Northwest Registered Agent vs LegalZoom

Are you looking to form a limited liability company, corporation, or nonprofit but are stuck trying to settle on the best formation service to use?

Choosing the right service can be difficult. That’s why we’ve evaluated over a dozen of the top services, looking at metrics in a number of categories, such as pricing and turnaround time, in order to give you a clear idea of each services’ strengths and weaknesses.

We took an in-depth look at Northwest Registered Agent and LegalZoom in their respective individual reviews. In this article, we will compare them head-to-head!

Here are our results:

Northwest Registered Agent vs LegalZoom: Verdict 

Both LegalZoom and Northwest Registered Agent impressed us with their well-built and easily navigable websites. Both also offered great help and support options, which tended to be backed up by positive reviews.

When it came to our two most important metrics – Pricing and Turnaround Time – though, there wasn’t much of a contest. 

Northwest Registered Agent, although far from the most affordable option we’ve reviewed, was much more reasonable than LegalZoom on pricing. Northwest Registered Agent offers full formations (explained below) for $225 and a standalone registered agent service for $125 per year – comparable prices at LegalZoom are $477 and $299 per year.

We were also very impressed with Northwest Registered Agents’ turnaround times. They offer same-day filing on all orders, and they don’t charge any sort of fee for expedited filing, as many of their competitors do. 

LegalZoom makes no such promise, instead offering a total processing time estimate of 30 business days for basic orders (with Northwest Registered Agent, that overall time is 1-2 weeks, depending on the state).

Though they certainly have room for improvement in a few areas, Northwest Registered Agent performed quite well respectively – they are one of just a few formation services that we recommend using.

Northwest Registered AgentLegalZoom
Pricing3/51/5
Turnaround Time5/52/5
Customer Satisfaction5/53/5
Ease of Use5/55/5
Help & Support4/55/5
Overall4.3/52.7/5

Tip:

Curious about how other companies stacked up on our formation comparisons? Check out these articles:

Interested in learning more about the other companies we recommend for forming your LLC? Head over to our reviews of ZenBusiness and Active Filings, our #1 and #3 scoring companies, respectively.

Still deciding whether or not forming an LLC is the right choice for your new business? Or, maybe you just want some clarification about the process as a whole? You may want to check out our How to Start an LLC article. 

If you want to learn more about how we came to our conclusion in this specific service provider match-up, though, read on!

Northwest Registered Agent vs LegalZoom: Pricing

For most new business owners, pricing is the deciding factor when it comes to choosing an online formation and filing service. 

But comparing prices across companies can be tough. That’s because, although the formation process itself is fairly standardized, there’s a huge range of products and services that are included in various companies’ LLC formation packages.

In fact, we’ve seen everything from $0 bare-bones formation bundles to “premium” bundles that’ll cost you $800!

When comparing companies, then, we try to go beyond sticker price and look at overall value. In essence, we ask, which service offers the most bang for your buck? 

Looking at value means differentiating between vital services – Operating Agreement drafting, registered agent service, etc. – and unnecessary “fluff” services – tax id number filing with the IRS, customized corporate seals and record books, and so on.

For our Northwest Registered Agent vs LegalZoom side-by-side comparison, we tried to make things clearer by listing the effective prices of the three services we think are the most important: a “basic” formation, a “full” formation, and an annual registered agent service.

Here’s how each company did:

Note:

These listed prices do not include state fees, which can vary considerably. Usually, though, state filing fees fall in the $50 to $150 range.

Northwest Registered AgentLegalZoom
Basic Formation$225$178
Registered Agent$125 per year$299 per year
Full Formation$225$477

Not sure what the difference between a basic and a full formation is? Here’s how we define each:

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 LLC owners will find essential.

Northwest Registered Agent

Northwest Registered Agents’ prices are average to slightly above-average, and they are a bit of an outlier when it comes to how they bundle their services. Instead of offering several package tiers, Northwest Registered Agent just offers one standardized formation service.

This service can be paid for in two ways: upfront, or in twelve monthly installments through the company’s “VIP” program. 

The up-front cost of a formation is $225. That price includes a business name search, the filing of your Articles of Organization, the drafting of your Operating Agreement, and one year’s worth of free registered agent service. 

Annual compliance filing is “included,” but it actually costs $100 per year, so make sure to opt out if you don’t need that service.

Prices with the monthly installment plan, meanwhile, vary from state to state, being anywhere from $29 to $73. These costs usually end up being 10% more than the fixed cost, so we recommend just paying upfront.

Northwest Registered Agents’ registered agent service is $125 per year. That’s a solid price, especially since it’s done in-house. Although, we’ve seen competitors charge only $100 or less per year. 

Note:

Remember, small differences in registered agent prices can add up, since you’ll need it year after year, and you’ll need it in multiple states if your business expands

As for additional services, Northwest Registered Agents’ pricing puts them right in the middle of the pack. 

Here are few examples of prices on services many small business owners may find relevant:

Certificate of Good standing filing is $50, EIN filing is $50, S-corp elections are $50, premium mail forwarding is $40 per month, and annual compliance filing is $100 per year.

LegalZoom

LegalZoom’s formation services are some of the most expensive we’ve seen. 

The company’s least expensive packageis their “Economy” package, which will run you $79. This package includes a business name search, the filing of your Articles of Organization, and the drafting of a Banking Resolution. 

To get a “basic” formation, though, you’ll have to tack on Operating Agreement drafting, which will cost an additional $99, bringing your total price point to $178.

For a “full” formation, you’ll also need to add onLegalZoom’s registered agent service. And at $299 per year, this service is the most expensive we’ve seen. You don’t get your first year free, either, as is the case with many other formation companies.

Now granted, LegalZoom’s registered agent service is done in-house and does come with some nice add-on features, such as a compliance alerts calendar and unlimited cloud storage for your formation, compliance, and legal documents. 

Still, a $477 full formation ($178 + $299) is very pricey. Related add-on services, such as Foreign Qualification filing, annual report filing, and DBA filing, also tend to be more expensive than average when you buy through LegalZoom.

Pricing Winner: Northwest Registered Agent

Northwest Registered Agent is far from the most affordable option out there. In fact, price is their lowest scoring category. Yet they still beat LegalZoom. Their full formation costs are far better than LegalZoom’s, and their registered agent annual fee is less than half what LegalZooms’ is.

Northwest Registered Agent may not be the best choice for budget-conscious shoppers or those looking for a truly bare-bones formation. But they’re still far ahead of LegalZoom when it comes to pricing.

Northwest Registered Agent vs LegalZoom:  Turnaround time

Small business owners turn to online formation services in order to save themselves both time and hassle. Paying a nominal fee to the experts – companies that know formations, incorporations, and the regulations and red tape involved backward and forward – can save you hours or even days’ worth of work.

But if a formation company takes way too long to process your order, or makes an error that delays your overall filing, then you’ll end up wasting both time and money. 

This is why we consider turnaround time to be such an important factor for determining the quality of a formation service. 

Customers have the right to expect prompt and error-free processing of formation documents, so they can begin doing business in an official capacity as soon as possible. 

Most businesses can’t get started with important other tasks, like hiring employees or starting a business bank account, until they’re officially registered and recognized. 

Here’s how both Northwest Registered Agent and LegalZoom did on some key metrics of this important category:

Northwest Registered AgentLegalZoom
Same-day filingYesNo
Paid internal rush optionNoYes
Overall turnaround timeFastSlow

Northwest Registered Agent

Northwest Registered Agent offers same-day filing for all of its formation clients, full stop. Same or next-day filings are our gold standard when it comes to turnaround times, so we see this as a huge plus.

Of course, same-day filing doesn’t mean your business will be formed in a day. You’ll still have to wait on state authorities to process your application. But, Northwest Registered Agent is doing everything in their power to move your formation along as quickly as possible.

And, what’s more, they don’t charge extra for this service.

A lot of other formation companies do offer same or next day filing, but you have to pay for an expedited filing fee (that’s not the same as expediting with the state… it’s just internally “expedited” with your formation company). 

Lots of positive reviews mentioning quick turnaround times back up Northwest Registered Agents’ claims here, too – we were pleased to see that as well.

LegalZoom

Given their size and industry reputation, we were really disappointed with LegalZoom’s turnaround times. 

If you form your business through LegalZoom’s least expensive bundle, their Economy package, your total processing time can be 30 business days.At that point, it makes more sense to file yourself via snail mail…

LegalZoom has some expediting options – you can get expedited processing through their $349 “Express Gold” package, for instance – but even these are not very fast. Expedited processing can still take up to 10 – 15 business days, which is more in line with what most other companies’ non-expedited (i.e., no extra fee) services turnaround times are.

LegalZoom is transparent about their turnaround times, which are clearly listed on relevant service pages. But, compared to our top-rated business formation services, their times fall woefully short.

Turnaround Time Winner: Northwest Registered Agent

Northwest Registered Agent is the clear winner in this category. 

They offer same-day filing standard with all their orders, and total turnaround times are usually in the one to two week range. 

LegalZoom, meanwhile, offers a 30 business dayturnaround time on basic orders. Getting to turnaround times that are competitive with Northwest Registered Agent will require you to buy one of LegalZoom’s premium bundles, costing hundreds of extra dollars.

Northwest Registered Agent vs LegalZoom: Customer satisfaction

Unfortunately, you can’t believe everything you read online. Formation companies are eager to make bold claims and heap praise on their customer service staff. But a companies’ actual service record is not always as positive as it’s presented on their website.

Since we can’t form a new limited liability corporation, c-corporation, or nonprofit with every company we review, we turn to customer reviews to help us out. Independent feedback from real customers helps us get a better idea of what it’s like to actually do business with a given formation service.

And, when we’re looking at reviews, we take a few factors into account. We look at overall averages, of course, but we also look at review volume. It’s a lot easier to trust twelve hundred reviews than it is to trust just twelve. 

We also look for themes or phrases in reviews, whether positive or negative, to get a better idea of where companies’ specific strengths and weaknesses are.

Here’s how LegalZoom and Northwest Registered Agent did when it came to customer satisfaction:

Northwest Registered AgentLegalZoom
Average rating4.3/54.0/5
Total reviews300+ 3,500+
Stand-out mentions“Exceptional customer service”“Unexpected charges”“Very knowledgeable” “Made things easy”“Delayed filings”

Northwest Registered Agent

Northwest Registered Agent has a mostly solid track record with customers. Across several sites, including the BBB, Yelp, and Google, we found over 300 independent reviews. These reviews averaged out to around 4.4 out of 5 stars – pretty good.

Most of the feedback we saw was positive, with plenty of mentions for Northwest Registered Agents’ filing speed as well as the helpfulness of their staff. Several negative reviews mentioning unexpected recurring costs did pop up – though these were few in number, we’d be remiss not to mention them.

LegalZoom

LegalZoom sports decent, but not outstanding, customer reviews. Across review sites, when weighting by review volume, their average sits around 4.0 out of 5 stars.

We do like that LegalZoom has some impressive review volumes – over 3,500 are available on Trustpilot and Sitejabber alone. Given LegalZoom’s size and how many people they serve, this number isn’t too surprising. 

It’s important to note, though, that because LegalZoom provides such a wide range of services – from connecting people to attorneys to offering miscellaneous legal services to drafting legal documents – only a fraction of their reviews actually relate to business formations.

With all that in mind, we still found LegalZoom’s reviews to be generally positive. We saw many customers who were impressed with the professionalism and expertise of LegalZoom’s staff. A small but notable minority of reviewers did mention delays and errors with their filings, however.

Customer Satisfaction Winner: Tie

Both LegalZoom and Northwest Registered Agent have solid but not stellar reviews. Northwest Registered Agent has a slightly higher overall review average, while LegalZoom has an order of magnitude more reviews (only a fraction of these deal specifically with formations, though).

We figured each of these slight advantages canceled each other out, so we’re calling this category a tie.

Northwest Registered Agent vs LegalZoom: Ease of use

Though ordering an online formation can be a bit more involved than ordering a typical online service or product, we still want and expect the user experience to be easy and intuitive. 

Formations can be complicated, and lots of questions can arise during the process, especially for new business owners.

Should I file for s-corp election? Is a Tax ID Number (EIN) legally required for my business? What goes into an annual report? How do I file for a DBA (Doing Business As)?

A good formation website should answer all these questions, ideally through easy-to-find, well-written articles and FAQs.

We also like to see hassle-free order processes that can be done completely online. You shouldn’t have to call in and talk to a sales rep to order a service.

Finally, we look for clarity of terms, instructions, and prices. You should be able to quickly find how much a provider charges for any given service, and you should not be blindsided by any hidden or recurring fees. 

So, all in all, there are several factors we consider when looking at ease of use. Here the main questions we ask ourselves:

  • Is the order process smooth and user-friendly? 
  • Is there plenty of information available on the various services provided, so customers understand both what they need and what they’re buying? 
  • Are prices clearly displayed, or is a lot of digging needed to find them? 

Here’s how LegalZoom and Northwest Registered Agent performed on our three main ease of use categories:

Northwest Registered AgentLegalZoom
Website informationGreatGreat
Order processGreatGreat
Clarity of instructions and pricesGreatGreat

Northwest Registered Agent

Northwest Registered Agent is a formation and registered agent specialist, and their website makes that very obvious.

There are tons of thoughtful, well-written articles on topics and questions that most new LLC owners will find relevant. The company also boasts a state-by-state breakdown of registered agent services requirements, showing how they’re similar, and different, across the country.

Navigation on Northwest Registered Agents’ website is easy, as is the order process. Prices are also clearly listed along with most services.

LegalZoom

It’s clear that LegalZoom, which deals with thousands of customers on a daily basis, has put a lot of thought and effort into their website. In spite of their offering a huge range of services, LegalZoom’s website is easily navigable and highly intuitive.

Prices are clearly listed on all service pages, most of which have convenient order click-throughs as well. From start to finish, the ordering process is simple. We were able to get to checkout with a mock company in just minutes.

Plus, LegalZoom’s website boasts tons of helpful articles, FAQs, charts, and tables, all of which are well-written and easily digestible for first-time business owners.

In short, LegalZoom hits all the metrics we’d like to see for an easy-to-use website and ordering experience.

Ease of Use Winner: Tie

Northwest Registered Agent and LegalZoom both impressed us with their respective websites. We found the user experience to be excellent on both, and we were able to quickly find relevant services, their prices, and helpfulcontext information. 

Seeing no clear advantage with either company, we’ve called this category a tie.

Northwest Registered Agent vs LegalZoom: Help & Support

In an ideal world, your online formation would go through without a hitch every time, so you’d never need to contact a service’s help and support staff. 

Most of the time, in fact, this is exactly what happens.

But sometimes issues arise with a formation. Maybe you need to provide more information for your application, or, rarely, your formation company makes an error. 

Or, perhaps you just need to call customer support because you have an important question or two. Even with dozens of informative articles at your disposal, it can still be tremendously helpful and clarifying to talk to a real person – preferably, one who’s an expert with formations. 

When reviewing companies’ help and support options, we look to see how easy it is to find relevant contact info, what sort of support availability is offered, and whether or not there’s an effective, centralized online help section. We take customer reviews into account too.

Here’s how Northwest Registered Agent and LegalZoom fared when it came to help and support:

Northwest Registered AgentLegalZoom
Live Chat SupportNoNo
Extended business hoursYesYes
Website help sectionNoYes

Northwest Registered Agent

Northwest Registered Agents’ About section outlines some of their help and support strengths. 

They claim that all email queries will be answered same-day, that all unanswered calls will be returned in two hours, that every email from staff members contains easy-to-find follow-up contact info, and that all help and support staff (“corporate guides”, as they are titled at Northwest Registered Agent) are U.S. based. 

All of these are certainly strengths, as are Northwest Registered Agents’ extended business hours – you can contact them from 9 am to 8 pm, EST, Monday through Friday

(though, ideally, we’d prefer to see some weekend hours too). 

Northwest Registered Agent does not, however, have a consolidated help section on their website, and their webchat features appear to be limited to current clients. 

Also, in spite of about page’s statement that “IN ONE CLICK — you can see our email, phone number, mailing address, or start a chat with real human customer service,” we actually had to do quite a bit of digging to find anything but a phone number (for reference, their email address is [email protected]). 

As is the case with many other sites, Northwest Registered Agents’ contact page leads you to an online form, rather than just a straight email address.

All in all, Northwest Registered Agents’ help and support still scored well and was helped by positive reviews – but, we see a few areas for improvement here.

LegalZoom

LegalZoom performed very well in this category, though we would have liked to see them present some more accessible contact information. 

LegalZoom clearly lists their phone number, but their email ([email protected]) is much harder to find. They also have a chat feature, but it doesn’t set you up with a rep immediately.

Where LegalZoom really shone was in its hours of operation. The company’s customer care line is open from 5 am – 7 pm PT on weekdays and 7 am – 4 pm on weekends. 

We see those extended weekday and weekend hours as a huge positive – startup owners usually have full schedules during normal business hours (and beyond), so extended hours add some serious convenience. 

LegalZoom also has an excellent Customer Care page, with FAQs that are focused on logistical issues (e.g., When will my order arrive? How do I cancel an order or subscription?), instead of the formation process as a whole.

Help and Support Winner: LegalZoom

Contact method transparency and options are similar for both LegalZoom and Northwest Registered Agent. However, LegalZoom’s extended and weekend support hours, plus their great Customer Care Page, put them ahead in this category. 

Do We Recommend Northwest Registered Agent or LegalZoom?

Yes, we recommend Northwest Registered Agent.

Though some of their services can be a tad on the pricey side, Northwest Registered Agent really impressed us with their fantastic turnaround times, their well-built website, and their general expertise. 

Few other companies in the formation business do as much in-house work as Northwest Registered Agent does – in fact, they don’t outsource any of their work to third parties. 

That equates to a smoother overall customer experience, far fewer upsells, and better privacy protection. The company is also backed up by solid customer feedback.

Finally, Northwest Registered Agent earns extra points in our book because they are a highly specialized service provider (it’s right there in their name). 

We almost always prefer specialists over generalists (such as LegalZoom) when it comes to formations and registered agent services.

If you’re willing to pay a bit extra to work with a true small business and registered agent specialist that offers fast formations, we think Northwest Registered Agent is a good bet. 

If you’re more on the budget-conscious side, however, there may be other, better options out there for forming your limited liability company.

To learn about some of the other formation services we recommend, check out our Best LLC Services or our Best Incorporation Services articles. 

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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