Starting a Limited Liability Company (LLC) in Iowa has always been a long-standing aspiration for me. But before I put my plans in motion, I had to figure out which registered agent service I could trust with my crucial business documents.
I decided to take the guesswork out of the process by using my obsessive research skills to create a list of the best registered agents in the state of Iowa. After a year of meticulous research, I finally had a list of 13 registered agents that showed some promise.
Here are the results of my findings:
Best Registered Agent: Northwest Registered Agent
- Easy sign-up process
- Mail scanning, uploading, and forwarding
- Alerts for important upcoming compliance deadlines
- $125 per state per year
- Corporate Guides who can answer your small business questions
- No dedicated account manager
After a quick glimpse at Northwest Registered Agent’s manifesto page, I was intrigued!
To begin with, they are a family-owned national registered agent with employees that actually care about my small business. I especially like their “Privacy by Default” policy that ensures my sensitive business data is not breached by malicious entities, and I like that I can publicly use their business address to better protect my sensitive information.
They also provide the full suite of business and LLC formation services that a good registered agent must:
- They filed and submitted my Certificate of Organization to the Iowa Secretary of State office on behalf of my LLC.
- They scan, upload, and forward ALL my mail.
- They provide an online documents storage portal where I can keep all my important business and legal documents.
- They provide a registered office and physical street address in Iowa that can accept Service of Process from a process server and official communication during normal business hours.
- They are available in all 50 states.
- They consistently send compliance alerts that remind me of crucial filing dates (such as for my annual report) so that my business stays in good standing with the Iowa Secretary of State.
Their customer care department is the major highlight of their services.
In an era where cost-cutting tactics frequently result in the transfer of customer services to other countries, it’s deeply refreshing to find an Iowa registered agent with a US-based team of customer service personnel that are not only ready to assist me with my service-related issues, but are always available (during normal business hours, of course) to provide top-notch business advice for my fledgling Iowa LLC.
Northwest Registered Agent is a family-owned and operated company situated in the United States with the best customer service in the business. If these factors are important to you, as they were to me, consider their services today.
Best Budget Option: Harbor Compliance
- Simple online system
- Fast and prompt service
- All the basics
- Only $99*
- Dedicated account manager
- No small business advice
Before I came across Northwest Registered Agent during my search for the best national registered agent in Iowa, Harbor Compliance was my favorite pick. Their pricing is simple and transparent, with no extra fees or hidden costs. Harbor Compliance is good at what they do, and I believe they charge a reasonable price for their level of service.
However, it’s their addition of a dedicated account manager that made me rank them so high. Their account manager offered great assistance during my business formation process and despite not going over and beyond their service mandate to provide small business advice like Northwest Registered Agent’s customer service personnel, the account manager’s presence is a welcome bonus.
Visit Harbor Compliance today and learn more about their services.
This entire research process took me 12 months to get through. Below is a breakdown of the procedure I followed to arrive at my conclusion.
Starting a business in Iowa is a daunting process. Especially if you have to sift through the dozens of registered agents available in the state. Sure, there are a few Iowa registered agent services that actually sell legitimate services, but there are plenty that want nothing more than to swindle you while providing substandard services for your Iowa LLC (Limited Liability Company).
Moreover, a bad commercial registered agent can get your business in trouble with the Iowa Secretary of State if they fail to notify you of any pending filing dates or Service of Process.
This is the predicament I found myself in last year when I decided to start a small-scale business in Iowa. With my skeptical nature, I didn’t know which registered agent service I could trust with my all-important business documents.
Therefore, I decided the only way to find out was to test and review every single registered agent service in Iowa. It was the only sure way to put my mind at ease about the situation once and for all. So without hesitating, I got out my credit card and signed up to every single registered agent service in Iowa and began my months-long review process.
Before I started my investigative process, I came up with a list of criteria that would act as a roadmap through the entire procedure.
First, this process involved finding a registered agent with transparent prices and no upselling. My preferred registered agent must offer a comprehensive suite of business services at a fixed price, and it’s very important that their marketing materials don’t include any hidden costs or forceful upsells.
They need to include the following list of business services, otherwise I removed them from my list:
- They must process and forward my Certificate of Organization to the Iowa Secretary of State in due time.
- They must scan, upload, and forward ALL my mail.
- They must send compliance notifications that remind me of important filing dates and keep me in good standing with the Iowa Secretary of State.
- They must provide an online document storage portal where I can store all my important legal and business documents.
- They must keep my personal information secure and off public record.
- They must operate in all 50 states.
- They must maintain a registered office address that is a physical street address in Iowa and can accept legal documents and official communication during regular business hours.
- They must accept Service of Process and other legal documents as the point of contact on behalf of my business in Iowa.
Second, I needed to ensure that my chosen Iowa registered agent service had a solid record of service in the industry before engaging their services. Ten years of service delivery was the bare minimum. In case this information was not available on their websites, a brief search in the US Securities and Exchange Commission database or the Dun & Bradstreet website would show the year of incorporation for every registered agent service in the state of Iowa.
Third, to make their services as efficient and quick as feasible, my registered agent service of choice must integrate modern technologies, including a well-designed website, bug-free email system, and straightforward and intuitive sign-up process.
Finally, I needed to double-check the customer service days and hours for each Iowa registered agent I was considering working with to ensure there were no unforeseen restrictions. At the very least, customer service should be available during normal business hours on weekdays.
Using my carefully crafted criteria, I was able to distinguish between authentic and phony Iowa registered agent services.
Several Iowa registered agent service providers claimed to have renounced aggressive upsells and marketing, but a closer examination at their websites proved the opposite. Any Iowa registered agent service that employed these deceptive marketing practices was out of my list.
The list had now been whittled down to about 18 Iowa registered agent services. I looked at their sign-up methods, how user-friendly their online systems were, and whether they employed other contemporary ways of communication. Those registered agents that didn’t bother to update their communication systems were removed from the list.
I contacted and spoke with the customer service representatives of the remaining registered agents to see how they responded to comments and criticism. Some were understanding and kind, while others were audacious and uncooperative.
Ultimately, I was left with 13 Iowa registered agents that showed some potential.
After 12 long months of laborious investigative work, I had finally come up with a list of 13 Iowa registered agents that provided everything a registered agent must.
My Favorite Registered Agent Service: Northwest Registered Agent
Northwest Registered Agent is one of Iowa’s most well-known and respected registered agents.
Founded in 1998, Northwest Registered Agent has a long track record of providing top notch resident agent service to entrepreneurs all over the US.
They offer a few distinguishing features that make them my top choice in this competitive market. For instance, Northwest Registered Agent is the only major registered agent service that locally scans all documents received on my behalf. The competition only scans official government papers as required by law. On top of that, they’ll accept and manage every mail, tax notice, and Service of Process related to my Iowa business.
They provide a registered office and street address that I can use while hiding my actual contact details from the public record. And they make sure that my business is always in compliance with the office of the Iowa Secretary of State by sending report reminders so I never miss an annual report.
One of the primary differences between registering an LLC with Northwest Registered Agent and one of its rivals is Northwest Registered Agent’s dedication to my privacy. Northwest Registered Agent’s “Privacy by Default” program protects my personal address, phone numbers, and other sensitive data from being used by third-party marketers.
Because they’ve been in business for so long, they’ve had the chance to fine-tune their business services and practices. As a result, while they charge more, their years of knowledge provide value to the organization. They give excellent customer service and know that a no-nonsense, no-upsells strategy is the key to keeping their clients satisfied.
Speaking of customer support, nobody beats Northwest Registered Agent when it comes to customer service. Rather than calling an outsourced call center for help, Northwest Registered Agent has a US-based team of highly qualified and experienced Corporate Guides who have always assisted me whenever I had a problem with my daily business operations. And there are no phone trees. Every Corporate Guide who answers the phone provides assistance without transferring my call. All emails are answered the same day and in the unlikely event my call goes to voicemail, they always call back within two hours.
They provide the best small business advice in the industry. For example, when I was having difficulty recruiting workers for my new Iowa business, I contacted one of the Northwest Registered Agent Corporate Guides, who provided me excellent guidance on how to acquire talented staff.
Because of their extremely responsive customer service, high-quality online account service, commitment to preserving their clients’ personal data, and hundreds of favorable online reviews, Northwest Registered Agent is one of the industry’s leading resident agent services and LLC formation services.
Northwest Registered Agent is a bit more expensive than some of their rivals in the industry, but there are no hidden costs, and they do not benefit from the sale of your data to third-party marketers.
If you’re planning to form an LLC, I recommend Northwest Registered Agent because of their high-quality service, convenience of use, and exceptional customer support.
My Budget Pick: Harbor Compliance
Their affordable registered agent services and the inclusion of a dedicated account manager are the reasons Harbor Compliance is #2 on my list.
Despite being slower than Northwest Registered Agent, Harbor Compliance was able to forward my Certificate of Organization to the Iowa Secretary of State, and they provided an Iowa registered office and business address available during business hours to receive Service of Process on behalf of my Iowa LLC while keeping my real contact information and office address in Iowa off public record and away from prying eyes.
I also have access to software that lets me track and file each annual report, making it simple to stay in compliance with the Secretary of State. They don’t have as much experience as many of the other Iowa registered agent service providers featured in this list (having been founded in 2012), but they have a respectable reputation nonetheless.
To administer my registered agent service, Harbor Compliance appointed a dedicated account manager. These knowledgeable staff members use their extensive knowledge to assist me in navigating the complexities of business ownership and compliance. However, they don’t provide the small business advice I get from Northwest’s Corporate Guides.
Harbor Compliance is Iowa’s second best registered agent, costing $199 (plus state fees). They are a reputable organization that provides dependable resident agent services.
They’ll make sure your Iowa LLC stays on the right side of the law in the state of Iowa and that your legal obligations to the Secretary of State are met. If your Iowa LLC encounters any difficulties, their dedicated account manager will guide you through the sign-up process and provide service-related assistance throughout your LLC journey.
Visit the Harbor Compliance website today to learn more about their LLC services.
The Other Registered Agent Services
The 11 Iowa registered agent service providers mentioned below fulfilled my requirements and are listed in no particular order.
Rapid Registered Agent—A few fun features
In the state of Iowa, Rapid Registered Agent charges $120 (plus filing fee) for registered agent services. Rapid Registered Agent provides affordable and easy business services, such as an online account and timely Service of Process notifications. They also send compliance notices so that my business is always in good standing with the office of the Iowa Secretary of State.
Their customer service is adequate, but not as good as that of Northwest Registered Agent’s Corporate Guides.
Rocket Lawyer—Great for online legal services
Rocket Lawyer is one of the most well-known names in the online legal assistance industry. The core of their services is their legal services subscription that provides access to certified corporate attorneys as well as a variety of additional benefits.
However, the major drawback is that they provide very limited registered agent service but charge an annual fee of $149.99 (plus filing fee). They are a good option if you need all your company’s legal issues (such as accepting Service of Process) handled by one company. But you better look elsewhere if your Iowa LLC needs more comprehensive features.
Team ‘Nothing Special’
The following Iowa registered agent service providers don’t offer much to write about. They provide the usual basics that are required from a registered agent in Iowa such as filing your Certificate of Organization, and they also accept Service of Process on behalf of your business entity. They don’t offer any new or enticing features that differentiate them from the competition.
These companies include Jumpstart Filings ($150), SunDoc Filings ($159), ZenBusiness ($199), Registered Agents Inc. ($200), and Incorporate.com ($235).
Team ‘Big Brand’
This section includes “big name” Iowa registered agents who claim to sell more “premium” Iowa registered agent services. They don’t offer any noteworthy business services for your Iowa LLC aside from nice-looking websites and brilliant marketing professionals, yet they’re prepared to charge high fees for what is essentially the same service as Northwest Registered Agent.
These fancy, overpriced business entities are National Registered Agents, Inc ($405), LegalZoom ($299), SwiftFilings ($149), CT Corporation ($319), and CSC Global ($381).
Wrapping It All Up
Starting a business in Iowa is not a walk in the park and the situation gets even harder if you are dealing with an untrustworthy registered agent in Iowa. A lot could go wrong, possibly leading to trouble with the law. This is why I embarked on a 12-month mission to find out which is the best registered agent in the Hawkeye State.
From the dozens of registered agent services in the state, I picked Northwest Registered Agent as the best.
Northwest Registered Agent isn’t the cheapest firm that provides commercial registered agent service, but their pricing is hundreds of dollars a year lower than competitors like CSC and National Registered Agents, Inc. Furthermore, if you have an LLC in numerous states, Northwest offers volume discounts that lower their costs even further.
As part of their Iowa registered agent service, they file and submit your Certificate of Organization, provide a registered office address in Iowa that you can use for your LLC while hiding your actual contact details, scan and forward all mail on behalf of your Iowa business to an online document storage portal, protect your data from malicious entities such as hackers and third-party marketers, and accept Service of Process on behalf of your business entity.
Northwest’s Corporate Guides are the icing on the cake. No other registered agent in Iowa provides their level of support. They’ll walk you through your business formation and they’ll provide the best small business advice your Iowa LLC can get.
Whether you’re just starting out or you need a change of registered agent, Northwest Registered Agent is an excellent choice. Sign up today if your LLC needs exceptional customer support and reliable business and legal services that rival (or even outperform) many higher-priced registered agent services in the state of Iowa.
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