The 7 Best LLC Services of 2021

Starting a business is difficult enough… 

Forming an LLC 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 LLC formation services have been a blessing for both new and serial entrepreneurs.

Letting experts handle your entire LLC formation solves all your worries – immediately.

To find the best, we reviewed the 13 biggest LLC formation 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 LLC services are + who is best for you
  • Our lowest-rated LLC services, and why you should avoid them
  • What you need to look out for when picking an LLC service

And now on to our top picks!

Our Top LLC Service Picks for 2021

Here’s a quick summary of our top three picks – you’ll find more detailed descriptions of these three LLC Services, plus some of our other top picks, further down.

1. ZenBusiness: An excellent and affordable all-around LLC service
After a thorough review of 13 LLC formation providers, ZenBusiness earned our top spot. ZenBusiness offers excellent pricing, quick formation turnaround times, an intuitive website, and boasts a pristine 4.8/5 customer satisfaction record.

Read details…

2. Northwest Registered Agent: Reliable specialists with great privacy protection
Northwest Registered Agent stays true to their “We’re just not annoying” slogan. They do no unnecessary upselling and push no partner offers. Their focus is on speed, accuracy, and customer privacy. The company is an established specialist in the field and we can recommend their services without reservation.

Read details…

3. Active Filings: Best bare-bones LLC filing service
Active Filings won our third-place ranking in large part thanks to its basic LLC formation service, which is free. They are the best option for those looking for a simple LLC formation or document filing service without the bells and whistles.

Read details…

Think you may incorporate as a standard corporation, rather than forming a limited liability company? Be sure to check out our Best Incorporation Services article.

1. ZenBusiness - The Best LLC Formation 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
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 impressed us with their great value, excellent customer reviews, simple and easy formation process, and their ability to form LLCs within just a few days (even during peak seasons). With ZenBusiness scoring well across all categories, we have no reservations about recommending their business formation service to anyone looking to form an LLC.

ZenBusiness offers the most competitive and comprehensive business entity creation services, based on our comprehensive review of more than a dozen formation companies.

Best overall pricing

ZenBusiness offers three pricing options for LLC formations, with its least expensive bundle costing only $49. And that bundle includes all of the services we consider essential for a full LLC formation.

For just $49, you get not only document preparation and the filing itself, but you’ll also a free registered agent service for one year, a drafted operating agreement, as well as an EIN (Employer Identification Number) for your business.

Having a registered agent is required by law in all states, and having an operating agreement is vital in order to protect your interests and personal assets (plus, it is mandatory in some states as well). With ZenBusiness, you get all of these essential services for less than what some other competitors charge for a formation filing alone.

Unlike many of their competitors, ZenBusiness’s higher-tier packages include services which we find legitimately useful, such as annual compliance filing, a banking resolution, and digital services such as the setup of a business website and business email. We can confidently recommend all three of ZenBusiness’s packages.

Rated 4.8/5 by customers
ZenBusiness is one of the best-reviewed LLC formation services. They hold an excellent 4.8/5 average on Trustpilot, with more than 5,750 individual user reviews. Many of ZenBusiness’s customers express their disbelief at how easy the LLC formation process is and how quickly their new LLC was formed with the state.

We think that ZenBusiness’s success in establishing their reputation is all the more impressive considering that the company is relatively young, being founded in 2015.

Easy and simple to use
Customers who are just starting their first small business may find the entire formation process to be a bit intimidating – but using ZenBusiness, they’ll be pleasantly surprised to find out how simple an LLC formation can be.

ZenBusiness’s website is laid out in a clear, neat, and easy-to-understand manner. Users are guided through all the steps that are necessary to form an LLC. After you have placed an order, ZenBusiness’s dashboard will let you keep track of the progress of your formation filings.

ZenBusiness’s website also includes a variety of useful articles, explaining the many aspects of setting up a new business entity in plain English.

For a more in-depth look at the company and its services, check out our ZenBusiness review.

Where ZenBusiness could improve

ZenBusiness is an excellent LLC formation service and performed great across all five of our ranking categories. In our review, we found no issues with their LLC formation service itself.

The only minor issues we found related to their business website services – most business owners will be better served by using a dedicated web hosting service.

2. Northwest Registered Agent - Best for Speed and Reliability

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
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 is a reliable specialist company with a focus on providing quick and straightforward, no-nonsense LLC formation services. They also boast a large and knowledgeable customer support staff. We rate them highly for their consistent quality in all aspects of their service.

Straightforward, simple, and helpful service
Reviewing Northwest Registered Agent’s website, we liked the clear and open manner in which the entire formation process is laid out. Ordering an LLC formation is simple and can be performed entirely online, with no hidden costs, no upselling, and no unnecessary partner offers. Their terms of use are also spelled out in clear and understandable language.

Northwest Registered Agents’s service staff, or “Corporate Guides”, are responsive, knowledgeable, and can provide competent help with any issues related to LLC formations. The company’s website also includes numerous helpful articles explaining the nuances and legal requirements of forming an LLC.

Excellent turnaround times
Northwest Registered Agent offer excellent turnaround times for LLC formations in all states, with same-day filing included by default with all orders. We compared their advertised times to those of competitors and found that Northwest Registered Agent consistently ranks among the quickest services.

Unlike some of their competitors, Northwest Registered Agent provides all of their services through dedicated in-house staff, rather than quietly outsourcing them to third parties. This has not only ensured a consistent level of quality and reliability, but it also protects the privacy and data security of their customers.

For a more in-depth look at Northwest Registered Agent and its services, take a look at our Northwest Registered Agent review.

Where Northwest Registered Agent could improve

The company’s single downside is their pricing – compared to some other services, Northwest Registered Agent’s prices are on the high side, with a basic formation (plus a year of registered agent service) costing $225. Customers can choose between a modifiable package, paid for up-front, or a fixed package, which is paid for in twelve equal installments.

Nevertheless, we believe Northwest Registered Agents is a great option for anyone who needs a reliable and established formation partner.

3. Active Filings - Best Bare-Bones LLC Formation

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
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.

Active Filings offers a basic LLC formation service at an unbeatable price of $0 – they offer decent turnaround times as well. Despite being free, their Starter package includes all services we deem essential for a “full” formation, such as a registered agent service (for the first year) and an operating agreement. These factors helped earnActive Filings the third spot in our rankings.

Helpful and multilingual customer service
Active Filings is a smaller company than many of their competitors, yet their customer service staff is still very helpful and knowledgeable- we found many customers reviews praising the assistance they received. Active Filings also advertises and provides excellent support for Spanish speaking customers – something which no other service in our ranking does.

Having been in business for two decades, Active Filings is an experienced and reliable LLC formation service. While they haven’t received as much feedback as some competitors, the vast majority of available online customer reviews are positive.

Turnaround Time

By default, Active Filings can process LLC formations for the vast majority of states in 14 business days.

This is a bit slower than our top ranked services, but considering the free price point and the fact that not every entrepreneur requires the quickest formation, Active Filings will still be a great option for many customers. If required, expedited service can be added for an additional fee

For a more comprehensive look at Active Filings’s services and pricing, check out our Active Filings review.

Where Active Filings could improve

While Active Filings’ basic service package is an excellent choice for those seeking an affordable LLC formation, the same isn’t necessarily true for their higher-tiered packages.

That’s why we recommend Active Filings to those who are searching for a bare-bones formation only..

Overall, Active Filings is a great choice if you are looking for an affordable, basic LLC formation service but still require a solid turnaround time.

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
3.9/5
Swyft Filings Pros
Swyft Filings Cons

Swyft Filings is a highly rated LLC formation service with a flexible and affordable pricing model, decent turnaround times, and a responsive customer service staff. Despite being one of the newer competitors in the field (Swyft Filings was founded in 2015), they have amassed an impressive number of satisfied clients.

Unfortunately, they do not offer a registered agent service as part of their packages, although they do refer customers to a third party provider.

Flexible pricing, fast processing
Swyft Filings’s pricing is somewhere in the middle of the pack. What makes them stand out, though, is that they allow customers to customize their desired service packages with a variety of add-on products and services. Almost any item from the higher pricing tiers can be added individually to the lower-priced packages.

At $49, Swyft Filings’s least expensive package is also its most competitively priced. It does not, however, include some of the things we consider essential, such as an operating agreement template or a registered agent service. On the other hand, they do include a number of other helpful freebies, such as a free online web domain name (URL) registration for one year.

Although not the fastest provider, Swyft Filings offers above-average processing times compared to the competition. For an additional fee, customers can opt into expedited filing, which allows the process to be completed in just a few business days.

Great reviews and an error-free warranty
Despite being a young company, Swyft Filings has collected an impressive number of positive reviews from happy customers – we found more than 35,000 individual reviews. The company is consistently praised for its simplicity and the speed of its service, as well as its friendly and helpful support staff.

Unlike many of the other formation services, Swyft Filings also includes an explicit refund policy in their terms of service. In the event that Swyft Filings makes an error when filing your LLC formation paperwork with the state authorities, they will issue you a refund of their service fee.H3 Where Swyft Filings could improve

Where Swyft Filings could improve

We disliked that Swyft Filings tries to upsell unnecessary services from partner companies during the checkout process. In general, they tend to rely heavily on third- party partner companies. We prefer companies that provide services through their own dedicated staff.

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
3.7/5
Rocket Lawyer Pros
Rocket Lawyer Cons

Rocket Lawyer is a well-established name in the online legal help business. In addition to their suite of legal and compliance services, they provide an online LLC formation service to both members and non-members. Rocket Lawyer can be a good option for those who are also interested in their other, specialized services, such as their legal document templates database or online attorney consultation services.

Well established and well-reviewed
Rocket Lawyer has been in business for more than a decade, and with many millions of users, they have accumulated a great deal of experience in the online legal aid business. They are seen as reliable and have accumulated a considerable number of positive online reviews from customers on review sites such as Trustpilot (where they are rated 4.6/5 with more than 3,100 individual reviews).

However, RocketLawyer is not a specialized LLC formation company, as is the case with many of the other services we reviewed, and many pieces of customer feedback don’t specifically involve LLC formations.

Pricing and turnaround times
Customers can pick between two pricing options – they can either sign up for a monthly subscription of $39.99, or they can purchase services individually (e.g., document filing for $99.99).

Going with RocketLawyer’s individual service pricing results in an excessive total cost for a full formation (i.e. a formation plus an operating agreement and a registered agent service).

However, the company’s monthly option can be a worthwhile choice, if you plan on utilizing some of their other services.

Membership with RocketLawyer includes one free LLC formation, unlimited access to modifiable legal documents/templates, and a discount on the company’s registered agent service and some other services as well (more in our full Rocket Lawyer review).

Rocket Lawyer’s turnaround times aren’t the fastest in the business, but are still relatively quick, with average standard processing times of around one week in most states. If required, you can opt into expedited filing, which will ensure the fastest possible filing response, for an additional fee.

You’ll be given estimated turnaround times for both standard and expedited orders (they’ll vary based on your state and filing type) during the sign-up process.

Where Rocket Lawyer could improve

Unfortunately, Rocket Lawyer’s subscription doesn’t include everything that we consider essential for a basic LLC formation. You will still need to pay a yearly fee for their registered agent service, for instance (although members do receive a discount). Furthermore, only your first LLC formation is free with a subscription – all further ones will cost you an additional fee.

We also found many online reviews of customers who were surprised to find that their credit card had been charged by Rocket Lawyer. You should keep in mind that Rocket Lawyers’s subscription renews automatically.. If you don’t plan on using their services in the future, you will need to manually cancel them from your account dashboard in order to prevent unwanted charges.

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
3.5/5
Inc Authority Pros
Inc Authority Cons

Inc Authority is among the most experienced LLC formation services out there, having been in business for more than 30 years. Inc Authority’s standout feature is that they offer a fairly bare-bones LLC formation service at no cost (excluding state fees).

Unfortunately, their higher- service tiers come at inflated prices, and their service has questionable turnaround times.

Free Basic LLC formation service

Inc Authority’s free basic package includes some essential services, such as a business name availability check and document filing, although it does not include operating agreement drafting, which we consider essential.

The package also includes a free year of their registered agent service, which otherwise costs $99 per year. If you are looking for a simple and straightforward filing service, Inc Authority can be a decent option, provided you don’t need the fastest possible service.

The company’s premium packages are priced at $399, $499, and $799. They are of questionable value, and we don’t recommend buying them.

Excellent customer feedback

Inc Authority has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from online users on major review sites. They are rated 4.8/5 on Trustpilot and 4.6/5 on Google, with more than 5,000 individual reviews. The vast majority of customers report a smooth LLC formation experience and praise Inc Authority’s professionalism and helpful customer service, with many customers naming and thanking their support representative.

Where Inc Authority could improve

Unfortunately, Inc Authority is among the LLC formation services that appear to internally delay formation orders in order to ‘encourage’ users to pay an additional fee for expedited servicing. Customers who pay an additional $49 will have their orders bumped to the front of Inc Authority’s queue. We dislike such practices.

Note that this sort of order expediting is not the same as expedited filing services offered directly by some state governments (which will expedite the process with the state, rather than with your specific service provider).

Inc Authority tries to heavily upsell services during the checkout process. Most of these services and products (such as physical Ownership Certificates) are not at all necessary for new businesses and can be avoided.

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
3.4/5
BetterLegal Pros
BetterLegal Cons

BetterLegal is a small and relatively young, Texas-based company specializing in LLC formations. They offer their filing services in the form of a single formation package priced at $299. While the service advertises a great two-day turnaround time and is well reviewed by customers, the inflexible pricing model and the inclusion of some unnecessary services in their single package mean that BetterLegal is not the best value out there.

Good turnaround time and affordable Registered Agent Service
BetterLegal advertises a two-day turnaround time on formations. Unlike much of the competition, they do not follow the practice of separating their customers into multiple priority groups – all orders are filed on the same day, without any need for additional charges in order to expedite your order.

This rapid turnaround time is backed up by many of the customer reviews, which frequently mention BetterLegal’s LLC formations being very quick. We like that BetterLegal is clear and up-front about their service speed.

BetterLegal also offers one of the most affordable registered agent services. At just $90 per year, their cost is significantly lower than the average among the services we have reviewed.

Given that the costs of all registered agent services are recurring, even small savings tend to add up. It should be noted, though, that BetterLegal does provide their registered agent service in cooperation with a third party.

Good Customer Reviews
BetterLegal is a smaller company, but they have still managed to collect a decent number of customer reviews. The overwhelming majority of their reviews are positive. Customers were happy with the swift and straightforward formation process. They currently hold a 4.8/5 on Trustpilot with around 200 individual reviews. They are also well-rated and accredited with the BBB.

Where we believe BetterLegal could improve

The major downsides with BetterLegal are their inflexible pricing model and their relatively high costs. Whereas other formation services offer multiple pricing tiers or let customers select which individual services they need, BetterLegal only offers a single service package, which is priced expensively at $299.

Notably, this package does not include a registered agent service, increasing the cost of a full formation even further, and some of the services that are included are not truly necessary. For example, we don’t believe that business owners should pay for someone else to obtain a federal tax ID number for them.

Lowest Rated LLC Services

In this section, we will go over some of the services which we found to be below-average.While we cannot recommend these services, we have nevertheless included them in our article for the sake of completeness, and as contrasts to our top-rated services.

Incfile

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
2.9/5
Incfile Pros
Incfile Cons

Despite more than a decade of experience and a free basic service package, Incfile missed out on our recommendations list due to poor reviews from customers and less-than-stellar customer support.

What we didn’t like:

Numerous reviews from unhappy customers – Incfile has amassed far more bad reviews on the major reviewing platforms, such as Trustpilot (average score of 2.9/5) and Yelp (average score of 2/5), than many of their competitors.

Substandard customer support – While on paper Incfile offers a number of methods to get in touch, many of Incfile’s customers report difficulties when trying to reach out to service representatives in order to resolve issues.

Nolo

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
2.9/5
Nolo Pros
Nolo Cons

Nolo has been in the legal help business for longer than the internet has existed. Unfortunately, this hasn’t resulted in a quality LLC formation service – Nolo has very slow turnaround times and pushes unnecessarily expensive partner services.

What we didn’t like:

Reliance on unnecessarily expensive partner services – Unlike some of our recommended services, Nolo relies heavily on third-parties for many of its formation services. Adding insult to injury, Nolo marks up the costs of these services for no good reason.

For example, they charge $150 per year for their registered agent service in partnership with Vcorp Services, which is $35 more than if you were to go directly to Vcorp.

Few and poor online reviews – Nolo does not do well on online review sites, with an average of 1.4/5 on Trustpilot. Need we say more?

LegalZoom

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
2.7/5
LegalZoom Pros
LegalZoom Cons

LegalZoom is best known for their online legal documents library and other online legal services. They also offer an LLC formation service, which is unfortunately marred by substandard turnaround times and high total costs.

What we didn’t like:

Expensive pricing – LegalZooms packages don’t include a registered agent service or an operating agreement (which must be added separately and cost $299 per year and $99 fixed, respectively). Even their basic package, priced at $79, costs too much given its value relative to the competition.

Slow turnaround times – LegalZoom gives an estimate of 30 business days for a standard LLC formation. Customers have to pay for a higher pricing tier to have their applications be internally expedited.

Bizfilings

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
3.3/5
BizFilings Pros
BizFilings Cons

Despite being a specialized service with more than two decades of experience, BizFilings failed to impress us due to multiple factors, including their overall costs, their filing speeds, and their practice of enrolling customers with their registered agent service with no opt-out opportunity during online sign-up.

What we didn’t like:

Pricing – At $99, even BizFilings’ basic service is more expensive than some of our top picks full formation services.Their higher tiers, priced at $229 and $359, don’t provide enough value to justify their high costs. Plus, their registered agent service costs $199 per year, which is significantly above the average.

No opportunity to opt-out of their registered agent service – Customers aren’t presented with the option to choose a different registered agent service during the signup process – we dislike any forced services, especially when they’re very pricey.

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
2.7/5
Harbor Compliance Pros
Harbor Compliance Cons

Harbor Compliance offers a wide variety of corporate compliance services. They also run a limited LLC formation service, which we unfortunately cannot recommend, due to its inflexible pricing and excessively high cost.

What we didn’t like:

Very expensive formations – Unlike most other LLC formation services, Harbor Compliance has only a single pricing tier, which costs $399. This price is totally unjustified, considering that, with alternative companies, you can get all the same included services for less than half the total cost.

Confusing website – Harbor Compliance does not make its LLC formation page easy to find, and does not offer an online sign-up tool, as is the case with virtually all other services we have reviewed. Their page does not even mention the cost of their service – we had to contact them over the phone just to find out.

Incorporate.com

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

Incorporate.com Pros

Incorporate.com Cons

Incorporate.com offers a large number of formation-related services and has an informative website. Nevertheless, we cannot recommend them, on account of their very high costs.s.

What we didn’t like:

Expensive full formations- A full LLC formation with Incorporate.com (i.e., a formation plus a registered agent service and an Operating Agreement) will cost you more than $400 (not including state fees). Simply put, there are much cheaper options out there.

Limited reviews – Incorporate.com has very few reviews available online, making it difficult to verify the quality of their service.

What to look for in an LLC Service

We use five key factors when reviewing and ranking formation companies. Not all of these factors are weighted equally, but all are important.

We provide a brief overview of each one here, both to help you find the best value formation service possible, and to help explain our scoring process.

Pricing and Packages - 2x Weight

Pricing is perhaps the most important factor when selecting an LLC formation service. We want to see the services we review to add value to your startup without breaking the bank. We assign a heavier weight (2x) to pricing when calculating our ranking scores.

LLC formation services can differ significantly in their prices. While some can file your Articles of Organization for less than $50, or even for free, others demand many hundreds of dollars for service packages that contain a multitude of individual products and additional services, many of which are often unnecessary.

In our reviews and rankings, we look not only at prices themselves, but also at the overall value of a given service package. Depending on your particular situation, an expensive service package might still be a good value, if it provides specialized services that you need.

LLC Turnaround time - 2x Weight

Time is money, which is why we expect all services we review to be as quick as possible when it comes to filing for your LLC formation paperwork with the relevant authorities. If you could finish your LLC formation faster by yourself, there would be no point in using an online service in the first place.

We consider turnaround time to be just as important as the service pricing, and for this reason, we assign a heavier weight (2x) to this metric when calculating our final ranking score.

It should be noted that the LLC formation services don’t have full control over how long it takes to form your new company, after they file your documents. The actual processing of your Articles of Organization is done by state government agencies, over which the services have no control (although some states do allow for expedited filing for an extra fee).

That being said, formation services can still add value by internally processing orders on the same day, or by using their own network of physical offices in order to file paperwork in person whenever doing so will speed up your LLC’s formation.

Formation services should also do the utmost to avoid any filing errors, which can potentially set you back by weeks and delay other formalities related to your business’s formation, such as opening a business bank account.

Customer Satisfaction - 1.5x Weight

Who better to ask about a given formation service than those that have already used it? Track records are important, so we always consider the feedback and reviews left by previous customers on websites like Trustpilot and Yelp.

Sifting through reviews gives us a better picture of how a formation service behaves in the real-world. Does a company actually offer high-quality customer support, or do they only claim to do so? Customer reviews can help us figure that out.

Since positive or negative reviews are very likely to reflect the kind of experience you might have with a given service, we also assign a heavier weight (1.5x) to this component of our final ranking score.

Ease of Use - 1x Weight

Forming an LLC online should be a simple and straightforward experience. We ideally want to see websites that allow users to complete their filings in just a few minutes. We also want new business owners to be able to quickly find clear and concise answers to any common questions they might have.

Many of the higher quality services we have reviewed will have dozens or even hundreds of pages explaining everything you need to know about starting an LLC. These articles will answer questions such as:

  • What is the difference between an LLC, a corporation, and a non-profit?
  • What is the difference between a C-Corp, an S-Corp, and a passthrough entity?
  • Do you need an LLC operating agreement?
  • Why should you avoid running a business as a sole proprietorship?

Good services will equip you with all the knowledge you need to make good decisions right from the start.

We assign our ratings based on a service’s overall ease of use, the clearness of their terms (costs, recurring payments, cancellations, etc.), and the informativeness of their web material.

Support and Help - 1x Weight

No matter how well designed a website is, odds are that at some point you will have a question or an issue that cannot be resolved in an automated way.

When an unexpected situation arises, it is important to be able to get a hold of an actual human quickly. It’s even better if they are knowledgeable and well-trained to help you with whatever issues you are having.

This is especially true in the formation industry, where a delayed filing or a clerical error could set back your plans by weeks, or even months.

Many of the companies in our list also offer recurring services, such as annual report filing or registered agent services, as part of their formation packages..These services are important to maintaining your company’s good standing with the state and federal government. That’s why it is important to resolve any issues with such services quickly and efficiently.

We take multiple factors into consideration when evaluating an LLC formation service’s customer support and help options. We look at things such as the availability of their staff – their working hours, or if they are available on the weekends – as well as available contact methods (phone, email, online chat, etc.). We also take into account the experiences of previous customers, as evidenced by available customer feedback.

5 Must-Know Tips when using an LLC Service

When it comes to deciding on an LLC formation 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 LLC-formation-seekers will find when starting their LLC.

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

Some formation services are absolutely essential. Without filing your Articles of Organization 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 some documents, such as an Operating Agreement, 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. For example, you might let your formation service handle your annual report obligations or research necessary business licenses.

Unfortunately, many LLC formation 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 LLC formation packages are mostly fluff – look out for these!

2. Pay attention to recurring payment services

With everything that can be included with an LLC formation package, it can be tricky to remember what, exactly, you’re paying for. What’s important to remember is that quite a few formation-related services, like a registered agent service or an annual report filing and compliance services, 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 LLC formation 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 type of 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. Business structure questions such as 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 LLC formation service provider. That’s because some service providers offer to file a Form 2553 (S-corp election) for free with their formation 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 forming your LLC, 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 LLC formation service provider to go with.

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

When it comes to forming an LLC, 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 form an LLC for 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.

Most 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 LLC formation 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.

5. Does a company require you to use their registered agent service?

A registered agent is legally required for every LLC (or other business entity) operating in the US. While it is possible to serve as your own registered agent, there are several good reasons not to – we consider a registered agent service to be essential when forming a new LLC.

Nearly every service we reviewed offered a registered agent service to new LLC owners. Some companies provide this service in-house, while others outsource it to third-party service providers.

Some of the companies we reviewed also include a registered agent service by default, and a handful won’t let you opt out at all. If you already have a specific registered agent service provider in mind, you should make sure your formation provider does have an opt-out option on its registered agent service.

When forming an LLC, you should know that you’re not required to use the same company for both your formation and your registered agent service.

You can also change your registered agent after the fact, however you will generally need to update your company records with the state government before you can do so, which may be a hassle.

LLC Services FAQs

ZenBusiness is our top-rated LLC formation service. They offer a solid combination of great pricing, fast service, and excellent customer satisfaction. You can read our in-depth Zenbusiness review for more information on why they made our number one spot.

Active Filings is our recommendation for those prioritizing affordability. They offer a great basic LLC formation service for $0 + state filing fees. Their basic package also includes a year of their registered agent service and an operating agreement.

No, you don’t need an attorney to form an LLC. LLC formation services can do the same job, and are often much quicker and more affordable. You might need to consult with an attorney if your LLC formation is particularly complex or unusual.

Yes, you can form an LLC online. Virtually all LLC formation services allow you to complete the entire process through your web-browser. Depending on the exact formation company you use and the state where you are forming, you can form your LLC in as little as one day.

It depends on the state you are forming in. All states charge a processing fee in order to file the paperwork necessary to create a new LLC. Most LLC formation services also charge a service charge, although some offer basic online business formations for as little as $0 + state fees.

LLC Formations services are companies specializing in helping new business owners officially form their LLCs with the relevant state authorities. They know how to best navigate the different state bureaucracies in order to avoid rejected filings and can help you form a new LLC for your established business or startup as quickly as possible. The formation providers we reviewed are not law firms and cannot give legal advice.

ZenBusiness is our top choice for online LLC formations. But other companies, including Northwest Registered Agents and Active Filings, also got high marks. Read our article for more info.

LLC filing services work with states’ Secretary of State offices in order to prepare and file the paperwork that is required to form a new limited liability company. If your filing is successful, your LLC will be officially recognized by the state, just as if you had done the filing yourself.

Online filing avoids the hassles of navigating through your state’s bureaucracy and reduces the risk of a rejected filing due to errors. LLC formation services are experienced with the procedures necessary to form new LLCs and often complete the process faster than individuals can.

For a basic LLC, the best way is to form it through an online LLC formation service. We have compared more than a dozen different business formation services in this article in order to help you choose the best possible fit for your specific LLC. If your LLC formation is particularly complicated or unusual, you may need to consult with an attorney regarding your business needs.

The exact process varies depending on the state of formation. In general, it involves filing a document, usually called Articles of Organization, with the office of your state’s Secretary of State office. If you would like to avoid dealing with state offices yourself, you can use one of our recommended LLC formation services to handle the entire business filing procedure.

Your home state is often the best choice. Many mistakenly believe that you should always form your LLC in a “business-friendly” state (e.g. Delaware). If you file in a different state from the one you operate in, though, you may need to register your LLC as a foreign LLC in your home state, which leads to additional fees and taxes.

LLCs are more flexible than corporations, with fewer administrative and record-keeping requirements. LLCs have some helpful additional features too - as passthrough entities, LLCs allow you avoid double taxation. LLCs are often best-suited to small businesses. 90% of all new businesses are registered as LLCs.

Corporations may confer their own tax benefits, and they are owned by shareholders rather than members. Many business formation services will offer both LLC formation services and incorporation services.

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.

Table of Contents

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.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *