If you plan to form a new LLC but would rather not resort to DIY methods, you always have the option of hiring an LLC formation company. Service providers like Harbor Compliance and IncFile are not only competent but also more affordable compared to the rates of many business lawyers.
But how do you choose between the two? It mostly depends on your startup capital as well as the nature of your business that directly affects the demands, i.e. what features your LLC may require upon formation and for the long-term maintenance.
This Harbor Compliance vs IncFile LLC service comparison will elaborate more on the similarities and differences between the companies, including their strong points and a few drawbacks.
Do Harbor Compliance and IncFile Offer Good Value?
In terms of consistency, Harbor Compliance and IncFile show excellent track records as far as quality of service and feature selection go. Either of the two will technically work just fine for your formation purposes, given that they’re among the best LLC formation services online.
Still, IncFile is a more popular option. Such a stark preference can be explained by their low prices, specifically their $0 base package. Compare that to the $399 formation rate of Harbor Compliance and the choice seems pretty clear.
There’s also the question of feedback: IncFile’s effectiveness can be ascertained through thousands of positive customer reviews, while Harbor Compliance’s reviews are somewhere in the hundreds.
Aside from that, Harbor Compliance is more than competent and is often chosen as an alternative LLC service to IncFile out of dozens of substitutes.
It’s natural to want to have a fuller picture before making the final decision, so let’s delve a little deeper into the key aspects of the two LLC service providers and what makes either of them a worthy choice.
6 Things They Have In Common
- Affordable: the rates of both Harbor Compliance and IncFile are less financially draining compared to those of average business lawyers, and even the more expensive formation service will be able to save you some money that you would have otherwise spent on your attorney’s additional service fees;
- Customer Support: the two services provide consistent customer care, employing professional customer support representatives to provide necessary assistance in a rather efficient fashion, so you will likely be able to resolve any formation issues without much trouble;
- Experience: as already mentioned, both services are able to reinforce their reputable standing with strong track records and years of industry experience, having formed thousands of entities since their inception and showing excellent ability in forming your LLC;
- Great Customer Reviews: despite the sheer volume of cases, both companies maintain fairly consistent customer feedback as shown by positive online customer reviews;
- Registered Agent Service: both Harbor Compliance and IncFile add the registered agent service to their LLC formation service packages in a move to reduce the overall costs and make it easier for you to designate a registered agent as part of the main formation requirements;
- Efficiency: time is often of the essence when it comes to business formation, but fortunately both companies provide expedite formation services; although this expedite option requires an extra fee, it can effectively speed up the processing and the average turnaround times in most states;
Side by Side Comparisons
Both IncFile and Harbor Compliance provide LLC service of the highest quality, albeit with varying levels of feature inclusivity, but what immediately becomes apparent is the difference in their rates.
While IncFile offers a free LLC service with their base Silver package, Harbor Compliance sets their full formation rate at $399. See details regarding IncFile rates on their website. Harbor Compliance also offers more information about individual state fees.
The first point of divergence between the two is the list of services included with their packages. Although IncFile adds a year of registered agent service even with their Silver plan (which is the company’s base formation package) and Harbor Compliance includes this service at the annual rate of $99 in their main formation package, IncFile’s plans also have business tax consultation, whereas Harbor Compliance omit this feature.
A point in favor of Harbor Compliance is the inclusion of the federal tax ID number (EIN) acquisition—one of the key steps in an LLC formation. Plus their premium customer service is aimed at complete client satisfaction. The company assigns a Compliance Specialist to tend to the needs of every customer, so you will be able to get immediate assistance from a highly trained specialist throughout your LLC formation.
IncFile is the more experienced of the two, having registered their business way back in 2003, though they started operations in 2004.
In the past 17 years, the company has conducted over 500,000 formations, including LLCs, nonprofits, and corporations.
Harbor Compliance is significantly younger—their launch dates to 2013—but this hasn’t stopped them from helping over 10,000 customers with various business and nonprofit solutions.
Harbor Compliance is known primarily for their highly personalized customer support system that appoints a compliance specialist for each individual customer at the start of the LLC formation process.
Keep in mind that this service is not available with their $399 Formation package. If you truly think your business will benefit from the all-access customer service and long-term maintenance help, you will need to select the company’s Compliance package. The annual rate of this plan is $799.
If this seems too pricey for your business, you can always rely on IncFile and their strong customer service. Even though their representatives are not as particular as Harbor Compliance’s agents, they will still be helpful and suitably thorough.
Support is available via phone Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm CST, but you can also send your questions through their online forms which are reviewed in real-time.
Turnaround times generally depend on the state of formation as each governing body has different processing procedures. IncFile is able to file your paperwork within one business day and estimates the average processing time to be less than two weeks, but be sure to check their turnaround estimates for your state.
Harbor Compliance approximate their average processing time between two and four weeks depending on the state and entity type. Both companies also offer expedite service for filing your formation documentation at varying rates, again in accordance with local state fees.
IncFile is considerably more thorough when it comes to organizing customer profiles. After you complete your purchase, you will be automatically registered and redirected to your IncFile Dashboard where you can access your order history and order status supported by an order tracking tool with real-time updates.
Even though Harbor Compliance is fairly competent in this regard, their order tracking system is not as extensive and easily accessible.
Registered Agent Service
Although it’s possible to use a third-party registered agent provider, it’s much more sensible to get this service in one place and one neat package. Remember that all states legally require you to designate a registered agent in order to maintain your LLC, so this step cannot be skipped.
The duties of the agent can be carried out by an individual or online service and include receiving and forwarding your correspondence and other paperwork. Without a mediator, there is a risk of missing court dates and filing deadlines.
IncFile and Harbor Compliance both include a full year of registered agent service, though their separate rates somewhat vary. IncFile throws in the year of this service for free in your LLC formation package, but their subsequent annual rate is set at $119. Harbor Compliance’s formation plan also includes this feature but they charge only $99 after the first year.
In nearly two decades of industry experience, IncFile has amassed a large volume of feedback with over 22,500 online reviews available on Shopper Approved. There it holds a total rating of 4.8 out of 5 and 4.6 out of 5 for product satisfaction.
Harbor Compliance has only been active since 2013 but shows excellent feedback, albeit lesser in volume. Their reviews are almost overwhelmingly positive, and the company holds an A+ rating and valid accreditation on BBB as determined by industry professionals.
Ease of Use
Both services are quite capable and can make your LLC formation much easier by covering a huge part of your duties. IncFile is a bit more user-friendly, though, and their website is generally more accessible.
Harbor Compliance can be somewhat confusing to navigate. They don’t have a comprehensive pricing page or straightforward formation service page, so it could be a bit confusing to figure out without having a representative on the phone.
Which Is the Best LLC Company for You?
Harbor Compliance and IncFile have plenty in common and are both accomplished formation services with varying degrees of applicability when it comes to smaller companies and startups.
Despite Harbor Compliance being significantly younger, they are more than capable of holding their own against LLC services industry veterans by forming your compliant LLC in record time. It should be noted that their main focus falls on compliance, incorporation, and nonprofits.
IncFile, on the other hand, remains to be one of the most popular options to date, offering free formation and providing a free registered agent service.
Whether one or the other suits you better depends solely on your individual needs and the nature of your business, so let’s see how their applicability actually works.
|Harbor Compliance||Formation: $399|
➦ When to Choose Harbor Compliance:
If your main point of interest is securing better customer support and a more comprehensive list of features, then Harbor Compliance could be the right choice for you, with their personalized customer care and broad-scale compliance package.
➦ When to Choose IncFile:
Entrepreneurs working with a restricted budget are likely to find their best choice with IncFile. The company offers free formation and moderate plan renewal rates once your first year is up. Plus their registered agent is also free for up to a year.
Frequently Asked Question
The most financially beneficial option IncFile offers is their Silver package with services aimed to facilitate the formation of your LLC and a year of registered service for free.
IncFile charges exactly $0 + state fee for this plan, but the registered agent’s rate after the first year goes up to $119. If your startup funds are limited, this option is definitely preferable.
If you are more comfortable with your funding, a good alternative would be IncFile’s Gold package. On top of the basic LLC formation services and registered agent, this plan also includes EIN acquisition, deadline reminders, business tax and banking consultation as well as the creation of operating agreements and banking resolutions. The entire plan costs only $149 + state fee.
Despite their overall favorable performance record, IncFile proves to be lacking in this area. Their plans do not include certain features related to local compliance requirements, specifically the requisition for certificates of publication in New York, Nebraska, and Arizona.
So even if you purchase their Platinum plan, you will still need to handle the publication requirement on your own which is a shame since a handful of similar service providers like ZenBusiness offer New York publication.
When purchasing a formation plan, you may be subjected to dozens of upsells even during your initial registration process. Unlike a good portion of their competition, Harbor Compliance and IncFile try to minimize the practice of upselling and present their features in a more transparent fashion. As such, they don’t really barrage you with incessant extra features and LLC service package upgrades and list them separately.
It’s no secret that LegalZoom and ZenBusiness are among the best LLC formation services, so it’s only natural to want to compare other options to the current industry standard.
Both options have plenty in common with IncFile, but their disparities are not so few as to be considered irrelevant. For a more comprehensive overview, feel free to check out our ZenBusiness vs IncFile comparison and IncFile vs LegalZoom comparison.
Harbor Compliance chooses to keep their services in-house, so your personal information will be handled internally without being forwarded or sold to third-party partners. This of course does not include the necessary correspondence with state legislatures and licensing boards.
IncFile finds itself in a bit of a grey area regarding personal data protection, though their practices are not exactly sinister or covert. The main reason they may need to share your information is to connect you with third-party services.
Some of IncFile’s LLC packages include business bank account services and web development services. The former requires IncFile to share your information with Bank of America to open your account, and the latter involves partnering with SnapWeb, the digital marketing agency that will be tasked to host and develop your website.
Harbor Compliance do not provide refunds in any form. It’s impossible to cancel the service if you have already made the purchase, making it one of the strictest but also more transparent refund policies in the industry.
IncFile’s refund policy is similar to the majority of top-performing formation services. This means that they will only be able to refund your order if you cancel in the very brief window between you paying for the order and the company submitting your payment with the state.
IncFile typically submits the fee within 24 hours of payment, so you won’t have a lot of time. Additionally, IncFile also charges a $30 cancellation fee. There is no way to get your money back if the company has already sent your payment to the state.
Both services cite equally generic turnaround times, placing the standard processing between 2 weeks and 4 weeks which is approximated from the average processing time showcased by each state. In certain states, Harbor Compliance can give you faster formation results, while IncFile is luckier with other jurisdictions.
It’s perfectly possible. Many entrepreneurs actively choose to form their own LLCs rather than hire specialized services. And although it can save you significant amounts of money, the DIY route can prove to be tricky for more inexperienced business owners.
Considering how different each state handles LLC formations, some things may become muddled and crucial details may be overlooked, resulting in the rejection of your LLC application.
Other alternatives are even more expensive than hiring a professional service, so there is little sense pursuing them when all you want is to save money. The good news is, many services like Harbor Compliance or IncFile can take care of the formation process at a fraction of the cost you’d normally spend on a lawyer while giving you the much-needed peace of mind that DIY methods cannot provide.