In general, you’re required by law to have a registered agent for your business. But no matter what, you’re strongly advised to obtain these services, especially from the top-rated registered agent services online.
When you’re starting or running your own business, you usually find out that one of the requirements to start your business is that you obtain the services of a 3rd-party registered agent. In fact, this is so important that even in states where this isn’t an absolute requirement, you really should get it nonetheless. Failure to do so almost seems like criminal negligence.
A registered is a 3rd party, based in the same state where you have established your business. If you’re operating in 3 different states, then you need 3 different registered agents. However, all 3 registered agents can come from the same registered agent services company.
The core service they provide is to always be present at their given address during the business, so they’re always ready to accept vital legal and tax documents on behalf of your company. This is crucial because it ensures that you don’t miss out on receiving lawsuit papers, notices regarding tax payments, and other important judgments relevant to your business.
By not receiving these documents, you may then fall out of compliance with state regulations, forcing your business to pay hefty fines as a penalty. In fact, you may lose your good corporate standing in your state, and even lose your tax-exempt status if you’re a nonprofit organization.
Various Benefits of Registered Agent Services Online
Even if the law doesn’t require you to get a registered agent for your business, it simply makes too much sense to obtain such services nonetheless. After all, it’s easy enough to obtain since you can get them online. Also, you receive too many advantages without having to pay too much for them (at least with the best registered agent services online).
Minimize Risk of Non-Compliance
The documents you receive may take a lot of time and effort to complete. Sometimes the process can even be quite confusing. A good registered agent service can help you a lot, by completing most of these documents so that you only need to add your signature at the end of it.
Experienced registered agent services are also typically aware of all relevant regulations and deadlines, so they can send you reminders when it’s time for you to submit needed documents.
Your Agent’s Business Address Works for You
A P.O. Box can’t really serve as your business address, which is why your registered agent needs a physical address located in the same state where your business is established. That way, the state can be sure you receive all the notices and documents they send to you.
This is very convenient if you’re not really based in the same state where your business operates. You have a place to receive these documents if you don’t have a permanent worksite or if you tend to travel frequently. Also, if you change your address a lot then you won’t have to update your filing documents with the state and pay the requisite fee. After all, the address of the registered agent remains the same.
It’s also not a good idea to use your home address as your business address. The business address is a matter of public record, and anyone can access it. You don’t want stalkers to know where you live, and you certainly want to avoid junk mail as well.
It can also be embarrassing if you receive documents from law enforcement officials in your shop or office. It doesn’t give the right impression when these police officers are seen by your customers and clients visiting your office.
Regular Business Hours
The registered agent is always ready to receive the documents sent to you, as they’re always there during business hours. So, you’re covered if you tend to work outside normal business hours, or if you’re on vacation.
Top 5 Best Registered Agent Services Online
Obviously, it matters a great deal where you get your registered agent. The best options offer a long list of high-quality services, but at extremely reasonable prices. You want to avoid the overpriced options, especially when you’re not sure you can rely on them.
But you can rely on these 5 excellent registered agent services:
This is first on this list, as we’re not the only people who regard the ZenBusiness brand as the best in the industry. You can easily find more than 3,000 customer reviews online, in which the vast majority offers a lot of praise on how ZenBusiness has helped their companies thrive.
What really sets this brand apart is that it doesn’t seem to be in the business to make money at all. It’s like helping out companies get a good start is their higher priority. This helps explain why they offer incorporation services for just $39—and part of the services you receive for this paltry sum is a registered agent who works for you for an entire year.
If you’ve already started your business and you want to switch registered agents (or if your incorporation service doesn’t offer registered agent services), then you can opt for the ZenBusiness registered agent services. You do need to pay a separate one-time change of agent fee, which depends on the state you’re located in.
The Standard package costs only $99 per year, and you get the basic registered agent services. In addition, all the documents you receive through them will be scanned and stored in your dashboard, where you can view them and print them out. You also receive excellent chat support during business hours, while you also get a reply to your emails after a single business day.
For just $149 per year, you receive additional “worry-free” compliance services. ZenBusiness handles all your filings, including covering your annual report filing. You’re also able to do amendments to your documents twice per year.
For this package, you’ll get alerts and notices for various deadlines to ensure your compliant status. With the constant monitoring of your status, you can be very sure you’ll always be in good standing with your state. In fact, even if you forget a deadline, ZenBusiness can provide you a detailed plan on what you can do to regain your good standing.
- Thousands of satisfied customers
- Prompt customer support during business hours
- Low prices
- Long list of high-quality services
- No chat during non-business hours
- Comparatively newer compared to other brands
When it comes to the quality of the registered agent services, very few brands can compare to Northwest. In fact, they offer what’s widely regarded as the best customer support in the industry. They’ve been in the registered agent services industry for more than 2 decades now (they started in 1998), so it’s a safe bet they know what they’re doing.
You do get a year’s worth of registered agent services if you incorporate using Northwest. Unfortunately, the brand’s incorporation services are rather expensive, as they start at $225 (which still doesn’t include the state filing fee).
In any case, the standalone registered agent services come at a reasonable price of $125 a year. There are no contracts, so you can switch to another brand at any time. There are no upsells as well, so you know exactly what you’re paying in advance.
The price even drops to just $100 per year for each set of registered agent services, if you need these services in at least 5 states.
You do get excellent service, which starts immediately once you sign up. Northwest receives all the documents sent to you, and they scan everything for you to check out. In contrast, most of their competitors scan the government documents that they’re legally required to scan. With Northwest, you also don’t pay extra for additional scanned documents.
Northwest uploads the scans to your dashboard right away, so that you get to see them mere minutes after the registered agent receives the documents.
You’re then sent an email alert, so you know when you’ve received an important document. Northwest also sends you annual report reminders, and you also receive tips regarding professional filing. Again, the customer support is terrific, as you have local corporate guides in each state.
- Reasonable registered agent prices (with volume discounts)
- All documents received are scanned
- Documents appear on your dashboard immediately
- Email alerts and reminders
- Local corporate guides in every state
- Rather expensive incorporation services
Incfile also offers incorporation services, and part of those services also include having a registered agent for an entire year. But they do offer reasonably priced registered agent services separately, starting at $119 per year. They can also facilitate your switch from another registered agent service provider since you also need to inform the state of this change.
You also enjoy a digital dashboard here, where you can check out the scanned documents your company has received through the registered agent. Incfile uses reliable SSL modern encryption to protect your information. They also back up their servers hourly, so you won’t ever lose your data.
Every time they receive a document for you, they send you an email and an SMS alert. They even automatically forward all the legal documents and correspondence to your email address.
Incfile is famous for offering incorporation services for free, which includes free registered agent services for a whole year. This is a great option for many small businesses that operate on a tight budget. You just need to resist the add-ons and upsells that Incfile constantly try to push on you.
- Free registered agent services for newly formed companies for an entire year
- Secure website with hourly backups
- Email and SMS alert for new documents
- All documents are automatically forwarded to you
- Lots of add-ons and upsells
LegalZoom is one of the icons in the industry, as they’ve been around for a very long time. They’ve helped more than a million companies with their registered agent services, and they’re totally trustworthy and reliable.
Unfortunately, they know that they’re popular, so they charge somewhat exorbitant rates for their registered agent services. In fact, they don’t even offer free registered agent services as part of their incorporation service.
At least if you’re starting a new company, you can opt for the addition of these services for an extra $159 per year. But if your company is already running and you’re switching to LegalZoom for their registered agent services, you have to pay $299 a year.
The good news is that LegalZoom will file the required documentation for the switch for you, at no additional cost. There’s also a 60-day refund window, in case you’re not satisfied for any reason.
But you may well be quite satisfied because you also get several additional services aside from the core services. These include unlimited cloud storage, so you can receive a ton of documents and you’re still able to store all these documents in a single secure online location.
There’s also a Compliance Calendar, so you’re always aware of various filing deadlines for annual reports and state income tax returns.
LegalZoom also offers business data protection with data monitoring for your company. In partnership with Experian, they also offer identity theft coverage of up to $1 million.
- Long track record
- 60-day refund period
- Alerts for filing deadlines
- Unlimited cloud storage for all documents
- Business data protection and identity theft coverage
- No free registered agent services for newly incorporated businesses
- Expensive standalone services
This brand actually offers a wide range of legal services, even if it’s not a law firm. With so many services offered (including apps), it’s not really surprising that they’ve served at least 20 million people since they started in 2008. Most of these people are quite satisfied with the services they got, with thousands of positive customer reviews online.
This is a proven brand, and its reliability is one of the reasons for its popularity. Their registered agent services cost about $150 a year, and they offer the usual slew of services including email alerts and forwarding of the documents. You can get a 25% discount for these services if you also subscribe to their Premium legal services, which cost about $40 a month.
- A long list of associated legal services also available
- Millions of satisfied customers
- Reasonable fees
- No free registered agent services included with company formation packages
Whether or not you’re legally obliged to obtain registered agent services, it’s virtually crucial that you get them. They’re that important. The good news is that you can get your money’s worth with our list of the top registered agent services online, and any one of them can make sure your company remains in good standing with your state.