Incorporating your business offers a lot of advantages, but the incorporation process has to be done right. Should you opt for the BizFilings incorporation service, or do you have better options?
Incorporating your business can be quite complicated for a first-time business owner. That’s especially true if you try to do it alone. You’re better off if you enlist the help of an online incorporation service. This leads us to BizFilings—is it the right incorporation service for your needs?
To help you determine this, we closely investigated what the BizFilings incorporation service actually offers.
3 General Package Options
BizFilings offer 3 general package options for forming your corporation or LLC. The specific services differ a bit depending on whether you’re going with a corporation or an LLC, but these services are similar enough nonetheless.
Also, all the prices do not include the state fees since those fees will depend on how much the state will charge.
The Basic Package
For $99, BizFilings offers the following incorporation services:
- Business name availability confirmation. BizFilings will thoroughly check the business name databases maintained by your state, to make sure that you’re using an original business name that isn’t in use in your state. You can’t form a corporation or LLC bearing a business name that’s already in use.
- Preparation and filing of necessary formation documents. These will include the articles of organization or incorporation.
- Registered agent services for 6 months. States, in general, require the new businesses to obtain registered agent services, to ensure that you’re able to receive crucial government documents in a physical address during business hours. BizFilings offers these services for 6 months, and then you may opt to renew these services for an extra $164 per year.
- Compliance tool (BizComply) for 6 months. BizFilings also offer their own online tool for compliance management for the next 6 months. This is actually part of the registered agent services, and you can continue to use this tool when you renew the registered agent services. With this tool, you will get alerts for crucial filing deadlines for various important documents (such as your annual reports).
The more expensive packages come with extra features, but these features are available options in the Basic plan for extra costs.
The Standard Package
Here’s where the prices become rather erratic and frankly annoying. The lowest Standard package price is $159, but that’s only in effect for a few states. In most states, BizFilings charge $229. But for some states, the price for the Standard plan can go up to $244.
Again, these are only the base rates. The state fees (which also vary with the state) aren’t included yet.
The Standard plan includes all the features found in the Basic, but also offer extra services:
- Expedited processing. This feature lets you cut in through to the head of the processing line so that the process goes by much faster. You’re next in line, after all the other customers who also opted for the expedited processing service. Still, keep in mind that the formation process time also depends a lot on the efficiency of your particular state government.
- Sample document templates. You get templates for various documents you’ll find either necessary or helpful to keep your business running. You can then customize these templates for your specific situation.
- Business kit and seal. BizFilings give you a binder with your company name embossed on it. The kit also includes a decorative seal with your company info. If you’ve formed an LLC, you’ll also get custom membership certificates. For a corporation, you get stock certificates.
The Complete Package
The lowest price for the Complete plan is $199, but again this applies to just a few states. The most common price for the Complete plan is $359 for most states. But for a few states, the price can go up to $434.
All the features in the Standard plan are included here as well. Since you pay more, you also get extra services.
- Authenticated copies of your formation documents. You will get certified copies of the documents you’ve filed to the state, as these document copies can help with lots of crucial corporate activities. For example, banks may require certified copies of certain documents before they let you open a business bank account or provide you a loan.
- This is the Employer Identification Number, which is basically your federal tax ID number. You’ll need this if you want to hire employees for your corporation. With it, you’re also able to open business bank accounts and pay your business taxes.
- UPS overnight shipping for completed formation documents. You’ll get these documents right away, so you can start running your business officially.
- Information DVD guide. Entitled “Now That You’ve Formed”, this DVD gives you advice on what to do next for your business once the incorporation process is done.
Just as there are different prices for the Complete plan depending on the state, you may also get a few more extra incorporation services for certain states. These services may include a state tax ID form or an initial report.
How Does BizFilings Perform?
To determine whether any incorporation service is worth your money, you should concentrate on the most important factors. These start with the actual services offered, and how much the available packages cost. What you want is to get the most in terms of incorporation services, while paying the least.
It’s also crucial that you only deal with reputable incorporation services providers, so you need to check out the track record of the company. It’s better if the company has been around a long while since they’re likely good enough to last a long time. It’s also reassuring if the brand is popular with lots of customers, as most of the time the most popular consumer items and services also offer the best bang for the buck.
You’ll also want to go over the quality support and the ease with which you can use the website to sign up. You should also find out how long the whole process will take, and if there are affordable ways to speed up the process.
Prices and Packages
The number and quality of the BizFilings Basic package seem good enough, for the most part. It offers the crucial registered agent services, which some of even the more popular brands don’t offer except as an extra option. However, it’s only for 6 months, while other brands offer the same product for an entire year.
The price is on the high side, even though other brands may offer more expensive basic packages. While the $99 price for this package seems reasonable, you can easily find other brands that offer similar (or even better) incorporation services for less than $40.
The Standard and Complete packages come with higher prices, and annoyingly these prices also depend on the state. Even some of the services depend on which state your business will be established. It’s rather annoying since the varying prices make it even more difficult to determine the real value for money for these packages.
The extra cost doesn’t really justify the extra services you get from the more expensive packages. Things like the binder and seal aren’t really all that useful. They’re fluff, and you’re overpaying for them.
Perhaps the most notable service here is the unique wizard you can use to pick which package suits your business best. The wizard even helps you determine whether you’re better off by forming an LLC or a corporation.
Incorporation Service History
BizFilings is certainly not a fly-by-night corporation, as it’s been around since 1996. It was eventually bought out by the Wolters Kluwer company, which is a worldwide compliance firm that offers lots of different services all over the globe.
It has served a decent number of customers since its founding. They’ve already served more than half a million customers, though some of the more popular brands have already passed the 1-million (or even the 4-million) mark.
Strangely enough, there are very few customer reviews on BizFilings found on objective review sites. It’s hard to form conclusions based on this, though it’s easy to suspect that most customers haven’t had any major praises or complaints to bother writing their own reviews.
Quality of Customer Support
BizFilings does much better in this area than most of the brands in the incorporation services industry. Customers can reach out to their representatives through the phone or email. On each webpage on the BizFilings site, there’s even a feature on the left side of the page that lets you leave a message.
You can call their number, and you can easily go through the “phone tree” system until a real person is on the line. In fact, the first option available in the phone tree is to let you ask questions about their services and packages, so the whole system doesn’t really waste your time.
One of the advantages of the BizFilings phone support system is that you can call from 7 AM to 9 PM Eastern Time from Monday to Friday.
The email system is also quite efficient, and you don’t have to wait 24 hours to get your reply. If you send your email early enough in the morning, you’ll get your reply later on in the day. You won’t have to wait until the next morning at all.
The email response to your questions will also be very professional. It will completely answer your question, with enough details to provide a clear-cut answer. You won’t have to file an additional email for follow-up questions, as the email response will have anticipated these questions already.
The email system, though, doesn’t really work on weekends. So, it may be a long wait if you send your email late on Friday.
The website must make it easy for you to place your order. That’s not always the case with online incorporation services. Some of these sites may offer rather convoluted signup processes, without adequately explaining the nature of the services.
With BizFilings, everything is rather efficiently laid out, with clear directions on what you need to know and do. It all starts with the super-helpful incorporation wizard, which really lets you know which package is best for your situation. It even lets you determine more accurately whether you should form an LLC or a corporation.
Once you start the signup process, you’re immediately assigned an application order number. You can use this number when you contact BizFilings customer support, so the representative who takes your call can immediately find out your specific details. You’re then able to get more personalized answers that best suit your particular situation.
The whole signup process doesn’t take all that long, though it takes you through 7 pages all in all. Along the way, you will be offered optional add-ons and other upsells. These offers don’t feel too obnoxious, however, so that they’re actually tolerable. Perhaps the only annoying aspect here is that BizFilings tend to offer quite a few optional services from their 3rd-party partners, which slows down the whole signup process somewhat.
If you’re new to incorporation services, then you first have to understand that the whole process relies a lot on the efficiency of the state government you’re dealing with. In some states, things can slow down to a crawl. It’s like dealing with the DMV.
Some of the incorporation services in the industry offer helpful estimates on when you can expect the whole formation process to finish. Unfortunately, BizFilings doesn’t. You may have to contact their customer support for a better idea of when it will get done at last.
There’s an expedited processing service for the more expensive packages, and you can add this option to the Basic package for an extra $50. This just means BizFilings set you ahead of the others who didn’t pay for this option.
All in all, the BizFilings turnaround picture is rather hazy. They really don’t promise anything regarding when the whole process will get done.
Is There a Publication Service Available?
BizFilings does offer a publication service, and it’s very reasonably priced at just $100. Most of the other brands don’t offer this service. When they do, they tend to charge a higher price.
The publication service entails publishing the news of the formation of your company in a local or regional newspaper in the state. Not all states have this requirement. Georgia and Pennsylvania require this step only for corporations. New York requires only the LLCs to do this. Meanwhile, Nebraska and Arizona require this step for both LLCs and corporations.
You can get your money back if you’re unsatisfied with how the formation process is going. However, there will be processing fees for your refund requests.
If you ask for a refund before they’ve done any work on your formation, then you get your money back minus the $50 refund processing fee.
Once BizFilings has managed to check on the availability of your proposed business name, then this processing fee increases to $75.
BizFilings seems like a decent option for incorporation services. This is certainly true when you compare it to LegalZoom, which is one of the most famous brands (if not the most famous) in the industry. BizFilings offer more affordable services, and they even offer registered agent services, unlike LegalZoom or ZenBusiness.
BizFilings come up ahead in terms of their exceptional signup wizard, overall fine customer support, and their online compliance tool compared to other services. They bundle free registered services with their cheapest packages. They even have an optional publication service, should you need it.
If you’re going with BizFilings, your best bet is to just get the basic package without any add-ons. The only add-on you need is a publication service should you need it, along with the registered agent services once the 6 months period has passed.
But on the whole, you really have better options than BizFilings. Some offer more complete basic packages for less money, including registered agent services for an entire year. You’ll get more for your money with a few of the other brands in the industry.
Still, if you opt for this service then it’s not really all that bad. Sure, the add-on offers from BizFilings partners may be annoying, as are the different prices for the more expensive packages. But these varying packages shouldn’t affect you at all, since you should limit yourself to just the Basic plan.
It’s certainly better than what most of the brands in the industry offer. The customer support is first-rate, the website is easy to use, and there are no hidden fees. It may take a while for the whole process to finish, and it can be frustrating not knowing when it will end. But BizFilings is a reputable brand, and it will get the job done right in the end.