A few months ago I decided to start an LLC for my e-commerce activities. My sales through Amazon have been good in 2020 and it was time to take things to the next level.
However, there are countless services online that can help you with your LCC formation. And although IncFile seems to be doing very well (they come up a lot when you Google search Best LLC Services etc), it was the positive customer reviews of Northwest Registered Agent that piqued my interest.
So much so, I looked into them further and decided to order an LLC package through their website. This review is an in-depth look at my experience, the pros and cons, what you can expect, and whether, ultimately I can confidently recommend Northwest Registered Agent to you too.
Let’s take a look…
Northwest Registered Agent Review Summary
PRICING (+ State Fees): DIY Formation: $0 / VIP: $30-50 x 12/mo / Pay in Full: $100 plus extras
- Free account allows you to use their system to create your own filing
- VIP plan to have them take care of it all for you
- An intuitive website, easy to use and navigate to what you need
- Top-notch customer service with speedy response times
- If you pay monthly this becomes more expensive than competing services
- A free year of registered agent service is not included
Overall, the VIP plan with Northwest Registered Agents is a quality LLC formation service with superior customer support. The website is easy to use too. However, I would recommend paying upfront rather than the monthly fees which make things a lot more expensive. (It is also a shame they do not throw in a free year of registered agent service on the VIP plan too.) For those with the confidence, you could check out the free utilization of their online filing system and do it yourself. However, considering the importance of starting a new company, you will probably want to launch things on the right foot using one of their paid plans.
Who are Northwest Registered Agent?
Northwest Registered Agent began offering LLC services back in 1998. They were very much there at the beginning when such services could be provided using the internet.
(Although one imagines you would need to fax important documents across back then, rather than scan and email 🙂 )
The company is smaller in size than some of the competition, however, in my mind, that is a good thing, (and one of the factors that led me to use them) as they do provide a satisfyingly personal service as a result.
Their head office is in Spokane, Washington State however to an extent this is irrelevant. They provide LLC formation solutions no matter what state you live in, and where you wish to incorporate.
This is all done via their intuitive, easy to use website and online login area, but more on that later.
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Transparent LLC Formation
In a move that differs from the majority of LLC formation services available online, Northwest provides a single package priced at $100. You can then select additional services on top of that.
Another option is to pay monthly (where additional services plus registered agent are included). This can add up over the long term, however.
Here’s a look at how this works in reality.
Flat Fee Package [$100 + relevant state fee]
LLC Name Search
A large, exciting part of starting your own LLC is choosing the name. My wife and I went through so many options, but the process was fun.
Ultimately, settling on a name raises the bar on whatever venture you are starting. It all of a sudden feels very real.
However, you need to know that the name you wish to use is available.
Thankfully, Northwest will help you there. As part of the basic package, they will search your state’s official business database to confirm that your chosen name hasn’t already been taken.
Preparation and Filing of Your Articles of Organization
The most important part of the LLC service is the preparation and filing of the articles of organization.
Once you have provided Northwest Registered Agent the basic company information about your business, (all of which can be done online), they will prepare the necessary documents and then file them with your state of formation.
Registered Agent Services (Included on Monthly Payment Plan)
When you start an LLC you have to nominate a registered agent that is in charge of receiving legal documents on your behalf.
Northwest Registered Agent will include this on the monthly plan (or $125 per year if you pay upfront). You can opt for another registered agent after the year is out, however, in the USA it is a legal requirement for all LLCs to have one.
As we have already discussed, Northwest Registered Agent provides optional items on top of the $100 filing fee that can be added to your order if you need them. These include:
Although it is not a legal requirement to have an operating agreement for your company, however, it is recommended and it is useful.
It sets out how your LLC will be operated. It also provides a written outline of the ownership structure of your company.
For the sake of professionalism alone, I would say you should have an operating agreement for your LLC.
Federal Tax ID Number (EIN)
Dealing with the IRS is never fun. With the Deluxe package, Northwest Registered Agent will take care of obtaining your EIN from the IRS.
Essentially, the EIN is like a Social Security Number for your business.
With this 9-digit numerical code your LLC will be able to hire employees, open business bank accounts and file business taxes. In other words, you need this.
The state where your LLC is formed will have its own reporting requirements. These are due on an annual basis, and help ensure that your business remains in good standing with the state.
If you use the annual compliance service, NorthWest Registered Agent will provide reminders and will send these important documents on your company’s behalf. For a new business owner, this can be very useful and provide much-needed peace of mind.
Mail Forwarding & Virtual Office
For $40 a month NorthWest Registered offers a mail forwarding service. This allows for unlimited items and you can opt between same-day digital scanning or weekly physical mail forwarding to an address of your choice.
The service will provide you with an address and unique suite number for your business in the applicable state. While this is a useful add-on, there are more competitively priced virtual mailbox services available, (see our review of 7 top rated options here).
Fast Track Filing
You can also add a fast track option to your order. Here you will receive all the same services of the flat fee $100 plan but Northwest Registered Agent will process everything on the same day as you purchase the service.
Northwest Registered Agent vs The Competition
BEST PRO PLAN
BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE
MY COMPANY WORKS
1 Business Day
1-3 Business Days
1st Year Free,
1st Year Free,
60 Day Free,
$69 Extra (Free on Top Plan)
$35 Extra (Free on Mid Plan)
Included on Mid (Pro) Plan
Free 1hr Tax Consultation
30mins Tax Consultation
Free LLC Handbook
HOSTING & DOMAIN
Included on Top Plan
Free Lifetime Annual Alerts
Free Lifetime Annual Alerts
Included with Registered Agents
Free Lifetime Annual Alerts
Free Lifetime Annual Alerts
Free Lifetime Annual Alerts
$100 + State Fee
You will find a round-up of all our reviews of the major LLC formation services here. We created the comparison table above so you could quickly and easily compare the various service providers to see what might be the best fit for you.
IncFile is our top value choice because they offer a zero filing fee on the basic account, which still includes a year of free registered agent service. This is currently the best value for money deal on the market.
We rated Zen Business highly because of their pro plan. This includes all the extras you might need (minus your own domain name and Webhosting). They also have an excellent user interface. If you have the budget, we highly recommend them.
For someone that likes to use a service where it is easier to get hold of a human over the phone, Northwest Registered Agent was our top choice.
Pros and Cons of Using Northwest Registered Agent
As I mentioned above, I opted for the Deleuxe package so my view on the good and bad points are most relevant to that.
However, as the basic package does include the core services of the Deluxe, should you decide to opt for the cheaper offering, many of the following points apply too.
1. Excellent Customer Service
The single biggest reason I chose to use Northwest Registered Agent (over arguably cheaper options) is that their customer service is top-notch.
I read reviews stating this was the case, and then I was very impressed with the speed I received a response to enquiring email before I purchased anything.
(I will confess, it was a test to see how helpful the team would be before I paid). My query was comprehensively answered, and I was given actionable, helpful advice.
It is clear that Northwest Registered Agent keeps its premium customer support in-house. This means that professionally trained Corporate Guides are available throughout the entire formation process should you have any questions.
After I paid and they started collecting the information for my LLC submission, whenever I got in touch I had a very quick response. This is a major selling point for Northwest and a big reason as to why I confidently recommend them.
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2. Competitive Price Point
There’s no getting away from the fact that Northwest Registered Agent is more expensive than some of their competitors; (unless you opt to use their platform to process the formation yourself, then it is absolutely free).
IncFile provides a basic package where they will take care of the filing for zero dollars plus a state fee.
However, starting an LLC is something you are not going to repeat too often. Paying a bit extra for fast, helpful support is, in my opinion, more than worth it.
And even then, at just $100 Northwest’s VIP if you pay upfront is still extremely competitive. Just avoid paying over 12 months as this is much more expensive, (although registered agent service is included if you do).
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3. Pay extra for the IRS services
Put simply, the IRS sends shivers down my spine. I know it is silly, but I hate dealing with them, on any level.
I paid extra just to have my EIN and other relevant administrative needs are taken care of. I’d have paid double for that luxury, and it was another major benefit for me.
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4. Easy to use website (secure and private)
I really liked the intuitive nature of their website too, (another reason that made me choose them over the competition).
All the information you need is clearly there, and the site is easy to navigate. I especially liked the map interface, (see screenshot above). You can simply click the state in which you wish to register your LLC and then the website takes you step by step through the process of formation, relevant to that state, (including automatically adding state fees, etc).
Once you get your login details and start the process, the manner in which the questions are asked and the information you have to send is dealt with really does take the stress out of things.
It is no surprise that they run their own online presence in-house (like the support team); the servers are also owned by them meaning security and privacy are top-notch too. Your data is safe in other words.
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No company is perfect and there is course a couple of points I can make that cover the disadvantages.
1. The fact there are more affordable options
I am sure many people want to have their LLC formation taken care of as cheaply as possible. Unfortunately, Northwest Registered Agents can’t deliver in that regard.
There are more cost-effective options available
2. A free year of registered agent services is not included
This is a continuation of the first disadvantage. The fact they do not include a year’s worth of registered agents’ service upon signup makes them less value for money when compared to competing providers. (Unless you opt to pay monthly, which is expensive anyway, then registered agents service is included.)
2. Turnaround Time
If you’re in a hurry, you will have to opt for the fast track filing. There are no guarantees on the turnaround time of the normal filing option and being a smaller company if they happen to be inundated at a given point, there’s only so fast your application can be dealt with.
I personally experienced no issues with this, (the whole process took about a week), but then I wasn’t in a hurry.
You will have found my tone throughout this review has been predominantly positive.
I had a great experience using Northwest Registered Agents. However, I am just one example, what is the average customer opinion? Am I in the majority or have people experienced issues using the service.
Looking at trusted sources of reviews such as Google and Yelp, you will find an overwhelmingly positive response to their LLC services.
Much as I found, speed of service and reliable customer support are all recurring themes.
It must be noted that the company does have far fewer reviews than some of its competitors, but this could well be down to the lower volume of customers.
Average Online Customer Review Scores at the time of writing:
- Google: 4.6 out of 5 stars (79 reviews)
- Yelp: 4.1 out of 5 stars (26 reviews)
Should you use Northwest Registered Agent when starting your LLC?
The answer would be yes. I personally see no reason why you shouldn’t use Northwest for your LLC formation needs.
They manage to combine quality service with comprehensive customer support, two of the most important factors you need when dealing with legal issues.
Only if you are on a tight budget would I recommend another online LLC service. Even then, I would consider if it’s worth using someone else for the sake of 20 or 30 dollars.