When you start a business in Washington D.C., you must find the right registered agent.
The right Washington D.C. registered agent shields your private information and makes sure you comply all the local regulations.
The wrong Washington D.C. registered agent can put your organization at risk, provide con artists access to all of your personal information and make you vulnerable to litigation.
I've investigated 60+ registered agents, assessed the top 12, and written in-depth reviews of the three best. Here are my picks for the best registered agent business in Washington D.C.
Table of Contents
1.Northwest Registered Agent – 9.13/10 (My Top Pick)
My choice for the best registered agent service in Washington, D.C., is Northwest Registered Agent. The reason they're #1 is that they not only ensure you meet all your legal compliance requirements, but they also have exceptional customer service that includes small business support.
Northwest Registered Agent provides all your Washington, D.C. registered agent needs with ease and convenience.
They are a highly professional service that ensures that your private details are not available for public viewing and they never share your personal information.
They provide you with a physical office address in the District of Columbia for your registered office from where they will forward mail directly to you so that you quickly receive all your letters. Furthermore, they also scan the correspondence and upload it to their free, online, document portal that gives you unlimited access to your documents even before the hard copy gets to you.
They have a compliance alerts calendar with important reminders about upcoming deadlines like annual report filing dates for your forms and documents; they'll let you know when those need attention so that nothing falls through the cracks.
The system is simple to get started with (even if you require registered agents in more locations than just the District of Columbia) and easy to use.
However, the biggest reason they’re number one on my list as a Washington D.C. registered agent service is their great support team.
Not only will their US-based team of former lawyers, accountants and entrepreneurs help with any registered agent questions or issues you face, they will also answer any questions they can about business startup, management or growth. They’re the only support team to offer this kind of advice as part of your registered agent service (which could cost up to $5,000/day) and so was an easy pick for my #1 spot.
They're a great choice for District of Columbia registered agent services with a price of only $125 per year – just $26 more than the lowest-priced option on the market.
The only con I can come up with for Northwest Registered Agent is that while they're helpful and polite, they are almost too thorough and lengthy with their responses and this can cause an issue when you just need quick answers.
Because they are so thorough and patient, they asked me a lot of follow-up questions. I know that they just wanted to ensure my needs were taken care of, but it did mean I spent a little more time on the phone than I had planned.
Nevertheless, that is a pretty minor gripe given how most companies have such poor customer support teams.
Northwest Registered Agent is the superior choice for a Washington, D.C. registered agent service because of their excellent services. They seamlessly provide you with a local address, correspondence receipt and posting and compliance assistance to keep you in regulatory good standing. Furthermore, they have a customer support team filled with specialized experts who will advise you in all aspects of small business.
If you want a commercial registered agent service in the District of Columbia that will protect your interests, take the time to get it right, and save you money, contact Northwest Registered Agent.
2.Harbor Compliance – 7.92/10 (Best Budget Registered Agent)
Harbor Compliance is the best budget Washington D.C. registered agent service with rates starting at $26 less than Northwest Registered Agent. However, they lack some of the features available from Northwest Registered Agent and can't match the level of their customer support team either.
All the basic requirements you will need to ensure compliance with District of Columbia business regulations are covered by Harbor Compliance.
They provide assistance with filing your Articles of Organization and will also give you guidance on annual submission requirements for the District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.
You will get automated notification of compliance deadlines, have your mail scanned and placed in their free portal and, of course, they will give you a business address in the District of Columbia open during regular business hours.
The navigation of the online portal is well-organized and easy to understand. Simply sign in, and you will quickly be able to retrieve documents and receive alerts.
Harbor Compliance is an affordable and reliable Washington D.C. registered agent that offers everything you need, but it really does not provide any of the nice-to-have extras. Their customer support does get back to you within an acceptable timeframe with a reasonable answer to your question.
While they are generally good at everything, there is no area other than price where they are the top Washington D.C. registered agent.
You can save money and stay compliant with the District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs legal requirements by hiring Harbor Compliance. They provide all the expected services of a registered agent and have a high-quality internet portal, but they do not have the business experts on hand to answer your questions like Northwest Registered Agent does. They are worth considering though if you want a cheaper option that will do what you need them to.
For those who are looking for a company that offers more than just a low price then they may not be for you. But, if you need to cut costs and are willing to give up a little in the customer service arena, then visit Harbor Compliance.
3. LegalZoom Review – 6.59/10 (Best Premium RA)
The best premium registered agent service in Washington, D.C. is LegalZoom which is ranked #3 overall on my list.
LegalZoom is a trustworthy and well-established player in the world of business services, so you can have confidence in what they can do for you. They provide all the basic requirements you expect from a registered agent and do them well. You can expect them to capably provide a business address, mail forwarding, compliance alerts for the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and identity masking. The company's reputation is strong and they have been around for a long time.
One reason to consider a premium Washington D.C. registered agent service like LegalZoom is that it provides $1 million in identity theft protection. If you have your identity or data stolen, it is hard to get back on your feet and rebuild. As rates of cyber-crime continue to rise, everyone should take this kind of insurance seriously.
It seems LegalZoom takes advantage of its size and reputation to provide you less value for the service they offer.
They charge $299 per state annually – more than twice as much as Northwest Registered Agent. You can get identity theft insurance that costs significantly less than that difference, so you're better off sticking with NWRA’s services.
LegalZoom’s District of Columbia registered agent service is not their core concern and they focus less on this business process than other providers. I found that their customer service was not as knowledgeable as I would like when asked questions related to registered agents.
LegalZoom is an established business entity with many satisfied customers, but if you care more about knowledgeable support, optimized systems or value for your money, then they may not be the best option for you.
Visit LegalZoom at this link: LegalZoom
ZenBusiness is primarily an LLC formation firm, rather than a registered agent. They have an able customer support team, but they are not equipped to answer questions outside of registry and portal usage.
They do offer registered agent services at $99 per state per year and this may sound great on the surface, but if you want to get compliance alerts, you have to pay another $50 per state per year.
Given that Northwest Registered Agent includes this service as part of their base package (and for $26 cheaper), the difference is clear.
For more information about this option, read my ZenBusiness Review.
IncFile is a low-cost option at $119 per year, but it is truly a no-frills registered agent. It will give you an address in Washington D.C., but it does not provide important services such as help in filing your annual report or assist you with the submission of your Articles of Organization.
Additionally, their level of service and support is nowhere near as good as that of Northwest Registered Agent, so I really can’t recommend them.
6. Rocket Lawyer
Rocket Lawyer is similar to LegalZoom in that its primary business format is to create template, legal documents, albeit for cheaper.
However, as a registered agent, it is $149 per state per year – more than the $125 fee of Northwest Registered Agent. They will give you a street address which allows you to receive correspondence, but they cannot match all of Northwest Registered Agent’s services.
Our Rocket Lawyer review can tell you more about their services.
7. SunDoc Filings
SunDoc Filings is another registered agent service that will take care of the basics for you. That being said, they are costly – charging business entities $159 per state per year even though they have no compliance alert system to help keep you in good standing. There is better value to be had.
Where they fall short is on their online system. It is time-consuming, hard to navigate, unclear and awkward. There are certainly better registered agent services on this list for businesses and corporations.
9. Swyft Filings
Another LLC formation company that does double duty as a District of Columbia registered agent is Swyft Filings. It charges $149 per state per year and will get your LLC registered, but offers nothing beyond the most basic services.
We do have more details on their services at our Swyft Filings review.
10. CSC Global
CSC Global, at $299 per state per year, is one of the most expensive, premium registered agents in the District on this list. Not only that, but they don’t send you compliance alerts regarding service of process or timely notification of documents needed by the Department of Consumer Affairs and they have middle-of-the-road customer service.
Their one distinguishing feature is that they will cover the fee to change your address from a current registered agent to them. Of course, this fee is only $176 so you aren’t really gaining anything from using this service.
11. Registered Agents Inc.
Specializing in commercial registered agent services, Registered Agents Inc. charges $200 per state per year. They do everything a registered agent must for a business in Washington, but you don't get any superior service or extra benefits for that up charge, so they do not rank well on this list.
12. Jumpstart Filings
Another stripped-down national registered agent service is Jumpstart Filings. They price their services at $129 per state per year, but they offer nothing at that price point that would put them in the same league as Northwest Registered Agent.
Registered Agent Review Summary
You have seen my top 12 reviews of the 60+ Washington D.C. registered agents that I investigated. Without a doubt, the top-rated commercial registered agent service is Northwest Registered Agent.
At only $125 per state per year, they provide all the basic requirements of a registered agent plus the added benefit of expert, small business advice.
They may not have bells and whistles like overpriced identity theft protection, but they do have an excellent online system and exemplary customer service.
If you are looking for a registered agent in the District of Columbia that will keep you compliant with regulations, get your correspondence to you rapidly and mask your personal identity while helping to advance your business through high-quality professional advice, go to Northwest Registered Agent today.
Best Registered Agent Review Methodology
Here is how I chose the top registered agents in Washington, D.C.
Why You Should Trust Me
They say experience is the best teacher and I have had to find the best registered agent for two separate businesses.
I didn't want to have my personal details on the public record or miss important notifications, so I knew I needed a registered agent. However, there is so much hoopla and hype in the industry that I ended up spending countless hours reading reviews and speaking with customer service representatives.
In doing so, I gained a ton of expertise about these companies and I have more experience in this field than almost anyone else.
I quickly saw that I could cut through the industry noise and help people just like you get a clearer picture of the options. With this website, I help people avoid having to do all the research that I did.
I take pride in giving honest reviews about these companies because I know what it's like to try to make sense of everything you need to do in finding the best registered agent.
Using the knowledge I have gained, I have aided thousands of business owners in picking the registered agent that will be best for their corporations.
How I Selected The Best Registered Agent
I had a four-step process for determining who is the top pick for best registered agent.
Stage 1: Reviews
The first thing I did in looking for the best registered agent in Washington D.C. was to go on the internet and search for feedback. I found a handful of websites where other people had left complaints or compliments about their experience with various registered agents, such as Google Business, the Better Business Bureau, TrustPilot, and others.
The main benefit of doing this research was that I could quickly eliminate those corporations with the most negative feedback for their shady, pricing structure and other underhanded practices and move on to other candidates as a result.
Stage 2: Website Analysis
After I had gotten rid of the frauds, it was time to compare the services of the remaining candidates.
To accomplish this, I visited each website and read their sales pages, looked at their support paths and examined their “About” pages to see which one offered the most professional service.
I ended this process with a spreadsheet that separated their offerings into 24 different categories and then weighted them by importance. This allowed me to compare apples to apples so that I could find the best company for the services that were needed.
Stage 3: Speaking With Real Customers
The only way to get an accurate picture of a company is by speaking with their clients. Customers will tell you what they like about a company, whether they would recommend them to others, and if there were any problems that cropped up once they started using the service.
You might think that online reviews can do a similar job, but they tend to be written by those who either love or hate the service, which can skew your viewpoint. The only way to get the entire picture is to speak with a company’s clients to get their honest opinion.
So I spoke with folks that I had helped find a registered agent in the past and got their input. In this way, I got a much better idea about who was providing the best service.
Stage 4: Speak With Their Sales Team
The last part of my process was to go back to the company and speak with their sales team.
Now, we all know that sales personnel are only going to paint the rosiest of pictures, so I went in understanding there would be biases.
I asked the staff about all the complaints I had read on the review sites and those I’d heard in my direct customer interviews. I wanted to hear if the sales team was making efforts to improve their systems based on prior feedback, and how far along they were. I also wanted to know if they took responsibility for their shortcomings and if they had examples of improvement.
By having these conversations, I was able to get a sense of each company's culture. I could tell if they cared about learning from their customers and if they were dedicated to process improvement.
I initially used 24 criteria to evaluate the registered agents on my spreadsheet, but eventually, I combined them all into five major factors.
Factor 1: Offerings
When selecting the best Washington, D.C. registered agent, I rated each service in terms of the products and services they provide.
I found that, depending on the registered agent you choose, you may have either a broad or narrow range of services available.
Some registered agents do the minimum a registered agent must to fulfill their requirements, while others offer a more complete set of services. Some will just give you a physical address in Washington, D. C. and act as a local contact. They also will forward your mail and provide you privacy.
Some companies have added services like LLC formation and assistance with your Articles of Organization. Others will upload documents to your account and let you know when you have compliance actions due.
And identity theft protection is an additional service that some registered agents provide to businesses and corporations.
Factor 2: Price
Services and products are not the only things that vary from registered agent to registered agent. The value that the company offers does as well.
The number and quality of services offered loosely determines how much you pay for your service, but it is worth noting that prices can differ a lot between companies. Some cost upwards of $300 per state per year, while others claim to be as low as $39.
So I determined how to rank services based on their value and Return on Investment (ROI).
I found that many of the registered agents at the $39-$59 price point did not offer even the basic level of service that a business owner should expect from a registered agent. In order to get to that required level, you are expected to purchase add-ons which raise the price by another $120 a year.
To me, this is an incredibly deceitful business practice. As such, I simply eliminated any registered agent that I found using this up charging convention. Washington, D.C. businesses and corporations should hire better local registered agents.
Factor 3: Ease Of Signup
Once you have figured out which registered agent entity you want to hire, the last thing you want is to have difficulty signing up for the service.
Believing this process should take you less than five minutes, I looked for registered agents with the easiest and quickest signup processes.
I ended up signing up for all the registered agents to see which ones would allow me to sign up in the least amount of time. I also took note of the ones that put obstacles in the way of the customer experience.
It seemed simple enough, but in some cases, it was not. For example, I found that to sign up for one service, I would have had to fill out multiple forms and provide information that was beyond what was really needed to open a business.
Factor 4: Ease Of Use
Although the ability to sign up for the service is important, that is meaningless if your experience, once signed up, is a nightmare.
A registered agent's system should be free, easy to navigate, rather than confusing and awkward. As a business owner, you don't have time to waste working through a clunky system. Filing important documents for the public record should be a simple process.
Because of this, I took into account the number of clicks required to complete a task, how clear the directions were, and if I had any difficulty or questions while using the service.
Using this data, I rated each entity on how simple their system was to use.
Factor 5: Customer Service
The final factor I examined was the quality of their customer service. After all, there is no system so perfect that you will never have questions so you're bound to eventually contact customer service with queries and concerns.
A registered agent should have a responsive customer service department that helps you resolve your problems quickly and completely. Anything less costs time, and in business, time is money. This is when customer service is the most meaningful.
I contacted the customer service representatives of each registered agent in order to evaluate their quality. I made some basic inquiries and noted their efficiency and response time. I also looked at how friendly and helpful they were and if the first-level agents were knowledgeable or if they had to pass my case to others to resolve.
I'm not going to lie, it was tough narrowing down my list from over 40 registered agent companies in Washington D.C.. But after hours and hours of reviewing all of them, I came up with a list in which I am confident.
The Best Washington D.C. Registered Agent Results Summary
Of the more than 60 registered agents I have researched, here are the top three.
Best Overall Registered Agent – Northwest Registered Agent (9.13/10)
Northwest Registered Agent is the best registered agent in Washington, D.C. because they offer superior customer service and top-quality services for only a $125 per year fee.
When you hire Northwest Registered Agent you get a verified physical street address in Washington D.C. so that you can get all your official mail and legal notifications. They scan and post your correspondence to your free portal on the day of receipt, all while keeping your personal details off the public record. Additionally, they will keep you apprised of your compliance requirement dates and be your legal point of contact.
They also provide discounts for filing in multiple states and if you register for multiple years.
However, their most defining feature is their excellent customer support.
They have a U.S.-based team of experts who can provide sound advice to any business owner. These former lawyers, accountants, and entrepreneurs have dealt with all the typical problems faced when starting or operating a business. Thus, they can bring their expertise to bear when addressing your questions.
I am not the only one who feels this way. More than 3,000 people have posted positive Northwest Registered Agent reviews online.
When you need registered agent services in Washington, D.C., it’s important to hire someone you can rely on for the entirety of your company's life. That is why you should go to Northwest Registered Agent now.
Best Budget Registered Agent – Harbor Compliance (7.92/10)
If you are strapped for cash and willing to deal with less than expert customer service then you can save $26 per year by using Harbor Compliance.
They provide the same services as Northwest Registered Agent, including registering your business office address, scanning, and forwarding business mail, being a legal point of contact and providing compliance alerts for all important regulatory deadlines.
Their online system is solid and easy to use, and their customer service is solidly capable, even if not on the same level as that at Northwest Registered Agent.
So if you can work without the expertise of top-level support and you need to save a few dollars, visit Harbor Compliance for a great option.
Best Premium Registered Agent – Legal Zoom (6.59/10)
Looking for Washington D.C. registered agents who offer a little more than the standard services? LegalZoom is a premium service worth checking out.
You get all the standard services expected of a District of Columbia registered agent: keeping track of and informing you of important dates, providing a business address in Washington D.C. as well as, forwarding and scanning your mail.
And LegalZoom includes an extra feature that Harbor Compliance and Northwest Registered Agent do not provide – $1 million of identity theft insurance with every registration.
Of course, you are paying a premium rate for that insurance (which could be purchased for much less on the open market). In fact, you pay more than twice as much as you would at Northwest Registered Agent. However, if money is not a concern for your enterprise, then LegalZoom is a solid option.
Take a look here: LegalZoom.
When starting your business, it is crucial to pick the right D.C. registered agent. Only in that way can you be sure that you will meet all of Washington D.C.’s rules and regulations. You also need one who will maintain your privacy and keep your personal assets safe.
After reviewing 12 of the top 60 registered agent services, we came up with the best in the District of Columbia – Northwest Registered Agent.
With this firm, you get everything you expect from a registered agent:
a Washington D.C. official street office address (the registered agent’s address) available during normal business hours
- automated alerts for important compliance dates
- mail forwarding
- assistance filing your Articles of Organization
- mail scanning
You get all these services at a very reasonable fee of $125 per state per year. You also get access to their superior online registration and management system that will get you entrance to all your documents in just a couple of clicks. Most importantly, their customer support system of former lawyers, accountants and business people will give you expert guidance about any question.
If you need a top-notch Washington D.C. registered agent service, go to Northwest Registered Agent.