Disclosure: We earn a commission from some partner links. Commissions do not affect our editors' opinions or evaluations.
Delaware has been arguably the most attractive American area for new businesses since the state's General Corporation Law was adopted in 1899. Despite being one of the smallest states in terms of area and population, over 300 of the country's largest corporations found their home in Delaware. The benefits for creating an LLC in Delaware include corporate privacy (the names of the owners are allowed to be omitted from official filings), a great tax environment (no state tax or VAT), and an effective court system. If you are looking to start your own company, there's no better place to do it than The First State.
Every LLC or corporation in Delaware is legally required to have a dedicated registered agent, also known as a statutory agent in some states. Without it, the formation of your business is impossible, and you must include your agent information in the submission form. However, to form a company in Delaware, you don't have to establish an actual office or open a bank account there. The only requirements your LLC needs to operate in The First State are paying state taxes and having a registered agent with a local address.
What is a registered agent? What are the main criteria when choosing one? Are there any specialized agent services in Delaware? If so, what is the best one?
First, let's get the terminology straight. A registered agent is a person or company that accepts official and legal documentation from the state on your behalf; for example, lawsuits or tax forms. Upon reception, the agent must immediately notify you about such delivery and send the correspondence your way. Think of it as your personal mailbox with a physical address and forwarding feature that's operating during standard business hours.
How to Appoint a Registered Agent for LLC in Delaware?
The designation process is rather simple. First, you need to choose your representative, and then you need to file a registered agent consent form for service of process with the Delaware Secretary of State.
This is a straightforward procedure, however, it's recommended to use specialized business formation services to avoid inconveniences and save time. They will submit all necessary paperwork, and also notify you when their service period is nearing expiration so that you can extend your contract.
Order Processing Time
Registered Agent in Delaware: Best Local Providers
The registered agent market is dominated by large services that operate across the entire nation. However, we'll begin our showcase by showing love to a couple of homegrown companies that represent Delaware on the map of quality business assistance.
Top Registered Agent in Wilmington, Delaware: IncNow
Wilmington is Delaware's largest city, so it has naturally embraced the status of the state's economic center. It's legal home for such financial giants as JP Morgan Chase & Co, DuPont, Wells Fargo, and Barclays Bank of Delaware. It should come as no surprise that IncNow, a registered agent and LLC formation service based in Wilmington, is regularly ranked among the best national providers in this segment.
Founded in 1974, IncNow is one of the oldest organizations that specialize in business incorporation and consultancy. The professional team of lawyers and attorneys provides a wide array of formation services, helping over 250 new companies come to life every month.
First, let’s start with the company’s advantages:
Experience. No company can stay in the business for 40 years without being legit. IncNow checks that box easily by being the registered agent of choice for more than 19,000 Delaware-based clients. As a local-only service, the company knows its way around the state's tricky business laws and uses them to their (and your) advantage. IncNow's excellent reputation is only cemented by hundreds of positive online reviews from satisfied customers;
Processing Time. If you value your time and want to speed up the formation process, IncNow has got you covered. All packages come with a 24-hour filing period, and there's even a special plan for the most impatient customers that offers a same-day turnaround;
Customer Support. IncNow is a fairly small company which allows it to maintain close and friendly relationships with its clients. The company utilizes all sorts of social media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, but they mostly rely on phone calls and emails as their primary means of communication. The response is quick, engaging, and very informative, and you can immediately feel that IncNow passionately cares about its job;
Privacy. As we've mentioned in the beginning, Delaware's Corporation Law allows for undisclosed personal information regarding a company's owners and members. With IncNow, you can be sure that whatever happens with your LLC in Delaware stays in Delaware.
Of course, no one is perfect, and IncNow also has its drawbacks. They are:
Cost. The first year of registered agent service comes at $90, and then it goes up to $99 for each following year. You do get 12 months for free when going for a full formation plan, but while many companies do not include this option in their package, they beat IncNow with lower prices for complete incorporation, as well as for a registered agent as a standalone feature;
Exclusive to one state. IncNow doesn't work outside Delaware, so if your company needs to register a foreign entity or form a subsidiary somewhere else, you're out of luck.
Overall, IncNow is a solid provider of LLC formation and incorporation services with excessive knowledge in the area and great attention to detail. If you're a resident of Wilmington, we recommend checking them out in person.
Wilmington Honorable Mentions
Advantage Delaware LLC;
American Incorporators Ltd.;
Delaware Registered Agent Service LLC.
Top Registered Agent in Dover, Delaware: A Registered Agent, Inc
Despite its modest population of 36,000 people, Dover is a proud capital of Delaware with plenty of merits. The city boasts a number of large facilities of national importance, including Delaware's Secretary of State, Dover Air Force Base, Dover Motor Speedway, as well as Kraft Foods and Procter & Gamble plants.
Just like its hometown of Dover, A Registered Agent, Inc is a small but competitive LLC formation and incorporation company that found the perfect niche for itself and has been doing its job at a high level.
A Registered Agent, Inc Pros
The main pros of this company are:
Fixed Price. $45 per year. That's the fee for the first year of service, and that's exactly how much you're going to pay annually for as long as your company is still operating. That's one of the lowest prices on the market, and it's guaranteed to stay that way forever. Sign us up;
Prestigious Location. No matter how small it might be, a capital city always brings some kind of a quality mark along with its name. A Registered Agent, Inc is located on The Green, 2 minutes away from the state's Legislative Hall and the Chancery Court. You won't find a better address to put on your business card;
Customer Service. There are not a lot of reviews for A Registered Agent, Inc, but all of them share one thing in common: praise for excellent service. The employees of the company are described as friendly, kind, helpful, and patient. For most clients, that's the only thing that matters.
A Registered Agent, Inc Cons
Above-Average Formation Prices. ARA, Inc offers a compelling LLC formation package that includes filing the Articles of Organization, mail forwarding (up to 5 pieces), creating an operating agreement, and 12 months of registered agent service. The asking price is $180 which is reasonable, but there are a few other options on the market that might save you over 50 dollars for the same selection of features;
Low Brand Recognition. When your name is literally "A Registered Agent", it's quite difficult to generate enough traffic on your website. A quick Google search for "Delaware registered agent" proves that ARA, Inc's link is nowhere to be seen. Given the company's positive reputation, it deserves a lot more customers than it has now.
Dover's registered agent competition is stacked, but we recommend ARA, Inc for its moderate price tag and incredibly personalized service.
Dover Honorable Mentions
A Best Registered Agent LLC;
Best Delaware Registered Agent;
Dash Incorporators LLC;
Cheapest Delaware Registered Agent LLC.
Top Registered Agent in Newark, Delaware: Delaware Registered Agents and Incorporators
Newark is the third-largest city in The First State and home to the University of Delaware, one of the best public education institutions in the United States (the alma mater of the 46th President, Joe Biden). The business formation market is represented by Delaware Registered Agents & Incorporators, a company with "a full range of incorporation and registered agent services at affordable prices".
DRA and I Pros
As usual, let’s start with the company’s advantages:
Experienced Staff. Agents and Incorporators have been operating since 1984 which is ages in the world of business. All that mileage is invaluable when it comes to navigating around bureaucratic holes and bumps that may be encountered during an LLC formation or incorporation procedures. You can count on DRA and I's employees to deliver quality service as their years of experience pay off;
Pricing. Back in 1984, the company offered to become your registered agent for $75. Today in 2022, they ask… $75. Delaware Registered Agents and Incorporators claim that they have never raised their fee and never will. That's a good deal no matter how you look at it.
DRA and I Cons
As for the disadvantages:
Limited Reach. If Delaware, and specifically Newark, is the only option for your company's domicile, then Agents and Incorporators should be on your radar. In other cases, there are dozens of national registered agent services that might be a better fit;
Outdated Website. DRA and I's webpage is as simple and uninspired as it gets. There is not much information regarding additional services and the Contact Us section lacks social media links (if there are any at all). Your best bet is to call them on the phone or visit their office in person which is not very convenient, to say the least.
Delaware Registered Agents and Incorporators is your average, "no frills, no gimmicks" company that gets the job done without breaking your bank.
Top Registered Agent in Delaware: Honorable Mentions from Other Cities
Harvard Business Services Inc (Lewes, DE);
Registered Agents and Incorporators of Delaware Inc. (Milford, DE);
Agents of Delaware, Inc. (New Castle, DE);
Corporations USA (Camden, DE);
The Incorporating Company LLC (Middletown, DE).
Registered Agent in Delaware: Best National Providers
Now it's time to check in with the heavy-hitters. One undeniable advantage of national services is their immense reach and flexibility. Whether you're in Texas, Delaware, or California, these companies are going to give you the exact same treatment, leaving any nuances typical for each state up to themselves. The price range is generally higher than any of the local providers mentioned above, but it's compensated with the overall scale and a bunch of additional features that are not available at Delaware-based companies.
Top National Registered Agent: ZenBusiness
Despite starting not so long ago in 2015, ZenBusiness has quickly become the golden child of LLC formations. The company from Austin, TX offers several incorporation packages, but each service can be purchased separately. There is no denying their prowess in overall efficiency, but does their registered agent service live up to the hype? Let's find out.
So, what are the advantages of ZenBusiness? They are:
Package Value. It's hard to beat Zen's Starter plan for LLCs. For just $49/year, you're getting your documents filed with the Delaware Secretary of State, 12 months of registered agent service for free, and an operating agreement. This is one of those offers you take without hesitation just in case it disappears;
Track Record. To find a negative review about ZenBusiness, one needs a magnifying glass. Judging from more than 6,000 comments, it seems as if the company has universal acclaim. How many of those reviews are fake or paid, no one can't tell for sure, but Zen's reputation has been untarnished so far;
Refund Policy. Don't like anything about your ZenBusiness offer? (It's very unlikely to happen according to customers' feedback.) Anyway, no problem! You have 60 days to submit a refund form and get your money back with no questions asked.
Speaking of the company’s drawbacks:
Standalone Feature Value. If you only need a Delaware address for your paperwork without ordering one of the plans, be prepared to pay a little extra. A registered agent without annual compliance is going to cost you $99, and it goes up to $149 for an added notification feature. That proves that ZenBusiness is at the top of the game package-wise, but it's noticeably unpolished and overpriced with separated offerings that are mostly not worth their price;
Age. Once again, the reviews are amazing and there are allegedly more than a million companies formed by ZenBusiness. Sounds almost too good to be true. That's why some people may still be skeptical and prefer to go a safer and more experienced route.
ZenBusiness comes at you fully loaded with features neatly wrapped in some of the most attractive packaging on the market, but it comes a bit short with singled-out registered agent service. It's cheaper and more beneficial to buy one of their full incorporation plans.
Top National Registered Agent: Northwest Registered Agent
Despite being a full-time incorporation company, Northwest's main priority has always been providing exceptional registered agent services (it's literally in the name). It's safe to say they've succeeded in this quest, as NW is easily one of the highest-ranked providers in 2022. Let's see why.
Northwest Registered Agent Pros
Customer Service. NW prides itself as a customer-oriented business and it shows from the very first second you pick up the phone to ask Northwest a question. On the other side of the line, you'll find a welcoming, patient, and very professional employee (usually of business background) who is going to do their absolute best to assist you. Such a level of help is priceless for small startups and up-and-coming entrepreneurs as it can save them a lot of time and effort.
Mail Forwarding. Like any other registered agent on the list, Northwest will scan and send you all federal and legal documents that they receive on your behalf. However, it's also possible to have every piece of mail that comes to that address processed by the company (10 items per year for free + $15 for each additional piece). You can even up the ante with a $20/month option that takes all limits away and gives you as much mail as you're ever going to receive;
Fast Processing Time. Northwest's representatives work fast and they will notify you about your letters as soon as they scan them. Filing Articles of Organization or Incorporation also happens the same business day you submit your online form. As we've said before, NW values its customers and, of course, their time;
Informative Website. For DIY enthusiasts, Northwest has compiled an extensive guide about LLC formation, incorporation, non-profit organizations, and all kinds of business-related issues that you may encounter on your way to becoming a successful entrepreneur. All data is organized by topics and is accessible in the "How To" menu.
Northwest Registered Agent Cons
Slightly Pricey. $125/year isn't exactly a rip-off (for example, LegalZoom charges $299 for its agent service), but there is more than a handful of registered agents under 100 bucks out there. Additionally, NW's LLC formation plans are rather expensive, and sometimes they lack certain items, like Employer Identification Number or DBA, that have to be purchased separately.
There are not many downsides to using Northwest as your registered agent. The service quality is immaculate, and the company's resources are plentiful. You could save some cash and go with another service, but you'll be missing a lot of good stuff that makes NW Registered Agent one of the best current providers in Delaware and the other 49 states.
Top National Registered Agent: IncFile
Next, we've got IncFile, a business formation company from Houston, TX. As you know, everything is bigger in Texas, and IncFile lives up to that saying by being one of the best-known services in North America and offering quality assistance to thousands of organizations every year. Let's check out if its registered agent feature stands out from the crowd.
Online Dashboard. Once IncFile has received and scanned your business mail, the company gives you digital access to its online storage where you are able to view and download the files at will. It's especially useful when you just want to find out some important information and don't need the physical papers. Otherwise, IncFile will automatically forward all federal correspondence directly to your office;
Outstanding Minimum Price. The annual agent fee charged by IncFile is $119, which is good but not great. However, we have a tip for you. The company's basic LLC formation plan comes with a free year of registered agent service, and it costs – wait for it – $0! You are basically killing two birds with one stone while paying less;
User Experience. IncFile has a good-looking website that's very responsive and easy to navigate. The entire order process takes around 15 minutes and the processing period is quick as well. Similar to Northwest Registered Agent, there is a so-called Resource Center with tons of useful materials on LLCs and corporations, as well as general business tips.
Poor Customer Service. To put it mildly, IncFile's relationship with its clients is a mixed bag. The first problem is that it takes ages to actually get someone on the phone. Although, once you're connected to IncFile's specialist, they do a good job of helping you. The second issue is occasional delays with filings that lead to failed deadlines and extra fees. This is a prevailing complaint among negative reviews and is not a good look for the company overall;
Overpriced Premium Plans. If you decide to go all the way and order an LLC from IncFile, you'd better skip its high-end options. They're just too expensive, and usually, you can find the same features much cheaper elsewhere.
We can recommend IncFile for people on a very tight budget who are looking for the bare necessities of LLC formation (including absolutely free registered agent service).
Benefits of Using a Delaware Registered Agent Service
You may think that registered agents’ responsibilities are not that difficult, and you could easily perform these duties yourself. In practice though, there are several factors that you might have overlooked. Here are several reasons why hiring a professional resident agent will be beneficial:
You won’t have to disclose your personal information and address;
You will have more freedom, namely have the ability to go on vacations, business trips, sick leaves, and simply go to lunch;
You won’t have to deal with tons of spam and other junk mail, as your registered agent will sort your mail.
That's exactly why companies in Delaware and all over the United States choose to delegate agent responsibilities to third-party services that take the bureaucratic burden off their shoulders and allow them to focus on moneymaking.
Best Registered Agent Review: How Do We Choose?
Our job is to find and compare the best options on the market for registered agents and business formation providers. We like what we do and we want to do it well every time.
Why You Can Trust Our Choice
We test the services ourselves and scour the Internet for customer reviews to get the full picture. Once we complete our testing, we focus on bringing you a comprehensive online guide to help you make the best investment of your time and money.
How We Selected the Best Registered Agent
The three key elements of our selection process are price, features, and user experience. Basically, it comes down to how much the service is, how many features you can get for your money, how simple it is to set up, and what the customer opinions are about it.
Best Registered Agent
Choosing a Best Registered Agent is easy. Select your State to get started.
Delaware registered agents come in all shapes and sizes so it's up to you to decide which one suits your needs best.
If you're a small company working from home searching for a physical address in The First State, or you're a Delaware resident yourself, then we honestly think you should support local DE providers and delegate one of them as your agent. They offer lots of experience with the state's way of things, and they charge less than big do-it-all services.
National providers, however, have a leg up on Delaware-based competitors with high-quality incorporation possibilities that usually include registered agent services even at lower tiers.
Compare the conditions for opening an LLC in Delaware with other states:
In order to change your registered agent at any time, you need to file a special Certificate of Change of Agent with Delaware's Division of Corporations and pay a state fee ($50).
Can I be my own registered agent in Delaware?
Anyone can be a registered agent for your Delaware-based company as long as they are 18 years old and are located in the same state with a legit physical address. Also, you can appoint another business for this role, but you cannot make your own company represent itself.
Yes, every company incorporated in Delaware is required by law to have a physical location in the state available during standard business hours in order to receive federal and legal correspondence and notify the owners about it.