Online incorporation services help business owners form a corporation, such as a C-corporation (C-corp) and S-corporation (S-corp). A business owner needs to register their business as a legal entity to protect against personal financial liability. The best incorporation services provide a great customer experience through an easy to use software, educational materials, and friendly customer service.
Top 6 Online Incorporation Services in 2020
Online Incorporation Services
(Best Overall) Business owners on a budget who also want to learn about incorporation
High liability businesses that need ongoing legal advice from an attorney
Larger businesses that need a wide selection of online legal services
Established businesses that need quick business registration
Private business owners that don’t want their business information sold
Growing corporations that change officers and directors on a yearly basis
How We Evaluated Online Incorporation Services
When evaluating online incorporation services, we reviewed several important criteria. Business registration costs vary across companies. The time it takes to file varies among companies as well. The free education materials provided by incorporation service companies are important so new business owners understand what they’re paying for. Additionally, it’s helpful to use the same online legal service company for multiple legal services, if needed.
To find the best online incorporation services, we considered the following criteria:
- Price: The price for an online incorporation service varies from $0 to $349 depending on the company providing the service and the type of product purchased.
- Ease of use: Business formation services should be simple to use with high-quality customer experience. Plus, the post-purchase customer dashboard needs to be well-organized.
- Time to file: Online incorporation companies vary with the time required to submit business paperwork and the cost required for expedited submission.
- Educational resources: Customers should know what services and products they’re purchasing and why it’s important to purchase them. It’s important to have quality educational materials for customers.
- Additional legal services: It’s convenient to have online legal services in addition to business registration services.
- Customer service: The methods and overall availability of customer service representatives vary among online incorporation companies.
- Online user reviews: We looked at online reviews for each business incorporation company at various review websites.
Based on the above criteria, we believe IncFile is the best online incorporation service. It leads as a low-cost service that makes it easy to register a business. IncFile provides several additional online legal services such as a registered agent and business tax return assistance. The platform’s online user reviews also indicate that its customer service representatives are pleasant and helpful.
IncFile: Best Overall Incorporation Service for Small Businesses
IncFile is the best for business owners who want quick and easy incorporation services at a low price point. When compared to competitors, IncFile is the only online incorporation service that doesn’t charge a fee to register a business. Additionally, IncFile has an easy-to-use interface and quality educational materials making it our best choice overall.
With IncFile’s Silver package, it’s free to incorporate a business (plus any state fees). Its Gold package is $149, which includes an employer identification number (EIN), and several business forms. IncFile’s Platinum package costs $299 and offers business contract templates plus expedited two business day filing. All of InFile’s fees are in addition to any state fees.
IncFile’s incorporation process is easy to use and well-designed. Once you sign up as a customer, you can view the status of your orders using the platform’s well-organized client dashboard. IncFile also excels with its educational materials, which include several pieces of content beneficial to small business owners such as state-specific incorporation information.
Ease Of Use
IncFile’s process to register your business as a corporation is easy to use. Its interface is clean and well-organized. IncFile’s well-spaced user interface makes it easy to read explanations of the product offerings. Additionally, IncFile makes it convenient to choose between certain online legal services or to opt-out, such as purchasing an EIN. Once you purchase a product, IncFile provides a client dashboard where you can view your products and check order status.
Time To File
The standard time-to-file offered by IncFile is 15 business days, which is standard among online incorporation services. A nice feature that IncFile provides is the estimated date of business formation. IncFile also provides an expedited business filing option that gets your business registration information submitted within two business days. The additional cost for expedited filing is $150.
Compared to other online incorporation services, such as Rocket Lawyer and ZenBusiness, IncFile provides some of the best educational materials to learn about incorporation. In particular, they provide entity registration information for every state that includes important steps, dates, and prices so that you can accurately register your business.
Additional Legal Services
In addition to incorporation services, IncFile provides several legal services for businesses. If you’re registering as a corporation, the platform also provides corporate kits, which include documents needed to legally run a corporation such as a stock transfer ledger, a book for recording meeting minutes, and bylaws. Additionally, IncFile assists with Internal Revenue Service (IRS) filings and helps with filing your federal business tax return. Overall, IncFile provides fewer legal services when compared to Rocket Lawyer and LegalZoom.
During the incorporation process, IncFile provides a phone number you can call with any questions. Customer representatives are available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central time. Additionally, you can submit a question at any time through its online client support request form.
What IncFile is Missing
IncFile is missing educational materials throughout the incorporation process. While it does have quality educational materials, IncFile doesn’t provide those materials during the business registration process. Other incorporation services, such as LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer, do. There are dozens of decisions that can be made during an incorporation and new business owners can benefit from learning about these decisions as they are making them.
What Users Think About IncFile
Generally, online user reviews for IncFile are mixed. Positive reviews centered around how easy IncFile’s software was to use and the speed with which businesses were registered. Some users complained about not explicitly being told they signed up for a yearly recurring payment. Other users complained about IncFile’s customer service and said it took too long to respond to their questions.
Rocket Lawyer: Best Incorporation Service For Legal Advice
Rocket Lawyer provides a similar incorporation service to IncFile, but it shines because of its more comprehensive legal services. If you have a specific legal question, Rocket Lawyer has attorneys on staff that can provide relevant advice. When you sign up for Rocket Lawyer’s ongoing legal assistance, you can get answers to your ongoing legal questions and your first business incorporation is free.
Rocket Lawyer Pricing
Rocket Lawyer will incorporate your business for $99 plus state fees. It also offers a rushed filing for $260. What makes Rocket Lawyer unique is that if you sign up for its $39.99 per month membership, you receive a free business incorporation. The monthly membership includes several benefits, including unlimited 30-minute consultations on new matters with an attorney and unlimited customizable legal documents.
Rocket Lawyer Features
When compared to its competitors, Rocket Lawyer’s main differentiator is the ongoing attorney services it provides as part of its monthly membership plan. At any time during the business incorporation process, you can call or message a Rocket Lawyer attorney for advice. Additionally, Rocket Lawyer provides hundreds of articles written to help small business owners answer incorporation questions, such as how to apply online for an EIN.
Ease Of Use
Rocket Lawyer’s process for registering a business as a legal entity is simple to follow. The platform’s user interface appears out of date and could use a revamp. However, this didn’t affect our ability to submit incorporation documents.
Time To File
For the standard $99 filing fee, it takes anywhere from 15 to 20 business days for Rocket Lawyer to file a business’s articles of incorporation, which is slightly longer than IncFile and Swyft Filings. For $260 (instead of the standard $99 fee), you can get the business registration documents rushed and filed within two to three business days.
Throughout the business formation process, Rocket Lawyer provides links with pop up boxes that teach the customer about each specific decision that needs to be made. For example, when asking about the management and ownership for a corporation, Rocket Lawyer provides a statistic about what percent other Rocket Lawyer customers choose for their business and why you may want to choose that option. Other online incorporation services, such as LegalZoom and IncFile provide this, but others such as ZenBusiness and Northwest Registered Agent, don’t.
Additional Legal Services
Rocket Lawyer provides several legal services in addition to business formation. One of its most popular services is its “ask a lawyer” service. For $49.99 you can ask one of its attorneys a legal question. For $59.99 you can receive a 30-minute consultation with a business attorney on any new legal matters. Additionally, Rocket Lawyer provides over 100 customizable legal documents that can be purchased individually.
Throughout the business incorporation process, Rocket Lawyer provides a phone number for a customer service representative, which is available Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific time. Additionally, you can chat online with a customer service rep during the hours listed above. If you’re outside of those hours, you can send Rocket Lawyer an email for additional information.
What Rocket Lawyer is Missing
Rocket Lawyer lacks the robust offering of additional legal services available through other platforms like LegalZoom. Many business owners prefer to stay with one online legal service company instead of using several for different services. One area that is missing with Rocket Lawyer that LegalZoom provides is intellectual property services. You cannot file a patent for your new business with Rocket Lawyer.
What Users Think About Rocket Lawyer
Rocket Lawyer user reviews are generally positive. Some users enjoyed the step-by-step and simple process to register a business with Rocket Lawyer. Others complimented the good experience they had with its customer services reps. One user complained about errors on the printed LLC documents that didn’t reflect the data he entered into Rocket Lawyer’s software.
LegalZoom: Best Incorporation Service For Comprehensive Legal Assistance
LegalZoom is a great online incorporation service for anyone who needs a wide range of legal services for both business and personal reasons. When compared to competitors, its registration software is the easiest to use. Additionally, it’s great for businesses that need customer support on the weekends. The main downside of LegalZoom is that its incorporation cost is the highest on this list.
The Economy package offered by LegalZoom costs $149, which includes a business name check and articles of incorporation. The Standard package costs $329 and provides a deluxe organizer (for paperwork) and expedited processing within LegalZoom’s working queue. Its Express Gold package costs $349, including rush processing with the relevant Secretary of State. All business incorporation packages exclude state fees.
LegalZoom is an industry leader in several of the features listed below. Its business formation software is well designed and easy to use. Its educational resources are vast and answer hundreds of common questions business owners often have. Additionally, customer support reps are available seven days a week—the most available customer support of the options we considered.
Ease Of Use
Compared to other online incorporation services, LegalZoom leads in the quality of its business registration software. Each step has a well-organized page filled with visually appealing graphics. Additionally, there are several explanations about what each incorporation option is and how it would benefit your business.
Time To File
The time to file in the Economy and Standard package can be anywhere from 15 to 25 business days. LegalZoom also offers expedited processing for a 24-hour turnaround time within its system, as well as express shipping and rushed processing at the relevant Secretary of State’s office. Using LegalZoom’s expedited service, you can get your business approved in seven to 10 business days.
LegalZoom is also a leader in educational resources. Under its Forming a Business category, there are dozens of recent articles on topics such as starting a business, LLCs, corporations, and sole proprietorships. Additionally, LegalZoom offers a quiz that assists you in determining which type of business structure is right for you.
Additional Legal Services
No competitor can match LegalZoom’s wide selection of legal services in addition to business incorporation. For businesses, you can access over 100 customizable legal forms, get assistance with licenses and permits, file for a trademark or patent, and receive legal advice directly from a business attorney. Additionally, you can use LegalZoom for personal legal matters such as creating a will or trust. It’s helpful to have all your legal documents and services with one online legal company.
One feature unique to LegalZoom is its screen sharing option. If at any time during the business registration process you’re confused, you can share your screen with a service representative. They will be able to see what you’re seeing and provide you accurate assistance. LegalZoom is also the only company on our list that is open on the weekends. During the week, its business hours are Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. PT; on weekends, LegalZoom’s hours are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. PT.
What LegalZoom is Missing
When compared to IncFile and Zen Business, LegalZoom is missing an affordable incorporation price. Most of the online incorporation companies on this list charge the same amount whether you want to file a corporation or an LLC; however, LegalZoom charges twice as much.
What Users Think About LegalZoom
The online user reviews for LegalZoom are mixed. Customers enjoyed how easy it was to use LegalZoom’s software and that they could handle both business and personal legal matters in one place. Most complaints centered around LegalZoom’s pricing. Incorporation and LLC formation costs are higher with LegalZoom than comparable companies such as ZenBusiness or IncFile. However, some users were OK with the higher cost because the software was so easy to use.
Swyft Filings: Best For Quick Business Registration
One of the main differentiators between Swyft Filings and other online incorporation services is its quick business registration. For example, in New York, they can have your business incorporation documents back to you in one business day. Swyft Filings is also one of the more affordable business formation services, costing $49 for its basic business registration package.
Swyft Filings Pricing
Swyft Filings’s Basic package costs $49 to incorporate a business. Its Standard package costs $149 and includes everything in the Basic, plus an EIN, operating agreement, and custom organizational minutes. Swyft Filings’s Platinum package also includes an electronic version of all documents and a FedEx tracking number. All package costs are in addition to state registration fees.
Swyft Filings Features
Swyft Filings has several features that make them a quality incorporation service. Its leading feature is its fast incorporation turnaround time. Other competitors say a business may be registered in up to 30 days, however, Swyft Filings’s Standard package includes a less than 15-day filing. Additionally, no other incorporation service offers a money-back guarantee with the services. If you’re not happy with your experience with Swyft Filings, you can request a refund.
Ease Of Use
We found Swyft Filings incorporation software to be functional and easy to understand. As a customer goes through the registration process, each step is explained well and additional information is linked out when needed. Additionally, there is a step-by-step progress bar at the top of the website that shows where you are at in the business incorporation process.
Time To File
Swyft Filings boasts the fastest turnaround and document processing times in the industry. Although we cannot confirm that, the platform’s stated turnaround time for customers to receive business registration documents is 15 business days, which is shorter than that of LegalZoom, which states up to a 30 day turnaround. Depending on the state, Swyft Filings’s express filing time is typically within two business days and costs an additional $145.
In Swyft Filings’s learning center, there are several business registration guides that help you learn more about registering a business. In particular, there are guides and graphics for every state listing the pros and cons of registering a business in that state. Additionally, there are several blog posts with information about small business and registering a business, such as “How To Dissolve an LLC” and “Start Your Next Business: 20 Essential Steps.”
Additional Legal Services
In addition to business incorporation services, Swyft Filings also offers services such as a registered agent, a customizable operating agreement, and obtaining an EIN. For a $99 fee, Swyft Filings will help business owners conduct a search to determine which licenses and permits a particular business needs to operate.
Customers can call Swyft Filings Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. CT. If customers would rather text chat than talk on the phone, there is a live chat option available as well. Something unique Swyft Filings offers is a money-back guarantee on all services paid to Swyft Filings. However, keep in mind that it cannot refund state-paid fees, only fees paid for its services.
What Swyft Filings is Missing
Swyft Filings is missing robust additional services. Competitors such as LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer offer paid legal advice from licensed business attorneys. Swyft Filings does not. The service does have business incorporation specialists on staff; however, they are unlikely to know the specific legal questions you may have about your business or certain aspects of business formation.
What Users Think About Swyft Filings
In Swyft Filings user reviews online, it’s a mixed bag. Customers had positive comments about the price of incorporation, the quick turnaround times, and the helpful experience with customer service agents. In contrast, customer complaints centered around the upcharges for various services during the checkout process, technical issues with its chat software, and different products delivered than what was ordered.
Northwest Registered Agent: Best For Private Business Registration
Northwest Registered Agent started out as a company that specializes in a registered agent service, however, now they provide several business formation services such as incorporation. Its main differentiating feature is that it pledges to not sell your business and personal data to a third party, which other online incorporation services do.
Northwest Registered Agent Pricing
Pricing for incorporation is fairly straightforward at $100 plus state fees. One downside is that Northwest charges an additional $125 registered agent fee. Customers must pay the fee and use it as a registered agent. Customers cannot use another registered agent or represent themselves.
Northwest Registered Agent Features
Northwest’s business registration software is easy to use and allows customers to scan ahead through the process to see what needs to be completed. It has a very transparent time to file that varies by state. The platform’s registered agent service is the most comprehensive out of all companies on the list.
Ease Of Use
Northwest Registered Agent has one of the easier to use business registration interfaces. What’s nice about its interface is that customers have the ability is easily toggle through screens without having to reload the page. It’s easy to go back to a page if you’d like to change a piece of information. Additionally, there are question mark icons on several of the steps throughout the process that, when clicked, open a new screen with additional information.
Time To File
As compared to LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer, Northwest does the best job of telling customers how long it will take to get a business registered by providing a specific day. For example, in California, it takes around 14 days to register a business. This filing time can be expedited to an eight-day turnaround time for an additional $65, or an additional $390 for a one day turnaround time.
Under Northwest Registered Agent’s “How To” section, the website provides several well-written and well-organized articles on topics such as How To Start An LLC and How State Taxes Work. Additionally, the platform offers a list of the pros and cons of doing business in every state, something that other legal services on our list do not. For example, Oregon has no sales tax, but high income taxes. Georgia has inexpensive fees, but requires a newspaper publication announcing your business opening.
Additional Legal Services
Like IncFile and LegalZoom, Northwest offers several services in addition to incorporation. The service’s main service is to serve as the registered agent of a business. The registered agent is responsible for renewing the business every year with the state and being the contact for legal documents. Northwest also offers customers a virtual office address, a customized operating agreement, and customized corporate bylaws.
When looking at customer service after using its services, Northwest pledges to not sell your businesses information. No other company on this list explicitly states that and it’s a common practice in the industry. This is important to business owners that don’t want their business’ information sold to third-party companies, such as banks, and those who don’t want spam emails or calls from the companies who purchase their information.
Northwest provides basic customer service availability. You can reach the company by phone Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time. Additionally, customers can contact Northwest via an online form and customer support will respond via email.
What Northwest Registered Agent is Missing
Northwest Registered Agent is missing the ability to use your own registered agent. When you sign up for business incorporation, Northwest requires you to use its own service and charges you $125 per year. Unlike other online incorporation services, you cannot deselect the company as your registered agent.
What Users Think About Northwest Registered Agent
Overall, online user reviews for Northwest Registered Agent are positive on several different websites. Customers enjoy the clear pricing costs and the customer service they received from Northwest Registered Agent. There are only a few negative reviews of Northwest online. A couple of them said it didn’t register their business in the expected time. This complaint does not seem to be widespread.
ZenBusiness: Best For a Changing Corporate Structure
ZenBusiness is an online incorporation service that stands out because of its worry-free guarantee, including two yearly corporate annual report amendments. This includes new directors and officers, which makes it a great option for growing businesses that expect to change officers on a yearly basis. Additionally, ZenBusiness has an easy-to-use interface and excellent customer service.
Zen Business Pricing
ZenBusiness offers three pricing plans and a custom plan. Its Starter plan is $49 per year, which includes a registered agent; after the first year, the Starter plan goes up to $119 per year. The Zen Business Pro plan is $149 per year and includes expedited filing. Pro also includes the worry-free guarantee, which provides two free yearly amendments to the annual report, and a guarantee that your corporation is re-registered on time every year.
ZenBusiness’s Premium plan is $249 per year and includes tech costs such as a business email address, website domain name, and website. Any business owner who doesn’t want to pay yearly for a registered agent, worry-free guarantee, or tech costs, can make a custom plan and purchase one-time incorporation services for $49 plus state fees.
There are several features where ZenBusiness shines. It has a clean and well-designed user interface as well as quality customer service with an online chat feature. ZenBusiness mostly focuses on business registration and only offers a few additional business forms. What separates ZenBusiness from other incorporation services is its worry-free guarantee, which assists business owners with yearly compliance and allows for up to two amendments to the annual filings, which is great for corporations that have a changing leadership structure.
Ease Of Use
ZenBusiness’s incorporation software is one of the easiest to use of all the options we considered. It’s well designed and functional. Customers can choose between one of the preplanned packages ZenBusiness has created, or go through a well-organized and well-explained step-by-step process to customize their ideal corporation.
Time To File
The amount of time it takes to incorporate online with ZenBusiness is fairly standard. Its Starter plan says the business forms in two to three weeks; its Pro plan says the business forms in five to eight business days. The Premium plan registers a business in two to four business days, which is comparable to IncFile, but not as fast as Swyft Filings.
ZenBusiness provides updated blogging articles and how-to articles for each state. For example, it has created blog articles about how much it costs for an LLC and what the term corporate means. Additionally, ZenBusiness has a well-designed webpage explaining how to register a business step-by-step in every state. While other online corporation services such as Legal Zoom and Rocket Lawyer provides this, ZenBusiness’s guides are particularly clear and concise.
Additional Legal Services
ZenBusiness only offers a few additional legal services beyond incorporation. Business owners can sign up for a registered agent, create a customized operating agreement, obtain an EIN or create an annual report; all other online incorporation services provide. Something unique that ZenBusiness provides is the ability to get the new business published in a New York publication.
ZenBusiness’s customer support team accepts phone calls Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. CT. Additionally, for those who don’t want to communicate via the phone, they have a live chat option. You can also ask any questions via an online form and ZenBusiness will email you back.
What ZenBusiness is Missing
ZenBusiness is missing the robust additional legal services offered by other providers like Rocket Lawyer and Legal Zoom. Instead, it provides the fewest legal services for business and just sticks with business incorporation and little else. This may be frustrating for a business owner that needs assistance with intellectual property or has a legal question for an attorney.
What Users Think About ZenBusiness
ZenBusiness has the overall highest rated online user reviews out of any online incorporation service. For any negative reviews, a customer service rep replies to the review to attempt to resolve the issue. Customers are complimentary of ZenBusiness’s easy to understand business incorporation process and its fast registration. Many of the negative reviews relate to specific situations such as a business not being submitted to the state in the time expected.
Online incorporation services simplify the process of registering a business. Instead of navigating a complicated and often cumbersome state-run government website, you are walked step-by-step through the corporation or LLC registration process. Additionally, when you’re confused about a business registration requirement, you can speak to a company representative or business attorney.
When choosing an online incorporation service, cost and software ease-of-use are important. IncFile is the industry leader in cost with a $0 fee for registering corporations, plus any state fees. Additionally, it has an easy to use business registration interface that allows you to register your business quickly.