As you navigate the world of starting a new business, it oftentimes feels like you meet a roadblock at every step. And while it’s no secret turning your phenomenal idea into a legitimate business can be complicated, forming your LLC doesn’t have to be.
There are two options for starting an LLC. One is filing directly with the state and we have guides on how to do that yourself. The second is using an entity formation service like Northwest Registered Agent.
To help you decide whether Northwest is the right business formation service for you, I’ll go over each of the steps of starting an LLC with Northwest, what I like about them, what I don’t like..
Northwest Registered Agent Pros & Cons
My Rating: 4.42/5
- One plan to choose from
- Fast order process
- Fewest upsells
- Knowledgable customer service
- Registered agent services are included at no cost in the first year ($125/year after that)
- Free operating agreement template (Most other LLC services charge $99+)
- They don’t sell your data to third parties
- 100% transparency (and no hidden fees)
- This is the registered agent service that I use!
- They don’t have a free filing plan
About Northwest Registered Agent
Northwest Registered Agent is a family-owned and operated company that was founded in 1998 in Spokane, Washington. The company provides services to over 3 million active customers.
Best known (as you may tell by their name) as a registered agent service provider (called resident agent or statutory agent in some states), Northwest also offers entity formation services where they fill out and file legal forms with the Secretary of State.
Pricing: 4 out of 5 starsEven though there isn’t a free LLC formation from Northwest, their $39 plan (plus state fee) offers a lot of value. While not having a free plan would have normally resulted in a lower pricing score, the privacy benefits (that no other company offers) and having upsells that are among the lowest compared to the other formation services review companies, resulted in the score that it did.
Most other service providers have multiple pricing plans (or are free). But Northwest Registered Agent has one LLC formation plan that starts at $39 + state filing fees (if using our discounted link). This makes it easy for you to get started because you don’t have to spend time trying to figure out what plan is best for you.
It’s a straightforward, transparent, and unquestionably honest approach to LLC formation services I haven’t seen anywhere else. Plus, their value-added services and unique business operation justify the premium price tag, in my opinion.
Forming an LLC with Northwest
Ease of Use: 5 out of 5 starsWith only a few screens to complete and very few add on services to choose from, Northwest is the fastest LLC formation tested so far.
How easy is it to form an LLC with Northwest? Super fast!
Instead of a bunch of upsells (they save theirs until the end on only one page), getting the LLC filed will take five minutes or so to get through.
To show you how easy it is, I’m going to do a screen-by-screen walk-through to show you what it’s like to form an LLC with Northwest.
Step 1: Go to Northwest’s Website
The normal price is $100 (plus state fees), but if you use our discounted StartUp101 link, the formation price is $39 plus state fees. Once arriving, click on form your LLC.
Step 2: Select the Entity & State of Formation
On the first screen, you will choose the type of entity you want to form. Then once you select your state from the drop-down menu, you will get an update on the fees to file the state, along with Northwest’s fee.
In this example, I’ll choose the LLC.
Next, select your state. In this example, I’ll choose Illinois, and you can see the price update in the order summary. $154 is the actual cost to file with the Illinois Secretary of State. The only other fee is the $39 Northwest fee. After picking the state, you will see the time it will take to file, plus an additional option comes up to speed up the filing for an additional fee.
On this screen, you can also have Northwest file the new Beneficial Ownership Information reporting, which is new for 2024. Basically, a company that is created or registered to do business in the US has 90 calendar days to file after receiving actual or public notice that their company’s creation or registration is effective, starting January 1, 2024. You can file this yourself, or have Northwest do it for $9.
Step 3: Enter the Company Information
On the next screen, we enter the name of the LLC that we want to use. Every state requires using a unique name, and no other LLCs in the state can register the same name. Before submitting the final paperwork, Northwest will verify that the name you want is available.
The next section asks whether you want to send a copy of lawsuits and legal notices to your attorney. In addition to them being sent to the address of the registered agent, you can include an address.
The next section is about the business purpose, which is what the business will be doing or selling. I recommend keeping with the generic business purpose because if you enter something more specific and your business activity significantly changes, you are typically supposed to amend your purpose statement with the Secretary of State.
Next, you can choose to use the physical address and mailing address you want on record with the state. It’s important to point out here that a post office box can’t be used for the physical address and is one of the things that makes the Northwest service worth paying a little more for because of the private initial filing address.
If you use their registered agent service, the agent and that address are free for the first year and $125 a year after that.
Choose whether you want Northwest to manage these addresses for you, and then click continue.
Step 4: Enter Management of the LLC
The next screen is titled management and we start off by selecting whether the LLC is member-managed or manager-managed.
Member-managed is the most common choice as the owner or owners, who are called members in an LLC, are also involved with the day-to-day operations of the business. A manager-managed LLC is one where the members hire someone to manage the business.
Then you will choose how many members will be in the company. For a lot of new businesses, it may only be the person starting the business and maybe their spouse, but it could include a friend, family member, or a business partner.
Enter the names of all LLC members and the address that will be recorded with the Secretary of State. If you prefer to keep your home address private, remember to select the Northwest address. Otherwise, you can use your own address and then select continue.
Step 5: Enter Contact Information
Next, enter your contact information. This can be a personal address that won’t be made public.
Step 6: Create an Account
Next, we are going to set up our account with Northwest and enter our email address and password. After entering that info, click continue.
Step 7: Business Identity Package
Northwest Registered Agent launched an optional item bundle called Business Identitty. This includes:
- Domain name registration – one free year, renewal is based on market prices (factor on $12 – $15 a year)
- Website – $9/month
- Business email address – $9/month
- Business address (free with their registered agent service)
- Business phone number – $9/month
- SSL Certificate – $9/month
The overarching idea is: it gets your online business identity set up in less than 10 clicks and 10 minutes. All of these services are owned by Northwest, to stick with their privacy emphasis, and they offer a free, 90-day trial to test it out.
Each service costs $9 a month and if you keep them all, you get a 20% bulk discount. If privacy is super important, you may accidently include your home address when registering your domain name, in addition to some hosting companies selling your personal information.
Unlike all of the other add-on services, the pricing is a little on the expensive. For instance, the domain name registration, website, email address and SSL certificate would cost you $27 a month, plus around $1 per month for a domain, for a total of $28. Bluehost for instance, after the promotional period, the regular monthly pricing for a domain name, WordPress site, email, and SSL certificate is just under $15. However if you like things to be bundled in one account or not wanting to deal with the technical aspect of setting things up, there is convenience to consider. I also think this plan is ok for someone with a basic informational website, but if you plan to sell products online, I would recommend using a dedicated ecommerce platform like Shopify.
The business phone number isn’t badly priced though. This is a private number for your business for $9 a month. Another lower cost option would be to get a free number through Google Voice and forward it to your phone.
Step 8: Select Optional Services
Something else I really like about Northwest is they save all of the upsells for the end, and unlike the other entity formation companies where they have separate screens for all of the services they want to sell you, which makes Northwest the fastest (and most pleasurable) formation service that I’ve reviewed so far to form an LLC with.
The optional services include:
Tax ID Number: $50 if you have a Social Security Number and $200 if you dont – The tax ID number, officially referred to as the Employer Identification Number (EIN), is a number that is assigned to a business by the Internal Revenue Service, much like a social security number for an individual.
Not every type of LLC will need one. If you are a single-member LLC with no employees you can use your Social Security Number as the business ID number. If you are a multi-member LLC or an LLC with employees, you will be required to get one. If you don’t like the idea of using your SSN, you can still get an EIN.
I have seen other formation companies charge up to $99, and $50 is the best so far, but if you apply for an EIN directly with the IRS, there is no cost, and it takes just minutes to do.
S-Corporation Election: $50 – One of the benefits of the Limited Liability Company is to choose a tax election. An LLC can choose to be taxed as a sole proprietorship, partnership, s-corporation, or c-corporation.
This is a subject to talk with your accountant, as everyone’s financial situation will vary, but most LLCs will want to wait to make this election until they are profiting over $60,000.
To elect the s-corp tax election, Form 2553 has to be filed with the IRS. We have information showing how you can file IRS Form 2553 at no cost.
Premium Mail Forwarding: $20/month – Premium mail forwarding is an option where your mail is sent from a private mailing address to you. This is a virtual mailbox service with digital scanning or physical mail forwarding.
Trademark Service: $499 – Northwest also offers a federal trademark service. The cost is $249 plus the $250 filing fee from the United State Patent & Trademark Office.
Learn more about trademarks to see if this option applies to you.
Reputation: 4 out of 5 starsThere are not nearly as many online reviews as there are for ZenBusiness and Incfile, which makes it harder to evaluate what customers are saying about Northwest. Overall, the reviews are positive, but we would have liked to see more of them. Speaking from my personal experience though, I’ve been very happy with them.
Northwest Better Business Bureau Reviews
The BBB has only 148 customer reviews with 4.55 stars out of 5 and isn’t accredited by the BBB. A few other formation companies aren’t either and to be accredited, a company has to pay for this accredition.
You can see the complete list of official reviews here.
Normally I only use the Better Business Bureau and Trustpilot when doing reviews to keep things consistent and not cherry-pick the review services that only show positive results, but there were only a total of 70 reviews on Trustpilot. Unfortunately, the score is low too, with 3.6 stars out of 5, but 70 reviews are hard to get a feel for the quality of services, but seeing fewer than half are five stars isn’t ideal. ZenBusiness and Bizee have thousands of reviews on this site, and I expected to see NW Registered Agent have a lot as well.
You can see the entire set of reviews here.
Northwest Registered Agent Review Conclusion
Just like any business, there were negative reviews, and despite the good reviews, they didn’t stack up as well as, say Incfile. Most of the time, there was an attempt to remedy the situation, but not as consistently as Incfile or Zenbusiness.
What I Like About NorthWest Registered Agent’s LLC Formation Service
Now that you know the full process of forming an LLC with NorthWest Registered Agent, I want to talk about the good things that stood out to me. I also want to dive deep and discuss why they matter and what they mean to you.
1: Ease of formation
Using our link, for only $39 dollars, you get the LLC paperwork filed, registered agent service in the first year, business address, mail forwarding, and more. While this isn’t free, I believe that the additional privacy protections they include are going to be well worth more than $39 over the lifetime of owning the business to a lot of people.
2: They Don’t Sell Your Data to Third Parties
Whether they tell you or not, many entity formation providers make big bucks selling your information to third parties. Oftentimes they make thousands of dollars by giving your email and contact info to other people.
Additionally, the company you signed up for may get kickbacks for sending you to other providers to fulfill the promises they made to you. They may outsource their registered agent services, customer support, or other departments.
But Northwest Registered Agent doesn’t. They do everything in-house and minimize their use of third-party apps and software to keep your data private. They claim to have never sold their customer’s information and say they never will. I can’t verify whether other formation companies do this, but Northwest has promoted this benefit for many years, and I’ve never seen any dispute.
3: Filing Speed
Third, the turnaround times with Northwest compared to the other reviews so far, the time to file with the free plans from competitors are slowed down.
Northwest will charge for expedited processing if the state offers it too, but many formation companies will slow down the standard filing from states that process in days and stretch it out to several weeks and then offer to speed up the processing for a fee.
Let’s take filing an LLC in the state of Tennessee, for example. If you were to file directly with the state, your LLC is processed immediately at no extra cost. With Northwest, there is a five-day filing time.
The standard processing with ZenBusiness is 2-3 weeks.
While Incfile is three weeks.
So if you were in a hurry to get your LLC filed with some other popular entity formation companies and paid for expedited processing, they would actually cost more than Northwest. For most, it’s not going to matter, but this is another positive in my book on the integrity of Northwest. They could artificially slow down the filing process and then charge more to process faster, but they don’t.
4: Few Upsells
Another positive aspect of Northwest in my book is that they have the fewest and least intrusive upsells. Northwest puts all of them on one page just before checkout, and they don’t try to scare you into buying something you don’t need.
There are a total of 9 screens to form an LLC with Northwest, while Bizee has 6 upsell pages alone, in addition to the LLC-related pages, while Zenbusiness has 7 upsell pages.
Speaking of the upsells also reminds me that the additional services are generally much better priced than the competition. For example, the EIN registration is only $50 at Northwest and $99 at ZenBusiness. Also, the registered agent service is $125 per year, whereas ZenBusiness charges $199.
5: 100% Business Transparency
At Northwest Registered Agent, “We believe wholeheartedly that getting a job well done should not be considered a luxury, nor should a customer ever be tricked into buying something they don’t need. And a customer should never be sold something they don’t need.”
The company was started by a ski bum who saw an opportunity to help business owners and entrepreneurs like you simplify the process of starting a business. Because of that, they do business differently, with a foundation built on transparency, privacy, and simplicity.
You always know how much you’re going to pay without scratching your head in confusion. Everything is laid out in layman’s terms that are easy to understand. And if there’s anything you don’t get, you can contact them at any time.
Speaking of transparency, when it was time for my registered agent renewal, Northwest contacted me 90 days in advance to see if I wanted renew. I don’t know about you, but there are so many companies that get you into subscriptions and then hope you forget, that I really appreciated the reminder. Here is the email I got from them below.
What I Don’t Like About Northwest Registered Agent
Despite all of the advantages of Northwest, there were a couple of minor negatives.
1: No Free Plan
Other entity formation services, such as Bizee, ZenBusiness, LegalZoom, and Inc Authority) offer a basic package for forming an LLC for free, plus the state filing fees. Alternatively, many other service providers offer tiered pricing plans so you can bundle services.
With Northwest Registered Agent, they have one plan. It’s not free, but it’s only $39 plus the state fee, using our link. There is a lot of value in Northwest’s LLC formation service, but when most competitors have a free plan, it can be hard to justify spending extra.
2: Online Reviews
Northwest has much fewer reviews than Incfile and ZenBusiness. Even though they are a small player in the entity formation and registered agent industry, it would be good to see more reviews to more easily compare against the competition.
My Final Thoughts on the Northwest Registered Agent LLC Review
Although their services come with a premium price tag, you get a ton of added value as well as a premium customer support team dedicated to helping you and your business succeed. Plus, you can reach out to them at any time with questions, concerns, or any confusion you may have.
Northwest Registered Agent doesn’t try to sell you non-essential services masked as essential, and their foundation is built on transparency, privacy, and lending a helping hand. Their single pricing plan makes one less decision for you, and their complete transparency is a breath of fresh air.
With hundreds of happy customers and 25 years of service, you can rest easy knowing they deliver on their promises and are a friend to help you through the complex world of starting a business.
Get started forming your LLC with Northwest Registered Agent!
Northwest Registered Agent FAQs
How do you contact Northwest Registered Agent directly for support?
Contact information for Northwest Registered Agent:
How does Northwest Registered Agent compare to other LLC providers?
How much does Northwest Registered Agent charge to form an LLC?
The cost to form an LLC with Northwest Registered Agent is discounted from $100 to $39 plus the state fee when using our link.
Should I reserve an LLC name before forming an LLC with Northwest Registered Agent?
While it doesn’t hurt to see if your LLC name is available, Northwest will verify your name is available before submitting the paperwork.
How quickly does Northwest Registered Agent process LLC formations?
While all entity formation companies offer expedited processing for an additional cost, Northwest is one of the fastest at processing the standard filings.
Every state is different, but when you start the order process, the actual time will be displayed.
How do I log into my Northwest Registered Agent account?
To log into your Northwest Registered Agent account here – https://www.northwestregisteredagent.com/login