The 7 Best Incorporation Services of 2021

Starting a business is difficult enough… 

Incorporating takes a lot of work, the bureaucracy is complicated (everybody just expects you to know everything), the back and forth – tedious.

Not something you, as an entrepreneur, want to think about when starting your business, agree?

Online incorporation services have been a blessing for both new and serial entrepreneurs.

Letting experts handle your entire incorporation solves all your worries – immediately.

To find the best, we reviewed the 13 biggest incorporation services on pricing, turnaround times, support options, and other key factors (more on them below).

After reading this article, you will know:

  • Who the top 3 incorporation services are + who is best for you
  • Our lowest-rated incorporation services, and why you should avoid them
  • What you need to look out for when picking an incorporation service

And now on to our top picks!

Our Top Incorporation Service Picks for 2021

Here’s a quick summary of our top three choices – you’ll find more detailed descriptions of these three companies, as well as some of our other top picks, just a bit further down.

ZenBusiness Logo 2021

1. ZenBusiness – Best overall incorporation service
Boasting the best pricing on services, excellent reviews, comprehensive packages, some valuable freebies (like $150 in GoogleAds credit), and quick filing times, ZenBusiness got top marks across the board. We recommend ZenBusiness to everybody looking for quick and affordable incorporation.

Read details…

Northwest Registered Agent Logo 300px

2. Northwest Registered Agent – Fastest incorporation service
Northwest Registered Agent’s dedication to their customers stood out among competitors. They offer a comprehensive suite of services but engage in no unnecessary upselling, they have a same-day turnaround time, and reviewers praise their excellent customer service.

Read details…

Active Filings Logo

3. Active Filings – Best bare-bones incorporation service
Though their website could use a bit of work, Active Filings impressed us with its prices – especially on its basic incorporation package, which is free. They also stood out by providing a ton of resources and articles for Spanish speakers.

Read details…

Now, we’ll dig a little deeper into ZenBusiness, Northwest Registered Agent, Active Filings, and a few more of our top choices. For more detailed info on packages, prices, services offered, and more, be sure to check out our full in-depth reviews of each service.

Think you may file as an LLC, rather than incorporating? Be sure to check out our Best LLC Services article.

1. ZenBusiness - The Best Incorporation Service

ZenBusiness Logo 2021

Pricing: 5/5

Help & Support: 4/5

Turnaround Time: 4/5

Customer Satisfaction: 5/5

Ease of Use: 5/5

Overall: 4.6/5

ZenBusiness Pros

ZenBusiness Cons

Scoring Weights: Pricing (2x), Turnaround Time (2x) and Customer Satisfaction (1.5x) have been given additional weights in our scoring.

ZenBusiness scored highly on all our important metrics. They offer some of the most competitive basic and full incorporation packages in the business, they have excellent reviews, their website is super easy to use, and they have great turnaround times. We recommend ZenBusiness to just about anyone looking to start their own corporation.

Unlike other companies that make sweeping claims but miss the mark, ZenBusiness lives up to their promises. And their great prices and support don’t just extend to their incorporation packages, they also offer very reasonable add-ons, such as contract templates and miscellaneous business filings.

Stand-out features:

Full Incorporation at an unbeatable price

At just $49, ZenBusiness’s Starter Plan offers, by far, the most competitive “full incorporation” package we’ve seen.

That means everything we deem to be essential – Articles of Incorporation, a Registered Agent Service, and Corporate Bylaws (the c-corp equivalent of an Operating Agreement) – is included, and at a price that beats what many companies charge for filing Articles of Incorporation alone.

That $49 price tag accounts for the fact that, for your first year, ZenBusiness offers a free registered agent service. After one year, you’ll have to pay $119 per year.

We do not see this is a downside at all. Registered agent service is essential, and many top companies offer a first year free.

The $49 does not include state fees either. State filing fees can vary considerably, so in this article, we’ll only list the base price of packages and services.

Tons of positive reviews

With thousands of reviews on sites like Trustpilot, ZenBusiness earned consistently high marks from customers. Many were impressed with ZenBusiness’s quick turnaround times, excellent customer support (they’re one of the few service providers to offer live weekend support), and general professionalism.

ZenBusiness’s massive review volumes are particularly impressive given the company has only been around since 2015. It’s a clear sign that they’re doing something – or a lot of things – right.

Easy-to-use and super informative website

ZenBusiness is a particularly good option for first-time incorporaters.

Their website has an easy-to-navigate layout, and they provide in-depth write-ups on the incorporation process as well as all sorts of incorporation-related services. Need to know the difference between a c-corp and a sole proprietorship? Or perhaps you’d like to learn about the benefits of incorporating a nonprofit? ZenBusiness has you covered.

Plus, ZenBusiness’s customer dashboard will let you track all your ongoing filings and approvals from one convenient place, and you’ll receive helpful alerts and deadline messages there too.

To learn more, check out our in-depth ZenBusiness Review.

Where ZenBusiness could improve:

ZenBusiness is one of just a handful of incorporation providers that also offer web hosting and domain name registration. While relatively inexpensive, ZenBusiness’s business website services just don’t stack up against specialists, like Wix or Shopify.

We’d love to be able to recommend ZenBusiness as a one-stop-shop for getting incorporation filed and your website built, but they’ll need to add some key features and flexibility options first.

2. Northwest Registered Agent - Fastest Incorporation Service

Northwest Registered Agent Logo 300px

Pricing: 3/5

Turnaround Time: 5/5

Help & Support: 4/5

Customer Satisfaction: 5/5

Ease of Use: 5/5

Overall: 4.3/5
Northwest Registered Agent Pros
Northwest Registered Agent Cons

Scoring Weights: Pricing (2x), Turnaround Time (2x) and Customer Satisfaction (1.5x) have been given additional weights in our scoring.

Northwest Registered Agent’s services are a bit more expensive, but we think they are well worth it. Their service offerings are comprehensive, they’ve earned very high marks from their customers, and they offer same-day filing at no extra charge. We recommend them to any business owners or founders who are willing to pay a bit extra to deal with a reliable, fast, and experienced company.

Unlike many of their competitors, Northwest Registered Agent does just about everything in-house, which means better privacy protections for you and far less hassle if you end up needing to switch or cancel a service.

In an industry with lots of over-automation and corner-cutting, Northwest Registered Agent’s accessible service and deep expertise really stood out.

Stand-out features:

Long track record and good reviews

Northwest Registered Agent is hardly new to the game. Founded in 1998, they’ve had over two decades to build up their knowledge base and hone their offerings to customers’ precise needs. Along the way, they’ve earned solid reviews, with 4.4+ averages on GoogleReviews and the BBB.

Best-in-class turnaround times

Northwest Registered Agent will file your incorporation documents with relevant state authorities on the same day you file with them. Full stop. While some competitors are vague or wishy-washy about their turnaround times, Northwest Registered Agent is both clear and fast.

And while they offer expedited filing services with most states, they do not offer internal expedited services – we see this is a big plus.

Lots of other companies will charge you extra for your application to be prioritized within their own system. But Northwest Registered Agent has the staff and resources to make sure all applications go out same-day.

A huge suite of services, but almost no upselling

Northwest Registered Agent of course offers the core services that are necessary to incorporating a new business. But they also offer a whole bunch of very reasonably-priced add-on features, from general services like mail forwarding and annual compliance filing to industry-niche services like FMCSA BOC-3 and CFC 499 filing.

Plenty of other companies shove a bunch of unneeded features into their incorporation packages in order to inflate the price – Northwest Registered Agent, however, does not.

To learn more, read our detailed Northwest Registered Agent review.

Where Northwest Registered Agent could improve:

As we mentioned at the top, one area where Northwest Registered Agent falls a bit short is on their pricing. While their “full incorporation” prices are actually pretty reasonable, we don’t love that a cheaper, bare-bones option isn’t offered.

Though Northwest Registered Agents’ expertise is unquestionable, they may not be the best option for the very budget-conscious.

3. Active Filings - Best Bare-Bones Incorporation

Active Filings Review 2021
Active Filings Logo

Pricing: 5/5

Turnaround Time: 4/5

Help & Support: 3/5

Customer Satisfaction: 5/5

Ease of Use: 3/5

Overall: 4.2/5
Active Filing Pros
Active Filings Cons

Scoring Weights: Pricing (2x), Turnaround Time (2x) and Customer Satisfaction (1.5x) have been given additional weights in our scoring.

Boasting a totally free basic incorporation bundle, great customer reviews (many of which mention stellar customer support), and solid turnaround times, Active Filings is an excellent choice for budget-conscious founders looking for a bare-bones formation.

With just four employees, Active Filings is – by far – the smallest of our top-ranked incorporation service providers. That size comes with upsides and downsides.

Active Filings’ low overhead means they offer some very inexpensive incorporation bundles. Fewer resources, however, does mean that more of Active Filings’ service are outsourced to third parties.

Plus, it seems like Active Filings may not have a dedicated website staff, as their site is not as clear or easily navigable as some of their competitors’.

Stand-out features:

Free basic incorporations

Despite their small market share, Active Filings offers one of the best value packages we’ve reviewed: The Starter Package, which, while it doesn’t include all the bells and whistles of a full incorporation, is totally free.

Active Filings’ premium packages are less of a bargain and include some unnecessary services (and its international packages are eye-wateringly expensive – $999 for the Silver Package and $1499 for the Gold Package!).

However, for those looking for a bare-bones formation, Active Filings is hard to beat on price.

And importantly, far from their $0 price tag equating to poor service, we found Active Filings had solid turnaround times and very positive reviews.

Handy articles and lots of good resources for Spanish-speakers

Founded by an Argentinian immigrant to the US and based in South Florida, it may not come as much of a surprise that Active Filings does a good job catering to Spanish speakers. What is surprising is that a lot of other players in the incorporation space, even the big ones, don’t do a great job of this.

Active Filings, then, stands out with its full Spanish-version website and tons of helpful, incorporation-related articles written in Spanish (all of which are also written in English). Learning about the differences between various business entities and delving into the complex business formation process is hard enough – doing it in your non-native language can make things even more challenging.

Where Active Filings could improve:

Our biggest gripe with Active Filings is the company’s website. It’s just not laid out very well. Oftentimes, it’s not immediately clear whether or not the company offers a certain service or just has information about it. It can be tricky or downright impossible to find pricing on certain add-on features, like Foreign Qualifications.

Price and turnaround time are our most important metrics in rating incorporation agencies, but ease of use is important too.

Using an online incorporation service should save you time, so we’d really like to see Active Filings improve their website and clarify their services.

4. Swyft Filings

Swyft Filings Review 2021
Swyft Filings Logo Transparent

Pricing: 3/5

Turnaround Time: 4/5

Help & Support: 4/5

Customer Satisfaction: 4/5

Ease of Use: 5/5

Overall: 3.9/5
Swyft Filings Pros
Swyft Filings Cons

Though they just missed on a “top three” ranking, Swyft Filings impressed us with its solid prices on core services, its informative and intuitive website, and its tremendous volume of positive reviews. Swyft Filings doesn’t offer the swiftest turnaround times, but they’re still a decent choice for those looking to incorporate with a highly reputable company.

Swyft Filings is another newer entrant to the incorporation business, having been founded in 2015. In addition to offering online incorporations, they offer a wide suite of services related to starting and running a new business. Many of those services are, however, performed through third parties and partners.

Stand-out features:

Solid customer service

Swyft Filings boasts a combined 35,000+ reviews across Sitejabber and Trustpilot, with 4.5+ averages on both. Many of those reviews focus on the company’s excellent customer service.

Real human customer support can be hard to find among online incorporation services, especially newer ones that are very heavy on automation. But Swyft Filings has a 50+ person staff, an easy-to-find contact email and phone number, and lots of reviews praising employees’ helpfulness and responsiveness.

Great pricing flexibility

Some incorporation companies will only let you buy certain services (e.g. annual report filing, business license searches) as part of an overall package. Swyft Filings, however, does a good job of letting customers mix and match to build a package that works well for them.

If you go with the Basic package and then add the rest of your services as one-offs, you can build a personalized, comprehensive set of services without having to pay for anything that you don’t need.

Where Swyft Filings could improve

We consider a Registered Agent Service to be essential for new corporations.

Most incorporation services throw in a free year of Registered Agent Service when you buy one of their packages – Swyft Filings, however, does not. And, at $149 per year, their registered agent service (which isn’t even performed by them, it’s done by a third party) is on the pricey side, especially when you consider that it’s a recurring service.

Swyft Filings also does a bit too much upselling of third-party services that won’t necessarily be helpful to new business owners.

5. Rocket Lawyer

Rocket Lawyer LLC Formation Review
Rocket Lawyer Logo

Pricing: 2/5

Turnaround Time: 4/5

Help & Support: 4/5

Customer Satisfaction: 5/5

Ease of Use: 4/5

Overall: 3.7/5
Rocket Lawyer Pros
Rocket Lawyer Cons

Rocket Lawyer’s services are expensive, but the company sports good reviews, offers one or two-day turnarounds on incorporations, and has a very informative website. Boasting over 250 employees and a 12+ year track record, they have a breadth of knowledge and experience that many of their competitors lack. Rocket Lawyer is a good choice for those with complex business structures that may necessitate a more involved incorporation process.

Unlike many of their competitors, Rocket Lawyer offers a monthly subscription plan. That plan includes access to not only incorporation-related services but also lots of other legal and compliance services, plus templates for legal documents. Many new business owners will find these relevant.

Stand-out features:

Excellent website

Rocket Lawyer is a large company with lots of resources and an excellent breadth and depth of expertise. Their website shows it. Apart from being very easy to navigate, the incorporation section of their website provides concise but very well-crafted articles and tables for new business owners.

Rocket Lawyer does a fantastic job of explaining which services or types of legal help business owners may need, and when.

Access to attorneys

Though Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm, they do stand out by being able to offer access to partner attorneys.

While not every new business owner will need to seek legal advice, it can certainly be incredibly helpful – if not downright necessary – in some situations. And getting your questions answered by the same firm that handles your incorporation can be a big plus from a convenience standpoint.

It’s almost always quicker to go through one service provider than it is to go through several.

Where Rocket Lawyer could improve

Though they offer an excellent suite of business and legal services and sport great reviews, there’s no denying that Rocket Lawyer is on the pricey side. A standalone basic incorporation with them will run $140, while a full incorporation (Corporate Bylaws and Registered Agent Service included) comes in at $290.

These are not the most expensive price points in the industry, but there are certainly better value offers out there too.

6. Inc Authority

Inc Authority Review 2021
Inc Authority Logo

Pricing: 4/5

Turnaround Time: 3/5

Help & Support: 3/5

Customer Satisfaction: 5/5

Ease of Use: 2/5

Overall: 3.5/5
Inc Authority Pros
Inc Authority Cons

Inc Authority stood out with its free Entry incorporation bundle, its long track record, and its excellent review averages. Their website and “premium” bundle pricing left a lot to be desired, however. We’d recommend Inc Authority to budget-conscious shoppers who are just looking for a bare-bones incorporation.

Inc Authority is a relatively small company, employing around 25 people. Though most reviewers seemed impressed with their customer support, they do rely heavily on third parties and partner companies for many of their non-core services.

Stand-out features:

Free incorporation services

Inc Authority offers free incorporations as part of their Entry bundle – that’s a price point that only a handful of their competitors are able to match.

Plus, that bundle includes two other great features: free S-corp elections and a free year of registered agent service. While the former service will only apply to some businesses, we consider the latter to be essential for all new corporations.

Inc Authority’s registered agent service is $99 per year after the first year, but that too is a highly competitive price.

30+ year track record

Many of the businesses in the incorporation services industry have only been around for a decade or less. This makes Inc Authority’s 30-year track record a stand-out trait within their field. This track record is bolstered by the company’s reviews – there are over 5,000 combined reviews between Trustpilot and Google, where Inc Authority boasts averages of 4.8 and 4.6, respectively.

Lots of those reviews focus on the company’s excellent customer service, which is particularly noteworthy given Inc Authority’s small size.

Where Inc Authority could improve

While Inc Authority’s basic bundle impressed us, their “premium” bundles were far less appealing. Several of those bundles are filled with unnecessary “fluff” services and potential upsell opportunities. Their price tags were pretty ridiculous too – at $799, Inc Authority’s Tycoon package is one of the most expensive we’ve seen, even after reviewing dozens of sites.

Inc Authority’s website is not the easiest to use either, plus, for many services, you’re forced to call or email the company to purchase anything – we prefer purchasing experiences that are as frictionless as possible, so this is a big downside for us.

7. BetterLegal

BetterLegal Review 2021
BetterLegal Logo

Pricing: 1/5

Turnaround Time: 5/5

Help & Support: 2/5

Customer Satisfaction: 5/5

Ease of Use: 4/5

Overall: 3.4/5
BetterLegal Pros
BetterLegal Cons

BetterLegal offers a single, comprehensive (though expensive) incorporation package. Its additional services were much more competitively priced, though, and it also sported great reviews and offered same-day filing on all incorporations. We’d recommend BetterLegal to those willing to pay extra for reliable, fast filing – it’s also a good choice for business owners who expect they’ll need registered agents in multiple states.

Stand-out features:

Great price on registered agent service

BetterLegal’s registered agent service is only $90 per year. Though it is through a third party, which has its downsides, that price point is excellent.

While a ten or twenty-dollar discount on a registered agent service may not seem like a big deal, savings can really add up. Registered agent services are billed annually, and if you operate in multiple states, you need an agent in each state – if you operate in ten states, then, saving $20 on your annual registered agent costs means you save $1000 over just five years.

Solid turnaround times

BetterLegal guarantees same-day filing for all their incorporation customers, and they don’t charge you any sort of fee for internal prioritization. Same-day filing is the gold standard for incorporation services – it means your Articles of Incorporation will be sent to the state as fast as possible, which in turn will allow you to officially start your business as soon as possible.
BetterLegal boasts excellent review averages on the BBB and Trustpilot, and many of those reviews praise BetterLegal’s speedy turnarounds.

Where BetterLegal could improve

Having a single formation package may make things simpler, but it means you’re without a good option if you’re just looking for a bare-bones formation.

A full incorporation with BetterLegal, costing $389, is definitely on the pricey side. And like many of its competitors, BetterLegal also pushes lots of third-party offers, few of which may actually be of use or benefit to new business owners.

Lowest Rated Incorporation Services

Normally, we wouldn’t find it necessary to delve deeper into our lowest-ranked services.

The companies above are our top picks within the industry, so why bother with companies at the bottom of the list?

Unfortunately, and confusingly, several other websites list these companies as their top incorporation services. We find it hard to see why. These companies all scored significantly lower than the rest on averages of our key metrics – pricing and packages, turnaround time, customer satisfaction, ease of use, and help and support.

We’ll briefly go over some of the highlights (or, rather, lowlights) below.


BizFilings Logo Transparent

Pricing: 3/5

Turnaround Time: 3/5

Help & Support: 4/5

Customer Satisfaction: 3/5*

Ease of Use: 4/5

Overall: 3.3/5
BizFilings Pros
BizFilings Cons

Bizfilings has been in the incorporation business for over two and a half decades. Though they have plenty of experience, their prices were well above average, and they did lots of upselling of expensive, unnecessary services (e.g. $79 just to obtain an Employer Identification Number).

What we didn’t like:

Zero online reviews – Bizfilings had no online reviews to be found, anywhere. While we’re used to seeing companies with scant reviews (e.g. a few dozen total, across sites), we have never seen a company that completely lacked a presence on sites like Yelp, Trustpilot, and Sitejabber. A lack of reviews becomes even more suspicious when one takes into account the fact that Bizfilings has been around for over twenty-five years!

Poor value packages – Bizfilings basic and premium packages were more expensive than average – they also require you to sign up for their very pricey, $199 per year registered agent service.


Incfile Logo

Pricing: 4/5

Turnaround Time: 2/5

Help & Support: 3/5

Customer Satisfaction: 1/5

Ease of Use: 5/5

Overall: 2.9/5
Incfile Pros
Incfile Cons

Though they boast an easy-to-use website and some solid pricing options, Incfile was marred by lots of poor reviews, which contradicted some of the company’s service claims.

What we didn’t like:

Many one-star reviews – Across Yelp, Trustpilot, and the BBB’s website, we saw lots of complaints about delayed or error-ridden filings. It’s great if you can incorporate inexpensively, but a low price point shouldn’t excuse poor service. The Better Business Bureau also revoked Incfile’s accreditation in September of 2020.

Poor cancellation policy – Incfile’s cancellation policy is pretty inaccessible, and it also includes a $30 cancellation fee for many of their fixed-price services.


Nolo Logo

Pricing: 3/5

Turnaround Time: 3/5

Help & Support: 4/5

Customer Satisfaction: 2/5

Ease of Use: 3/5

Overall: 2.9/5
Nolo Pros
Nolo Cons

Nolo has a long track record in the incorporation industry. Unfortunately, while they did have a decent-value basic incorporation package, we were unimpressed with their add-on service prices, their turnaround times, and their support options.

What we didn’t like:

Slow turnaround times – Even if you purchase their more expensive incorporation packages, Nolo only promises to process your incorporation within four or five business days. With plenty of incorporation services offering same-day or next-day filing, Nolo is definitely towards the back of the pack here.

Poor customer support – Nolo does not make it easy for you to contact them. Rather than providing an email or customer support line, they make you fill out a contact form. Lots of reviewers seemed to be disappointed with their support staff as well.


LegalZoom Logo

Pricing: 1/5

Turnaround Time: 2/5

Help & Support: 5/5

Customer Satisfaction: 3/5

Ease of Use: 5/5

Overall: 2.7/5
LegalZoom Pros
LegalZoom Cons

LegalZoom is perhaps the most well-known company that we reviewed. Their services are wide in scope, they have a great, informative website, and they offer all the resources you could expect from a 1000+ employee company. Unfortunately, LegalZoom’s pricing and turnaround times left a lot to be desired.

What we didn’t like:

Very expensive incorporations – A basic incorporation with LegalZoom will run you $178 – quite a bit considering plenty of companies offer basic incorporations in the $0 – $50 range. A full incorporation costs a whopping $477. Plus, at $299 per year, LegalZoom’s registered agent service was the most expensive we’ve seen, by far.

Very slow turnaround times – Given LegalZoom’s size and resources, we were surprised and disappointed by LegalZoom’s turnaround times, which were as long as 30 days for some packages.

Harbor Compliance

Harbor Compliance Logo

Pricing: 1/5

Turnaround Time: 4/5

Help & Support: 2/5

Customer Satisfaction: 4/5

Ease of Use: 2/5

Overall: 2.7/5
Harbor Compliance Pros
Harbor Compliance Cons

Harbor Compliance sports decent turnaround times and fair reviews, but their services are prohibitively expensive, and their website is incredibly difficult to use.

What we didn’t like:

Pricey incorporations – Harbor Compliance’s “full incorporation” package costs $399, making it one of the most expensive we’ve seen. They also don’t offer a “basic” package at all, which will put off any budget-conscious shoppers looking for a bare-bones incorporation.

Poorly designed website – Harbor Compliance’s confusing website makes you do a lot of digging to figure out what services the company even offers. In several instances, we had to give the company a call to figure out what their offerings and price points were, as many of them are completely unlisted.

We’re not fans of having to go through any more hassle than is necessary, and we know most new business owners feel the same way.

Incorporate Logo

Pricing: 1/5

Turnaround Time: 3/5

Help & Support: 3/5

Customer Satisfaction: 1/5

Ease of Use: 1/5

Overall: 1.8/5
1.8/5 Pros Cons

Though arguably has the longest track record of any incorporation service we reviewed (their parent company, the Corporation Services Company, was founded in 1899), they scored quite poorly across the board.

With a confusing website, middling turnaround times, extremely high prices, and lots of upselling on unnecessary services, we struggled to find any redeeming qualities.

What we didn’t like:

Very expensive services: From their full formation price – $433 – to their registered agent fee – $235 per year – was considerably more expensive than its competitors in just about every service that it offered.

Poor fee transparency: is not upfront about its fee structure for recurring services, and we saw several negative reviews from customers unpleasantly surprised by huge and unexpected bills.

What to look for in an Incorporation Service

What should you look for when comparing incorporation services? Here are the five key metrics we use to come up with our ratings and rankings.

Not all of these factors are weighted equally, but all are important.

Pricing and Packages - 2x Weight

Price is perhaps the most important factor for new business owners searching for a suitable incorporation service. Every dollar counts, especially when a business is just getting started.

That’s why we weigh this factor more heavily (2x) in our scoring.

And, as many incorporation-related services are recurring (e.g. registered agent service, annual compliance service), going with a company that offers solid prices can save you money over the long-haul as well.

Given how standardized incorporation work is, there’s a surprisingly large range in the prices of incorporation packages. We’ve seen everything from free basic packages to “premium” packages with $800 price tags!

That’s why we put a heavier weight on price in our ratings calculations. However, we don’t just look at the sticker price – and neither should you. We look at value.

With that in mind, it’s important to distinguish high-value-added services, like Corporate Bylaw drafting, banking resolution drafting, or business license searches, from low-value-added services, like third-party consultations, business name availability checks, or EIN (Employer ID Number) filings services.

Some company’s packages may look like they offer a ton of services but don’t actually offer much value to small business owners. Reading through some of our reviews can help you learn how to distinguish between the valuable services and the “fluff”.

Incorporation Turnaround Time - 2x Weight

New business owners use online incorporation services to save themselves both time and hassle. So if a company takes way too long to get your incorporation filing submitted and returned to you, what’s the point of using them at all?

Turnaround time get’s a 2x weight in our scoring.

By the time you’re ready to put pen to paper and sign off on officializing your business, you’re most likely rearing to go. That’s why we give extra weight in our ratings to companies that offer fast turnaround times.

Now, it’s important to note that a large chunk of your Articles of Incorporations’ processing time is out of incorporation companies’ hands. That’s because it is a given state’s government that does the actual processing (and state governments typically take 1-4 weeks to do so…though times can vary considerably by state).

Still, it’s up to incorporation services to promptly send your documents to the relevant state authorities, and then return those documents to you once they’re improved. Even more important, an incorporation service needs to file everything correctly.

Improperly filed documents can add weeks or more to your wait time.

A single unnecessary error could defeat the entire purpose of using an online incorporation service, so it’s important to look at turnaround times and track record!

Customer Satisfaction - 1.5x Weight

Any company can promise great service. But do they actually deliver? Satisfaction guarantees, money-back guarantees, and worry-free guarantees don’t mean anything if they’re not actually met.

Customer feedback helps us verify, or disprove, incorporation service’s claims. And the more there are, the better.

We incorporate customer satisfaction into our rating system. We believe you should too.

And while overall averages are great to have, we know that the content of reviews is also important. That’s why we read through reviews – lots of them – looking for patterns. A whole heap of complaints about improper filings – that’s a bad sign. Meanwhile, dozens of reviews praising customer service representatives give us more confidence in a company’s “excellent customer support” claims.

Ease of Use - 1x Weight

Not all incorporation websites are created equal. In our reviews, we’ve seen everything from top-quality, highly navigable, and information-rich sites to utterly confusing sites that left our heads spinning.

As we’ve stated before, if you’re looking to use an online incorporation service, one of your main aims is probably to save time. A well-constructed website will help you do that. It’ll not only make prices clear and ordering easy, but it will also help you figure out what services are and are not relevant to your new business.

A frictionless yet informative experience is what we’re looking for when we assign our ratings.

Support and Help - 1x Weight

Fully automated systems have their advantages and disadvantages. Benefits include making certain processes – like getting your business incorporated – quicker and cheaper.

But when something goes wrong, or when a question arises, humans prefer talking to humans. That’s why we consider companies’ support and help offerings in our reviews.

Some incorporations are highly straightforward affairs. But oftentimes, new business owners need more than just their Articles of Incorporations filed. And even when you have an informative website at your disposal, talking through your questions with a real person can help clarify things and take a lot of stress out of the process.

When looking at incorporation services’ help and support options, there are several factors to take into account.

When are service reps available? Can you talk with someone on a weekend? Is contact information easy to get, or do you have to dig through pages and pages to find it? Or – even worse – is there no contact information at all? And perhaps most importantly, when you do contact someone via phone, email, or webchat, are they actually helpful?

When looking at incorporation services, it’s a good practice to assume some issue will come up. That will force you to consider whether or not you’d be confident and happy dealing with that company’s support systems and staff.

4 Must-Know Tips When Using an Incorporation Service

When it comes to deciding on an incorporation service, looking at the five metrics we mentioned above will get you far. However, we’d also like to offer a few more tips that we think all new business owners and incorporation-seekers should have.

1. Distinguish between the “essential” and the “nice to have”

Some incorporation services are absolutely essential. Without filing your Articles of Incorporation with the relevant state authorities, your business won’t officially exist.

You’re legally required to have a registered agent (even if that’s yourself), and services like Corporate Bylaws drafting, while not always technically necessary, are important enough to be considered “essential”.

These are things that you need to have. And depending on your business’ size and industry, there may be several more must-haves.

Unfortunately, plenty of incorporation services sell “must-have” services right alongside “nice to have” services but don’t do a great job of distinguishing between the two.

Almost every service we have reviewed, for instance, offers some sort of personalized office gear package. Items like corporate seals, binders, record books, and meeting minutes templates are often included.

These are all nice to have, and shiny, personalized stuff with your company name on it may make you feel good… but none of it is strictly necessary. Third-party consultations and reviews (e.g. “tax consultations” “insurance reviews”) should be put in the same category.

When you’re reviewing package prices, make sure you separate necessary services from “nice to have” fluff. Some incorporation packages are mostly fluff – look out for these!

2. Pay attention to recurring payment services

With everything that can be included with an incorporation package, it can be tricky to remember what, exactly, you’re paying for. What’s important to remember is that quite a few incorporation-related services, like a registered agent service or an annual compliance service, are billed on a recurring basis.

We’re by no means saying that you shouldn’t sign up for recurring services. Plenty of them are extremely useful. But you should pay careful attention to the terms of the package you sign up for, so you know when you can expect to be billed, how much you’ll have to pay, and what steps you need to take to cancel services you no longer need.

Some incorporation service companies are very upfront about recurring payments, others… less so. We’ve tried to highlight both the good and the bad in our reviews, giving high marks to transparent companies and low marks to opaque ones.

3. Figure out whether filing for S corporation status will suit your business

S-corp designation is a tax status assigned by the IRS. Both LLCs and standard corporations (C corporations) are eligible.

Being designated as an S-corp can help you save money on payroll taxes and can confer other tax benefits as well. Whether or not S-corp status is suitable for your business is usually something to be discussed with a business tax expert.

It is to your benefit, though, to try and decide on S-corp election before you choose your incorporation service provider. That’s because some service providers offer to file a Form 2553 (S corp election) for free with their incorporation packages, while others will charge you for this service as an add-on. Other companies don’t offer the service at all.

When it comes to incorporating, it’s nice to get all your initial filing done in one fell swoop, as opposed to having to come back to refile even more paperwork at a later time.

That’s why it’s a good idea to try and figure out whether you’d like to file for an S-corp election beforehand. It’s one less thing to tack on later, and it may help sway your decision about which incorporation service to go with.

4. Know the difference between state-expedited filing and internal-expedited filing

When it comes to incorporating, there are two main types of “expedited” services. The first are state-expedited services. Some states’ Secretary of State offices let filers “jump ahead” in line to incorporate their business, in exchange for an extra fee. This can turn waiting times of 2-4 weeks into waiting times of just 2-4 days.

Many incorporation services give the option to request state-expedited service. You pay an extra fee to the service, which is then forwarded to the state. Simple as that.

However, some incorporation services also give you the option to pay for expedited internal filing. That has nothing to do with the state. Essentially, internal expediting means that the company is prioritizing your application within their own system. It means your application should get to the state faster, but it won’t move any faster than normal once it gets there.

If a quick turnaround time is important to you, but you don’t want to break the bank, plenty of services offer quick (one-day or same-day, in some cases) internal processing without having to pay to expedite anything.

Incorporation Services FAQs

Incorporation services help new business owners file and submit their Articles of Incorporation - the documents that officialize a new business with a given state. Many incorporation service companies provide additional services related to founding and running a new business. Registered agent service, Corporate Bylaws filing, annual report filing, business license searches, and more are all commonly offered by online incorporation services.

Yes, you can! Either by yourself or through an incorporation service provider, you can fill out your Articles of Incorporation and then digitally send them to the relevant authorities (usually, the Secretary of State office of the State in which you are incorporating).

Our highest-scoring service was ZenBusiness. They offered competitive prices and fantastic customer support, boasted an excellent website, and had great reviews to back up their service claims. Northwest Registered Agent and Active Filings also scored very well.

Several services, including Active Filings and Inc Authority, offer free incorporation services as part of their most basic plans. However, free basic bundles often exclude services we consider to be essential, such as Corporate Bylaws drafting and a registered agent service.

There are many companies which offer dedicated online incorporation services - our top-ranked choice is ZenBusiness.

Online incorporations tend to be far quicker and cheaper than traditional incorporations. Sending in your documents via snail mail can add days or even weeks to your overall processing time. Plus, online incorporation providers have the experience necessary to ensure your documents are filled out correctly and filed with the correct authorities.

Though the exact process varies slightly from state to state, incorporating always involves the filling out and filing of Articles of Incorporation. These documents, which contain basic information about a business (its name, owner(s), address, industry, etc.), allow a business to become officially recognized by the State.

In almost all cases - your business’s home state. Although some states (e.g. Delaware) have very business-friendly laws and tax codes, incorporating your business in a state where you’re not actually located will usually burden you with unnecessary taxes, fees, and regulations.

LLCs (Limited Liability Companies) and Corporations are both business entities, but they are taxed and regulated slightly differently. LLCs are owned by individual “members”, while corporations are owned by “shareholders.” Importantly, both corporations and LLCs offer significant liability protections.

Disclaimer: We try educate our readers the best we can, but we do not provide legal or tax advice and our content is for general information only. If you require legal or tax advice, please reach out to a qualified professional. Our work is supported by affiliate commissions.

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Andrey Doichev

Andrey Doichev

I launched my first small business in 2015. I loved airsoft, so I created a small website where I would go on to educate parents about the sport and help them buy the safest gear for their kids. Since then, I have started many similar ventures, educating millions of people on topics including entrepreneurship, marketing, website development and online privacy.

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