Choosing your company’s registered agent is a critical decision that could have drastic effects on the future of your S corporation.
The right registered agent will provide services that ensure that your company’s legal obligations are met while also protecting your personal information and assets.
The wrong registered agent can cost you your whole company, putting your assets and information into the hands of online scammers and hackers and neglecting the compliance obligations of your company.
A registered agent has the power to ensure the success or failure of your S corporation because it’s responsible for accepting essential documents on behalf of your S corporation. You don’t want that handled carelessly.
I've investigated 60+ registered agents, assessed the top 12, and written in-depth reviews of the 3 best. Here are my picks for the best registered agent service for an S corp:
1. Northwest Registered Agent — 9.13/10 (My Top Pick)
The best registered agent service out there is Northwest Registered Agent. It supplies all the registered agent services that business entities need, it has the second-best rate of any of the full-service registered agents on my list, and it backs it all up with industry-leading customer support.
Northwest Registered Agent has a lot going for it.
It has a full catalog of registered agent services (as well as LLC formation services) that include the essential registered agent address to keep your information off the public record, someone to accept mail and service of process on behalf of your corporation during all standard business hours, an online document management system to access your legal documents, and crucial compliance alerts to remind you of important filing deadlines, like your annual reports. Interestingly, Northwest is the only registered agent service to scan and upload ALL your mail to the document management portal, since most registered agent services only upload the legal documents and each service of process, and some only provide mail forwarding.
It’s easy to complete the sign-up process. Better yet, as a national registered agent service, its system allows you to effortlessly sign up for registered agent services in multiple states from the same portal. This is a feature that isn’t available from many registered agent services.
The main feature that makes Northwest stand out, and that solidified my decision to declare it the best registered agent service, is its customer support.
These days, most registered agent services contract out their customer support to other countries, then employ locals with no business experience, and unfortunately they don’t train them well. But Northwest Registered Agent balks at this trend.
Instead, Northwest has a team of US-based customer support representatives made up of experts who were lawyers, small business owners, entrepreneurs, and accountants in their former lives. These people are authorities in their fields who can answer any questions you have about your registered agent service and solve your technical problems. But because of their backgrounds, they also provide business support and advice, including how to start, manage, and expand your business. If they don’t automatically know the answer to your question, they’ll do everything in their power to find the answer for you. Conveniently, the customer support team is available during all normal business hours on weekdays.
Because it’s the only registered agent service to provide this level of exceptional customer service, it was easy to name Northwest the best registered agent service.
Add to that the fact that it charges only $125 (plus state fees) per state per year for this exceptional registered agent service, making it the second-cheapest full-service registered agent service on my list, Northwest Registered Agent has a lot to offer.
Unfortunately, a lot of high-grade services experience this phenomenon where their best feature is also their biggest downfall, and that’s the case with Northwest Registered Agent as well. Its customer support is the sole feature I can criticize.
There’s really no way to call up its customer support line and get a quick answer to a simple question, then get back to your day. Its customer support representatives are devoted to providing the best possible customer service on each call, which means that they listen patiently and ask loads of questions.
The problem here is that this approach means you’ll often spend longer on a call than you feel necessary. In many cases, if you’re in a hurry, it’s quicker and more effective to just Google the answer than trying to complete a customer support call with Northwest.
Like I said, this is an incredibly high-quality issue and only a slight criticism of Northwest Registered Agent’s outstanding customer support.
Northwest Registered Agent is the best registered agent service overall because it offers all the basic registered agent services your company needs, its system is user friendly (even for the least technologically skilled people), it offers an incredibly competitive rate—the second-cheapest on my list of best registered agent services—and all these features are backed up by consultant-level customer service.
If you want a registered agent service that will deliver all the quality registered agent services you need at a great price and provide the best customer service in the industry, head over to Northwest Registered Agent now: Northwest Registered Agent.
2. Harbor Compliance — 7.92/10 (Best Full-Service Registered Agent on a Budget)
Harbor Compliance made its way onto my list of the best registered agent services because it offers a quality list of registered agent services and it does so at a lower price than any other full-service registered agents.
Harbor Compliance offers registered agent services that look like a clone of Northwest Registered Agent’s, including a physical address and someone to accept mail and service of process during business hours, scanning and uploading of your legal documents, and providing you with an online document management portal, as well as sending compliance alerts for annual report reminders.
It’s easy to complete the sign-up process, and you can easily sign up for registered agent services in multiple states because Harbor Compliance is a national registered agent service. But the feature that really makes Harbor Compliance stand out from the other registered agent services on my list of the best registered agent services is its price. Harbor Compliance charges only $99 (plus state fees) per state, per year for its registered agent services, which makes it the cheapest full-service registered agent service on my list. (For more on the different types of registered agent service pricing, read the “Value” section.) It also means that Harbor Compliance is $26 cheaper than Northwest Registered Agent.
The downside of Harbor Compliance’s registered agent services is that while they’re all good, they aren’t great. It provides a full list of basic registered agent services, but you won’t find any premium registered agent services among them. Its customer service team will sufficiently answer questions about your registered agent service and walk you through solutions to technical problems, but they won’t answer business questions or provide the same level of expert and thorough support that Northwest Registered Agent does.
So while Harbor Compliance offers a range of good registered agent services, none of them will bowl you over.
Harbor Compliance provides reliable registered agent services that will cover all your company’s basic registered agent needs. And it delivers these services, without any luxuries or extras, for less than other full-service registered agents.
If you’re comfortable with making the tradeoff and sacrificing outstanding customer service to save just $26 per year, you can read more about Harbor Compliance here: Harbor Compliance.
3. LegalZoom — 6.59/10 (Best Premium Service)
If you want premium registered agent services, then LegalZoom is the best option for you. It’s the best premium option among a plethora of overrated registered agent services.
A premium registered agent service is a tier above full-service registered agent services. Premium agents provide all the services that full-service registered agent service providers do, with the addition of luxury features, like specialty types of insurance or payment of your state fees.
Because LegalZoom is a premium registered agent service, it offers many basic services that you’d expect from a full-service registered agent, such as an online portal to access your legal documents, mail forwarding, and compliance notifications (for annual report reminders). And in addition to all of this, it offers the premium registered agent services of up to $1 million in identity theft protection and covering state fees that you may be charged for switching over to a new registered agent service.
There are a couple of disadvantages to LegalZoom’s registered agent services.
The first, and probably the most obvious, is its price. LegalZoom charges $299 (plus state fees) for its registered agent services, which is $175 more than Northwest. When you consider that the only additional service for this extra price is identity theft protection, it’s definitely not worth it.
The second is that LegalZoom’s registered agent services are a drop in the bucket compared to its other services, including online legal services and business formation services. Because the company doesn’t specialize in registered agent services, its registered agent services aren’t properly cared for or organized. This results in its system being difficult to use and its support being no more than sufficient.
LegalZoom is a well-known name in the business industry because of its legal services and business formation services. It also offers premium registered agent services, which when bought separately are far too expensive and under-supported to make them worthwhile.
If you’re already subscribed to LegalZoom’s legal services, or you’re dead-set on choosing a registered agent provider that also supplies identity theft protection (no matter the confounded price), then LegalZoom is still a good choice for you, which is why it’s on my list of the best registered agent services.
If you’d like to learn more about LegalZoom, you can find the website here: LegalZoom.
The rest of my reviews of the best registered agent services are less detailed because although I researched them as part of my process to find the best registered agent service, I wasn’t impressed by them enough to provide an in-depth analysis of them.
ZenBusiness is a good online registered agent service and national registered agent. Its registered agent service goes for $199. For this price, they'll take care of your annual report filing, offer compliance notifications to remind you of important filing dates, forward any official documents they receive on your behalf, and and an expedited filing process that ensures your documents are filed on time.
The drawback is that if you sign up for their formation service, you don't get a year of free registered agent services, but even a year of free registered agent services isn’t enough to make up for their steep price for registered agent services. Their customer support is also not at the same level as Northwest's.
IncFile is another LLC formation service that also supplies professional registered agent service. Unfortunately, its registered agent service offerings are minimal—no compliance alerts—and it charges $119 per year for these insufficient services. But if you really want to pay more for registered agent services than they’re worth, then IncFile is a good option.
It’s worth mentioning that if you sign up for IncFile’s LLC formation services you get free registered agent services for a year, but even a year of registered agent services doesn’t make up for the expensive rates and lackluster service offerings.
6. Rocket Lawyer
Rocket Lawyer is a bit like a cheap rip-off of LegalZoom. Its registered agent service makes up only a tiny portion of its other services (such as legal services and business formation services), which results in insufficient registered agent service. Rocket Lawyer also charges $149 for these subpar registered agent service offerings, and its customer service isn’t sufficient for that price.
If you’d like to know more about Rocket Lawyer and its other services, check out my Rocket Lawyer review.
7. Sundoc Filings
Like many other providers on this list of the best registered agent services, Sundoc Filings is a business formation service that also provides registered agent service. The problem is that it charges $149, so you’re better off with Northwest’s lower price and better customer service.
InCorp is yet another LLC formation service that supplies registered agent service. This registered agent actually provided me with an interesting dilemma when rating it.
Its registered agent services cost the same $99 price as Harbor Compliance, and its registered agent service offerings are the same as well. So upon first glance it seems like it would be as good a value as Harbor Compliance. But you really start noticing the difference when it comes to the quality of the registered agent services. It’s very difficult to navigate InCorp’s software system because the interface is poorly laid out and confusing. On top of that, the customer service is only passable. And with a system as confusing as InCorp’s, you really need better support.
9. Swyft Filings
Swyft Filings offers basic registered agent services that, unlike some other entries on my list of best registered agent services, actually include compliance alerts. But the reason it was rated so low is its $149 price tag. This company doesn’t offer anything that justifies that price.
Swyft Filings offers a number of different types of services (including business formation), so if you’d like to learn more about them you can read my Swyft Filings review.
10. CSC Global
CSC Global is a premium registered agent service, quite like LegalZoom. As such, it provides all the professional registered agent services you’d expect from a full-service registered agent as well as premium services. The downside is that it doesn’t offer a lot in the way of premium registered agent service offerings. The only premium service to speak of here is that it covers the state fees you’ll incur when you switch over to its registered agent service from your current registered agent. But it charges $299 per year for this insignificant convenience. For that price you’re better off choosing the best registered agent service—Northwest—and footing the bill for the state fees yourself.
11. Registered Agents Inc.
Unlike several of the above options, Registered Agents Inc. actually specializes in registered agent services. It supplies the same service list as Northwest. Sadly, this company that showed such promise charges $200 per year for the same services that Northwest only charges $125 per year for.
12. Jumpstart Filings
Jumpstart Filings, the last entry on my list of the best registered agent services, is both a formation service and a registered agent service. The major flaws in its services are its minimal service offerings and its excessive price of $150 per year.
As I mentioned, it does provide business formation services, but unlike other providers on this list of the best registered agent services, it doesn’t provide a year of registered agent service for free. Not that it would matter a lot. Even with promotion for free registered agent service, these services are too expensive.
Registered Agent Review Summary
I chose Northwest Registered Agent as the best registered agent service because it supplies all the services and features you want, and it does it all for only $125 per state, per year.
Even better, it backs its services up with a US-based team of customer service representatives made up of people who were previously lawyers, accountants, entrepreneurs, or small business owners. They patiently answer your questions about your service and deftly provide solutions to your technical problems. Thanks to their knowledge and experience, you can also ask them questions about running your business and they’ll give you expert advice.
It’s easy to complete the registration process, after which Northwest provides a convenient registered agent dashboard and a user interface that is quite user friendly. Northwest Registered Agent is a good option for anyone who wants a reliable registered agent that will go beyond the basic physical address, mail forwarding service, and compliance with various government agencies to meet your company’s legal needs.
If you need to acquire registered agent services and want to choose one with competitive promotions, like free registered agent service for a year with its LLC formation package, and exceptional customer service, visit Northwest Registered Agent here: Northwest Registered Agent.
Best Registered Agent for S Corp Businesses Methodology
Too many options can overwhelm the average consumer, resulting in what’s known as “choice overload” or “overchoice,” and causing you to walk away without making a purchase. Or worse, simply choosing the first option on the list even if it isn’t the best option for you. To avoid all that hassle and stress I created this list to serve as a handy and comprehensive guide to the top registered agent services. Here’s how I found the best registered agent service.
Why You Should Trust Me
You should trust me to make recommendations about registered agents because I’m pretty sure there aren’t many other people on the planet who have spent as much time researching and dealing with the registered agent industry as I have.
My journey began when I searched for a good registered agent for my two businesses—a cafe and a health website. Once I’d sold those businesses I set out to find my next business idea, only to have it thrust upon me unexpectedly. After talking to my friends and colleagues, I realized the average businessperson doesn’t know much about the registered agent industry, and they don’t have the time to invest in research that I have. So, I started providing them with my own recommendations for registered agents.
Those recommendations eventually grew into a whole online business, and now I help thousands of people online find the best registered agents for their companies.
How I Selected the Best Registered Agent
I used a research process that consisted of four stages to shave down a list of over 60 different services to just 12.
This is how I accomplished it:
Stage 1: Reviews
For the first stage of my research, I looked through thousands of online reviews. This involved visiting several online review platforms, like Facebook, TrustPilot, and the Better Business Bureau. There were countless reviews, but I completed this stage to save you the trouble of having to do it yourself.
Truthfully, I couldn’t read EVERY online review. There were so many that it would have taken years! What I did instead was read through the reviews that were longer than a paragraph or two and contained enough information for me to determine which companies were worth my time and which ones were obvious scams. This stage also revealed many companies that used deceptive pricing practices, which I’ll discuss more in the “Value” section below.
Stage 2: Website Analysis
After I’d successfully weeded out the inferior services, I analyzed the websites of each company for the next stage of my research process.
Some of the things I was looking for included the service offerings of the company, the variety of contact methods available for customers to reach the support team, the history of the company, any honors or awards it’d won, and the location of each company (specifically, whether they were national registered agents).
This stage provided me with a good picture of each company through its services, accolades, where they got their start, and how they presented themselves.
Stage 3: Speaking With Real Customers
Reading online reviews and studying company websites will only tell you so much about customer satisfaction. To see the whole picture of a business, you have to talk to customers and find out how well it delivers its services and satisfies customers. This is why the third stage of my research involved talking to customers.
To make sure I got a more well-rounded and impartial account of all the companies, after reading the claims they’d made on their websites and the positive customer reviews online, I reached out through my website to talk to customers whom I’d recommended registered agents to, as well as those who’d already had registered agents and were shopping around when they visited my site.
I asked these people about their customer satisfaction, including how well the companies actually delivered their services and the quality of their support. This stage gave me the nitty-gritty details about what it’s like to receive services from these companies—no matter what claims they make on their websites.
Stage 4: Speaking With Their Sales Teams
For the last stage of my research, I gathered up the customer reviews, complaints, issues, and tea that had been spilled by customers during the course of my research, called up the sales teams of each company, and asked them very straightforward questions about why these things were happening and how they were failing.
This stage really gave me important information about how each company handled criticism and feedback, and whether they were able to use it to foster innovation and growth for their business. Some companies had the audacity to imply that the customers who’d voiced complaints were just a little “crazy” and that I shouldn’t pay attention to those comments. Then there were other outstanding companies who listened to the complaints and explained to me that they’d actually already seen that feedback and used it to improve on their services.
This stage highlighted which companies were A-listers and which were more like D-listers.
After I completed my research process, I used these five rating factors to rank each of the 12 remaining services on my list.
Factor 1: Offerings
The first rating factor I used was an analysis of the services that each company provided.
The price and intuitiveness of a company’s system are irrelevant if it doesn’t offer the services your company needs. To put it plainly, if a company doesn’t do what you need them to, then you shouldn’t purchase registered agent services from that company.
Some of the features I assessed included online document management or just mail forwarding, compliance notifications or just a compliance calendar with important but easily forgettable filing deadlines on it, identity theft protection insurance or just unclear statements about protecting your information, and cheap LLC formation services or even the best LLC formation services.
Factor 2: Value
My second rating factor was the value for money that each company provides. This was an area that was definitely NOT equal from one provider to the next. To clarify, what I mean by “value for money” is the amount of services for the price.
The providers with a diverse service list and low prices gained higher positions than those with scant services and high prices. During my research for this rating factor, I discovered that there are three different pricing tiers registered agents use: budget, full service, and premium.
Budget agents cost between $39–$59, full-service agents cost $99–$129, and premium registered agents cost $299 or more.
My investigation revealed that even though budget registered agent services seem like a great value, this is only due to deceptive pricing practices.
While it does actually cost only $39–$59 to sign up for these services, to get some of the basic necessities (like compliance alerts or document scanning) you’ll have to pay additional fees that often cost more than it would have cost if you’d chosen a full-service registered agent to begin with.
Because of this, I eliminated budget registered agents from my list of top registered agent services.
Factor 3: Ease of Sign-Up
It can be a real fly in the ointment to find a registered agent service that has the price you want and the services you need, only to find it takes days or weeks to complete the registration process.
To ensure that you don’t choose a registered agent that wastes time during the sign-up process, I rated each provider based on its simplicity.
The providers with streamlined, automated sign-up processes earned higher positions on my list than those with lengthy sign-up processes that require a lot of work on your part to complete.
Factor 4: Ease of Use
Unfortunately, the sign-up process isn’t the only area in which a registered agent provider can waste your time. If a provider’s system is so confusing that it takes you hours just to learn how to use and navigate it, then it will cause you a lot of wasted time and frustration. So to save you from that stress, I rated each service on how user-friendly their systems are.
The companies with systems that are streamlined and easily understood were placed at the top of my list, while companies that have complicated, outdated systems full of glitches fell to the bottom.
Factor 5: Customer Service
Despite how simple a system is to use or how intuitive it is, you’ll eventually run into a technical issue with it or think of a question regarding your registered agent service. This is where quality customer service can really make or break a company. Most people in the business world know that in an age of online reviews and word of mouth spread around the world, the experiences customers have with support teams are more important now than ever.
Good customer service means that your questions will be answered and problems resolved by a friendly and well-informed representative, and that you’ll be able to quickly move on to the rest of your workday. On the other side of the coin, bad customer service can hold you up for hours and give you advice that only serves to further confuse you.
The companies that were able to provide clear, helpful answers and solutions in a prompt and friendly manner were awarded higher positions on my list than those who took longer than they should to respond to inquiries and provided confusing answers or limited solutions.
The Best Registered Agent Results Summary
I assessed 12 different registered agent services with my four-stage research process and five rating factors, and the conclusion of that analysis is that Northwest Registered Agent is the best registered agent.
Best Overall Registered Agent: Northwest Registered Agent (9.13/10)
Northwest champions my list because it’s got a full range of registered agent service options, affordable prices, and the best customer service I’ve ever encountered from a registered agent.
For just $125 per state, per year, you get the crucial business address, an online document portal that provides you with access to ALL your mail (most registered agents only upload the legal documents), and compliance alerts to remind you about important filing deadlines. As a business owner, you’ll also appreciate Northwest’s dedication to safeguarding your personal information and keeping it off the public record.
But the most attractive feature Northwest offers is its customer support. They’re a US-based team of representatives made up of former business owners, entrepreneurs, accountants, and lawyers who competently and patiently answer all your questions about their registered agent services and provide you with helpful solutions to your problems. They even go one step further and exceed expectations by utilizing their knowledge and expertise to offer you business advice and guide you on your business journey. Northwest’s customer service team is also conveniently available to customers during all regular business hours.
Click here to get the best registered agent services for your company here: Northwest Registered Agent.
This company also offers business formation services, which you can read more about in my guide to the best LLC formation services.
Best Full-Service Registered Agent on a Budget: Harbor Compliance (7.92/10)
Business entities that are looking for affordable registered agent services that provide all the features they need will appreciate Harbor Compliance.
It supplies the same service list as Northwest Registered Agent but charges $99 per state per year, $26 cheaper than Northwest.
Its customer service team isn’t as helpful or patient as Northwest’s, but the representatives can sufficiently answer questions about the services or walk you through solutions to technical issues.
Harbor Compliance offers a wide range of services and there’s not enough room to logically list them all here, but if you’d like to learn more about them you can check out my Harbor Compliance review.
If you don’t feel you can benefit from Northwest’s industry-leading support and would rather save $26 per year, you can learn more about Harbor Compliance here: Harbor Compliance.
Best Premium Registered Agent: LegalZoom (6.59/10)
If you’re looking for a good premium registered agent, then LegalZoom is a solid option. It provides all the full-service options that Northwest supplies but adds to its service up to $1 million in identity theft protection. It will also cover any state fees that you’re charged when you switch to its services from your current agent.
LegalZoom charges $299 per year for its premium services, which is $175 more than Northwest Registered Agent’s services. Given that the only extra service you get for the additional price is identity theft protection, you could choose Northwest Registered Agent and buy identity theft protection from another company for far less.
Choosing the right registered agent for your corporation is important to ensuring that your assets and personal information remain safe and that your S corporation’s legal obligations are met.
I checked out more than 60 different registered agent service providers and then reviewed the top 12 using a four-stage research process and five essential rating factors.
Northwest Registered Agent is easily the best registered agent service.
It provides all the services that businesses need as well as customer support that can thoroughly, promptly, and proficiently answer your service questions, provide you with quality solutions, and guide you on your business journey. Northwest offers a simple document management system, and you can intuitively sign up for services in multiple states from the same portal, which means it has the means to scale up and support your corporation as it grows.
If you’d like registered agent services that cover all your needs from a company that delivers the best customer support in the industry, hire Northwest Registered Agent to handle your S corporation’s needs today.