In this review, we will cut to the chase and go over what you really need to know about Incorporate.com, including:
- The true pricing of Incorporate.com’s LLC formation services
- Expected formation turnaround time
- Incorporate.com’s reliability, customer reviews, support offerings, and much more
Plus, we’ll provide clear explanations of the many other relevant, formation-related services that Incorporate.com offers.
Below is a quick summary of our findings. Further down, you’ll find our more comprehensive review, which details our conclusions and also explains everything you need to know about Incorporate.com
Is Incorporate.com the right choice for you?
Help & Support:
Ease of Use:
Scoring Weights: Pricing (2x), Turnaround Time (2x) and Customer Satisfaction (1.5x) have been given additional weights in our scoring.
Incorporate.com offers a wide range of services related to business formations, both incorporations and LLC formations, and compliance. They have an easy-to-use website that’s filled with lots of helpful information about when and why such services may be useful to you.
On the whole, though, we were unimpressed with Incorporate.com’s offerings. Their formation package, one-off service, and recurring service prices were all very expensive without providing any special or extra features to justify their high costs.
We also saw quite a few upsells on services that were almost completely unnecessary (such as an expedited EIN filing service).
Incorporate had few reviews for us to look over, despite being in business for quite some time. And, those reviews that we did find were generally very negative.
Visit Incorporate.com for more information, or continue reading our review to discover how we arrived at our conclusions.
Incorporate.com Quick Overview
Incorporate.com is owned and run by the Corporation Services Company, which has been in the business formation industry since well before the world wide web existed.
Founded in 1899, The Corporation Services Company (CSC) claims to have helped over 750,000 businesses with their formation and compliance needs. CSC is a very large company, boasting over 2,500 employees. They are based in Wilmington, Delaware.
Incorporate.com’s mission statement is described on their ‘About Us’ page:
We work with business owners throughout their companies' life cycles, helping them overcome the obstacles blocking effective compliance. And we provide the kind of thought leadership and guidance that will inspire and encourage their continued success, no matter the odds.
With significant resources at their disposal, Incorporate.com is able to offer quite a few formation and compliance-related services. These include:
- LLC Formations and Incorporations
- Registered Agent Services
- Operating Agreement and Bylaws Drafting
- EIN Filing
- Annual Reports filing
- Business Licenses and Permits Research
- Certificate of Good Standing Filing
- S Corporation Elections
- Doing Business As (DBAs)
Incorporate.com can help you start your business by dealing with the technicalities of business entity creation on your behalf. However, they are not a law or accounting firm and cannot provide legal advice or other legal services.
If you require legal advice concerning your LLC formation or operations, or if your business formation is particularly complex, you should consult with an attorney instead.
Incorporate.com offers three tiers of formation packages: The Starter, The Essentials, and The Works. Below, we’ve listed the prices of some of Incorporate.com’s core formation services and whether or not they’re included with each package. If a service isn’t included, the price shown is the price to add on that service as a one-off.
The total package prices are applicable to 48 out of the 50 states. Incorporate.com has slightly cheaper prices for those forming or incorporating in Delaware or Nevada: $79, $199, $279, for the Starter, Essentials, and Works, respectively.
Prices shown do not include state fees, which vary considerably.
|Service||Starter – $99||Essentials – $249||The Works – $349|
|Articles of Organization or Incorporation||Included||Included||Included|
|Annual Report Filing||$150 per year||$150 per year||$150 per year|
|Business License Compliance Package||$99||$99||Included|
|Registered Agent Service||$235 per year||$235 per year||$235 per year|
Now, we’ll go into a bit more detail on what’s included with each package.
Incorporate.com’s Starter Package: $99 + state fees
Incorporate.com’s Starter Package is its bare-bones offering. You’ll get your business formed or incorporated, but registered agent service and an operating agreement are not included. This package is the best option for those who need a basic formation and nothing else.
Unfortunately, given the high price of this package, we do not recommend it.
Plenty of competitors offer cheaper – or even free – packages if all you want to do is form or incorporate your business.
Here’s what comes with Incorporate.com’s Starter package:
Articles of Organization or Incorporation: These are the formal documents establishing your LLC or corporation, respectively, with the state. These docs include basic information, e.g., your business’ name, member(s) or owner(s), physical address, and industry.
CSCNavigator: An online dashboard and app that lets you track the progress of filings, provides updates about upcoming deadlines, and stores copies of important documents. Many competitors offer similar services that go by different names (account dashboard, organization center, alert center, etc.).
An important caveat – the CSCN is only “included” in the Starter package if you also buy Incorporate.com’s registered agent service. While we consider a registered agent service to be absolutely necessary, at $235 per year, Incorporate.com’s is very expensive when compared to other services.
Online document access: Copies of all the documents you submit to and get back from the state will be stored online for you. You’ll have quick, easy access if you ever need to reference or send an important document.
Compliance guarantee: Incorporate.com will fix any application errors that were solely caused by them, or they will pay you up to $75,000. We go into a bit more detail on this guarantee in the “Pros” section of our review.
Incorporate.com’s Essentials Package: $249 + state fees
The next step up on Incorporate.com’s pricing tier is its Essentials package.
Although this tier sees a large bump in price, it doesn’t offer much in the way of extra value. And, even though it’s called an “Essentials” package, it still doesn’t include Operating Agreement or Corporate Bylaws drafting, which we consider essential for a full formation.
For these reasons, we do not recommend Incorporate.com’s Essentials Package.
Incorporate.com’s Essentials Package comes with everything that’s included with the Starter Package, plus:
Corporate Kit: Includes a company seal, a personalized binder for important documents, and stock or membership certificates. While nice touches, none of these items is legally necessary for any LLC or corporation.
EIN Filing: Incorporate.com will file for an EIN (Employer Identification Number) with the IRS on your behalf.
Incorporate.com also lists “Annual Report Prep & File” as an included feature with their Essentials package. Through this service, Incorporate.com will help you prepare, and then file, your business’ annual report with the relevant state authorities. Most states require businesses to submit simple annual reports in order to maintain their good standing.
However, we did not include this service in the list above, because, even if you buy the Essentials package, Incorporate.com will still charge you a $150 annual fee. That’s not an included feature – that’s a paid add-on.
Incorporate.com’s The Works Package: $349 + state fees
Incorporate.com’s most comprehensive – and expensive – package is its “The Works” package. With this package, you do get Operating Agreement or Bylaws drafting, although you still don’t get a registered agent service included.
Incorporate.com’s Works Package is very expensive but provides only a few key formation services. For this reason, we do not recommend buying this package.
The add-ons that come with The Works package are useful, but they simply don’t justify the high price tag.
Incorporate.com’s Works Package comes with everything that’s included with the Essentials Package, plus:
Business license research package: Incorporate.com will research and compile all the permits, licenses, and other compliance-related documents that are relevant to your specific business. They won’t fill out these documents for you, but they’ll provide instructions on how to fill them out and give info on where and when to file them.
Operating Agreement or Bylaws: Key documents for protecting and maintaining your LLC or corporation’s liability protections, Operating Agreements and Corporate Bylaws outline how your business is to be run. Incorporate.com will help you draft these documents – they are not filed with any state authorities but are nonetheless very important to keep on hand.
Incorporate.com vs Competitors Pricing
Below, you’ll find our table that compares Incorporate.com’s formation prices with those of its main competitors.
Prices quoted in this table are independent of Incorporate.com’s packages’ pricing. They are standardized for comparison with competitors.
We define Basic Formation, Full Formation, and Full Formation + Website below the table.
|Service||Basic Formation||Full Formation||Full Formation + Website|
|Northwest Registered Agents||$225||$225||–|
Basic Formation: Covers the essential business entity creation. Includes – at minimum – filing of Articles of Organization and the drafting of an Operating Agreement for an LLC or corporate bylaws for a corporation.
Full Formation: Additionally includes – at minimum – a registered agent service, which most owners will find essential.
Full Formation + Website: In addition to full formation services, includes a website, domain, security certificate, and other services necessary to securing your company’s online presence.
Which Package Is the Best Value for the Money?
Truth be told, we don’t think any of Incorporate.com’s formation packages offer a particularly good value.
At $99 + state fees, the Starter Package probably offers the best value. It’s suited to those looking for a true bare-bones formation, with no key add-ons. But several competitors offer similar packages for free, so it’s hard to recommend going with Incorporate.com here.
As for the Essentials and Works packages, they simply don’t add enough value to justify their high prices. EIN filing can be done for free, in minutes, through the IRS’s website.
The annual report filing service isn’t really “included” since it costs $150 per year. The CSCNavigator is useful, but you can’t use it at all unless you commit to Incorporate.com’s very expensive registered agent service.
And Operating Agreement or Bylaws drafting is something we like to see included with even the most basic packages, yet Incorporate.com only includes it with its most expensive one.
Cancelling Incorporate.com’s services
Incoporate.com Refund Policy
Incorporate.com’s refund policy for fixed-fee services is fairly straightforward and can be found on Section 8 of their Terms of Service page.
If you cancel your order before we have submitted it to a federal, state, or local office, incorporate.com will refund the total amount paid for such order less a service fee. If you cancel your order after we have already submitted it, we will use our discretion to determine what portion, if any, we will refund.
All state fees paid to federal, state, or local offices by incorporate.com are nonrefundable.
They also suggest contacting them if you’re not satisfied with your service, providing a phone number: 866-963-8506, and an email: [email protected]
With regards to their annual reporting service, Incorporate.com states that you must contact them to cancel at least 90 days before your next report filing deadline if you want to avoid being charged the annual fee.
To cancel a registered agent service, you must first provide Incorporate.com with proof that you have switched registered agents and that the new registered agent is listed on relevant government records.
Doing all this can be quite a hassle – we prefer to see cancellation policies that are as painless and straightforward as possible.
If you would like to contact Incorporate.com in general, you can do so via the following means. Their teams are available Monday through Friday, between 8 am and 8 pm ET.
- By phone: By calling 855-235-3824 or 855-236-4043.
- Online: You can leave a message through this webform.
- Via email: Send your message to [email protected], or [email protected] if you have already placed an order.
- Via webchat: You can open a chat session through Incorporate.com's website.
- Physical mail: You can send your physical mail to Incorporate.com; 251 Little Falls Drive; Wilmington, DE 19808-1674.
Below are a couple of the areas where we believe Incorporate.com’s service is particularly strong.
Large suite of services available
Some smaller formation companies offer a fairly limited set of core formation services. Incorporate.com, however, stands out with its wide range of offerings.
They provide services related to not only LLC formations, but also PLLC (professional limited liability corporation) formations, plus incorporations of both standard corporations (c-corps) and nonprofits.
Their add-on services, including business license searches, DBA filings, foreign qualification filings, and registered agent service are all done in-house.
We almost always prefer to see services performed in-house. Avoiding third-party providers helps protect your privacy, and it also means less of a headache in the event you need to cancel or change a service.
If you expect you’ll need some extra services besides those necessary for a bare-bones formation – and many new business owners find that they do – it’s certainly a plus to be able to get everything you need from one company.
Corporate compliance guarantee
Many formation companies offer some type of satisfaction guarantee. Unfortunately, these are often vague or don’t have any teeth behind them. Incorporate.com, on the other hand, puts their money where their mouth is. Along with BizFilings, they are among the few companies that make an explicit promise.
Incorporate.com’s website states:
Incorporate.com guarantees its services against filing defects negligently caused by incorporate.com for the life of your entity. If your filing is found by a court of competent jurisdiction within the United States to be invalid at the time the formation documents were properly filed solely due to the fault of incorporate.com, we will resolve the issue, or we will pay you up to $75,000.
That’s a much more explicit guarantee than we’re used to seeing, which is a plus.
An incorrect filing or formation is the last thing a new business owner needs. Rejected applications are a waste of money and, even more importantly, time. Having an ironclad service guarantee like the one Incorporate.com offer provides some solid peace of mind.
We were also disappointed with several key aspects of Incorporate.com’s service. We discuss these below.
There are no two ways about it, Incorporate.com is expensive. And it’s not just the website’s key services that are pricey – add-ons and supplementary services across the board are very expensive.
Let’s start with Incorporate.com’s formation service. To get what we consider a “full formation” – that’s a formation that includes Articles of Organization, a Registered Agent Service, and an Operating agreement – your cheapest option is to go with Incorporate.com’s basic package and then tack on an Operating Agreement and Registered Agent service as add-ons.
Your grand total there would be $99 + $99 + $235, or $433. Among the services we’ve reviewed, only LegalZoom charges more for a full formation, and they’re a much larger company with much greater name recognition.
Incorporate.com charges $150 for their annual compliance service. Most competitors charge $100 or less for the same service.
Even Incorporate.com’s EIN filing service is noticeably more expensive than competitors. They charge $80, whereas other formation companies tend to charge $50 or less.
We could go on with several other services, but you probably get the point. Incorporate.com is pricey.
Lots of upselling and poor fee transparency
Plenty of formation companies are guilty of upselling, but that doesn’t make it okay. Oftentimes, upsells involve services performed by third-party partners. That isn’t the case with Incorporate.com. Instead, they upsell on in-house services that are just plain unnecessary.
One such upsell is Incorporate.com’s EIN filing service, which is included in both its The Essentials and The Works packages but can also be tacked-on to a Starter package for $80.
EINs can be obtained online, from the IRS’s EIN webpage, with very little hassle. It’s free, and it’s easy. Incorporate.com charges $80 for them to do this for you.
What’s worse, though, is that when you try to check out with either an Essentials or Works package in your basket, Incorporate.com tries to sell you an “expedited EIN processing” service for another $75. They state that “Routine EINs take 3-4 business days” to process, but with expedited processing, you can have yours the next day.
That’s simply not true.
If you use the IRS webpage linked above between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. local time on a Monday through Friday, you’ll usually get your EIN within minutes.
Incorporate.com is also not as transparent with fees and recurring payments as we’d like them to be.
On their package page, for instance, you’ll see “Annual Report Prep & File” included with both the Essentials and Works packages. Clicking for more details, though, reveals that the “included” service actually costs $150 per year. It’s not built into the price of either package at all.
Finally, many of the prices for Incorporate.com’s add-on services are either difficult to find or not listed on their website at all. If you’re trying to save time by using a formation company, the last thing you want to do is have to dig through pages and FAQs to find a service price.
The Corporation Service Company, which owns and runs Incorporate.com, has been in business for over a century. Given its very, very long track record, we were hoping to find more reviews to dig through than we did.
We couldn’t find a single entry on Trustpilot or Google Reviews. And we could only find a handful on Yelp and BBB, all of which were for Corporation Service Company, the owner and operator of Incorporate.com.
Although averages can always be skewed when dealing with low volumes of reviews, what we found was not encouraging.
Corporation Service Company has a 2 out of 5 average on Yelp.
Many complaints were focused on Incorporate.com’s poor customer service and lack of clarity regarding fees. Several reviewers were unpleasantly surprised by huge, unexpected bills.
Of course, we are used to dealing with companies that have hundreds or thousands of reviews, so a handful of bad reviews should be taken with a grain of salt. Still, the language of Incorporate.com’s reviews was some of the most strongly negative we have seen.
Average turnaround time
Normally, a middling turnaround time wouldn’t be worth mentioning. In conjunction with Incorporate.com’s very high prices, though, we decided it was fair for this trait to go in the “con” column.
Several of the expensive formation services justify at least a portion of their costs with a very quick turnaround time.
BetterLegal, for instance, charges a hefty $389 for a full formation – at the same time, they do promise to file your formation with the state within one business day, and their process for returning documents to you once the state has approved them is very fast as well.
Incorporate.com gives a reasonable estimated processing time for their formations at checkout, but there are no explicit promises about how fast they’ll send your documents to, or get them back from, the state.
They also try to offer you a $20 expedited shipping option, but that’s on top of their already expensive packages. Many competitors’ more expensive packages have expedited processing or shipping included.
Below, we will explain and review all relevant services offered by Incorporate.com so you can make an informed decision on your LLC formation or incorporation.
LLC Formation and Incorporation
Price varies by package
Incorporate.com’s formation packages are geared towards helping you start your LLC or corporation.
LLCs (Limited Liability Corporations) are one of the most popular business types in the U.S. They are generally easier to manage – having fewer record keeping and compliance requirements – than standard corporations.
LLCs also offer some significant liability protections. If your LLC is sued or goes under, your personal assets will be at much lesser risk, because your LLC is considered a separate entity from you.
There can also be some significant tax benefits to forming an LLC because of pass-through taxation.
Pass-through taxation means that, instead of your LLC being taxed as a business, the profits from your LLC pass directly through to you and are simply taxed as income instead.
This means that you can avoid double-taxation – i.e., having both you and your business be taxed for the same income.
Whether pass-through taxation is something that would benefit you and your business is something to be discussed with a certified accountant or other small-business expert.
Corporations, while having more associated requirements, may also provide their own structural or taxation advantages.
Both LLCs and standard corporations are formed at the state level, usually by filing documents called Articles of Organization (for LLCs) or Articles of Incorporation (for corporations). These documents are almost always filed and submitted to a given state’s Secretary of State office.
While there are plenty of similarities in formations and incorporations across states, each state does have its own separate set of rules and regulations. Going through and learning about these can be a huge time sink, but the same is true for filing your formation or incorporation incorrectly.
Many new business owners, then, hire a formation company, like Incorporate.com, to file key documents for them. All of Incorporate.com’s packages allow you to file for an LLC or a corporation (or a nonprofit, which is discussed below).
After entering some basic info about your business, including your first and second-choice names, your address, and your industry, your application will be reviewed and then sent off to the relevant state authorities.
Unlike other companies, Incorporate.com does not explicitly mention doing a name check for your business.
Even though it’s probable that Incorporate.com does do this, and just doesn’t mention it, we highly recommend doing your own name search. Most states have an easy name business name search tool on their Secretary of State website. You might also want to reference the federal trademark database.
Ensuring that your intended business’s name is not already taken will help you avoid a rejected application – which is a huge waste of both time and money.
Finally, it’s important to note that all states charge a filing fee for formations and incorporations. This fee, which ranges between $40 and $500, will be added to your package cost and forwarded to the state.
Price varies by package
The benefits of incorporation are not limited to those organizations that are in the business of making money. There are plenty of great reasons for charitable organizations to incorporate – as nonprofits.
Official “nonprofit” status is granted by the IRS, and it can be an instant image and credibility enhancer. There’s no quicker way to show potential clients, partners, or donors that you are a serious organization.
Incorporating as a nonprofit also offers you the same set of liability protections that you get with a corporation or LLC.
Perhaps most importantly, though, being designated as a nonprofit lets you apply for 501(c)(3) status. This status will allow donations to your organization to be tax-deductible. It can also open the door to all sorts of grant and partnership opportunities that are only available to 501(c)(3) organizations.
Incorporate.com can help you apply for 501(c)(3) status for your nonprofit, but they only offer this service as a part of their Works package, which, for most states, is $349 + state fees.
All of Incorporate.com’s formation packages are applicable to nonprofits, just as they are to both LLCs and corporations.
S Corporation Election
Included with formation packages
The S-corp status is a designation assigned by the IRS. Both corporations and LLCs can elect to be taxed as S-corps. That election is done through IRS Form 2553.
There may be several reasons to designate your business as an S-corp (sometimes called a Small Business Corporation), but the most prominent are usually tax-related.
S-corp status allows corporations to take advantage of a form of pass-through taxation, and it lets LLCs reduce their payroll tax burden, in some situations.
You can read about S-corp status in more detail on this IRS page.
We almost always recommend having a discussion with a professional as to whether or not electing for S-corp status is a good decision for your business.
Incorporate.com’s S-corp info page mentions that they offer a 30-minute consultation, with a certified public accountant, to any questions who have questions about the process or whether S-corp election is right for them.
Though we’re wary of time-limited consultations, which are often upsell opportunities, this service might be of real value to those curious about S-corp status.
Even though it’s not explicitly mentioned on Incorporate.com’s formation and incorporation page, we assume this service also applies there, as S-corp election is included as an option with all three of their formation packages.
Registered Agent Service
$235 per year
Registered agents are individuals or companies who receive official correspondence on behalf of your business. They they are responsible for what is called “service of process” – essentially, the receiving of certain legal documentation, such as court summons.
All business entities in the United States are legally required to have a registered agent. Not having one on record will threaten your good standing with the state and can lead to penalties.
Registered agents must be available during normal business hours, and they must be in the same state as your business – if your business operates in multiple states, you’ll need registered agents in each of them.
While the role of a registered agent may not sound particularly exciting or complicated, it is a vital one. Missing out or responding late to local, state, or federal correspondence could have serious consequences for your business.
If you overlook a piece of mail about a permitting issue, for instance, you may be subject to fees, or your business may be temporarily shut down or even completely dissolved.
Missing out on a court summons and the subsequent court date may mean your case will be automatically forfeited.
Having an on-the-ball registered agent, then, is key. Technically, you are allowed to be your own registered agent. However, doing so can be burdensome, and we usually recommend against it.
Plenty of formation companies offer a registered agent service, either in-house or through third-parties. You may have good reason to hire a registered agent service if:
- You are a frequent traveler and are not always at a single address
- You are not a resident of the United States
- Your business operates in multiple states
- You want to protect your privacy (registered agents’ names and addresses are publicly available)
Incorporate.com offers a registered agent service. It’s in-house, which we like – this helps further protect your privacy and it tends to make cancellations and alterations easier too. However, we are not a fan of Incorporate.com’s hefty price tag for this service: $235 per year.
Most formation companies and registered agent specialists offer the same service for between $100 and $150 per year. Northwest Registered Agent, for instance, charges $125 annually.
Unfortunately, Incorporate.com also makes some of their services, such as their CSCNavigator tool, only available to those who purchase their registered agent service.
We weren’t happy to see these services linked, given how expensive Incorporate.com’s registered agent fees are.
Operating Agreement and Bylaws Drafting
Included with The Works package, otherwise $99 as an add-on
Operating Agreements and Corporate Bylaws are simple but important documents.
An Operating Agreement outlines how an LLC will be run, covering information such as:
- How the LLC will be managed
- How ownership will be divided among members
- How profits are to be paid out
- What happens if a member would like to exit the LLC, if there is a dispute among members, or if a member passes away
Corporate Bylaws are the corporate equivalent of Operating Agreements, covering many of the same topics.
Technically, only a handful of states – California, Delaware, Maine, Missouri, and New York – require you to have an Operating Agreement. And, even in these states, you don’t have to file anything, you just have to keep your agreement on hand.
Despite the lack of legal necessity, we highly recommend drafting an Operating Agreement or Corporate Bylaw for your LLC or corporation.
Operating Agreements and Corporate Bylaws help maintain your business’ liability protections should they be challenged in court at a later date. Without an operating agreement, an LLC can resemble a sole proprietorship.
They can also provide guidance in the case of unexpected events. Almost nobody goes into business thinking about potential disputes with partners or considering what they’ll do if an owner or shareholder passes away. Operating Agreements and Corporate Bylaws can offer clarity on the steps to take in such situations.
Since we consider Operating Agreement or Corporate Bylaw drafting to be one of the most vital services relating to formations and incorporations, we were disappointed to see that Incorporate.com only included it with its most expensive package.
You can tack on either of these services as an add-on, though – although the price is steep at $99.
Included with Essentials and The Works Packages, otherwise $80 as an add-on
An EIN (Employer Identification Number) is a simple tax ID number that most businesses will need to have. EINs are assigned by the IRS for the purpose of keeping track of businesses.
You can think of an EIN as sort of being like a Social Security Number – every one is unique, and there are lots of situations where you’ll need to have it on hand.
Businesses are required to have an EIN if they have employees, if they have multiple members, are taxed as an S-Corp, or need to file excise tax returns. They may also need one to apply for a business bank account. On top of that, several states require all their businesses to have EINs, whether or not they meet the criteria above.
Luckily, obtaining an EIN is a painless process. From 7 am to 10 pm local time, you can use the IRS’s EIN filing webpage to get your EIN assigned to you. All you need to do is enter a few key pieces of info about your business, and you’ll usually have your number within minutes. There’s no fee, either.
Since obtaining an EIN is so easy to do on your own, we usually recommend against any paid EIN filing service. Incorporate.com includes EIN filing with its Essentials and Works packages – we’re not a big fan of the cost of an unnecessary service being built into these packages, but it’s a pretty common practice among formation companies.
If you try to check out with a Starter Package in your cart, Incorporate.com will try to sell you EIN filing for an $80 add-on fee. Not only is any paid EIN filing usually unnecessary, but this fee is even steeper than most of Incorporate.com’s competitors’ fees.
What we most recommend avoiding, though, is Incorporate.com’s $70 “expedited EIN filing” add-on, which it presents with its Essentials and Works packages. Given how fast you should be able to attain an EIN yourself, this service is almost completely useless.
Annual Reports Filing
$150 per year + state fees
Most states require LLCs, corporations, and nonprofits to file some sort of annual report. The exact contents of these reports range from state to state, but they’re normally pretty straightforward. States do this so they can keep tabs on the businesses operating within their jurisdiction.
In some states, annual reports are all due on one date. In other states, an individuals’ due date is based on when their business was founded (e.g., if you founded your business in April of 2020, your first annual report would be due April of 2021). A few states only require a report to be submitted every two years.
While filing an annual report may seem more like an inconvenience than anything else, you should not overlook doing it. Failing to file your annual report on time could lead to fees or your business losing its good standing with the state.
Incorporate.com, like many other formation and compliance companies, offers an annual report tracking and filing service.
You won’t be totally free of responsibility, as you’ll still have to enter in some info about your business before your report is filed. But, Incorporate.com will help you stay on task by sending you reminder updates, compiling all the necessary forms (you may need to file multiple reports if you do business in multiple states), and filing those forms with the relevant state authorities.
For this service, Incorporate.com charges $150 per year. That’s on the expensive side, but not completely unreasonable. That also excludes state fees, though these are usually minor (under $100).
What we really did not like to see, though, was that Incorporate.com lists annual report filing as an “included” service on its Essentials and Works packages but still charges you the $150, even for your first year.
Essentially, this service is not “included” – you’re just automatically signed up for it when you go with either of these packages. If you don’t want to use Incorporate.com’s annual report service, it’ll be one more thing you have to cancel to avoid getting hit with a steep recurring fee.
Business License Compliance Package
Included with The Works Package, otherwise $99 as an add-on
Depending on your business’s size, location, and industry, it may be subject to a few or many regulations. These regulations may be at the local, state, or federal level, and they usually necessitate having a proper permit(s) or license(s).
Figuring out which regulations apply to your specific business, and then compiling and filing all the relevant permits and licenses, can be a huge time sink. The process can involve a lot of red tape and usually requires a much greater knowledge of regulatory law than the average business owner has.
Many formation companies offer a service to help with this. Such services go under different names. “Business license search” is a popular one. Incorporate.com calls its equivalent service a “business license research package.”
As a part of this package, Incorporate.com will research what licenses and permits your business may be subject to and then compile all the necessary documents. These won’t be filled out for you, but you will be given instructions on how to fill them out and where to send them.
Figuring out which permits and licenses are applicable to you usually takes longer than actually filling out the forms. So, this service can be a huge time-saver, especially if you’re in a more highly-regulated industry.
Incorporate.com includes its research package as part of its Works package. Or, you can add this service to another package for a $99 fee. Unlike many of Incorporate.com’s other add-on services, which tend to be very expensive, this one is right in line with the average.
Doing Business As (DBA) Filing
$150 + state fees
Many states allow you to do business under a name that’s different from the one you originally formed or incorporated with. DBAs (Doing Business As), Fictitious Names, Trade Names, and Assumed Names are all terms for this, though they are each used by different states and may have slightly different stipulations.
There are lots of situations where a business owner may want to do business under a different name. One of the most common scenarios is when a business expands its scope or offerings.
Say you own a greenhouse and your business is called Sweet Sunshine Greenhouse LLC. Originally, you sell starts, full-grown plants, and gardening supplies. But as your business expands, you start selling more and more heirloom and wildflower seeds, not just to local customers but to people all over the country. You want to change your name to show your focus on, and expertise with, seeds. So, you file for a DBA to operate under the new name Sweet Sunshine Seeds LLC.
You may also apply for a DBA if you add or remove partners. Jones Landscaping, for instance, may become Jones & Sons Landscaping.
Incorporate.com can help you file for DBA. This is an add-on service, since it’s normally done by companies that are already established. Incorporate.com charges $150, not including state fees. Like many of their other one-off services, this is on the expensive side for a DBA.
Minor services and offers
Prices vary by state and service
Incorporate.com offers more than just the services we’ve reviewed above. Below, we’ll briefly cover a few of the other package services and add-ons they offer. While this list isn’t exhaustive, it touches on those extra services we think new business owners are most likely to use.
Mail Forwarding: Incorporate.com will receive your mail at their physical address in Delaware and then forward it to you. This can be a plus for those who want to maintain their privacy or who don’t have a physical mailing address in the U.S. The cost of this service is $200 per year for domestic customers and $275 for international customers.
CSCNavigator: An app and corresponding online dashboard that lets you store important documents, track deadlines and application progress, and quickly pay bills or recurring fees. Most formation companies offer an equivalent tool – we find them to generally be quite useful, especially for businesses with lots of permitting or filing deadlines to keep track of.
Unfortunately, Incorporate.com’s CSCNavigator tool is only available to customers who enroll in their registered agent service.
At the cost of $235 per year, Incorporate.com’s registered agent service is quite a bit more expensive than average, so we were disappointed to see these two services tied together like this.
Certificate of Good Standing Filing: A Certificate of Good Standing is a state-issued document that shows your business is up to date on all of its filings, fees, and permits.
Sometimes, clients will request a copy of your certificate as a way to ensure your business is legitimate. Banks will often require a Certificate of Good Standing when you open a business account.
Incorporate.com can file for a certificate on your behalf – fees vary depending on the state of your filing.
Foreign Qualifications: A Foreign Qualification is necessary for businesses that are planning on expanding across state lines. Through a Foreign Qualification, you can receive a document – usually called a Certificate of Authority – that legally permits you to do business in the issuing state.
Incorporate.com can file for a Foreign Qualification on your behalf, with fees varying depending on which state(s) you’re applying for.
If your business is growing and you’re considering expanding into new states, remember that, in addition to attaining the relevant Certificate(s) of Authority, you will also need to hire registered agents for each of the new states that you’re operating in.
Dissolutions: A dissolution is essentially a formal closing of your business. They may be necessary for tax or liability reasons, or they may be done simply because an owner is moving onto a new business or retiring. Incorporate.com can file your dissolution paperwork with the relevant state authorities – fees vary by state.
Reinstatements: Reinstatements are necessary when, for whatever reason, your business loses its good standing with the State.
Incorporate.com can help with a reinstatement, not only by filing the necessary paperwork, but also by contacting your Secretary of State’s office and figuring out what caused your lapse in good standing to occur in the first place (it may be a missed filing fee, unpaid taxes, the lack of a proper permit, etc.).
Incorporate.com’s fees for reinstatements vary by state and by the nature of your specific reinstatement situation.
Amendments: Amendments, with respect to LLCs and corporations, are formal changes to your business’ founding documents – their Articles of Organization or Incorporation, respectively.
You may require an amendment if you change the name of your business, move locations, add new members, or for a wide range of other reasons.
Incorporate.com offers an amendment filing service, filing for these changes with your Secretary of State office on your behalf – fees vary by state and amendment type.
Stock and Membership Certificates: Incorporate.com designs and prints customized stock and membership certificates – these are physical documents that represent shares of ownership in your LLC or Corporation. Rates vary from $1.50 to $0.50 per share or certificate, depending on your order quantity.
Corporate & LLC Kits: This kit includes a personalized binder for organizing documents, as well as a personalized seal that can be used to emboss essential documents. While it may be a nice touch for some, none of the items in this kit are legally required. Incorporate.com charges $99 for this add-on.
Do We Recommend Incorporate.com?
No, we do not.
Incorporate.com’s services are simply too expensive. At nearly $200, a basic formation with Incorporate.com is pricey. At over $400, a full formation is extremely pricey.
There’s little to justify these costs. Incorporate.com has a very limited review history, and what reviews are available are quite poor. Their turnaround time is nothing special. Their online dashboard and app are fairly standard, and they’re not even available unless you spend $235 on a registered agent service.
On top of all that, Incorporate.com engages in some pretty blatant upselling, while also being less than transparent about their recurring fees.
Incorporate.com has a couple of strong-points, but they don’t outweigh all these negatives. For that reason, we don’t recommend using Incorporate.com for your formation or compliance needs.
Be sure to check out our other reviews for information on stronger competitors and better options!
What does Incorporate.com do?
Incorporate.com offers LLC formations and incorporations. They also offer a whole suite of related formation and compliance services, from a registered agent service to a business license search to foreign qualifications and more.
How much does it cost to form an LLC with Incorporate.com?
Incorporate.com’s cheapest formation package is $99 + state fees. That price drops down to $79 for those starting a business in Delaware or Nevada. $249 and $349 packages are also available – these come with additional services.
Is Incorporate.com legit?
Incorporate.com is run by The Corporation Service Company, which has been in business since 1899. They are accredited with the Better Business Bureau. The company, however, has poor reviews on the few sites where reviews for it are even available.
Is Incorporate.com good for LLC formations?
Incorporate.com’s formation services are quite a bit more expensive than the competition. We recommend going with a different company for your formation needs.
Who should purchase Incorporate.com’s The Works package?
Due to its high cost and low added value, we don’t recommend Incorporate.com’s Works package to anyone.
Who is Incorporate.com best for?
Due to their high prices, upselling, and low fee transparency, we don’t think Incorporate.com is a good option for new business owners.
What are the benefits of using Incorporate.com?
Incorporate.com does boast an easy-to-use website and a strong compliance guarantee. However, we believe Incorporate.com’s weak points outweigh these strengths.
How does Incorporate.com compare to other formation services?
Incorporate.com offers a fairly extensive range of services, but they are much more expensive than the competition, without offering much extra in return.
How is Incorporate.com rated?
Available reviews for Incorporate.com are very limited. The few reviews available for the Corporation Service Company, which runs Incorporate.com, are quite poor.
What states does Incorporate.com serve?
Incorporate.com serves all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia.
How do I cancel Incorporate.com’s services?
Does Incorporate.com have a refund policy?
You may be able to get a partial refund on fixed-fee services that have not yet been submitted to state authorities. Incorporate.com also has a compliance guarantee backed by $75,000.
Where is Incorporate.com located?
The Company Corporation, which runs Incorporate.com, has its physical offices at 251 Little Falls Drive Wilmington, DE 19808.
Who owns Incorporate.com?
Incorporate.com is owned by The Company Corporation, which is in turn owned and run by Corporation Services Company, a private company based in Wilmington, Delaware.