In this review, we will cut to the chase and go over what you really need to know about Active Filings, including:
- The true pricing of Active Filings’ LLC formation services
- Expected formation turnaround time
- Active Filings’ reliability, customer reviews, support offerings, and much more
Plus, we’ll provide clear explanations of the many other relevant, formation-related services that Active Filings offers.
Below is a quick summary of our findings. Further down, you’ll find our more comprehensive review, which details our conclusions and also explains everything you need to know about Active Filings.
Is Active Filings the Right Choice for You?
Help & Support:
Ease of Use:
Scoring Weights: Pricing (2x), Turnaround Time (2x) and Customer Satisfaction (1.5x) have been given additional weights in our scoring.
Active Filings stands out with its excellent value Starter formation package. Only a few formation companies offer free LLC formations and incorporations. Even fewer offer packages where formation, registered agent service, and Operating Agreement drafting are all included.
Like many of its competitors, though, Active Filings also offers premium packages at inflated prices. There are plenty of add-on services that most filers will want to avoid.
Active Filings’ English-version website is also somewhat confusing. It’s harder to navigate than many competitors’ websites, and it takes a while to figure out which services the company actually offers, and at what price. Active FIlings’ Spanish-version website is laid out a bit more clearly.
You can visit ActiveFilings.com yourself, or, to learn more about the factors we used to rate Active Filings’ service, read on!
Active Fillings Quick Overview
Active Filings is an LLC Formation company based out of Dania Beach, Florida. In business since 2001, Active Filings is nevertheless a very small player in the industry. The company website states they only have four employees.
Active Filings was founded by Roberto Neuberger, an Argentinian immigrant who moved to the U.S. in 2000 and immediately found the business formation process to be cumbersome and confusing. He and an entrepreneurial partner worked to create a business that could help others through the process.
Based on their roots, it may not come as a surprise that Active Filings has lots of extra resources for Spanish speakers. They have a Spanish version of their website, and they claim to be: “the only US Incorporation Service with dedicated Spanish speaking staff.”
Active Filings’ offers several services related to starting and running a business. Among its core services are:
- An LLC formation and incorporation service
- An annual registered agent service
- Compliance services, including the filing of annual reports
- Services for international filers, such as apostille certifications
Active Filings can help you with your LLC formation by handling the technicalities of your business entity creation. However, they are not a law or accounting firm and cannot provide legal or tax advice.
If you need legal or tax advice regarding your LLC formation or incorporation, or if your business formation is particularly complex, you should consult with a licensed professional instead.
Active Fillings Pricing
Active Filings has three packages for domestic LLC formations and incorporations: the Starter, the Sprinter, and the Finisher. Below, we’ve listed some core business formation services and whether or not they’re included in each package (or whether they can be added on for a fixed fee).
Note that package prices do not include state fees, which can vary considerably.
|Service||Starter – $0||Sprinter – $100||Finisher – $250|
|LLC Formation or Incorporation||Included||Included||Included|
|Registered Agent Service||Free for one year, then $99/yr||Free for one year, then $99/yr||Free for one year, then $99/yr|
|EIN Filing||Not included||Included||Included|
*On Active Filings’ formation packages page, no packages mention including an Operating Agreement. However, the website’s Operating Agreement page states that: “When you hire Active Filings, we include an operating agreement in our LLC formation packages.”
There is no similar mention on Active Filings’ corporate bylaws page, so we assume that they do not provide that service.
Active Filings’ Domestic Packages
Below, we go into Active Filings’ service packages in more detail, briefly outlining each service offered.
Active Filings’ Starter Package: $0 + State fees
Though it is Active Filings’ most bare-bones package, the Starter actually includes what we consider to be the three core formation services for LLCs: Articles of Organization or Incorporation, Registered Agent service, and an Operating Agreement.
Given its great add-ons and unbeatable price point, we recommend Active Filings’ Starter package.
Here’s what’s included:
Articles of Organization or Incorporation: The founding documents for your LLC or corporation. These are filed with your state’s Secretary of State to make your new business official. Articles of Organization usually only require basic info, like your business’ name, location, and names of owner(s) or member(s).
Operating Agreement: This essential document outlines how your business will be run, who its owners or members are, and how profits will be distributed. While not legally required in most states, we highly recommend drafting an Operating Agreement and keeping it on hand.
Registered agent service: Registered agents act as points of contact for official correspondence. They are a legal necessity for any LLC or Corporation. Though you can technically be your own registered agent, there are many good reasons to hire an outside company’s registered agent services.
Annual Report compliance: Most states require businesses to file some form of annual report. While these are normally simple, they are often forgotten about. Active Filings will send deadline reminders and file your annual report for you if you want.
Corporate document templates: Gain access to basic legal document templates. There are plenty of other places to find free templates online, but it’s still a nice add-on.
Active Filings’ Sprinter Package: $100 + State fees
Though it is reasonably priced, Active Filings’ Sprinter package doesn’t add many useful services.
Unless the couple privacy-related add-ons are of great importance to you, we don’t recommend going with the Sprinter package.
The Sprinter includes everything that comes with the Starter package, plus:
Physical business address: Active Filings will use their own office’s address on your formation documents. This can help protect your privacy and prevent you from receiving tons of spam mail that are often sent to new businesses.
Privacy protection: Active Filings will use their registered agent providers’ address, in place of members’, owners’, or officers’ addresses, on formation documents and operating agreements.
EIN Filing: EINs (Employer Identification Numbers) are a must for most businesses. You’ll need one if you hire employees or open a business bank account. That said, filing for an EIN can be done for free, and in minutes, on the IRS’s website.
Expedited Filing: Your formation will be sent to state authorities on the same business day you file it. You’ll also receive expedited return services, meaning once your documents are approved by the state, you’ll get them from Active Filings ASAP.
Active Filings’ Finisher Package: $250 + State fees
Active Filings’ Finisher package represents a $150 price bump from its Sprinter package, but the only extra features are a corporate seal or book. We don’t think these items are necessary though. While nice touches, neither of these are legally required for any LLC or corporation.
For that reason, we do not recommend the Finisher package to anyone.
The Finisher package includes everything that comes with the Sprinter package, plus:
Corporate seal and book: An official book and seal customized for your LLC or corporation.
Active Filings’ International Packages
Active Filings also has a couple of packages aimed at international filers. They include some services that are useful for those who want to start an LLC or corporation in the U.S. but are not based there.
Active Filings only allows you to choose from three states to form in: Wyoming, Florida, and Delaware. Most non-U.S.-based founders choose Delaware, due to its friendlier corporate laws and tax code.
Active Filings’ International Silver Package: $999 + state fees
Active Filings’ Silver plan includes several of the core services offered with the domestic packages: LLC formation or incorporation, Registered Agent service, EIN filing, and annual report compliance.
It also includes:
US Mail Forwarding: You’ll receive a physical U.S. mailing address. Mail sent there will be scanned and uploaded to an online folder, where you’ll have easy access.
All of the services provided with Active Filings’ Silver plan are very useful. At just under one thousand dollars (without state fees), though, the price tag is way too high. Other firms also cater to international customers, and at much lower price points.
For this reason, we do not recommend using Active Filings’ International Silver package.
Active Filings’ International Gold Package: $1499 + state fees
Active Filings’ International Gold package comes with a few more add-ons that some international filers will find necessary. As with the silver package, though, these add-ons simply don’t justify the enormous price tag.
For that reason, we do not recommend using Active Filings’ International Gold package.
The Gold package comes with everything that’s included in the Silver package, plus:
Apostille: Apostille certification is used to authenticate official documents produced in one country so that they are recognized by the governments in other countries. Some foreign state or national governments will require you to have certain apostille-certified documents, in order to prove your U.S. business is legitimate.
Certificate of Incumbency: A certificate of incumbency lists information about a company’s owner(s), member(s), officer(s), and sometimes shareholder(s). You’ll usually need this document if you are based in another country but want to start a business bank account here.
Expedited Service: As with the expedited service offered on the Sprinter and Finisher packages, your documents will go out to the relevant authorities on the same day you file them. You’ll receive them back from state authorities quicker, too.
Active Filings vs Competitors Pricing
Below is a basic chart comparing Active Filings’ package pricing to some of its larger competitors. You’ll find the definitions for “Basic Formation,” “Full Formation,”, and “Full Formation + Website” just below the chart.
|Service||Basic Formation||Full Formation||Full Formation + Website|
|Northwest Registered Agents||$225||$225||–|
Basic Formation: Covers the essential business entity creation. Includes – at minimum – filing of Articles of Organization and the drafting of an Operating Agreement for an LLC or corporate bylaws for a corporation.
Full Formation: Additionally includes – at minimum – a registered agent service, which most owners will find essential.
Full Formation + Website: In addition to full formation services, includes a website, domain, security certificate, and other services necessary to securing your company’s online presence
*A few things are important to note about this $0 full formation price point:
First, the included registered agent service is just free for the first year. After that, it will be $99 per year.
Second, this price point assumes that Active Filings’ Operating Agreement page is accurate and that Operating Agreements are indeed included with all packages, even though the company’s package page doesn’t mention them.
Third, the $0 price point assumes going with the Standard package without expedited processing. To have your application processed within a reasonable timeframe (a day or two, instead of two weeks), you’d have to purchase expedited filing for $50.
Which package is the best value for the money?
With a free year of registered agent service, Operating Agreement drafting, and Articles of Organization or Incorporation all included, Active Filings’ Starter package is definitely the winner on value. While it lacks slightly in turnaround time, expedited filing can be added as a one-off service for $50.
That means, for just $50 total, you get the three services we consider essential to a “full” formation, and you’ll get your documents approved and sent back to you very quickly.
The annual compliance monitoring and filing is a big added bonus, too.
Active Filings’ higher-tiered packages are full of unnecessary add-ons and upsells. Unfortunately, this is common practice within the industry.
You can file for your EIN for free. Corporate books and seals, beyond being unnecessary, should not cost $150. And the privacy protections offered will likely only appeal to a small subset of new business owners.
Active Filings’ International Packages, meanwhile, are some of the highest-priced we’ve seen anywhere. The services they include are no doubt helpful – even essential, for some. But there’s no reason at all you should be paying over $1000 for them.
As is the unfortunate case with many other formation companies, Active Filings’ cancellation and refund policies are tricky to find. The website has a “100% satisfaction guarantee” ribbon on many of its pages, but it’s unclear as to how that translates into any sort of actual policy.
To get to some actual substance, you’ll have to go to Active Filings’ Terms of Service page. There, buried under a lot of legalese, you’ll find some helpful info.
For auto-pay services, for instance, Active Filings states:
All Auto-Payments services must be canceled at least 3 days before the next charge date to avoid paying for the next month of subscription service, or year of annual service. All cancellations are handled through the user’s online account for security purposes.
Pretty straightforward – cancel at least three days before renewal to avoid getting charged for the next time period.
On the refund side of things, Registered Agent services have to be canceled within 90 days of their start date if you want to receive your money back. If Active Filings (or its third-party provider) was actually used or listed as your registered agent during that time, you can’t receive a refund.
For other ongoing services, refunds are given on a prorated basis. Most companies don’t do this, making you eat the cost instead. So this is a nice, albeit small, plus.
That policy does not apply to call or mail forwarding, though, which must be canceled within 7 days of their state date if you want a refund.
Unfortunately, there’s no info to be found here on refunds for fixed-fee services.
If you have questions and would like to contact Active Filings, you can do so via the following methods. Their customer service is available Monday through Friday, between 9 am and 5 pm EST.
Active Filings Pros
Below we outline some of Active Filings’ biggest strengths.
Great basic formation price
Active Filings is one of only a handful of companies (such as Incfile or Inc Authority) that offers truly free formations. With their Starter package, you can form an LLC, or incorporate a nonprofit or corporation, for $0 + state fees.
Active Filings’ Starter package also includes a free year of registered agent service. According to Active Filings’ Terms of Service, the registered agent service is performed by a third party. For privacy reasons, that’s not ideal – but still, free is free.
An Operating Agreement for your LLC is also included for free.
Operating Agreement drafting, RA service, and Articles of Organization filing are the three most important services for a startup LLC. Oftentimes, companies will offer one or two of these services for free but make you pay for the other(s). That Active Filings’ provides all three for free is a big plus.
Decent turnaround times
Active Filings’ has two processing-speed tiers: standard and expedited. The company’s standard filing speed is, unfortunately, a bit hazy. On their turnaround time page, they list “normal processing times” for every state. Most of these times are 14 days.
If these times do represent total turnaround times, they’re pretty solid. If they just represent Active Filings’ internal processing time, though, that’s not great.
Active Filings’ expedited processing time is explained much more clearly, though. On their packages page, they promise that expedited orders will be sent to the state on the same business day they are filed.
On their turnaround time page, Active Filings also states:
We use local couriers, overnight deliveries, prepaid accounts, and any and all methods to speed up the initial filing time, but we also use our 17 years of expertise to get the filings back sooner and back to you sooner as well.
So, it seems Active Filings has processes in place to speed things up on both ends.
What few customer reviews are available do appear to back this up. Several mention turnaround times being quick.
This reviewer almost certainly used Active Filings’ expedited processing. Normally, we don’t love it when businesses charge a fee to prioritize your application within their own system. However, the fee here ($50) is fairly reasonable, especially given that several other core services can be purchased for free.
While six-days isn’t lightning-fast, it’s pretty solid compared to the competition. Active Filings may not be the quickest in the business, but they’re certainly above average.
Good resources for Spanish speakers
Founded by an Argentinian immigrant and based just outside of Miami, Florida, it may come as no surprise that Active Filings has some Spanish-speakers on its staff. The company really stands out, though, for its Spanish language resources.
“¿Hablas español? Active Filings en español” buttons can be found on many pages. And not only does the company have several support staff who are fluent in Spanish, but there’s a Spanish version of the entire website.
The Spanish version, in fact, seems to be a bit better organized than the English one. It, for example, puts services that Active Filings provides and services that Active Filings simply offers information on into two separate sections – the English version confusingly lumps them together.
There are plenty of websites out there that provide info, in English, on formations and formation-related services. Long-form, informative articles on the topic written completely in Spanish can be a bit harder to find – and Active Filings has tons of them all in one place.
Active Filings Cons
Though Active Filings offers some solid benefits, the company is not without its weak points. We cover a few of those here.
Small company with limited resources
Though they’ve been around for two decades, Active Filings is still a very small player in the LLC formation marketplace. Many companies in the industry are lean, relying on just a couple dozen employees.
Active Filings, though, is downright tiny. According to their About Us Page, they only have four employees.
While small companies may be able to offer a more personal experience, they come with some downsides.
Because they’re so small, for instance, Active Filings outsources some services, like its Registered Agent service, to third parties. Active Filings’ customer service hours are also limited. They only offer phone support from 9 am – 5 pm EST – no weekend support is available.
That said, reviewers have praised their support:
Very small companies aren’t always able to offer the breadth of formation and legal services, or the depth of expertise, that larger companies do. Active Filings’ primary services list (which can be found further down in the article) is not as long as some of its competitors’.
Finally, smaller companies with fewer customers mean less of a review history to examine. On the few sites where reviews are available, Active Filings actually sports stellar reviews. They have a 5 out of 5 on Facebook and a 5 out of 5 on BBB.
Unfortunately, though, those averages are based on only 21 and 5 reviews, respectively. Competitors have hundreds or thousands of reviews to look at, offering a clearer picture of their histories and track records.
Confusing website with unclear service and price info
Active Filings’ website leaves a lot to be desired. Whereas most competitors have websites that clearly outline the services they provide, and the prices they provide them at, Active Filings’ requires you to do a lot of searching.
Take their “Manage Your Business” section, for instance. There are over a dozen subsections here, each discussing startup-related services, such as Foreign Qualifications, Certificates of Status, and Buy-Sell Agreements.
But a lot of these sections are merely descriptions. There’s no mention of Active Filings actually providing the service, and there’s no click-through to buy anything. You have to read through each section to figure out which services the company does and does not offer.
On the company’s packages page, each package has a checklist, showing what is and is not included at each tier. But some services that are mentioned on other parts of the website as being included in all packages are not shown here at all.
Operating Agreements, for instance, are claimed to be included with all packages. But the checklists on the package page don’t mention them.
Normally, companies try to make their packages sound as impressive as possible. They add on features that should be taken for granted by everyone (e.g., “lifetime customer support”). That a service as important as an Operating Agreement isn’t shown here is quite strange.
Nowhere does Active Filings offer a comprehensive list of its add-on service costs, either.
People looking to use a formation service are usually trying to save time. A confusing website, that requires you to dig around to figure out what services a company does or does not offer, and at what price, won’t save you time, it’ll cost you time.
Upselling on premium packages
While Active Filings’ Starter package offers great value, its other packages do not. Its Sprinter package, at $100, is not terribly expensive. But it adds very little of note to the Starter package.
EIN filing can be done for free, privacy protection should be taken as a granted feature with all packages, and the expedited service can be purchased for just $50 as a standalone service.
The Finisher package tacks on an additional $150 to the Sprinters’ price, for a total of $250, yet all it adds are a corporate book and seal. Few business owners need either. Even fewer should want to pay $150 for them.
And although Active Filings’ International packages won’t apply to as many new business owners, we can’t not mention how ridiculous their prices are. When state fees are factored in, you could find yourself paying well over a grand for either. We’ve seen few packages – international or domestic – that are anywhere near this expensive.
International filers will probably want to deal with a larger company, with more resources, anyway.
Active Filings Services
Below, we’ll review some of Active Filings’ key service offerings. We’ll discuss when and why certain services may be useful, Active Filings’ prices, and whether services are included in formation packages.
LLC Formation or Incorporation
$0 – $250, depending on package + state fees
Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs) are one of the most popular business structures in the United States. They’re more flexible, and have fewer compliance requirements, than standard corporations. They can confer serious tax benefits, especially for small business owners.
Perhaps most importantly, though, LLCs offer liability protection. That means owners’ or members’ personal assets are protected, even if their business is sued or goes under.
LLCs are formed at the state level, usually by filing Articles of Organization (or a similarly-named document) with a given state’s Secretary of State office.
Rules and requirements relating to forming your LLC vary from state to state. And though individuals can and do file for LLC formations themselves, many new business owners opt to use an LLC formation service. Using a formation service can save you quite a bit of time, plus it’s nice to have experts at hand who you can ask questions to.
Active Filings offers quick and easy online LLC formations. All you do is enter some key information about your business (name, address, industry, etc.), and they’ll take care of the rest.
Active Filings will also run a name availability check, to make sure your business’ name isn’t already taken. Most state websites offer a business name check feature for free – even if a company like Active Filings does this for you, we also recommend doing it yourself.
All of Active Filings’ package prices do not include state fees, which range from $40 all the way to $500, depending on the state. Active Filings will take the fee payment from you at checkout and forward it to the relevant state authority.
Active Filings also offers incorporations – essentially, the standard corporation equivalent of forming a limited liability company. Corporations (usually C-corps, considered the “default” corporation type) are a bit more cumbersome but may offer some tax or structural advantages, depending on your business and industry.
Business incorporations with Active Filings are part of the same main three packages and cost the same amount as an LLC formation.
We recommend talking to a good accountant or small business expert to decide if an LLC or a C-corp is a better option for you.
$0 – $250, depending on package + state fees
There are several good reasons that an organization might want to officially incorporate as a nonprofit.
Incorporating as a nonprofit can enhance image and standing. If you’ve got a charitable organization that’s expanding, the official “nonprofit” designation provides instant credibility to those who may not have heard of you yet.
Nonprofits are also eligible for 501(c)(3) status. 501(c)(3) nonprofits usually don’t have to pay any federal income taxes, and donations to them are tax-deductible. Plus, 501(c)(3) status nonprofits are often eligible for all sorts of grants that aren’t available to other organizations.
Like LLCs and corporations, nonprofits also benefit from strong liability protections.
If you’re looking to incorporate a nonprofit, Active Filings offers this service as part of all their formation packages.
Active Filings offers plenty of great info on nonprofits and 501(c)(3) filing on their nonprofit page. However, while they give out advice, they do not appear to provide 501(c)(3) filing themselves. Like many other places on their website, their exact service offerings are, unfortunately, unclear here.
Operating Agreement Drafting
Included with all formation packages*
An Operating Agreement is a simple but essential document for new LLCs. It outlines the basics of how your LLC will be run, including information such as:
- Who an LLC’s owner(s) or member(s) are, and how ownership is divided between them
- How and by whom the LLC will be managed
- How profits will be distributed
- What to do in the event that an owner or member leaves or passes away
- …plus other key pieces of info
Technically, Operating Agreements are only required in a handful of states: California, Delaware, Maine, Missouri, or New York. And, even in these states, you don’t have to actually file your Operating Agreement, you just have to keep it on hand.
However, we recommend that all LLCs, regardless of their home state, take the time to draft an Operating Agreement.
Operating Agreements establish the liability protections of your LLC.
Operating Agreements can also be helpful during unexpected events. Most LLC owners don’t go into business thinking about what they’ll do if a partner quits, for example – the Operating Agreement provides a go-to resource to figure out what steps should be taken.
One key caveat regarding Active Filings’ Operating Agreement offerings. Although they offer both LLC formations and incorporations, Active Filings does not appear to offer corporate bylaws drafting. Corporate bylaws are the corporation equivalent of an Operating Agreement.
On their website, Active Filings has a page dedicated to corporate bylaws. There’s some great info there, but what is missing is any mention that the company offers corporate bylaw drafting as a service themselves. This is in contrast to what’s on their Operating Agreement page, where they explicitly state that Operating Agreements are included with all formation packages.
Included with Sprinter and Finisher Packages
Employer Identification Numbers (EINs) are assigned to businesses by the IRS for tracking and tax purposes. Each LLC or corporation has a unique EIN – you can sort of think of them as a business’ Social Security Number.
Some states legally require all LLCs to have EINs. And even if your business is based in a state that doesn’t require them, you’ll almost certainly want to get an EIN. EIN’s are legally required everywhere for businesses that hire employees or want to start a business bank account.
Fortunately, the process of applying for an EIN couldn’t be simpler. You can head right to the IRS’s EIN webpage, enter your business info, and have an EIN assigned to you in minutes. And it’s all free.
And because filing for an EIN is both free and painless, we never recommend paying for a formation service to do it for you. With Active Filings, EIN filing is included in their Sprinter and Finisher packages.
Since EIN filing adds almost no value, we recommend that you ignore it – don’t even consider it an add-on – when you’re considering Active Filings’ packages and prices.
Registered Agent Service
Free for first year, $99 per year after
A Registered Agent is an official title describing a pretty straightforward service provider. Registered Agents are simply those who accept official correspondence and “service of process” (legal notices, such as lawsuits) on behalf of your business.
Registered agents are required to be available, during business hours, year-round. They also must be a legal resident of the state where your business is based. Registered agents are both legally required, and practically necessary, for all LLCs and corporations.
Missing or having a delayed response to a court summons or demand from the state or federal government can have huge consequences. Plus, not properly assigning a registered agent can lead to fees, penalties, and your business losing its good standing with the state.
Technically, you are allowed to act as your business’s own. However, we recommend against this, for several reasons. Acting as your own registered agent can be a big burden on your schedule. Plus, since registered agent’s names are publicly available, there are privacy issues too.
We suggest using a Registered Agent service if:
- You travel frequently and are not always at a single address
- You are not a resident of the United States
- Your business operates in multiple states
- You don’t want your name and address to be publicly available
Most LLC service companies offer a registered agent service, and Active Filings is no different here. They offer a free year of registered agent service with all of their formation packages. The cost after the first year is $99 per year.
Like most small formation companies, Active Filings offers their service through a third-party provider.
Active Filings doesn’t say which third-party provider(s) they use. Looking at their terms of service, we see that Active Filings simply states:
We may work with third-party providers to provide some of the registered agent services. You acknowledge and agree that these service providers may assist us in providing you with registered agent services.
Active Filings can provide info on your specific registered agent service provider upon request. Still, we don’t love it when third-party services are so scant on details.
$100 Per State + $99 for one year of registered agent service per state (required)
A Foreign Qualification has to do not with international business, but with interstate business. If your LLC or corporation expands and you want to start doing business in a state, or states, beyond the one you’re based in, you’ll have to go through a Foreign Qualification.
Technically, a Foreign Qualification is the process by which you apply for a Certificate of Authority. That is the document, assigned by a state other than the one you formed in, that allows you to legally do business there.
Foreign Qualifications and Certificates of Authority are sometimes listed as interchangeable services on formation websites, which can be a bit confusing. All you need to know is that they’re both part of the same process.
Active Filings offers Foreign Qualification services. They charge $100 per state you’re filing with, plus they require you to use at least one year of their registered agent service, at the cost of $99.
Registered agents are required for every state you do business in. We don’t love, though, that Active Filings forces you to use a year of their (or, more accurately, their third-party’s) registered agent service. Most providers let you purchase a Foreign Qualification as a one-off service.
Included with all formation packages
Most states require you to submit some form of annual report on your business. Report deadlines may be fixed or they may be based on the date of your business’ founding (e.g., if you formed your LLC in May of 2021, your first annual report would be due in May of 2022). A few states only require a report every two years.
These reports aren’t usually very in-depth – they’re just meant to give the state a snapshot of the businesses practicing within their borders.
While they may seem like a minor inconvenience, though, annual reports should not be overlooked. Not filing yours on time could lead to fees or your business losing its good standing with the state.
Active Filings offers help through its annual report compliance service. They will “complete and file your annual report”, requiring you only to pay the associated state fees (these are usually minor – almost always less than $100).
Active Filings will also send you notifications of upcoming filing dates.
Based on the language of their packages page, this service appears to be included, in perpetuity, with all packages. There is only a mention of charging you the state fee, and there’s nothing said about any recurring fee that they charge.
It is also unclear, though, whether Active Filings provides this service itself or outsources it to a third party (remember, Active Filings say they only have four employees!).
If the service is indeed free and recurring, that’s great – we definitely recommend any service that helps you keep on top of your annual report requirements.
Included with Silver or Gold International Packages
Active Filings has a couple of packages aimed at services international clients (i.e., clients not based in the U.S. who would still like to form LLCs or corporations there). There are three notable services offered in these packages. The first of these, unlimited mail forwarding, comes with both packages. Apostille and Certificate of Incumbency filing are only included with the Gold package.
Unlimited mail forwarding: A straightforward service that some international clients may find useful. You’ll be assigned a physical U.S. address. Mail sent there will be scanned and uploaded to your online account.
Apostille: Apostille certifications allow official documents produced in one country to be recognized by the documents of other countries. Having a document “Apostille” certified is a way of letting other countries know that that document is authentic.
Apostille certifications are recognized by members of the Hague Convention Treaty of 1961 – those include most countries in North and South America and in Europe, as well as India and Australia.
If you’re starting a forming an LLC in the U.S. but you’re not a citizen or you’re based in another country, your own state or country’s government may require you to have certain documents Apostille certified (i.e., they want to know that the business you’re owning or running is legitimate).
As part of their international Gold package, Active Filings will help you attain Apostille certification on whatever documents are necessary to satisfy your local government’s requirements.
You can learn more about Apostilles on the U.S. State Department's website, here.
Certificate of Incumbency: A certificate of incumbency is an official document that lists the directors, officers, and (sometimes) shareholders of an LLC or corporation.
The purpose of a certificate of incumbency is to verify the identities of individuals who may be entering agreements on the LLC or corporation’s behalf. These documents are often requested by banks when companies open business bank accounts.
While all three of these services are useful, we don’t recommend using Active Filings for any of them. As we explain in more detail in our “Pricing” section, these add-ons do not get even close to justifying the massive price tags of Active Filings’ international packages.
Do we recommend Active Filings?
We have no qualms about recommending Active Filings’ best value package, its Starter package. At an unbeatable price of $0 plus state fees, you’ll get your LLC or corporation filed with the state, you’ll have a year of legally-necessary registered agent service, and you’ll have an Operating Agreement on hand, which is also crucial.
We don’t recommend going with any of the paid add-on options for this package, besides, maybe, the expedited processing option. While we don’t love having to pay for internal prioritization, a $50 fee is a reasonable price for a quick turnaround plus all the above-mentioned features.
When it comes to Active FIlings’ reviews, we don’t have as much to go off as we usually like. The company has a few dozen available personal reviews across rating websites, rather than the several hundred or thousands we can look through for bigger companies. Still, the ratings that are there are great.
Active Filings’ customers appear to be very satisfied with their customer service and turnaround times, despite the company being very small. There is, particularly, a lot of help and resources available to Spanish speakers.
We were less impressed with Active Filings website. Pricing info was hard to find for certain add-on services, and you had to dig through a lot of pages to figure out what services the company provided and which ones it just had information on.
Prices on the Sprinter and Finisher packages were too high, considering the low added value of the services they included. And both International packages offered by Active Filings were pretty outrageously priced.
Still – if you’re just looking for a basic formation, and if you’re fine working with a smaller-resourced company, Active Filings may be a good choice.
Active Filings FAQs
What does Active Filings do?
Active filings does LLC formations and incorporations. They also provide several key services related to formations, such as annual report filing and Operating Agreement drafting.
How much does it cost to form an LLC with Active Filings?
If you go with their Starter package, LLC formation and incorporation are free. Domestic packages with additional services are also available at $100 and $250 price points, with international packages available for $999 and $1499.
Is Active Filings really free?
Yes. If you form through their Starter package, your formation will be free, not including state fees. After the first free year, you will have to pay $99 per year for your included registered agent service, unless you cancel it.
Is Active Filings legit?
Active Filings has been in business since 2001. They have great reviews across several sites, although their review volume is very low. They are not BBB accredited, though they do have an A- BBB rating.
Is Active Filings good for LLC formation?
Active Filings is a good option for low-cost formations. Their Starter package includes more essential services than most other companies’ low-tier packages.
Who should purchase Active Filings’ Finisher package?
Because of its high cost and low add-on value, we do not recommend Active Filings’ Finisher package.
Who is Active Filings best for?
Active Filings is best for those who are seeking a simple formation at a good price. With lots of Spanish language resources, they may also be a good option for Spanish speakers.
What are the benefits of using Active Filings?
Active Filings has one of the better basic formation packages in the industry. Although they are very small, they’ve also earned high marks from reviewers on their customer service and turnaround times.
How does Active Filings compare to other formation services?
Active Filings has a very competitive Starter package. Being a very small company, though, it does not have the breadth or depth of resources that some of its larger competitors have. Its English-version website is also somewhat difficult to navigate.
How is Active Filings rated?
What states does Active Filings serve?
Active Filings serves all 50 states. They also have international packages catered towards non-residents who would like to found an LLC or incorporation in the U.S.
How do I cancel my Active Filings service?
You can cancel some services through your online account. You can also call Active Filings at 1-800-609-2521. Active Filings’ terms of service outline how far ahead of time you need to cancel a service before you are charged for the next term.
Does Active Filings have a refund policy?
Active Filings offers refunds on its RA service, provided you cancel within 90 days. It also offers prorated refunds on some of its other recurring services. Details can be found here.
Where is Active Filings located?
Active Filings’ office is located at 381 E Sheridan St, Dania Beach, FL 33004
Who owns Active Filings?
Active Filings is a small, independent company.