Best Registered Agent Services in South Carolina 2022

18 Min Read
0 Reviews
Last updated September 13, 2022
Written by Dmytro Kondratiev
Editor, lawyer
Disclosure: We earn a commission from some partner links. Commissions do not affect our editors' opinions or evaluations.
South Carolina best registered agent

Regardless of the nature of your business in South Carolina, no commercial or nonprofit venture is possible without a registered agent. Whether it’s an independent professional or a company that specializes in business solutions, their services are necessary to maintain any form of business operations in the state.

This article outlines the top contenders for the title of the best registered agent and dives into the pros and cons of each company to help you find the option best suited for your South Carolina business.

Northwest Registered Agent
4.6
Google Maps Rating
Price starts: from $39
Pros and Cons
of the company
ZenBusiness
4.7
Google Maps Rating
Price starts: from $49
Pros and Cons
of the company
IncFile
3.3
Google Maps Rating
Price starts: from $5
Pros and Cons
of the company
BetterLegal
4.9
Google Maps Rating
Price starts: from $299 + filing fee
Pros and Cons
of the company
MyCorporation
4.9
Google Maps Rating
Price starts: from $99 + state fees
Pros and Cons
of the company
Rocket Lawyer
4.7
Google Maps Rating
Price starts: from $39.99
Pros and Cons
of the company
Harbor Compliance
4.4
Google Maps Rating
Price starts: from $99
Pros and Cons
of the company

Best registered agent service South Carolina

Like most jurisdictions in the country, South Carolina makes the appointment of a registered agent (also called resident or statutory agent) a mandatory step in business formation. This means that you can’t legally operate any SC formal entity without hiring an agent to represent it. 

According to the South Carolina Code of Laws, Section 33-5-101, every entity must assign an agent and file the necessary South Carolina Secretary of State registered agent paperwork, i.e. filling in the required fields in the articles and file the document accordingly.

An entity’s business office may be used as the office for the SC registered agent, though it’s generally not a good idea to do it if you run your business from home. You can appoint almost anyone to be your agent, including:

  • A resident of South Carolina (with a valid address in the state that can be used as the registered office address;
  • A domestic or foreign entity such as an LLC, corporation, or nonprofit as long as they are authorized to do business in the state.

Thankfully, the state’s website offers multiple tools for entity formation and name searches (South Carolina corporation search registered agent) as well as a list of forms for your agent-related filings. There is no separate registered agent consent form South Carolina uses to legally instate a candidate, unless it’s time for implementing any substantial changes.

When you need to update registered agent South Carolina, the state requires you to file a notice of change (for corporations and LLCs) with all relevant details about your new agent. This form is technically the act of consent on their behalf as it includes the consent field.

That said, you need to start your registered agent South Carolina search somewhere. Below is a list of the top five business service providers in the field that offer reliable registered agent solutions.

1. Northwest Registered Agent — 4.5/5

We start off with the best of the best of professional service providers—Northwest Registered Agent. Crowning the very top of our list, Northwest is, perhaps unsurprisingly, considered by many as the most balanced choice for a registered agent across multiple states, including South Carolina. Northwest can be accessed almost anywhere, but their personalized approach and local offices elevate it to one of the best South Carolina registered agent services currently available.

Pros

  • Straightforward pricing: Northwest’s yearly subscription is priced at a neat average of $125 without any upsells or hidden fees added on top;
  • Unique approach to customers: Every NW customer will actually get their own rep, so you won’t have to deal with third-party call centers; 
  • Thorough document scans: Northwest doesn’t just scan the basics—they process all correspondence and every document addressed to your LLC and upload it to your account for immediate remote access; 
  • Speed: Northwest strives to review and complete your orders as fast as possible, especially if you purchase their formation plan. They will issue a South Carolina address for your registered agent and assist with filing your formation paperwork;
  • Monthly payment options: With the NW formation package, you automatically get an option to pay it in installments over the next 12 months instead of paying it in full. This covers the registered agent subscription as well, which they include in their formation plan.

Cons

  • More expensive than competitors: Northwest can come across as less budget-friendly due to its $25+ price increase for the annual registered agent subscription. With other agencies, you can generally get a year for as low as $99 plus freebies;
  • No free trial: Unfortunately, Northwest’s sole formation package does not offer any free trials for their registered agent service, unlike most of their competitors that generally operate in the same price category.

Overall

Northwest is a provider that proves to be highly effective and reliable as both a standalone registered agent for LLC in South Carolina and as a formation service. Despite their lack of diversity in terms of formation options—they only have a single plan—the company is dedicated to deliver an efficient service, ensure you will work with highly trained reps, and provide you with possibly the best customer care in the industry.

2. Harbor Compliance — 4.25/5

With Harbor Compliance, we see a national provider that has built an exceptionally effective network throughout the US, making it possible to get a registered agent in any jurisdiction with ease.

Pros

  • Fixed fees: The $99 annual fee for Harbor’s registered agent services South Carolina certainly puts them in the category of the relatively affordable providers that are able to minimize your startup expenses. Additionally, Harbor does not pile up any other fees on top of this subscription, so you won’t be overcharged for something you didn’t even order;
  • Easy filing: The company offers to issue your documents on the day of your registration with Harbor. They can file all the necessary registered agent information in Charleston while also giving you remote access to these forms;
  • Discount South Carolina registered agent: If you choose to buy only their registered agent, Harbor provides discounts for customers that subscribe for multiple years of service. Overall, you can get a discount up to 10% per order.

Cons

  • Mandatory registration: The only way you can access the full information about their services is by first creating a Harbor account with your name and email attached to it, as well as your company’s legal information; 
  • Low review numbers: Harbor currently holds a bit over a hundred user reviews on Google, six reviews on BBB, and two reviews on Trustpilot. Even combined, the review total is nowhere near the numbers that Harbor’s competitors are pulling across several key platforms. 

Overall

Harbor Compliance works best as a registered agent provider rather than a full-on formation service. Their annual fees for the registered agent are affordable, especially considering that the company tries to not overcharge for any add-ons. On the downside, however, their discounts won’t be making that much difference. Even with their biggest 10% discount, you will be paying $890 instead of $990 for 10 years—all of that upfront. At the end of the day, you won’t be saving that much money in the face of a multi-year subscription deal.

3. ZenBusiness — 3.75/5

ZenBusiness is one of the bigger names on the list, and possibly one of the most well-known business service providers today. Their main selling points are the ease of use and fairly attractive rates, particularly when it concerns their formation plans.

Pros

  • Good package deals: ZenBusiness has one of the best offers for business formation price-wise, with their basic plan priced at only $39/$49 per order. Given that it’s the cheapest option, they won’t be offering you anything more than the basic filing of your documents, but this is exactly what a lot of busy entrepreneurs are looking for in the first place;
  • Free trial: By buying any ZenBusiness formation package, you will automatically get a free registered agent for the entirety of your first year. So if you decide to get the basic $39-$49 formation, you will technically be getting the agent for that price, which is less expensive than most competitors’ agent subscriptions. Post-trial rates for their agent are usually $99 per year;
  • Brand power: If you prefer working with well-known names rather than hiring someone local or too obscure, ZenBusiness is a relatively accessible option with a huge customer base.

Cons

  • Upselling: One of ZenBusiness’ biggest flaws is their adamant insistence to constantly push additional features and services on their customers, even during the registration process. Upsells like this can be especially dangerous for inexperienced business owners vulnerable to coercive marketing practices, causing them to spend quite a lot of money on something they never needed; 
  • Interface issues: While it’s possible to find information about ZenBusiness pricing on their website, ZenBusiness certainly doesn’t make it easy. When you use the “get registered agent” link, the website takes you to a bot questionnaire. To actually get the basic info about the prices, you will need to click on the “what’s this?” link under the bot’s last speech bubble. The on-click pop-up will inform you that their registered agent costs $99 for the first year and $199 upon renewal, but to get more information about their terms, you will have to proceed with the registration.

Overall

Although ZenBusiness can be cost-effective in your first year of usage, their policies are mind-bogglingly different from the usual subscription practices. Most providers will have a fixed annual price for their agents if you purchase them separately, but ZenBusiness will increase it after the first year. So if you buy their agent, you will be paying $99 for the first year and then $199 for the renewal. This is common with domain names—you will usually be paying more for your dot com renewal than the initial purchase—registered agent rates shouldn’t fluctuate like this.

4. IncFile — 3/5

While no quality service can ever be fully free, IncFile comes really close to offering a business formation plus registered agent combo free of charge—under certain conditions, of course.

  • Free South Carolina formations: IncFile’s cheapest plan (Silver) may be basic, but it is completely free. If you choose to start your South Carolina business using that plan, you will have their professionals file your formation documents for free;
  • Free registered agent: IncFile’s formation packages include a free trial of their registered agent by default, so it’s possible to get a free year of this service in addition to free formation.

Cons

  • Basic service: The only way to get a free registered agent (for the first year) with IncFile is to start your company with them from the get go. If you already have a business and are simply looking for a new agent, there are more affordable and reliable options than IncFile’s outsourced $119/yr agent;
  • Inefficient customer support: Despite the recent increase in average user ratings on Trustpilot and other platforms such as BBB, IncFile has yet to shed their infamous reputation as a provider with an unreliable customer service. Customers bring up the company’s lack of response when it comes to resolving time-critical issues.

Overall

IncFile’s popularity is largely upheld by its unique free formation offers. For that reason, their registered agent deal will only make for a reasonable choice if you are starting your business from scratch. Other than that, there is no obvious advantage of getting an IncFile registered agent when you need this subscription separately.

5. LegalZoom — 2.75/5

LegalZoom is the name most closely associated with the business formation industry. One of the best recognized brands today, the company has had over two decades to build their experience in the field of business solutions, offering a wide range of services from registered agents and DBA filings to licenses and annual reports.

Pros

  • Exhaustive feature set: By buying LegalZoom’s registered agent service, you will be getting all there is to get from a provider to ensure your company’s compliance, including the physical address, mailing address, cloud access, timely doc scans and notifications;
  • Years of experience: Formed in 2000, LegalZoom has had plenty of time to develop their tools of trade and build a loyal customer base throughout the country.

Cons

  • Excessive rates: Compared to other popular names in the business, LegalZoom’s pricing can come off as more than excessive. Their registered agent service costs $299 per year with very minimal perks to justify it;
  • Add-on registered agent: While it’s possible to get discounts or free trials with other providers, you won’t be able to get any such deal with LegalZoom. The only way to get an agent with them is to buy it as a separate feature, so if you choose to form a company with them, be prepared to pay $299 for the agent on top of their formation plan fee ($79 + state fee at the lowest);
  • Issues with customer support: Despite their size and influence, LegalZoom has been a subject of many complaints regarding their inefficient customer service. Their clients are often faced with either complete radio silence or incredibly slow responses.

Overall

LegalZoom may be a popular choice for formation, and they can certainly provide a reliable South Carolina registered agent for service of process, but their business practices are far from affordable or convenient. Those seeking a registered agent without any add-ons will have to pay almost three hundred dollars for a service that other companies offer at a third of that price. 

Registered agent in Charleston, South Carolina

Registered agent in Columbia, South Carolina

Registered agent in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

Registered Agent Review General conclusions

There are plenty of good statutory agents in South Carolina, and the tricky part is deciding what exactly matters to your specific business. Some agents are more affordable, but their reputation might not be exactly squeaky clean. Others have tons of positive reviews but charge way too much for their services.

There is no universal solution for every single company, given how varied the needs of each business can be. Most entrepreneurs prefer hiring professional agencies that also deal with formations, but you have other options like appointing one of the local accountants or attorneys. You can find a potential agent in your area by doing a quick South Carolina registered agent search, or you can simply go to the biggest national formation company and save yourself the time.

Benefits of Using a South Carolina Registered Agent Service

Outside using a professional service, business owners can bypass any South Carolina business registered agent search and instead do this job on their own, either by appointing themselves or someone they know. This way, there is no need to pay annual fees or wait for someone else to notify you about incoming correspondence.

There are a handful of benefits to this method, most of them financial, but it’s only sustainable on a short-term basis and in cases when the company is easily monitored or if the office is also the owner’s home address. 

That said, there are far many drawbacks to being your own agent, namely:

  • Inability to take days off, including vacation;
  • Making your personal information public;
  • Opening your mailbox to spam;
  • Missing vital notices, which can lead to fines etc.

On the other hand, by using an independent professional or a company to be your agent, you will be getting:

  • Timely notifications;
  • Flexible schedule;
  • Privacy protection;
  • Compliance guarantees;
  • Ability to expand to other jurisdictions.

Best Registered Agent Review – How do we choose

We examine the top national contenders for each state to determine how well they perform in the role of the registered agent within and outside the context of formation solutions. For some business owners, the best registered agent service South Carolina might even not be any of the agencies, but an accountant or a law professional. For those who prefer to work with formation providers, the best possible choice is typically defined by the company’s overall performance in several key categories, all of which will be expanded on below.

Why you can trust our choice

When evaluating potential candidates for the best South Carolina registered agent, we prefer to look at their customer rankings, pricing, and transparency policy to generate an average score. Even companies with a good track record can underscore due to their practices or fee schedules, so we look a bit more closely at all major sides of what makes an agency worth your time and money.

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How We Selected the Best Registered Agent Services South Carolina

The overall score is calculated based on four categories. Each company can earn 5 points in each of the categories, but it’s worth saying that even the highest scoring providers have their flaws, which is reflected in the final score.

  • Cost: Naturally one of the first things most customers pay attention to, the price of the service is the key deciding factor for any registered agent. We rate the candidates based on their annual fees, discounts, free trial options, and whether their fees are fixed;
  • Ease of Use: Apart from offering potentially affordable services, registered agent providers should be able to make the overall process as painless as possible. This means that a company can score big if they avoid upselling, simplify their registration, and provide crucial information upfront;
  • Business Services: This category concerns the ability of each provider to cover other sides of running a business. Even if the client is not interested in any add-ons or formations, the company should be able to make the purchase of their registered agent as flexible as possible;
  • Customer Service: Higher number of reviews is not always a sure indicator of service quality, though it makes it easier to assess how well-used the company itself is. On the other hand, if there are too few South Carolina registered agent reviews, you can potentially learn more about the company’s drawbacks from genuine testimonies. Overall, this category is meant to assess how well the company handles customer support, their response times, and whether they address negative reviews right away in order to resolve the issue.
ServiceCostEase of UseBusiness ServicesCustomer ServiceOverall
Northwest Registered Agent4/55/55/54/54.5/5
Harbor Compliance5/54/54/54/54.25/5
ZenBusiness5/52/54/54/53.75/5
IncFile4/53/52/53/53/5
LegalZoom1/53/54/53/52.75/5

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