When forming an LLC, either through an LLC formation service or by filing it yourself, you’ll find that designating a registered agent is required in all states.
While you are legally allowed to designate yourself for this important role in most states, the problem is that your name, address, and information will be accessible on the public record. This drastically reduces your privacy and increases the amount of junk mail you receive.
If you’d like to retain your privacy and have a registered agent service listed rather than your personal or business details, choose one of the options below. While there are a plethora of choices available, we narrowed our list down to the 7 best registered agent services online.
Since opening in 2015, ZenBusiness has already found a number of ways to stand out from the pack. So far, we’ve already formed 400,000 businesses. Take a look at what we have to offer for registered agent service!
- ZenBusiness charges a reasonable rate of $99 for the first year and $199 per year after that for registered agent service. There aren’t many companies that can compete with that first-year price point!
- When it comes to customer feedback, ZenBusiness is almost impossible to beat. We have more than 10,000 reviews available online, and more than 97% of those reviews have positive rating scores.
- Whether you choose to contact us via phone, email, or our web-based chat application, you’ll receive timely and accurate customer service from the ZenBusiness support team.
- We proudly offer one of the best refund policies in the industry. ZenBusiness gives you a full 60 days to determine whether you’re satisfied with your purchase. If you aren’t, all you have to do to get your money back is ask for it!
Want to learn more about ZenBusiness? Read our review.
Another popular registered agent service is Northwest Registered Agent. Founded in 1998, Northwest now has thousands of registered agent service subscribers across the country.
They have a handful of advantages that help them stand out in this crowded marketplace.
- With a price point of $125 per year for registered agent service, Northwest isn’t the cheapest company that provides this service, but their price is still hundreds of dollars per year lower than competitors like CSC and National Registered Agents, Inc. In addition, if you require service in multiple states, Northwest offers volume discounts.
- Northwest was the first major registered agent service to locally scan every document they receive on your behalf. Most competitors only scan the official government documents that they’re legally required to scan.
- When it comes to customer support, Northwest takes a personalized approach. Every client receives support from Northwest’s highly trained corporate guides, who will personally help you whenever you have a question. Instead of contacting a massive call center to receive outsourced support, Northwest keeps everything in-house, so you know that whenever you have a question, you’ll be able to talk to someone knowledgeable.
If you want to receive personalized service at reasonable price points, Northwest Registered Agent is a good choice. However, keep in mind that Northwest charges at least $225 to form an LLC, so there are many cheaper options for that service.
Want to learn more about Northwest Registered Agent? Read our review.
Since 2004, IncFile has become one of the most popular online business formation services, serving more than 800,000 business clients in that time.
- While their $119 base rate for registered agent service is reasonable, IncFile’s most attractive quality is the fact that they offer a free LLC formation package that includes a year of registered agent service.
- If you place a high value on customer feedback, you’ll want to give IncFile a look. They have thousands of positive customer reviews all over the web, and they’re one of the most popular companies in this industry when it comes to their reputation among their existing clients.
IncFile can’t quite compete with ZenBusiness or Northwest when it comes to customer support, as their response times are quite a bit slower and they often respond without much detail.
Want to learn more about IncFile? Read our review.
Clocking in next is Rocket Lawyer, which is one of the most popular and recognizable names in the online business services industry. On their website, they claim to have helped more than 25 million customers, making them easily the highest-volume service provider in this guide ― even more so than LegalZoom.
- Rocket Lawyer offers registered agent service as a standalone feature for $149.99 per year, but if you subscribe to their Premium legal services plan for $39.99 per month, you’ll receive 25% off that rate, along with many other benefits.
- While Rocket Lawyer isn’t necessarily the “best” option for registered agent service, they have something to offer in several different areas. They have solid customer feedback, a strong customer support department, and a 100% satisfaction guarantee that ensures everything goes smoothly.
If you find value in their legal services plan, Rocket Lawyer is an intriguing choice for registered agent service.
Want to learn more about Rocket Lawyer? Read our review.
LegalZoom is one of the industry giants in online business services, as they have next-level name recognition and brand power.
LegalZoom has helped form more than 2 million businesses since they started offering web-based legal services in 2001, which is a level of experience few other companies in this field can match.
- While LegalZoom’s $299/year price point is significantly higher than the other options we’ve discussed in this guide, they still offer a more affordable registered agent service than the “big three” of CT, CSC, and National Registered Agents, Inc.
- Much like ZenBusiness, LegalZoom provides a 100% satisfaction guarantee that’s one of the best in the industry. If you’re unhappy with their services for any reason, they’ll refund all fees paid to LegalZoom at any time within 60 days of your initial purchase.
- They also provide a handy compliance calendar that keeps you informed of important deadlines for things like annual reports, which is a nice way to cap off a well-rounded but slightly expensive offering from LegalZoom.
LegalZoom has plenty of customer reviews available online, and its reputation in this area has improved significantly over the years. While LegalZoom used to receive somewhat mixed feedback, their thousands of reviews are mostly positive today.
Want to learn more about LegalZoom? Read our review.
CorpNet is another good LLC service that also offers registered agent service. They have plenty of experience but still maintain a personal touch that so many competitors lack.
Their ownership group has formed more than 100,000 corporations and LLCs across the country, and their registered agent service is of high quality as well.
- CorpNet’s biggest advantage is its strong customer reviews. With hundreds of positive reviews available online ― and hardly any negative feedback ― they have a solid customer satisfaction reputation.
- Similar to the reassurances offered by LegalZoom and ZenBusiness, CorpNet also provides its customers with a satisfaction guarantee. If you’re not entirely satisfied with the service you receive from CorpNet, they’ll refund your service fees with no questions asked at any time within 30 days of your order.
- When it comes to pricing, CorpNet is not quite as affordable as some of the other options in this guide, but CorpNet’s $149 annual rate is still less expensive than LegalZoom.
CorpNet doesn’t stand out in any one specific way, but they offer well-balanced formation packages and have strong customer service, which is always a good combination.
Want to learn more about CorpNet? Read our review.
MyCorporation has been around for over 20 years, and they’ve served more than a million business clients. They receive solid customer reviews, and they also offer good support. While their LLC formation service offering has some flaws, we appreciate their registered agent service’s reasonable price point.
- MyCorporation charges an annual fee of $120 for registered agent service, which does not include any additional features beyond the basics of registered agent service. MyCorporation has a $133 (plus state fee) starting price point for LLC formation service.
- MyCorporation has served an impressive client volume, with more than 1 million customers since it opened in 1998. Their CEO lists her Twitter handle (@deborahsweeney) on their website, which is a nice level of transparency for customers with questions or concerns.
MyCorporation offers customer support by phone or email. We’re impressed by their quick response times with either option, as we’ve never waited long to hear back from them. Their reps are friendly and knowledgeable. Overall, we have no complaints about their support system.
Need more info about MyCorporation? Check out our full review.
Why We Recommend Registered Agent Services
Handling registered agent duties can be annoying, and when you’re planning out a new business, you’ve got enough on your plate.
Hiring a registered agent service lets you hand off those responsibilities without giving it a second thought so you can focus your energy where your passion lies: starting and growing your business.
Yes, it’s an added expense to what’s likely a growing list of costs, but these three benefits are totally worth it:
- You’ll be adhering to state laws that require having an agent on file.
- Your service will immediately scan and notify you of any correspondence related to your LLC, keeping it compliant and protected.
- Your personal address won’t be publicly available because you can use their address instead.
- Any Service of Process for your LLC will be delivered through the registered agent service rather than at your home or office.
Peace of Mind
- Rather than being confined to your registered office between normal business hours (9 am-5 pm), the registered agent service will be available for you, so you can have a nice coffee out or leave for a long weekend whenever you’d like.
- The documents and notifications you receive will be stored in a secure online dashboard for safekeeping, like a backup.
5 Important Registered Agent Myths
By now, you’re basically a registered agent expert – or at least a well-informed entrepreneur. Still, there are a lot of registered agent misconceptions floating around out there:
1) Each business only needs one registered agent
This one is partially true, but only if your LLC operates in just one state. If you execute business transactions in multiple states or want to expand your operations into a new state, your company needs to have a registered agent in each of those states. Most major registered agent services provide service in all 50 states, but if you serve as your own agent, designate an attorney or accountant, or hire a friend or family member, this could cause some problems.
2) It’s easy and practical to serve as your own registered agent
Some business owners successfully serve as their own agents, but the idea that “anyone can do it” simply isn’t true. It requires a thorough knowledge of state guidelines, compliance deadlines, and service of process. Plus, individual agents need to be diligent and dedicated, remaining at the place of business during all regular business hours. Missing state communications or court summons isn’t something you want to risk, so if you’re unsure about the responsibilities, we recommend handing them off to a professional service.
3) Professional registered agent service is costly to acquire and maintain
In reality, hiring a professional registered agent is quite affordable, especially compared to the expense of some other business services. While prices fluctuate from company to company, in general, you can find options for around $10/month or less.
4) It’s not necessary to keep official notices from your state government
This isn’t necessarily a legal requirement, but it’s a good business practice that can save you a lot of trouble in the future, so we strongly recommend it. Any reputable registered agent will hold onto official government notices ― whether they’re for annual reports, tax forms, etc. ― or at least keep a digital record of the delivery. It’s important to be vigilant about keeping records regarding deadlines with your state so you can easily maintain your good standing.
5) Registered agent service is basically just mail sorting
Sorting through junk mail is the least glamorous and most tedious part of a registered agent’s job, but this is just one small aspect of registered agent service. The key aspect of this role is to contact business owners as quickly as possible if the state sends service of process and also to help keep that business compliant and in good standing.
More Registered Agent Resources
How Do Online Registered Agent Services Work?
With any of the registered agent services discussed in this guide, you’ll need to provide them with some essential information about yourself and your business. You will also need to designate which state you need service for and pay the service fees. From there, you can sit back and relax.
Whenever your agent receives government documents on your behalf, they will alert you of the delivery and immediately forward you the forms. Once per year, you will need to renew your registered agent service. Aside from that, there aren’t many requirements to keep this service going.
How to Designate Yourself as Your Registered Agent
Designating yourself as your company’s registered agent is a simple process. First, you’ll need to fill out your own information when asked to provide registered agent info in your articles of organization.
Of course, you’re only eligible to do so if you have a physical street address within the same state your business operates in. Just enter your own name and address in this space, and you’re ready to go.
Once your business is formed, you’ll need to be present and available to receive document deliveries every weekday during standard business hours. If you’re not present, you run the risk of missing a service of process delivery. This could result in a lawsuit progressing against your business without your knowledge.
If your business is already formed, and you want to replace your current registered agent with yourself, the process looks a little bit different. In this scenario, you’ll need to file what’s usually called a “statement of change of registered agent” form. Just like with forming a new business, you’ll need to enter your own name and address on this form to become your own registered agent.
Keep in mind that we do not typically advise that you serve as your own registered agent. In addition to needing to be present at your listed location during all standard business hours, serving as your own agent means that your address will become part of the public record.
You’re also likely to receive much more junk mail than you ever have before. Especially considering how low-cost many of these services are, we strongly recommend hiring one instead of being your own agent.
Frequently Asked Questions
Got Registered Agent Questions? We’ve Got Answers.
What Is a Registered Agent?
A registered agent (also known in some states as a statutory agent or resident agent) is an individual or business entity that receives document deliveries on your behalf from your state of formation. Your registered agent informs you whenever they receive a document for your business and forwards any relevant forms to you.
While this may sound like a somewhat unnecessary middleman, the registered agent’s role is crucial because the government needs to have a way to reliably contact a representative of your business.
Is a Registered Agent Required When Creating an LLC?
Yes, you must designate a registered agent when forming an LLC.
Is It Better to Serve as My Own Agent?
While it is legal in all states to serve as your LLC’s own registered agent, we almost never recommend doing so. While it can save you at least $100 per year, the biggest issue is that you may be required to make your personal address and phone number a matter of public record, which is a serious privacy concern.
In addition, if you serve as your own registered agent, you will need to be available from 9am to 5pm every weekday because if someone tries to serve you for a lawsuit and you’re not around, the suit could continue in your absence, without your knowledge.
Can My Accountant Be My Registered Agent?
Some entrepreneurs do choose to designate their accountant (or their lawyer) as their registered agent. This is a better idea than serving as your own agent because most accountants keep standard business hours at their offices and are therefore available to be registered agents. Plus, because you already do business with them, you know you can trust them.
On the other hand, accountants often charge high rates for this service and may not have any experience as registered agents. Also, if you want to expand to additional states, you’ll need a different registered agent because most accountants only have locations in one state.
Will a Registered Agent Help With Ongoing LLC Compliance Requirements?
Absolutely. Many professional registered agent services include some sort of compliance monitor tool that allows you to keep track of your important filing deadlines. In addition, many registered agent services also offer annual report service, taking a major ongoing compliance requirement off your hands.
How Can I Learn More About These Companies?
If you’d like to learn more about the best registered agent services on our list, check out our reviews:
- ZenBusiness LLC Review
- Northwest Registered Agent LLC Review
- IncFile LLC Review
- Rocket Lawyer LLC Review
- CorpNet LLC Review
- LegalZoom LLC Review
- MyCorporation LLC Review
Note: Our reviews specifically focus on the LLC formation services for each provider, but they’ll give you an idea of what to expect from each company.
How Do I Change Registered Agents?
This varies by state, but in most states, you will need to file a “change of registered agent” form with the state you do business in.
This is typically a rather simple form, although there is usually a small fee required. In some states, you can also change registered agents by indicating the change in your LLC annual report or by amending your articles of organization.
If you’d like state-specific info on what this process looks like, check out our guides for changing a registered agent.
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 company.
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.