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For most states, an essential requirement when forming a new company, especially an LLC, is to secure a Registered Agent. Someone with a fixed address in the state where the business was established who will receive all the correspondence between the company and the Secretary of State. The registered agent can also receive all legal notices, billings, proposals, and mostly any correspondence that are physically sent to your company. The registered agent can be the same company you used to file your LLC, or it can be someone else. Here are the top four best-registered agent services out there.
Zenbusiness is one of many online legal services/business formation services out there and perhaps one of the best when it comes to pricing and catering to small entrepreneurs. They just started in 2015, so this is a company that’s out to impress. Aside from filing your LLC for free, Zenbusiness also offers Registered Agent Services (for a small regular fee of course).
As required for companies that off this type of service, Zenbusiness is always available during business hours. It’s still available to receive your business’ legal documents as well as relay those documents to the right people at your business. In the event of a lawsuit, Zenbusiness can act quickly to alert your company.
It’s RA service will also alert on missed deadlines, fines, and penalties but will also do what it can to avoid them, so your company remains in good standing with the government and clientele. Your company’s compliance requirement for a permanent physical office is also assured as Zenbusiness physical offices aren’t going anywhere.
As a registered agent service, it’s also Zenbusiness’ job to receive all legal notices, even bad ones (summons, lawsuits, tax notices) should the business temporarily go sour, as a form of protection to keep the morale high among employees and customers.
It should also go without mention that Zenbusiness will keep the paperwork down and organized by storing critical legal documents, scanning them so they can easily be available for download, viewing, and online printing. All of it, for the low price of $110 annually.
Northwest Registered Agent
Unlike Zenbusiness and other companies in this list, Northwest R.A., (R.A. standing for Registered Agent) is a registered agent first, and legal services and business formation second. Unlike Zenbusiness, Northwest has extensive experience behind it as it’s been in the business for 20 years. This experience makes Northwest a shoo-in even if you decide to form your company elsewhere. If you do choose to create your company with Northwest for the price of $79, RA services come free for the first year.
At $125 annually, it’s a little more expensive than Zenbusiness but a lot cheaper than other dedicated registered agent services out there. This rate can go down further if your business spans multiple states and choose Northwest to represent each.
Part of Northwest’s services is not only to receive your documents but to scan all of them for your online viewing convenience, including junk mail. Others can only documents that they’re required to. This is part of their well-known support for their customers. They don’t employ apathetic call centers but give their customers direct lines to their respective assigned corporate guides. Guides who are knowledgeable in their field, allowing questions to be answered quickly and efficiently. Visit Northwest Registered Agent
Incfile is well known for fast, inexpensive and easy LLC formation and like Northwest, has a little experience under their belt since starting in 2004. By now it’s a name trusted by over 250,000 businesses. However, like most online legal service providers, Incfile is also into the business of being a Registered Agent. Incfile makes it on this list since it would be the most affordable way to get Registered Agent service and forming a company at the same time at $149. The RA service is free for the first year of the $149 LLC formation.
As a Registered Agent, Incfile’s reviews are pretty decent compared to other RA services. Their features and customer support may not be as extensive as Northwest’s but is good enough for most. Incfile’s standalone RA service costs $119 per year, which is still affordable. However, their RA service is limited to legal and tax correspondence and not as a general business/mail forwarding address. However, like an excellent registered agent, Incfile is always open to receive legal correspondence during regular business hours, notify your company via phone or email upon receipt of legal documents, and forward those legal documents to your company. Visit Incfile
Very much like Incfile, Swyft Filings is a business formation first, Registered Agent second. Unlike Incfile, however, they charge slightly higher at $149 annually for RA services, attributable to better quality services and customer support. Swyft Filings does have plenty of positive reviews. Like Zenbusiness, Swyft Filings is also relatively new after starting in 2012. Unlike the latter services though, RA services are not bundled with Swyft Filings’ LLC formation packages.
While priced a little higher, Swyft Filings has all the trappings of a typical registered agent service, such as receiving all legal and taxation paperwork; ensuring compliance for their clients through notices and reminders for legal obligations and making things more accessible through their online dashboard, and privacy protection from adverse legal notices. Swyft Filings is available in all 50 states so there’s no worry whichever state you want to form your company or how many states your company is engaged in. Renewal with Swyft Filings RA services is automatic, which adds to their no-worries policy.
Again, with their pricing, reliable service is both required assured as the only thing that sets them apart with the likes of Incfile are satisfactory reviews. If you don’t want to leave anything to chance, then Swyft Filings is the right choice for a registered agent service. Visit Swyft Filings
Registered Agent FAQs
Why have a Registered Agent?
A registered agent is part of a compliance requirement for most businesses, especially after forming an LLC. The state requires a permanent address to which they can send their legal documents to. Lacking a registered agent means hefty fines, the loss of business license, or even criminal charges. If you intend to form a company, you’ll need to get an RA from either your business formation service as part of a formation package or acquire this service from dedicated RA services.
My LLC Formation Service bundles RA Services. Should I take it?
There are hardly any reasons why you shouldn’t. The main advantage for most is the free first year of service, except for Swyftfilings. You could check the reviews for the services listed above. Should those services prove unsatisfactory, there’s always the option to change to a more dedicated service.
Can I change my Registered Agent?
Yes. You need not be tied to your formation service’s registered agent services. It’s possible to move on to a more dedicated RA service or become your own (not exactly a good idea). It requires some legal paperwork, specifically a ‘change of registered agent form’ that your formation service can perform or something you can file yourself.
Can I be my Registered Agent?
Yes. It’s possible to be your registered agent provided your company has a physical address. It can save at least a hundred dollars per year. The cons of being your own registered agent mainly involve privacy, not to mention the extra work of keeping track of legalities. Your company will be subject to junk mail, as well as embarrassing legal notices your staff or other people are not meant to read.
If not me, can my accountant lawyer by my registered agent?
Yes. It’s quite possible. It’s even better than being your own registered agent. However, the disadvantage of this would be the price. This adds to an already expensive per hour fee your lawyer or accountant gets. Professional rates are much higher compared to dedicated registered agent services.
Are Foreign Companies Required to get a Registered Agent?
Yes. If the business is registered and conducts business in any state that requires one, in a process known as foreign qualifying. If the company runs in a state other than where it was formed, has a physical presence in that state, has employees in that state, has a bank account as well as earns revenues from that state, then yes. The foreign company has the option of forming a separate LLC in the state and securing the RA services of the companies listed above, among others.
Can I get the services of different registered agents?
If your company spans different states, yes, one branch can acquire one service, for instance, Incfile while another branch can have the service of Zenbusiness. This way, you can gauge their quality of service and unify later.
The list of Registered Agent services above is meant to help you see the best that’s available. There are the first companies you need to call for acquiring a registered agent, filling for an LLC or both. Being the best is relative. This list narrows down your choices in determining which is best.