Navigating the complex legal waters of creating a business can be tricky and time-consuming. If you make a mistake, you could be on the hook for fines and taxes that you shouldn’t need to pay for.
To save time and money, entrepreneurs often rely on services that file all the necessary paperwork on their behalf. However, there are so many of these types of businesses around, it can be hard to figure out which one is the best fit for you and your startup.
Below, we’ll compare two of the most popular business filing companies: Northwest Registered Agent and LegalZoom.
Northwest Registered Agent vs. LegalZoom: The Verdict
Although more expensive than the basic packages offered by LegalZoom, Northwest Registered Agent handles your filings, mail, and documents more efficiently, providing a more thorough service. They also have much better customer service and don’t try to upsell you on additional services at every turn.
However, you may not need everything that Northwest Registered Agent offers in its service package, and might not be able to afford the $225 fee. In that case, LegalZoom may fulfill your needs with their no-frills Economy and Standard service packages. Be prepared, though, to be constantly upsold on different services that you may not need or want.
In summary, Northwest Registered Agent provides a better and more comprehensive service package for a more expensive price tag. Worthwhile to note, though, is that they do not provide Sole Proprietorship services, so if you need this type of package then you should use LegalZoom.
Choose Northwest Registered Agent If:
- You value customer service
- You want upfront pricing
- You want a faster communication and turnaround time
Choose LegalZoom If:
- You want a more established entity formation service
- You want a cheaper basic filing (but prepare to be upsold)
- You need legal advice
Services Offered & Pricing
LegalZoom and Northwest Registered Agent both offer services packages to choose from. Here, we’ll go through each package, what they include, and how much they cost.
- Both can help you form your business whether you are an LLC or corporation
- Both offer registered agent services
- Both offer a la carte options for additional services
- Northwest Registered Agent only offers one package
- LegalZoom will try and upsell you on additional services
Northwest Registered Agent Packages & Pricing
A La Carte Services - $225 upfront, variable per year
Unlike many of its competitors, Northwest Registered Agent only offers one service package at a fixed price of $225 with additional add-ons available. For the initial price tag, Northwest Registered Agent will incorporate your business and act as your registered agent for one year. After the initial time is up, you can reenlist their services for an annual cost of $125.
Although Northwest Registered Agent’s legal filings are more expensive than many of its competitors, including LegalZoom, the quality of their services is top-notch. Also, the yearly maintenance fee is lower than other competitors.
Once you’ve enlisted their services, it becomes apparent very quickly how streamlined Northwest Registered Agent’s processes are. Sharing your business details with them is easy and they get started on the necessary paperwork almost immediately. They file all of the legal forms on your behalf and register the entity with the relevant authorities.
Since they’re your acting agent, mail (and junk mail) goes straight to their office. They scan and send you all the important stuff, saving you the headache of wading through the useless junk.
Northwest Registered Agent handles all the other essential documents, like the corporate bylaws, initial resolutions, and stock certificates. After the first year, they can file your annual report to the state for $100 and the state’s filing fee. They can also help you maintain compliance as per the state standards for your industry.
LegalZoom Packages & Pricing
Economy Package - $79
With their most basic $79 package, LegalZoom will file your state business registration. However, the package price does not include the filing fees, which will come out of pocket. Also, you will receive guides to help you with document reviews and information on which steps to take, in addition to an individual assessment of your documents.
Rounding off this package is the standard access to customer support along with access to Articles of Organization and a financial account authorization letter. These allow a person to open and maintain bank accounts on behalf of the company.
Standard Package - $329
At a cost of $329, the Standard Package comes with everything included in the Economy Package, a custom embossed organizer, membership certificates with your company seal for ownership records, and VIP customer service processing.
Express Gold Package - $349
For $349, the Express Gold Package gives you access to everything in the previous two packages along with rush application processing with the state and express shipping rates.
With this package, making your filings and maintaining compliance throughout the year will be much faster. Express shipping can also make or break your business, sending and giving you access to important files much faster than usual.
Other Services - A La Carte Pricing
LegalZoom also provides several services separate from the packages they offer. Things like an operating agreement preparation ($99) can be purchased separately whenever you’d like. Take time to look over the a la carte services carefully as they can easily add up to a substantial sum once you start adding services.
Document Management & Online Experience
- Websites are easy to navigate
- Easy to access personal information
- Protect your information from third parties
- LegalZoom consistently upsells
- Northwest Registered Agent receives and forwards all of your mail
- LegalZoom has extra fees hidden in the fine print
Both LegalZoom and Northwest Registered Agent have websites that are easy to navigate and fairly speedy access to your personal documents and information. However, LegalZoom will consistently try to upsell you on additional services as you search their website. This can muck up the online experience and become quite annoying to deal with when all you want is to take a look at a document.
Also, LegalZoom will not act as your business address, meaning they won’t receive your mail. Northwest Registered Agent will, and they will also scan and forward you all important mail and notices that they receive.
- Processing time based on state standards
- Service for all 50 states
- Easy to send documents and start the process
- LegalZoom offers expedited processing with more expensive packages
- Northwest Registered Agent allows you to pay for states’ expedited processing rates
- Northwest Registered Agent has a faster turnaround time than basic LegalZoom packages
Since Northwest Registered Agent only offers one service package, their processing time is as per the state standard. Many states offer expedited processing, which you can pay for through Northwest Registered Agent.
On the other hand, LegalZoom offers services packages that include expedited processing time in the price, so you don’t have to pay again to receive a rush processing. However, the turnaround times on their standard packages are not as quick as Northwest Registered Agent.
Compliance & Track Record
- Generally positive reviews
- Compliant in most cases
- Can’t be held to the same standard as a lawyer
- Northwest Registered Agent has better customer reviews
- Northwest Registered Agent does more thorough research into compliance
- Northwest Registered Agent communicates faster
Both Northwest Registered Agent and LegalZoom do their absolute best to remain compliant with regulations in all 50 states. They both have a decent track record of maintaining their compliance and filing all documents correctly.
However, LegalZoom was created a few years after Northwest Registered Agent. As such, Northwest Registered Agent has a longer track record as a company and more experience to pull from.
In terms of reviews, LegalZoom has mostly positive reviews but there are some negative customer complaints. In contrast, Northwest Registered Agent only has stellar reviews that rave about the quality of work and regulatory compliance, as well as the customer service and communication.
- Online chat support and phone services available
- Quick to resolve issues
- High-level of professionalism
- Northwest Registered Agent has the best customer service in the industry
- Northwest Registered Agent has 24/7 customer service options
- LegalZoom has long wait times
Customer service is one of the main things that separate Northwest Registered Agent and LegalZoom. While both companies have a good customer service record, Northwest Registered Agent is the clear winner in this category. They have the best customer service practices across the entire industry.
Northwest Registered Agent has 24/7 customer support available while LegalZoom only has certain hours you can reach their support team during the week and weekend. Also, Northwest Registered Agent’s scan-and-send mailing practice is far and above the scanning service that LegalZoom provides.
Lets get into which types of businesses would benefit more from either Northwest Registered Agent or LegalZoom.
An LLC (Limited Liability Corporation) provides owners with the mixed benefits of a corporation and a partnership. Having a registered LLC guards you against personal liability in business dealings while also providing pass-through profit and loss on your personal taxes.
Filing as an LLC is much easier than registering other types of companies. As such, the comprehensive and thorough services that Northwest Registered Agent provides are more than what you may need to register as an LLC. LegalZoom’s Economy and Standard service packages will have no problem helping you file as an LLC.
LegalZoom and Northwest Registered Agent can both help you register your company as an S or C corporation. C corporations are legally considered a separate entity from the owners and shareholders, meaning there is double taxation. An S corporation differs in that there is no double taxation.
Because filing as an S or C corporation is complicated, Northwest Registered Agent is the best fit. Their scan-and-send mail practice and excellent customer service mean you'll do everything you need to file quickly and correctly.
Partnerships involve two or more people owning and operating a business together. You need to have a partnership agreement in place before you register and start running your business. There are various types of partnership agreements that you can file, and picking which one can be complicated.
Northwest Registered Agent is the best company to choose for partnerships. The support team will help you decide which type of partnership agreement is right for you and will handle all the filings on your behalf. LegalZoom will help you file, but won’t help you navigate which type of agreement to choose.
Non-profits are created with the intention of helping people in various circumstances without the intention of turning a profit. There are special tax filings that non-profits must file that other types of businesses do not.
Non-profits are extremely complex to register and operate. As a result, we recommend using Northwest Registered Agent as your filing company. Their excellent customer service will ensure that you are well-informed every step of the way. Also, their team keeps up to date on any changes to regulatory compliance for non-profits more than LegalZoom might.
The Last Word
LegalZoom and Northwest Registered Agents are both good companies to register your business through. If you’re looking for a cheaper option and not in a rush to get your filing done, then LegalZoom might be your best bet. However, the platinum-standard customer service and excellent turnaround times that Northwest Registered Agent provides make it a better, yet more expensive, option.