Business owners have enough to worry about without needing to think about the legalities of the company formation process. That's why incorporation services are only growing in popularity. Incorporation services can take the pressure off small businesses and entrepreneurs in particular. Two such services are LegalZoom and National Registered Agents. Let's compare both side-by-side to decide which is best for you.

LegalZoom vs. National Registered Agents: The Verdict

National Registered Agents, Inc (NRAI) is a trusted service provider operating offices across North America. They opened in 1995, and they've completed more than a million service of process deliveries and are a subsidiary of the global compliance firm Wolters Kluwer.

LegalZoom, established in 1999, is one of the first names that comes to mind when you're discussing incorporation services; that's because they're perhaps one of the most used services with millions of customers and successful advertising campaigns behind them. Both companies have their place, but LegalZoom beats NRAI on price and offers extra services.

Choose LegalZoom if:

  • You value affordable, transparent pricing
  • You want legal services
  • You're starting a non-profit
  • You need extra business services

Choose NRAI if:

  • You want a service provider that is affiliated with Wolters Kluwer
  • You want a provider that's been around for longer
  • You don't mind paying extra

Services Offered & Pricing

In terms of services offered, LegalZoom and NRAI are very similar. They both offer registered agent services annual report compliance services and can assist you with important documents such as the articles of organization and certificates of good standing. But when you look at pricing, it's immediately apparent how different they are. LegalZoom offers three easy-to-understand packages, whereas NRAI's pricing is challenging to find and seemingly, only includes one package. LegalZoom isn't a replacement for an attorney, but they can provide a level of legal advice and help you remain compliant legally.

Key Similarities

  • You can get registered agent services and other incorporation services for business entities with either company

Key Differences

  • LegalZoom offers more packages

LegalZoom Packages & Pricing

LegalZoom has three separate packages for you to select from: You could choose a basic package that only covers business registration or a more comprehensive package with rush services. If you want registered agent services, you'll need to pay an extra annual fee.

Economy Package - $79

You'll receive guides to assist you and document reviews, including a personal assessment of your documentation with this package.

You'll be able to create a financial account authorization letter, which lets you open bank accounts for your business.

Standard Package - $329

With the standard package, you get everything in the economy package plus an organizer, a company member certificate, and the VIP processing times.

Express Gold Package - $349

In this package, you'll get everything from the above two packages and rush processing with the state and express shipping, too. It'll take less time to process anything you file with this package.

National Registered Agents, Inc Packages & Pricing

Finding pricing for NRAI was complex. You can quickly go online to settle your invoice, but you're pushed to contact a specialist directly for pricing. It took a lot of digging to access a $405 quote for services for the first year. Perhaps the obscurity is caused by the high pricing. There doesn't seem to be a cheaper option or a way to customize features. You also have to pay an additional state fee of $319 if you want to register your company in multiple states. That's in addition to other extra costs, including the statutory filing fees.

Document Management & Online Experience

LegalZoom's online business management interface is easy enough to use. Still, it focuses primarily on upselling, which leads to the impression that they care more about money than providing quality customer service.

With NRAI, you receive your essential documents instantly via their private network. You can even use their First Serve image processing to have them delivered electronically for your own reviewing.

You have secure access to all of your data, including custom reports and tools, service process history, and corporate info in one easy-to-use portal.

Key Similarities

  • You can do everything you need online

Key Differences

  • NRAI has a faster document management and upload system
  • LegalZoom is more focused on upselling than customer support

Processing Time

With LegalZoom, your processing time will be between 10 and 30 business days, depending on if you have expedited processing or not. You can pay extra for this with each application, but if this is likely to be a selling point for you, you're better off just purchasing a more expensive package in the first place.

With National Registered Agents, it varies on a state-by-state basis. However, documents submitted online can usually be processed in as little as two working days.

Key Similarities

  • Both offer excellent processing times

Key Differences

  • NRAI offers a more comprehensive online document system, which expedites things considerably
  • LegalZoom offers expedited packages, whereas NRAI only offers one package

Compliance & Track Record

NRAI is registered with the Better Business Bureau and has no unresolved complaints. With legal documents that work for their intended purposes and many compliance services, both NRAI and LegalZoom have good reputations. LegalZoom has more feedback available than NRAI. You can get compliance notifications and annual report reminders from both providers.

Key Similarities

  • Compliance alerts
  • Good reputations

Key Differences

  • LegalZoom has more feedback

Customer Service

When you're choosing a business formation service, customer support is one area that's often overlooked. But it's a vital component of ensuring good service. According to customer feedback, you can call and email LegalZoom during business hours, but getting an answer can be challenging. NRAI, on the other hand, offers responsive customer service, but even the most excellent customer reviews don't make it easier to justify the drastically different price point.

Key Similarities

  • You can call or email both for customer support

Key Differences

  • LegalZoom offers low prices
  • LegalZoom's customer service is a bit patchy

Structure Breakdown

Now that you've seen an in-depth view of what each company offers, let's break it down further. The exact nature of your business needs and structure will change whether one or the other is better for you.

LLCs: Choose LegalZoom

Small business owners most often start an LLC, and LegalZoom offers excellent LLC formation packages. LegalZoom's majority customer base subscribes to their LLC services. National Registered Agents can also help you with this, but it's difficult to justify their high price point.

Corporations: Choose LegalZoom

LegalZoom can help you set up your new business, even if it's an S-corp or C-corp. LegalZoom may be predominantly experienced in setting up limited liability companies, but they're still able to help in this area, too. Again, NRAI could assist you, but their drastically higher prices make it hard to justify using their services.

Partnerships: Choose LegalZoom

While NRAI can help you set up a DBA partnership and define a partnership agreement, LegalZoom can too. LegalZoom charges about 25% of what NRAI does for the same service, so despite their customer support needing work, it's clear that LegalZoom offers better value.

Non-Profits: Choose LegalZoom

For the same reasons as listed above, LegalZoom is ideal for your non-profit. They have a high success rate for non-profit approval and can help you get the special tax exemption status that non-profits are eligible for. It's not clear that NRAI helps non-profits, but their higher price point makes them bad value for money even if they do.

The Last Word

NRAI has a decent reputation and is a branch of one of the biggest global compliance entities. They were established in 1995 and have a wealth of experience, but this experience comes at a premium with their services costing 3-4x that of LegalZoom's, with no apparent additional benefit. Despite their less than perfect customer service, LegalZoom does offer far better value for money.

Filed under: Head-to-Head

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