Should You Use an LLC Filing Service?
Although it’s possible to set up an LLC on your own, many business owners decide to go through a company that specializes in corporate formations to ensure they follow the proper procedure. If you decide to go down this route, it’s crucial that you search for the best LLC formation services. This will help you save money, set up your LLC faster, and gain the support you need for your business — many services also come with extra legal and business support that could be beneficial to you.
How to Sign Up for an LLC Filing Service
Signing up for LLC filing is easy. Once you’ve chosen what company you want to work with, head to their website to complete the filing process online. In most cases, you’ll need to select the plan you want as well as any add-ons, such as a registered agent, employer ID number (EID), expedited filing, and annual compliance. Once you’ve paid for your order, the LLC filing service will prepare your documents and file them with the state.
Depending on your state and whether you request expedited filing, the entire process can take several days or a few weeks. Once your business is established, the LLC service will send your business formation certificate and any other documents you’ve requested.
How Much Do LLC Filing Services Cost?
LLC filing services can cost up to about $800, but they can be free (although you’ll always need to pay state fees according to where you’re registering your business). Exactly how much you pay will depend on the company you choose to file with and whether you just want the business formation services or you could also benefit from receiving some extras. Cost is always an important factor to consider when choosing between the best LLC services, but you should also take factors like value for money, quality, and speed into account.
Comparison of the Best LLC Services Available: Pro & Cons and When to Choose Each
There are numerous LLC services on the market, and the right choice for you will depend on your unique criteria. Make sure you assess the pros and cons of all the following to narrow down your options to the best online LLC services for your particular business.
ZenBusiness: Best Overall
At the top of the list of the best LLC services in 2022 has to be ZenBusiness. It’s a relatively new service, having been established in 2015. The founders are experienced entrepreneurs who wanted to find a way to help startup owners cope with similar problems to those they faced when forming their businesses. ZenBusiness is a public-benefit corporation, which means it’s a for-profit company but has a positive impact on society like a nonprofit. For instance, the company will be offering $5,000 grants to qualifying small business owners throughout 2022.
ZenBusiness is the most popular LLC service due to its affordable prices, excellent customer support, and 100-percent accuracy guarantee. To form your business, you can choose between three plans:
- Starter, which includes a name check and customer support.
- Pro, for faster filing as well as compliance support.
- Premium, for rush filing, a domain name, a website, and some other extras.
All the plans allow you to form an LLC, partnership, or corporation. Once the processing is complete, you’ll be able to find all your documentation in the dashboard of your account. You’ll find the platform and all the features easy to use.
The downside of ZenBusiness is it can be expensive if you need add-ons. For instance, if you choose the Starter package, you’ll need to pay extra for:
- A registered agent — For annual reports, correspondence with your state and local governments, notice of lawsuits, and support with legal documents.
- An EIN — This is the equivalent of a social security number for your business. You’ll need one if you want to hire employees or open a business bank account.
- An operating agreement — To specify the role of the owner and other members of the business as well as the purpose of your LLC.
- Amendments — To change your articles of organization.
- Publication of the LLC formation.
If you only need the LLC filing service and nothing else, the price for the Starter package is more than reasonable and you’ll receive a great service. Thanks to automation, this basic service is fast, high quality, and available for a lower price than services from many other LLC companies.
Price: $49 for Starter, $199 for Pro, or $299 for Premium (plus optional add-ons)
Incfile: Best for Affordability
If affordability is your main concern and you’re just looking to form an LLC, you won’t find a better service than Incfile. It’s free, meaning you just pay state fees. The service will prepare and file your articles of organization, provide you with a registered agent service for a year, and give you unlimited searches on available business names. Plus, the company aims to prepare each order within a single business day, meaning there’s no delay just because you file for free — in fact, it’s faster than many other services. After the first year, you’ll need to pay if you want to continue receiving a registered agent, annual reports, and trademark filing.
There are also options to pay for additional features — and Incfile will frequently try to upsell these to you (and offer you services from third parties). If you want any of these features, it may be worth considering a paid package:
- Gold gives you an EIN and an operating agreement, allows you to set up an S corporation, and comes with tax consultation.
- Platinum expedites filing and gives you a domain name and email.
You can also pay for services like foreign qualifications to operate in more states and business license research to find out what permits or licenses you’ll need to stay compliant. However, you’ll likely find that it’s better to choose a different company if you’re looking for extras. This is because some of the extras come with recurring charges that you’ll face long into the future, there are no money-back guarantees if you’re unsatisfied with the service, and refunds are limited.
Price: $0 for Silver, $149 for Gold, or $299 for Platinum
Reviews give Northwest Registered Agent higher ratings for customer service than any other LLC formation company. You’ll receive 24/7 support from representatives based in the U.S. for any issues you have related to setting up your business. In fact, Northwest is known for its high quality overall. For instance, the registered agents scan all the documents they receive on your behalf, not just government-issued forms. Plus, you can trust the company to protect your data, even if you opt for the free service.
Northwest gives you three ways to set up your LLC. With a free account, you’ll receive advice about how to navigate the process yourself. If you do choose the free option, you won’t face constant upselling as you will with some other options. Alternatively, you can pay either upfront for the year or on a monthly basis for filing and a registered agent (unfortunately, you cannot choose just filing — it comes ready bundled with a registered agent service, even though the two have separate prices).
If you choose a paid service, you’ll receive a business address, which means you can avoid using your personal address and phone number to register your business. Additional services you can receive include mail forwarding, annual report filing, and a virtual office. Northwest offers fewer services than many other companies, but some customers find this helps them avoid becoming overwhelmed by the sheer number of options — and potentially paying for something they don’t need.
The main disadvantage of Northwest is that the paid packages are expensive. If you have the budget, though, they’re definitely worth considering — provided you don’t need any of the extra services that Northwest doesn’t offer. You should also bear in mind that some users find the platform less intuitive than some others.
Price: $0 for DIY or $100 for filing and $125 for a registered agent
For ongoing legal support as well as business filing, Rocket Lawyer is a top option. You’ll have access to a range of legal services, all of which are available completely online. This includes advice and answers to your legal questions, 30-minute consultations with a business lawyer on each new legal query, and legal documents like contracts. You’ll find the support you receive is high quality and the platform easy to use.
Rocket Lawyer offers many of its services for a one-off payment, but most are included for free when you pay for a subscription. Some services are not included in packages but they do come with a discount to subscription holders. For instance, future incorporations and the registered agent service are both available at 25 percent off. You can also try out the legal services before you decide to pay through a seven-day free trial.
It’s also possible to pay just for LLC formation and nothing else — but if this is what you’re looking for, you’ll likely find that one of the other companies better meets your needs. Rocket Lawyer is expensive if all you want is an LLC filing; it’s better for business owners who would like to have constant access to legal support and who also want to start an LLC.
Price: $99.99 for LLC formation or $39.99 per month for the Premium subscription
You may be familiar with LegalZoom as a platform for legal support. It’s a trusted source for finding legal advice on all sorts of topics related to running a business. In addition, LegalZoom has an LLC formation service available for a decent price. Whereas you’ll only receive the basics with a plan, you can add extras such as an EIN, operating agreement, and registered agent — likely without exceeding your budget. Legal Zoom will frequently try to upsell you these offerings, which can be annoying.
The package you choose will influence how long the processing of your LLC takes. LegalZoom sends out the paperwork within 20 days when you purchase the Economy plan, within 10 days with the Standard plan, and within 24 hours for processing between two and five days with Express Gold. All packages come with features including name search, a Peace of Mind review, and an LLC welcome packet. Standard and Express Gold also give you a deluxe founder’s kit, company membership certificates, and a company embosser.
Be warned that some of the reviews mention delays, especially with the expedited services — and the filing times are already slow compared with many other services. Furthermore, customer reviews often mention issues with customer service. However, the service does come with a 100-percent satisfaction guarantee, which gives you 60 days to request a refund.
Price: $79 for Economy, $329 for Standard, or $349 for Express Gold
If you want free LLC filing, Inc Authority is definitely one to consider. It’s also extra fast to complete the filing process, as you just need to provide the company with some basic information about your business — and they’ll do the rest. Inc Authority is a trustworthy company with three decades of experience supporting entrepreneurs to form and run businesses. You’ll see from their reviews that they have plenty of satisfied customers.
If you only need a name search, document preparation, and a registered agent, the basic plan will suit you fine. You’ll also receive business credit and funding analysis, a tax planning consultation, and S corporation tax election forms. Unsurprisingly, though, since it’s a free service, you will encounter many upsells.
However, if you want an EIN, an operating agreement, and an ownership certificate, you need to pay. Other services you can purchase include marketing, website development, and help with credit and funding. Bear in mind that there are no guarantees on paid offerings, although customer support is proactive, meaning you can expect timely help that may even surpass your expectations. However, if you do decide to upgrade to paid package, you may end up spending a large amount.
Price: $0 for basic, variable for premium services
A small company with a great reputation is MyCompanyWorks, formerly called My New Company. Their standard plan includes the processing and filing of your LLC paperwork within a single business day. It’s a great choice if you want to ensure you’ll have unlimited customer support and a high-quality service. Plus, you’ll receive name availability searches, articles of organization, online order tracking, and organizational minutes — all for a great price.
As well as the basic package, MyCompanyWorks has an Entrepreneur plan that gives you a registered agent, federal tax ID, lifetime access to business forms, and a tax guide. The most comprehensive plan of all is the Complete package — although this is a bit of a misnomer because some services still cost extra. Nonetheless, it does give you business entity monitoring, priority support, e-certificates, and other features that are part of MyCompanyWorks Premium™. All these additional services are also available to customers who choose the basic package for an extra fee.
Price: $59 for Basic, from $199 for Entrepreneur, or $279 for Complete
The main selling point of BizFilings is that the company has a reasonably long time in business, which means you can rest assured that they have ample experience to complete your LLC filing. Plus, they’ll pay any fees you incur if they make a mistake and will resolve the issue as soon as possible.
The price for the basic service is reasonable (although slightly above average) and customer support hours are longer than with many other services. Other perks include the compliance monitoring tool and access to an extensive library — although the free content alone provides you with a wide range of useful advice, particularly the state-specific guides. You can also pay extra for useful services like a foreign qualification, dissolution filing, and compliance management.
The basic package covers the cost of filing your forms and provides you with a registered agent — but it doesn’t have much else. If you upgrade to Standard, you’ll also receive an LLC kit, a seal, sample operating agreements, and other forms to keep your business compliant. The Complete package also gives you an EIN and a compliance DVD. The Standard package comes with expedited processing and the Complete package has overnight shipping.
Some of the major disadvantages of BizFilings include the fact that you only receive a registered agent for six months (rather than the industry standard of one year) and that it’s unclear how long the company takes to process LLC filings. Since there are limited customer reviews, it’s difficult to know what others have experienced.
Price: $99 for Basic, $229 for Standard, or $458 for Complete
You’ll pay more if you choose Nationwide Incorporators for your LLC formation, but few other companies provide this level of quality. An attorney will draft or review every document the company submits on your behalf. This makes the experience of establishing your business more like working with a law firm than using an online service. You can also pay much less for other business attorney services than you would if you hired an attorney directly. Based in California, Nationwide Incorporators is most popular with business owners who are looking to set up an LLC in this state.
Since Nationwide Incorporators is more expensive than many of the other LLC services, it’s only worthwhile if you do need a lawyer, such as if setting up your LLC will prove more complex than other companies can manage or you want peace of mind. The basic plan may be useful if you want registration and business agreement templates or even company documents and certificates (these are available with an upgrade) and you want less of a DIY approach to establishing your LLC.
The higher-tier packages offer much more — although for a much higher price. The midrange plan gives you a customized operating agreement, membership certificates, and priority processing. You’ll also receive an embossed minute book for meetings. The most expensive plan also gives you a custom member ledger and an EIN. With any of the plans, you’ll still need to pay extra if you want a registered agent or you have other registration needs, such as a more comprehensive operating agreement.
Unfortunately, some of the additional services have variable pricing, which means you’ll need to request a quote. This includes the registered agent service, foreign registration, seller’s permits, and business licenses. Furthermore, some of the services are not available online — in fact, it’s obvious from the outdated website design that this is not an online business.
Price: $200 for basic, $425 for Priority Deluxe, or $475 for Priority Premium
Another premium LLC formation company is Harbor Compliance. You’ll work with compliance specialists who will help establish your LLC and can support you with compliance issues at any stage of your business life cycle. While you’re incorporating your business, you’ll have free access to the advisory service.
The lower-priced Formation package gives you the standard array of services: name availability, articles of organization, an operating agreement template, an EIN, and a registered agent. After the first year, you can continue receiving the registered agent service at a discounted rate if you pay for multiple years in advance. The Compliance package also offers tax preparation as an S-corp or C-corp, initial reporting and publishing (only necessary in some states), and a managed annual report service.
You’ll need to have a good reason to choose Harbor Compliance, as both packages are extremely expensive. Most companies pick the company over other options for the software that ensures they meet licensing renewal deadlines, the dedicated account manager or compliance specialist who walks you through the process of LLC formation, the agent who checks your documents for errors, and the excellent customer support.
Price: $399 for the Formation package or $799 for the Compliance package
If your priority is fast filing but you need to stay within a tight budget, Swyft Filings is likely a top choice. If the reviews are anything to go by, you won’t be disappointed. Even the basic package comes with same-day processing as well as lifetime customer support. You will need to pay extra for a registered agent and annual compliance, but you’ll receive a one-hour business tax consultation at no extra cost and a free domain name. All these features mean the basic plan is good value for money.
If you decide to upgrade to the Standard plan, you’ll receive an operating agreement, EIN registration, banking resolution, and organizational minutes. The Premium package also has express filing and shipping (with a tracking number), a digital corporate kit, a business website with hosting included, and electronic delivery of state documents.
Price: $49 for Basic, $149 for Standard, or $299 for Premium
An up-and-coming company that’s worth considering is Filenow. The basic package is a great budget option. It comes with a business tax consultation, support to set up a business bank account with Bank of America, and alerts about key dates and approaching deadlines. If you pay a little extra, you can also receive a registered agent, file an EIN application, complete your filing within 24 hours, and gain some other perks. However, all these extras are more expensive than what most competitors are charging.
The advantages to Filenow in addition to price are that you’ll receive online customer support (available 24/7) and there’s a money-back guarantee that you can take advantage of if you’re unsatisfied with the service in any way. Plus, new customers can often find discount codes to pay even less than the regular prices.
Price: $49 for Starter or $199 for Premium
If you’d prefer to work with a company that’s been in business for a long time, MyCorporation could be a good option. Since the company began operating in 1998, it’s supported more than a million customers — many of whom have left glowing reviews. Few other LLC formation companies have this much experience. Plus, the reviews often mention great customer support and useful advanced features.
The main disadvantage of MyCorporation compared with many other companies is all the extra fees for services that most competitors include in even their basic packages. Whereas several do charge extra for a registered agent, MyCorporation also charges for shipping your documents. In fact, with the basic plan, you’ll only receive articles of incorporation, a name check, and document storage.
If you’re willing to pay more, you could upgrade to the Standard plan to receive an annual report, the Deluxe plan for a registered agent, or the Premium plan for the corporate maintenance package. There are also standalone services available, including logo design and trademark monitoring.
Price: $99 for Basic, $124 for Standard, $224 for Deluxe, or $324 for Premium
The main incentive for choosing BetterLegal is the services included for free with LLC formation, which include tax analysis, website creation, and an insurance evaluation. If you need these anyway, it could be worth choosing BetterLegal. You’ll also receive some of the top perks you find with other services, such as EIN registration, annual compliance, and an operating agreement. Processing times are fast and users report a great experience. Be aware, though, that you won’t receive a registered agent, which means the service is on the expensive side.
The large number of active clients InCorp has shows that this is a reputable service. It’s not a great choice if you’re looking to file fast (you’ll pay extra just to speed up to two-day processing), but you can count on the company to be reliable. You’ll only gain an operating agreement with the price — an EIN, annual compliance, and a registered agent all cost more, although you can pay just $67 a year for a registered agent, which is a decent price. There is also live chat support, including in Spanish.
Price: From $99
A top choice for entrepreneurs and businesses that operate fully online is Hashtag Legal. However, the service is only available to establish a business in California, New York, or New Jersey. A boutique service, the company is smaller than many other options and is able to give great advice to startups and online businesses in terms of legal support and filing the right forms. You’ll also receive personalized customer support and the company will create an LLC formation plan just for you. Rather than inputting your details into a web form, the company will work directly with you to file your LLC formation documents.
The small size of Hashtag Legal is also a downside, as it does mean that the services tend to be more expensive than those of its competitors. Hashtag Legal is most likely only a good option if you’re looking for long-term support in addition to LLC filing, such as if no one at your business has legal knowledge. Note that you can add business consulting to your plan, if you need it.
Another state-specific company is Harvard Business Services: it’s only available in Delaware. If you do happen to be forming an LLC in Delaware, this company should be near the top of your list. You’re unlikely to find a service that can form a business faster, and you’ll receive a registered agent for free for the first year, after which the service only costs $50 a year.
There are three packages available with Harvard Business Services. The most economical includes electronic documents only, a name check, articles of organization, and compliance notifications. The midrange package gives you physical documents and templates for legal documents, whereas the top-tier package comes with a personalized binder, a seal, and some extra templates. When comparing the prices with those from other services, bear in mind that packages already include the state filing fee of $90.
Price: Green for $179, Basic for $229, or Standard for $329The experience working with an LLC formation company should show you how useful outsourcing can be for your business. You can outsource a variety of tasks — both those you lack the time to do yourself and specialist activities like marketing and graphic design — to a virtual assistant from MYVA360. Our VAs for small businesses can help you with tasks like lead generation, expense tracking, payroll, and KPI reporting. Sign up for a free trial to see how having a virtual assistant would benefit you.