Choosing the best registered agent service for your foreign LLC is of the utmost importance, for many reasons.
The right registered agent will make sure that your personal information and assets remain secure while also meeting the legal compliance requirements of your business entity.
The wrong registered agent could be careless with your information, rendering it vulnerable to cybercriminals and scammers. And if it doesn’t do its due diligence to ensure your legal requirements are met, it could even result in devastating lawsuits for your company.
Just how can the right or wrong registered agent affect so much? A registered agent is an individual or business entity that accepts important documents on behalf of your foreign LLC. Do this carelessly and it can spell disaster.
I've investigated 60+ registered agent services, assessed the top 12, and written in-depth reviews of the 3 best. Here are my picks for the best registered agent service for a foreign LLC:
1. Northwest Registered Agent — 9.13/10 (My Top Pick)
Northwest Registered Agent is my top recommended registered agent service because it provides all the essential registered agent services you need, it has the second-best prices of all the full-service registered agents on my list, and it provides the best customer support in the industry.
There are a lot of reasons you’ll adore Northwest’s registered agent services.
Northwest offers a comprehensive list of services. The registered agent services included among these offerings are the all-important registered agent address for receiving official correspondence, a convenient online registered-agent dashboard, and compliance alerts for worry-free compliance as opposed to a simple compliance calendar alone. Northwest also scans ALL your mail the same day it’s received and uploads it to give you online access through your document management portal. Most registered agent services only scan and upload the legal documents, so this really is a massive quality improvement over competitors.
Northwest Registered Agent’s sign-up system is quite easy to use and complete, a refreshing find in the registered agent services industry. Not only is the system easy to use during the sign-up process, it’s also easy to navigate once you’ve completed registration. It allows you to easily sign up for and manage registered agent service in multiple states from the same portal, which is a feature not often seen among registered agent service providers.
But the most shining achievement among Northwest’s registered agent services is its customer support. This US-based customer support team consists of former entrepreneurs, small business owners, accountants, and lawyers who will calmly answer your questions about Northwest’s registered agent services and provide you with solutions to your technical problems. But they really go the extra mile to provide personalized customer support by answering questions you have about forming, developing, and managing your foreign LLC.
They use their experience to answer your business questions, and if you do happen to ask them a question they don’t know the answer to off the top of their heads, they’ll do their best to find the answer for you.
This level of customer support is exclusive to Northwest, and because of the wide variety of obstacles and challenges that every business owner faces, it was easy for me to choose it as the best registered agent service. For customers’ convenience, the industry-leading customer service team is available during all normal business hours.
On top of all of this, Northwest charges only $125 per state, per year for its registered agent services, only $26 more than the cheapest full-service registered agent on my list, making it quite a competitive fee. So as you can see, there are lots of reasons for business entities to fall in love with Northwest Registered Agent.
Ironically, the case with many high-quality services is that the best service tends to be the biggest flaw, and the same is true of Northwest Registered Agent’s best feature: customer support.
The problem is there’s no way to get an answer from the customer service team quickly. This is because they go out of their way to provide industry-leading customer support on every call, so they patiently listen to your questions or problems, then ask a lot of questions just to make certain they fully understand your problem. And that’s great under most circumstances, but when you’re hoping for a quick customer support call, it can be a bit annoying.
Because they take up so much time asking questions and listening to you, it’s honestly quicker to just take your question to Google if you’re in a hurry.
Like I said, this is a high-quality issue and it only cost Northwest a few points due to the fact that spending longer on the phone than necessary on an extremely busy day can be stressful for anyone.
I chose Northwest Registered Agent as the best registered agent service because it provides all the necessary registered agent services, its user interface is simple even for people who are technologically unskilled, it has competitive rates, and its services are supported by a US-based team of representatives made up of former lawyers, small business owners, accountants, and entrepreneurs who go above and beyond to answer all your questions and clear up any confusion you have no matter where you are on your business journey.
If you want a great registered agent service that’s able to provide support to your LLC as it grows for only $125 per state, per year, head over to Northwest Registered Agent today.
2. Harbor Compliance — 7.92/10 (Best Full-Service Registered Agent on a Budget)
The reason Harbor Compliance is in my #2 spot is that it offers all the registered agent services your foreign LLC needs for the lowest price on my list.
Harbor Compliance is a full-service registered agent service, much like Northwest Registered Agent. This means that you get a physical address, someone to accept mail and legal documents during business hours, scanning and uploading of your important documents, an online portal to access your legal documents, basic mail forwarding service, and worry-free compliance with compliance alerts (for important dates like your annual reports).
The sign-up system is easy to navigate, and you can seamlessly sign up for registered agent service in multiple states. But the area where Harbor Compliance really stands out is its price. At $99 per state, per year for these professional registered agent services, Harbor Compliance is easily the most affordable full-service registered agent service on the market. At this price, it’s even $26 cheaper than Northwest Registered Agent’s reasonable rates.
Harbor Compliance’s biggest disadvantage is that even though all of its registered agent services are adequate, none of them are outstanding. Its registered agent service offerings cover all the basics that business entities need, but they don’t supply any premium registered agent services. Their customer support team is able to answer questions about your registered agent service and guide you through technical issues well enough, but they don’t offer business advice or deliver exceptional customer service on par with Northwest Registered Agent.
Overall, these registered agent services are sufficient to meet your needs, but you won’t find any services among them that are worth writing home about.
Harbor Compliance offers reliable registered agent services and covers all the essentials. It delivers everything you need when it comes to registered agent service, at the cheapest rate on my list, and you won’t have to deal with any gimmicky bells and whistles.
If you’re comfortable trading Northwest Registered Agent’s stellar customer support in favor of saving a measly $26 per year, then you can learn more about Harbor Compliance here: Harbor Compliance.
3. LegalZoom — 6.59/10 (Best Premium Service)
If you’re interested in premium registered agent services, then LegalZoom is your best bet. It was the best choice in a sea of disappointing premium options. You can think of premium services as “full service plus” because premium registered agents deliver all the basics that you’ll find from a good full-service registered agent service, as well as other luxury services, like identity theft protection or coverage of certain fees.
LegalZoom is a premium registered agent service, so you’ll find all your favorite full-service registered agent services among its service offerings, such as the crucial physical address to receive legal documents, online access to your documents, compliance alerts (so you don’t forget your annual reports), and mail forwarding. But LegalZoom also offers a service not offered by the full-service registered agent services on my list: up to $1 million in identity theft protection.
There are two major drawbacks to LegalZoom’s registered agent service that give me pause.
First, the price. LegalZoom charges $299 for its premium professional registered agent service, twice as much as Northwest Registered Agent’s outstanding registered agent services. The kicker is that the difference between the two agents’ services is $175, and the only additional service that LegalZoom provides for the additional fee is identity theft protection, which you can purchase for far cheaper from a third-party company.
Second, LegalZoom doesn’t focus solely on registered agent services. Registered agent services are just one of the many services it offers (among them online legal services and LLC formation service). Because of this, its registered agent service sort of gets lost among all the other services and as a result it’s not nearly as specialized or optimized as it could be.
The online portal has a treacherous navigation system, and the customer support isn’t as helpful, prompt, efficient, or friendly as the other best registered agent services on my list.
LegalZoom is a company that has a good reputation in the business world and happens to also provide registered agent services. However, its registered agent services are overly expensive and it doesn’t have the outstanding customer support that other entries on my best registered agent service list.
The only ways I can consider highly recommending LegalZoom’s registered agent service is if you’re already subscribed to its other services and want the convenience of using one company for all your business needs, or if you want identity theft protection from your registered agent service so bad that you don’t care what you pay for that convenience.
If you want to learn more about LegalZoom’s registered agent services, check out the website here: LegalZoom.
The rest of the entries on my list of the best registered agent services are less detailed because while I did research them during my process, they’re not up to the same quality as the services in my top three positions.
ZenBusiness is a good option if you’re looking for national registered agents or registered agent service online. It offers many of the basic registered agent services that you’d expect from full-service registered agents, like an address to use on formation documents to ensure your information remains safe and off the public record, worry-free compliance alerts that remind you of mandatory annual report filing, expedited filing service (allows you to skip the line for faster processing), access to an Employer Identification Number, and a custom operating agreement template. And it costs $199.
ZenBusiness’ downfall is that they don't offer customer service on the same level that Northwest Registered Agent does. You also don't get free registered agent services for a year after signing up. For the price, you are actually getting less for more.
For a complete look at the additional services that ZenBusiness has to offer, check out my ZenBusiness review.
IncFile is another in a long list of LLC formation services that also offer lackluster registered agent services to round out their service lists.
When it comes to the registered agent service offerings IncFile provides, it’ll cover the basics (like the all-important address and mail forwarding), but it won’t supply some of the services you should expect from full-service registered agents, such as compliance alerts. Considering you don’t even get the services that come standard with other full-service registered agents, it seems ridiculous that they charge $119 per year (plus state fees) for these minimal registered agent services. They’re really only a good option if you want to pay more for less.
Like ZenBusiness, IncFile offers a year of free registered agent services if you sign up for its business formation services, but even with this promotion, these registered agent services aren’t worth the price in the long run.
You can learn more about IncFile here: IncFile.
6. Rocket Lawyer
Rocket Lawyer is a watered-down version of LegalZoom. Its registered agent service is only one minor part of its service catalog (with things like legal services and business formation service making up the majority of it), meaning it doesn’t get the attention it needs. Rocket Lawyer charges $149 for these dismal registered agent services, and you don’t get the level of customer service or outstanding features you’d expect for that price.
You can read more about Rocket Lawyer’s other services in my full Rocket Lawyer review.
7. Sundoc Filings
Sundoc Filings continues the trend of being primarily a business formation service but offering negligible registered agent service on the side. And it has the nerve to charge $159 per year (plus state fees) for its bare-bones services.
InCorp is yet another company that specializes in LLC formation services, offering registered agent service as well. But its registered agent service really gave me difficulty when rating it.
InCorp’s registered agent service costs $99 per year (plus state fees), which is the same as Harbor Compliance. It also offers the same registered agent services as Harbor Compliance, which at first glance indicates that it should be a top competitor of Harbor Compliance. The drawback is that the services aren’t actually on the same level as Harbor Compliance. The system’s navigation is onerous, it’s got a confusing layout, and it’s pretty user unfriendly. Their support is sufficient, but when it comes to a system that’s this difficult to navigate you need support that’s beyond “sufficient.”
9. Swyft Filings
Swyft Filings offers a decent list of registered agent services, with compliance alerts included. But it charges an extortionate $149 per year for full-service registered agent services.
It also offers a range of services (like LLC formation packages), which you can read about in my Swyft Filings review.
10. CSC Global
CSC Global is another premium registered agent service, but unfortunately it offers little in terms of premium registered agent services. The only premium registered agent service CSC Global offers is covering any state fees that you’re charged when you switch over to its registered agent service. But it charges $299 per year for its registered agent services, and at that price you’d be better off choosing Northwest Registered Agent for its superior services and covering the state fees yourself.
11. Registered Agents Inc.
Registered Agents Inc. has the same registered agent service catalog as Northwest Registered Agent but charges $200 for the same services that Northwest only charges $125 for. And Northwest Registered Agent’s customer service is vastly superior to Registered Agents Inc.’s.
12. Jumpstart Filings
Jumpstart Filings is another business formation company that also provides scant registered agent service. But it charges a steep $150 per year (plus state fees) for these minimal services.
It does offer LLC formation packages, but unlike some of the best registered agent services on my list, it doesn’t provide a year of free registered agent service along with it.
Registered Agent Review Summary
I chose Northwest Registered Agent as the best registered agent service because it provides all the basics at a reasonable $125.
Even better, Northwest has a US-based customer service team made up of former lawyers, accountants, entrepreneurs, and small business owners. They’re highly trained and able to answer any question you may have about your registered agent service, or guide you through any technical issue you encounter. But they go one step further by offering business advice and using their expertise to answer questions you have about managing your business, as well.
Northwest’s sign-up process is painless and its system is intuitive, which means it’s a great option if you’re looking for one of the top registered agent services to meet your legal obligations and keep your information and assets secured.
If you want to purchase registered agent services and are looking for a registered agent that will deliver all the services you need to meet your compliance needs, as well as offer industry-leading support for your company, head to Northwest Registered Agent today.
Best Registered Agent Review Methodology
There’s no shortage of registered agent services online. And though it may seem great to have so many options to choose from, the amount of information you have to go through to choose the best registered agent services is staggering. That’s why I created this article to serve as a sort of one-stop guide for all the best registered agent services for your LLC. Here’s how I chose the best registered agents.
Why You Should Trust Me
When it comes to recommending the best registered agent services, you can trust my recommendations because I’ve spent more time sorting through the tangled web of the registered agent industry than nearly any other person alive, including some of the people who work for the registered agent providers on my list.
My experience in the industry began when my two businesses (a health website and a cafe) needed a registered agent and I began searching for the best registered agent services to meet my needs. Once I eventually sold those businesses, I began pondering my next business move. The answer fell into my lap when I discovered from colleagues and friends that the average business owner simply doesn’t have the knowledge about the registered agent industry that I do, or the time to research them. So I gave them recommendations based on my knowledge and research.
This hobby of providing friends and colleagues with recommendations for the best registered agent services eventually evolved into this online company, and I’m now able to help thousands of random people on the internet (like you) find the best registered agents for their business needs.
How I Selected the Best Registered Agent
I conducted a four-stage research process to find the best registered agent services. This research narrowed down a list of over 60 different registered agent services to the list of 12 you see here.
Stage 1: Reviews
The first stage of my research involved reading thousands of reviews for registered agent services online. These reviews were posted on sites like TrustPilot, Facebook, and the Better Business Bureau. There were so many thousands of reviews that I couldn’t count them all, but completing this stage means that you don’t have to do the research yourself!
In all honesty, there’s no way I could have read all the reviews—that would have taken years! But I did read through the reviews (whether they were glowing reports or scathing criticisms) that were more than a paragraph or two and provided me with enough information to find out which companies were worthy of further investigation and which ones were obvious scams or used deceptive pricing practices, which I elaborate on below.
Stage 2: Website Analysis
After I’d weeded out the inferior services, the next stage in my research process was to go to the website of each company and thoroughly examine it.
Some of the aspects I looked for included the services offered, the methods for contacting customer service, the history of the company, any accolades awarded to the company, and the location of each provider (particularly whether they were a national registered agent).
By the end of this stage I came away with a better understanding of each company, what they offer, and generally who they are.
Stage 3: Speaking With Real Customers
The information you gain from reading online reviews and analyzing company websites is limited. The only way to get all the information you need about a company, you have to speak to its customers. Because of this, I chose to make speaking to customers the third stage of my research process.
I solicited feedback from customers to whom I had already made registered agent recommendations, existing friends and colleagues I’d known to use a registered agent, and visitors who came to my site looking for a registered agent.
I asked them if their needs were being met, about their customer satisfaction levels, and more. And their feedback (whether negative or positive customer reviews) gave me detailed information about the quality of service and support each company offers—regardless of the claims made on their websites.
Stage 4: Speaking With Their Sales Teams
The last stage of my research was to call up each company’s sales team. I gathered all the complaints, negative comments about low customer satisfaction levels, and issues I’d discovered during previous phases of my investigation and asked them pointed questions about their failings.
This was an eye-opening experience that provided me with a lot of information regarding how each provider handles customer feedback. Some companies insinuated that the customers making the complaints were just a little “off” and that I should disregard their complaints. Then there were other providers that acknowledged those failings and went on to explain that they’d taken that customer feedback and used it to improve their services.
This phase really highlighted the best companies, and it gave me the confidence to name my recommendations for the best registered agent service.
The 12 registered agent providers that remained on my list after my research process were then rated according to these five factors.
Factor 1: Offerings
The first rating factor I considered was the service offerings of each provider.
If a company doesn’t offer the services your LLC needs, then it won’t matter how affordable its prices are or how user friendly its system is. Simply put, if the company doesn’t do everything you want, there’s no point using them.
Some of the things I considered with this rating factor included whether they provide an online document management portal or simple mail forwarding, whether they issue compliance alerts or simply give you a compliance calendar, whether they actually supply identity theft protection or just make vague promises about protecting your information, and whether they provide cheap LLC formation services, or whether they offer the best LLC formation services.
Naturally, the service providers with the most comprehensive range of services earned higher positions on my list, while those with dismal service catalogs earned lower positions.
Factor 2: Value
The second factor I rated each company with was the value for money that they provided. This was an area that differed greatly from provider to provider.
What I was looking for here was a combination of the most services possible for the lowest price possible. If a company offers loads of services for a low price, that’s a good value, while if a company has a bare-bones service list and an expensive price tag that’s not a great choice.
I found out during this evaluation process that there are three different pricing tiers currently used by registered agents: budget, full service and premium.
Budget registered agents cost between $39–$59, full-service agents run between $99–$129, and premium registered agents start at $299 and go up.
The providers who offered the greatest value won out over those who charged high fees for bare-bones services.
Another thing I discovered using this evaluation factor was that even though the budget-pricing tier looks like a good idea at first glance, it’s only because of deceptive pricing and hidden fees.
Sure, it only costs $39–$59 to sign up with the company, but to get basic services that full-service agents offer (like compliance alerts or an online document portal), you’ll have to pay additional fees that can cost more than many of the full-service agents on my list. Super shady.
In light of this, I chose to leave budget registered agents off of my list entirely.
Factor 3: Ease of Sign-Up
Finding a registered agent that provides all the services you need at a price you can afford, only to find out that they spend weeks (if not months) wasting your time during the sign-up process is definitely a situation you want to avoid.
Therefore, I chose the ease of sign-up as my third rating factor to make sure that you choose a provider whose sign-up process is quick and painless.
The companies with the most efficient, automated processes with little work on your part were placed in higher positions on my list than those whose sign-up processes were lengthy, laborious, and frustrating.
Factor 4: Ease of Use
The sign-up process isn’t the only area where a registered agent company can be annoying. After you’re set up, you don’t want to spend days learning to use a confusing, glitchy, and slow system. This is why the fourth factor I evaluated was how easy each system is to use.
The companies with the most user-friendly and intuitive systems won top spots on my list, while those with difficult, headache-inducing systems fell lower down the list.
Factor 5: Customer Service
No matter how easy it is to get set up in a system and how user friendly the navigation of that system is, you’ll eventually encounter a technical problem or have a question about your service. It’s during these trying times that quality customer service is key.
If you get great customer service, you can speed through the call, resolve your issue, and get back to your workday quickly and frustration free.
This is why I chose to rate each company based on the quality of its customer service.
The companies that provided prompt, efficient, knowledgeable customer service were awarded high positions, while companies whose customer service involved waiting on hold for hours only to be connected with a customer service representative who was in a hurry to get off the call and provided answers that left me more confused about my problem than I initially was fell to the bottom of my list.
The Best Registered Agent for Foreign LLC Businesses Results Summary
After investigating the top 12 registered agent services, completing my four-stage research process and rating each company using my five rating factors, I chose Northwest Registered Agent as the top registered agent service.
Best Overall Registered Agent: Northwest Registered Agent (9.13/10)
Northwest is at the top of my list because it’s a full-service registered agent option that charges reasonable rates and delivers industry-leading customer service.
Some of the services you get when you sign up for Northwest’s $125-per-year registered agent service include the crucial business address, an online document management portal where you have access to ALL your mail (many registered agent services only scan the documents, not the mail), and compliance alerts. And they guarantee that your personal information remains off of the public record.
But Northwest Registered Agent’s most valuable feature is its US-based customer service team made up of former accountants, entrepreneurs, and small business owners. They go above and beyond to not only answer any questions you have about your registered agent service and provide solutions to technical issues, but also use their experience to answer questions you have regarding your business and how to start, manage, and expand it. Their customer support team is conveniently available during normal business hours on business days.
I found more than 3,000 positive customer reviews for Northwest online, so it’s not likely that my experience was some sort of a fluke.
Get the best registered agent services for your foreign LLC here: Northwest Registered Agent.
In addition to its registered agent services, Northwest also offers LLC services. To find out more about those, read my guide to the best LLC services.
Best Full-Service Registered Agent on a Budget: Harbor Compliance (7.92/10)
If you’re looking for a full-service registered agent that will provide all the essential services at lower rates, then Harbor Compliance is a good option.
Harbor Compliance supplies the same services that Northwest Registered Agent does but only charges $99 per year for them.
The customer service at Harbor Compliance isn’t as thorough, knowledgeable, or efficient as Northwest Registered Agent’s, but they’ll do a decent job of answering your registered agent-related questions and solving your tech problems.
Harbor Compliance offers a range of other services, and I can’t go into detail about them all here, but if you want to learn about them read my Harbor Compliance review.
Best Premium Registered Agent: LegalZoom (6.59/10)
If you’re in search of premium registered agent services, then LegalZoom is a good choice. It delivers all the full-service options that Northwest Registered Agent does, with the addition of up to $1 million in identity theft protection, as well as covering the state fees you incur from switching from your current registered agent over to its services.
LegalZoom’s services cost $299 per state per year, which makes it $175 more than Northwest Registered Agent, and the only extra you get for that price is the identity theft protection. You could easily sign up for Northwest for only $125 and pay for identity theft protection from a third-party broker for far less.
You can learn about LegalZoom here: LegalZoom.
Choosing your company’s registered agent is a serious decision that affects the protection of your personal information, the safety of your assets, and the legal obligations of your company.
My investigation started with more than 64 different registered agents that I subjected to a four-stage research process and five-factor rating system.
This investigation, along with thousands of positive reviews online, concluded that Northwest Registered Agent is the best registered agent service.
Northwest offers all the basic services you want from a full-service registered agent, and its team of stellar customer support representatives will use their experience to answer your questions and guide you through any situation you may find yourself in. The online document portal is easy to use and allows you to sign up for service in multiple states seamlessly, which means that Northwest can support your company as it grows.
To get a registered agent service that offers all the services you need and backs it up with a US-based customer service team of industry experts, visit Northwest Registered Agent.