep track of your reports and licenses and sign documents from time to time.
When and how can I change my registered agent service?
You can change your registered agent at any moment after registering your business. All you need to do is to appoint a new RA, file a special Change of a Registered Agent form with the state (not all states require this, so be sure to check it with your Secretary of State), and then cancel the old RA service. Also, note that to get the Change of a Registered Agent form, you have to pay a fee in most states.
Can a registered agent be my compliance manager?
Absolutely. In fact, it’s one of its functions. Most online services offer you a separate compliance service that helps you keep track of important events, but any of them includes annual reports and important tax alerts in the service packs.
Can I have more than one registered agent?
If you’re going to expand your business to several states, you need to open a RA in each of them. Thankfully, most modern online services operate nationwide, so you can appoint as many RA services as you need while keeping things streamlined.
So, now you know how to choose a good registered agent service and are one step closer to registering your business!
However, if you don’t want to go through our checklist by yourself, you can proceed to our top performer, which is Zenbusiness. This RA service is equipped with all the essentials, regardless of your entrepreneurship status. If you’re a beginner, you can even manage to get the RA for free as a part of the formation package. If you have some experience, Zenbusiness will easily keep all the paperwork for you and make your life easier.
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