Harbor Compliance Review 2021: 6 Pros & Cons You Should Know

In this review, we will cut to the chase and go over what you really need to know about Harbor Compliance’s LLC formation and incorporation services, including:

  • The true pricing of Harbor Compliance’s LLC formation services
  • Expected formation turnaround time
  • Harbor Compliance’s reliability, customer reviews, support offerings, and much more

We will also provide clear explanations of all the other relevant, formation-related services that Harbor Compliance offers.

Below is a quick summary of our findings. Further down, you’ll find our more comprehensive review. There, we go into greater detail on Harbor Compliance’s prices and services and explain what factors went into our ratings.

Is Harbor Compliance Right for You?

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

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

Harbor Compliance is a reliable specialist company for LLC formations, incorporation and other business compliance-related services. They can help you with many of the key tasks involved in starting a new business.

Harbor Compliance provides quick turnaround times, making them a good option if you need to get your business running ASAP. If you choose to work with them, you’ll be paired with a compliance specialist who can handle all aspects of your LLC formation and answer any questions about your specific case.

Unfortunately, this service comes at the rather high cost of $399. Unlike other competitors, Harbor Compliance doesn’t offer more economical packages or the flexibility of selecting services. There’s no essentials-only bundle. If you are looking to get the most value for your money, you may want to consider a different formation service provider.

Visit HarborCompliance.com for more information, or continue reading our review to learn more about how we arrived at our conclusions.

Table of Contents

Harbor Compliance Quick Overview

Harbor Compliance Main Page

Harbor Compliance is a company specializing in providing compliance solutions to business owners and non-profit organizations. Harbor Compliance can form a Limited Liability Company or Corporation on your behalf and help you navigate state rules and bureaucracies too.

According to their LinkedIn page, Harbor Compliance was founded in 2012 and has between 50 and 200 employees. Headquartered in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, they have helped more than 20,000 companies, corporations, and nonprofits meet their compliance-related needs.

Unlike some other services we have reviewed, Harbor Compliance does not specialize exclusively in the formation of business entities. Instead, they aim to provide you with a comprehensive service package – LLC formation or incorporation is just one piece of what is offered.

Harbor Compliance’s LLC formation package is reasonably comprehensive and includes essential services such as:

  • Checking the availability of your desired company name and filing Articles of Organization with your state’s Secretary of State
  • Providing you with an Operating Agreement template – this can be used to specify how your LLC will be managed
  • Obtain a federal employer identification number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service on your behalf
  • Act as your registered agent, which you are legally required to have, and receive important legal correspondence for your business

We’ll go into more detail regarding the formation-related services Harbor Compliance provides further down, in our “Services” section.

As with all other LLC formation services we have reviewed, Harbor Compliance is not a law firm or accounting firm. They can form an LLC or corporation and help you meet your compliance requirements, but they do not provide legal services or legal advice.

If you need legal or tax advice, or if your business entity formation is particularly complicated, you should consult with a legal or tax professional.

Harbor Compliance Pricing

Unlike the majority of LLC formation and incorporation services we have looked at, Harbor Compliance does not offer distinct tiered service packages for business entity formations. Instead of allowing customers to choose between basic and premium packages, Harbor Compliance has a single LLC formation package, which is priced at $399 and includes all essential services.

Harbor Compliance’s LLC formation page lists two distinct packages - a Formation package and a Compliance package - without providing further information regarding pricing or ordering.

We reached out to Harbor Compliance and asked for clarification. We learned that, as of the time of writing, Harbor Compliance offers one LLC formation package, priced at $399.

Our review reflects this and omits the more expensive ‘Compliance” LLC formation package. Services from this second formation package may still be available on request.

Formation package: $399

Harbor Compliance’s single formation package contains all the services which we consider essential for an LLC formation. This package includes the following:

Name availability check and filing of Articles of Organization: A search of government records will ensure that your chosen business name is not already taken. Your Articles of Organization will then be prepared and filed – this is the official document by which an LLC is created.

An Operating Agreement template: An Operating Agreement is a vital document. It determines how your LLC will be run and what rights and responsibilities its members will have. Harbor Compliance will help you draft an Operating Agreement, which you can then use immediately.

Federal Tax ID registration: Harbor Compliance will handle the paperwork necessary to obtain a federal employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS. The majority of businesses will need to obtain an EIN.

Registered Agent service (one-year term): All US-based businesses must have a registered agent – a person or company who will receive important legal or governmental correspondence. Harbor Compliance includes a one-year term of its registered agent service with all LLC formations. After the one-year term ends, this service will renew annually at a cost of $99 per year.

A number of further services, which are not included with the ‘Formation’ package, may be available on request or where they are legally required. You can read more about them further down, in our ‘Services’ section.

Harbor Compliance vs Competitors’ Pricing

Below, you will find a table comparing Harbor Compliance’s formation prices with those of its main competitors.

Prices quoted in this table are independent of Harbor Compliance’s package price. They are standardized for comparison with competitors. Included annual costs are for one year only.

Basic Formation, Full Formation, and Full Formation + Website are defined below the table.

Service Basic Formation Full Formation Full Formation + Website
Harbor Compliance - $399 -
ZenBusiness $49 $49 $299
Northwest Registered Agent $225 $225 -
Incfile $149 $149 -
LegalZoom $178 $477 -
Rocket Lawyer $140 $290 -

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.

Is Harbor Compliance’s formation bundle a good value?

Compared to alternative LLC formation companies, Harbor Compliance includes fewer services in its formation package, and it does not offer you the option to personalize your package online.

If you need additional services, or if your particular state has specific requirements (e.g., the publishing of a notice in a newspaper), Harbor Compliance may offer add-ons on request. We have included a short list of these add-ons further down in our ‘Services’ section.

If value is a priority, you also might want to consider alternative formation companies, which may be more cost-effective than Harbor Compliance. Be sure to check out our other reviews for some options.

Cancelling Harbor Compliance

Harbor Compliance’s $399 formation package includes a one-year term of their registered agent service. After this free period runs out, you’ll be billed for the service annually, at the cost of $99 per year. This service will renew automatically unless you cancel it.

Harbor Compliance’s terms of service state that in order to cancel your registered agent service, you will first need to appoint a different registered agent. Harbor Compliance can continue to charge you the annual fee for as long as a state government’s records show that they are still your registered agent.

After you go through the process of changing your registered agent (or if your business is dissolved) you can contact them to cancel your service.

Harbor Compliance Pros

In this section, we will go over some of Harbor Compliance’s strong points.

Personalized customer service

The majority of LLC formation services we have reviewed use an online interface for LLC formations. Customers enter basic info about their business, such as its name, address, member(s), industry, etc., and can submit everything without having to talk to anyone. Harbor Compliance breaks with this practice and assigns a (real, human) compliance specialist to every customer.

When you order an LLC formation package with Harbor Compliance, you will be working directly with a compliance expert, who will help you gather all the necessary information and file your paperwork. They will be able to answer any questions you may have about the LLC formation process and take into account your specific needs and circumstances.

We consider such a personal and direct approach to customer relations a strong plus.

Harbor Compliance will assign a specialist to work with you on your LLC formation. If you would like to contact customer support or sales in general, you can do so via the following methods.

  • Phone: At 1-888-995-5895
  • Online: Through this webform
  • Email: At [email protected]ce.com
  • Mail: You can send physical mail to 1830 Colonial Village Lane; Lancaster, PA 17601
  • Fax: At 1-717-202-2576
Harbor Compliance’s customer service is available during standard business hours.

Single-day processing time

One of the most important metrics we use to evaluate LLC formation and incorporation services is the total turnaround time they offer for the creation of a business entity. This total turnaround time is the sum of the processing times of the filing service and the relevant state authorities.

Harbor Compliance does not provide an exact timetable by state, the way some competitors do. So we reached out to them, and we were told that Harbor Compliance processes all LLC formations within a single day of receiving the necessary information. They often file Articles of Organization on the same day they receive an order.

Harbor Compliance uses expedited filing wherever possible. They also maintain a network of local offices for in-person filing in states that lack digital document filing options. This can allow LLC formations to be completed in a matter of days rather than weeks.

Harbor Compliance’s rapid processing time places them close to the top of the pack among the LLC formation services we have reviewed. If you need your LLC formed ASAP, Harbor Compliance may be a good option for you.

Good track record

Despite being one of the younger companies we have reviewed, Harbor Compliance has built up a solid reputation. They have a rating of 4.5 out of 5, with 92 reviews, on Google Reviews. They also have an A+ rating with the BBB.

Google Reviews:

Harbor Compliance Google Reviews

Harbor Compliance has fewer reviews than some of the competition, but they still have enough to leave a positive impression. Many customer reviews praise the helpfulness and professionalism of Harbor Compliance’s service staff, as well as their quick turnaround times.

Harbor Compliance User Review 1

Not all of Harbor Compliance’s reviews are from customers who formed an LLC with them – there is also feedback from customers who created non-profit organizations, or made use of other compliance services.

Harbor Compliance User Review 2

We liked that Harbor Compliance replies to every customer who has left a review and provides next steps and resolutions for the small number of customers who were left unsatisfied.

Harbor Compliance Cons

Here, we will look at some areas where Harbor Compliance’s service has room for improvement.

Very expensive

At $399, the cost of Harbor Compliance’s LLC formation service is among the highest of any we have reviewed thus far. In addition, Harbor Compliance offers customers little in the way of flexibility when it comes to choosing individual services.

Most other LLC formation companies will allow you to pick from multiple packages, and possibly modify them, based on your specific needs.

With Harbor Compliance, you are limited to a single, expensive service package. Considering that some competitors offer basic formations for as low as $50 or less, you should consider carefully if this value for money ratio is acceptable.

While the company does have a strong track record, it’s not clear that the service they provide is really worth the significant markup.

If you are looking for an economical way to form your company, Harbor Compliance is probably not the best choice for you. You may want to consider some of their competitors, such as ZenBusiness.

Outdated and confusing website

We were surprised to discover how little information on Harbor Compliance’s LLC formation services is available on their own website. The webpage dedicated to their formation service doesn’t appear to be linked to the rest of the website – it has to be navigated to directly via search engines.

The webpage itself includes too little information about their service, especially about its cost. You won’t find any pricing information on their webpage – we had to reach out and ask them about it.

Some of the listed information also appears to be outdated. For example, the webpage lists two available formation packages. Harbor Compliance let us know that they are currently only offering a single formation package, in a limited capacity, with some other services available upon request.

Even after you’ve decided to do business with Harbor Compliance, the process is still unnecessarily confusing – there is no obvious purchase button or form. Instead, you have to contact their sales department via phone, email, or their webform to get the process started.

Fewer Services included with package

While Harbor Compliance’s ‘Formation’ package includes all the essentials necessary to create your business entity, it doesn’t contain as many additional services as some competitors offer. Other filing companies include partner offers, or services such as access to business document libraries, with their costlier pricing tiers.

But Harbor Compliance offers only the essentials. If you would like to obtain additional services, such as help with licensing your business, you will need to obtain them separately.

Given the relatively high price tag of Harbor Compliance’s formation bundle, we would have liked to see more included add-ons to help justify the cost.

Harbor Compliance Services

In this section, we will delve into the various services Harbor Compliance offers and explain when and why you may need them.

LLC formation filing

Included with LLC formation package

Harbor Compliance LLC Formation Service

When starting a new business, most owners opt to create a legal business entity. Doing so essentially separates your business from you as an individual. This, in turn, provides you with a number of legal and tax advantages and limits your risk exposure.

The most popular type of business entity, by far, is the Limited Liability Company. Forming an LLC will provide you with multiple advantages, particularly if you run a small or mid-sized business. Some good reasons to form an LLC include:

  • The limited liability protections of the LLC will ensure that your personal assets are always safe in the event that your business goes bankrupt. Your LLC will legally shield you as an individual from any claims against the business.
  • By default, an LLC is considered a disregarded entity with the IRS, meaning that you don’t have to file taxes separately for your business and can avoid double taxation. Alternatively, if you want to, you can make an S-Corp or C-Corp tax election with the IRS and be taxed like a corporation.
  • Owners of an LLC have a great deal of leeway regarding how their LLC will be managed and what types of records they need to keep. Forming an LLC will give you the flexibility to run your business as you see fit and keep administrative costs to a minimum. This is particularly beneficial for small businesses.

In order to form an LLC, you need to file a document (called Articles of Organization in most states) with your state’s Secretary of State office. This document will contain the desired name of your business and some other basic information.

There are no strict requirements regarding who has to file for your LLC. Some business owners hire an attorney or law firm to handle their formation, while others do it themselves. Using a professional LLC formation service is generally the most economical option, and it significantly lowers your risk of an application being rejected due to a mistake.

The business name of your future LLC must be unique. Harbor Compliance will run a business name verification search against your desired company name as part of their service. Still, we recommend that you verify the availability of your chosen business name yourself before ordering. Doing this will ensure that there are no unnecessary delays while your formation is being processed.

You can check the availability of your desired company name by doing a free online search on your state’s Secretary of State website. You should also reference the federal TESS database. A quick search there can be done in minutes and is generally free.

While browsing Harbor Compliance’s LLC formation webpage, you might wonder how to actually purchase an LLC formation. Virtually all of Harbor Compliance’s competitors have an online tool that lets customers provide necessary information over a number of simple pages.

We reached out to Harbor Compliance and discovered that ordering with them works somewhat differently. You will need to contact their sales team first. They will then have a compliance specialist quickly get in touch with you. The compliance specialist will discuss your specific needs, answer any questions, and obtain all the necessary information for your LLC formation.

You should be aware that forming an LLC carries a processing fee in all 50 states. This fee varies depending on the specific state and whether or not an expedited filing option is available. This state processing fee is not included in the cost of Harbor Compliance’s package. They will collect this sum for you and forward it to the office of the Secretary of State.

Depending on the industry you are engaged in and your state’s specific laws, you may be required to form a ‘professional limited liability company’ (PLLC) instead of a standard LLC. Harbor Compliance can help you with such formations as well. However, they told us that there may be additional service fees due to the additional filing requirements.

Harbor Compliance does not provide a precise breakdown of expected turnaround times by state, as some competitors do. They did, however, assure us that they begin working on LLC formation filings within a single day of receiving the necessary information from the customer and often file documents on the same day too.

To learn more about LLC formations in general, be sure to read our How to Start an LLC article.

Registered Agent service

One-year term included with $399 LLC formation package, after that $99 per yr

Harbor Compliance Registered Agent Service

When filing for your LLC, you will be required to appoint a registered agent (RA). A registered agent is a person or company that has consented to receive service of process on behalf of your LLC or corporation. In the event that your company gets sued in court, your registered agent will be the one who is served with the legal notice. Registered agents also receive official correspondence from local, state, and federal governmental agencies.

All US-based companies and corporations are required by law to appoint and maintain a registered agent. Failure to do so may result in losing your good standing with the government. Since legal notices are likely to be both important and time-sensitive, it is also in your best interest to ensure that you have a reliable registered agent.

While you are allowed to appoint yourself or a trusted partner as your company’s registered agent, there are some reasons why you may want to use a professional service instead. For example, you might want or need a third-party service if:

  • Your LLC will operate and be registered in multiple states
  • Your business doesn’t have a physical location and you don’t want to use your residential address
  • You are a frequent traveler or otherwise cannot be at a fixed location during business hours
  • You are privacy-conscious and don’t want your personal information to be shared publicly
  • You don’t live in the United States at all or you don’t live in the state where your business is formed

You should keep in mind that a business’s registered agent’s name and address will become part of the public record and can be accessed by anyone.

Like many corporate compliance specialists and LLC formation companies, Harbor Compliance provides a professional registered agent service in all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. We were assured that, unlike some competing services, Harbor Compliance provides their registered agent service in-house, through their own network of state offices. We consider this a plus, as it means better privacy protections for you.

You can let Harbor Compliance act as your registered agent. They will receive all legal notices and other government correspondence at their in-state offices on your behalf and will then forward them to you electronically.

Harbor Compliance includes one year of their registered agent service with your LLC formation. Afterward, the cost is $99 per year, with discounts offered if you sign up for a longer period of time.

Once you sign up with Harbor Compliance’s registered agent service, you won’t be able to cancel it without appointing a different person or company as your new RA. To do so, you will need to make sure your registered agent has been changed on official government records. Only then can you contact Harbor Compliance and cancel your registered agent service with them.

Harbor Compliance’s terms of service specify that they may continue to charge you if you have not appointed a new agent and canceled before your renewal date has passed.

You can read more about Harbor Compliance’s registered agent service on its dedicated webpage.

Operating Agreement template

Included with LLC formation package

An Operating Agreement is a document that sets out the ground rules regarding how your LLC will operate, including how it will be managed and what kinds of rights and responsibilities its members have. While not legally required in the majority of states, drafting an Operating Agreement is an essential step when forming a new company.

Typically, Operating Agreements include information such as:

  • The ownership interest of the members in the company
  • How profits and losses are allocated between the members
  • How the LLC will be managed and what role the members will play in the management of the company
  • The duties and responsibilities of the members
  • What happens when a member wished to leave the company

In the absence of an Operating Agreement, these questions will be determined by the default laws of your state. Having an Operating Agreement can help ensure your LLC is set up the way you and your fellow members would want it to be set up.

Having an Operating Agreement can also help you maintain the limited liability protections of your LLC in the event that they are challenged in court at a later date.

If you are forming your LLC in California, Delaware, Maine, Missouri, or New York, you will be required by law to sign an Operating Agreement for your company. This agreement doesn’t have to be filed, but you have to have one and keep it with your company records.

Most LLC formation services provide you with an Operating Agreement, which we consider essential for every LLC formation. In the case of Harbor Compliance, an Operating Agreement template is included with every LLC formation.

Federal tax ID service

Included with LLC formation package

After forming your LLC, you will most likely need to apply for a tax ID number – the majority of businesses in the US are required to have one. The federal employer identification number (EIN) serves this purpose. The EIN is a 9-digit number used by the IRS to track businesses for tax purposes, similar to how an SSN is used for individuals.

Not all businesses are required to have an EIN, but the majority are. Your LLC will need one if:

  • It has or will have employees
  • It will be required to file excise tax returns
  • It has more than one member and is therefore treated like a partnership
  • You make an S-Corp election with the IRS after your formation
  • Your state’s laws require you to have an EIN

As part of their LLC formation package, Harbor Compliance can file an application for an EIN with the IRS on your behalf. They will prepare all of the application documents and file them with the IRS.

We usually recommend against paid EIN filing services, because you can get an EIN online, in minutes, and for free by simply using the IRS’s website. Since getting an EIN is included with the LLC formation package at no additional cost, though, you might as well make use of this service.

Click this link to reach the IRS’ EIN online application tool. You can use it to conveniently request an EIN for your business. This tool is only available Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m to 10 p.m. EST.

If you don’t have an SSN, (because, for example, you are not a citizen of the United States and you don’t live in the US), you may need to apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number before you can get an EIN for your LLC.

Additional Services

Available on request

While only the above services are explicitly included with Harbor Compliance’s $399 LLC formation package, we were told that some additional services may be available on request, or where they are required by law.

You may need some additional services depending on the laws of your particular state. For example, in New York you are required to advertise the creation of your new LLC in a local newspaper. We were told that such services are available upon request.

Some of the additional services Harbor Compliance can provide include:

  • Filing of an Initial Report: This is required in some states, such as California.
  • S-Corp or C-Corp Tax Election: This changes the tax status of your LLC from the default disregarded entity to that of an S-Corp or C-Corp. Depending on your circumstances, this may reduce your tax burden.
  • Publishing: Harbor Compliance can publish a notice in a newspaper on your behalf.
  • Annual Report service: Harbor Compliance will track the due dates of your annual reporting obligations and file the paperwork too.
  • Business Licensing: Harbor Compliance can help assess and file for the specific business licenses your business requires.

Do we recommend Harbor Compliance?

Conditionally

Harbor Compliance is a competent specialist in the field of corporate compliance. They can ensure that your LLC formation or incorporation goes through quickly and smoothly. Their one-day LLC formation order processing and their network of local offices ensure the fastest possible turnaround time for your business’s formation.

We also liked Harbor Compliance’s personable approach to customer service. Instead of automating the processing of formation orders, like some alternative filing services, Harbor Compliance will connect you directly with one of their staff members to gather the necessary information and answer any questions or concerns you may have.

Unfortunately, these upsides come at a high cost. Harbor Compliance’s single package’s $399 price makes them one of the most expensive LLC formation companies we have looked at. While their service package includes everything we consider essential, it is questionable if such a steep markup is justified. For this reason, we can only make a conditional recommendation – we do not recommend this service for people looking for a highly cost-effective service.

To find out more about possible alternatives to Harbor Compliance, be sure to check out our other reviews and take a look at our best LLC service comparison page.

Harbor Compliance FAQs

Harbor Compliance provides a wide range of corporate compliance services, as well as a limited business entity formation service. While the creation of business entities is not the main focus of Harbor Compliance, they can nevertheless assist you with all aspects of forming an LLC.

It costs $399 to purchase the Harbor Compliance’s LLC formation package. This package also includes one year of Harbor Compliance’s registered agent service. After the first year, the registered agent service renews annually at a cost of $99.

Yes, Harbor Compliance is a legit company. They have been in the corporate compliance business since 2012 and have helped more than 20,000 companies meet their compliance needs.

Harbor Compliance is a reliable LLC formation company. However, at $399, their formation cost is very high compared to other companies providing the same services. It is very likely that you can find a more economical option with another provider.

Harbor Compliance is best if you want to work directly with a real, human compliance specialist. Harbor Compliance will assign one of their employees to you - they will handle all aspects of your filing and answer any questions you may have.

Harbor Compliance is a reliable specialist company. They can handle the processing of your LLC formation directly through their network of in-state offices in all 50 states, instead of using third parties.

Harbor Compliance is less flexible with regards to its pricing and services, compared to other LLC formation companies. They have only a single LLC formation package, priced at $399, whereas other companies have multiple tiers of packages, and some let you pick individual services.

Harbor Compliance is rated 4.5 out of 5 on Google with 92 reviews. They have fewer reviews than many of their competitors, and they don’t have any reviews on other common sites such as Trustpilot. They do have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, though.

Harbor Compliance offers their service in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. They provide their services through their nationwide network of local offices.

You should contact their customer service. If you have signed up for Harbor Compliance’s registered agent service and would like to cancel, you will need to show them that you have appointed a new registered agent and that Harbor Compliance is no longer listed on the government's records as your LLC’s registered agent.

Harbor Compliance’s terms of service don’t include an explicit general refund policy. They frequently complete filings on the same day as the initial order. As a result, it may be impossible to receive a refund on any state processing fees.

Harbor Compliance is headquartered in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. If you would like to contact them, you can do so via phone at 1-888-995-5895, via email at [email protected], or online through this webform.

According to their LinkedIn account, Harbor Compliance is a privately held company.

Harbor Compliance Pros
  • Personal customer service
  • Single-day processing time
  • Rated 4.5 out of 5 on Google
Harbor Compliance Cons
  • Very expensive
  • Outdated and confusing website
  • Fewer services included with formation package
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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