Starting a new company can be a daunting task. Each state has different rules, and for those looking to form an LLC or corporation, the requirements can be confusing. Fortunately, several online service providers can help. Incfile and Northwest Registered Agent are two popular options, which we’ll compare in the article below.
Both of these companies are business formation services, otherwise known as incorporation services or LLC formation services. Essentially, they help you meet all the state requirements necessary to form a new business entity. Instead of working directly with your state, you’ll work with the company and their online tools. The result is a much simpler, more streamlined business formation experience.
Although Incfile and Northwest offer similar services for business owners, there is a lot to consider when choosing between these two companies.
Check out our roundup of Best LLC Services
Incfile is a popular LLC formation service that’s been in business since 2004. Since then, they’ve been integral to the formation of more than 250,000 new business entities, and counting. With Incfile, you can start a new:
Incfile is best known for being the lowest-cost provider of business formation services. Their base plan is actually free; you just pay state fees. So if you’re looking for a way to form your LLC for as cheap as possible, Incfile may be a good option.
That said, you may wonder how they are able to offer this “free” plan. The answer is that they have financial relationships with various partners. When you sign up, Incfile recommends various products to you, such as banking products, business website hosting, and more. They may also share your data with partners, so it’s important to be aware of this.
See the full review of Incfile here.
Northwest Registered Agent is another popular option for business formation. As the name suggests, it started as a Registered Agent service - but today, it offers a wider range of services. With Northwest, you can start a new:
Northwest is best known for excellent customer service. When you sign up for Northwest, you’ll be assigned a personal Corporate Guide. This guide will serve as your personal customer support agent, and will help guide you through the entire process. Northwest genuinely works to form relationships with their clients, fostering trust and long-term business relationships.
Another facet of Northwest’s commitment is protecting your privacy. They take many additional steps to ensure that your data is secure, and they never sell your personal information. Plus, they have privacy-boosting add-on services, like Virtual Office, Mail Forwarding, and a business address to use on forms, so that you don’t have to use your personal information.
Incfile has premade formation packages, ranging from $0 to $299. Northwest uses a simpler, flat-fee structure, charging $100 + state fees for business formation.
As you can see from the pricing, Incfile is certainly cheaper - particularly for the first year, and for their most basic plan. Incfile’s plan is $0 + state fees, whereas the cheapest option at Northwest is $100 + state fees. If you want Registered Agent services, Incfile is even cheaper. Incfile includes one full year of Registered Agent services for free (renews at $119/year), while Northwest charges $125/year. So, while the ongoing difference is small, the upfront costs for the first year are substantial.
That said, there’s a tradeoff to consider here. Incfile is able to offer free and low-cost plans because of their partnerships with other companies. If you’d rather avoid these upsells, Northwest is a good option.
Overall, both companies offer good value, with pricing in-line with competing filing services like LegalZoom, ZenBusiness, and others.
Both of these services have a lot to offer. When it comes to business formation features, the two are fairly similar. They cover all the basics, and can also both help with applying for an EIN, selecting DBA business names, electing S-corp status, and more. One noteworthy difference to consider is that Incfile supports partnerships, while Northwest does not.
When it comes to ongoing services, there’s more to consider. Both can help with annual report filing, company alerts, and Registered Agent services. Northwest offers a number of unique services, including Virtual Office, business VoIP phone, mail forwarding, and more.
As for ease of use, both offer intuitive online platforms to help you navigate the business formation process. Of course, Northwest is unique in that they pair you one-on-one with a Corporate Guide. If you appreciate more personalized help, Northwest is a great choice.
Turnaround time depends on the package you choose and the state you live in. Processing time can be same-day, a few business days, or it can take up to several weeks, depending on a variety of factors.
Northwest and Incfile both have solid customer support, but their approaches are quite different.
Incfile has a fairly traditional support setup: if you have an issue, you call in and can speak to a representative. Northwest, on the other hand, uses a Corporate Guide system. You’re assigned a personal liaison when you use Northwest’s services, and this person will be your point of contact for any issues you may have.
If you read through customer feedback, you’ll notice that Northwest has far more positive reviews than Incfile. In fact, Northwest’s customer reviews on the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Trustpilot, etc. are excellent, while Incfile’s track record is mediocre at best.
After reviewing all the details, let’s consider a recap. Which of these two services is best for your small business?