U.S. law requires all corporations to maintain thorough records, and some of those records need to be kept readily available for easy reference.
To do so, some corporations choose to use a corporate kit. If you’ve ever taken a look at online business formation services, you’ve likely noticed that many of these companies offer corporate kits as part of their incorporation service packages.
But what exactly is a corporate kit, and does your business really need one?
This guide reviews all the essentials of a corporate kit, including what it is, what it includes, and whether or not you’re required to have one. We’ll also cover how you can get one.
Quick Tip: As you’ll see in this article, you have a choice. If you decide you’d prefer to have a corporate kit, a service like Incfile has the best deal for incorporation service + kit.
What Is a Corporate Kit?
The corporate kit consists of an embossed binder that can be used to store all of the corporation’s important documents in one place.
This binder is usually personalized for your corporation by embossing your company’s name on the cover or spine (or both). Decorative seals are also often included with the kit, which is a nostalgic throwback to the good old days when wax seals were used to authenticate business documents.
Some companies offering corporate kits also include a selection of business document templates, which you can customize for your corporation. For example, you’ll commonly find a collection of stock certificates in your corporate kit, which you can personalize and distribute to your shareholders as proof of their stock ownership.
What Does a Corporate Kit Include?
Each corporation’s kit will look a little different, but all of them have several things in common. For example, a typical kit includes a copy of the corporation’s bylaws and articles of incorporation, and a copy of the corporation’s meeting minutes usually accompanies these documents.
The ledger of stock transfers and stock certificates can also be included.
Do I Need a Corporate Kit?
By law, you need to have your documents available for review by potential investors, banks, auditors, or court proceedings.
This does not mean you must have a corporate kit though, as you can simply use any file folder or binder to hold these documents, and using a formal corporate kit is not required by law in any American jurisdiction. Still, they’re usually not too terribly expensive, and just because there’s no legal reason to have one doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an objectively bad idea to buy one.
Here are the pros and cons of choosing a kit.
The corporate kit keeps all of your documents in one place. Technically any three-ring binder could do that, but a kit is elegant, and this formality matches the feel of a high-end corporation. If you appreciate the symbolic nature of a kit and seal, or if you have a strong sense of nostalgia for the olden days of the American business landscape, it might be fun to have a corporate kit for your business.
A kit is more of a formality than a necessity, provided you have all of your documents someplace that’s readily available. In addition, a kit can add to your corporate costs, and there is absolutely zero legal reason to ever purchase a corporate kit or seal.
Where Can I Get a Corporate Kit?
If you choose to use a corporate kit, then there are several resources available to help you get one. Many online business formation services sell corporate kits or even include them in their incorporation service packages – you can acquire a kit from companies like LegalZoom and Incfile (and more).
These services provide a customized embossed binder, a seal, and in some cases, customizable copies of stock certificates. But which one sells the best corporate kits in the industry?
We haven’t written any full reviews of corporate kits, which is mostly because there really isn’t enough demand for them. However, we are quite familiar with many of the options available in this industry, and we do have some favorites of our own to discuss.
If you’re looking for a company that will both incorporate your business and provide a corporate kit and seal, take a look at Incfile. Their Gold incorporation package costs $149 (plus state fee), and it includes a full corporate kit, while their $299 Platinum package upgrades this kit to a more fancy version, and also includes a die-cast seal. With either version of their kit, you’ll receive a binder, slip case, and 20 stock certificates. If you want to purchase it on an a la carte basis instead of bundling it with incorporation, Incfile charges $99.
LegalZoom also offers high-quality corporate kits, but we don’t usually advise getting one in a bundle with their incorporation service, because the lowest price point for this combination of features from LegalZoom is $329 (plus state fee). Instead, we would recommend purchasing it as a standalone feature, because LegalZoom has a very affordable $70 price point for corporate kits.
We also like MyCompanyWorks’ corporate kit, as they charge $79 (including FedEx shipping). Their corporate kits include a three-ring binder customized with your business name on the spine, a slipcase, 20 stock certificates, an engraved seal, a sample bylaws form, meeting minutes, a stock ledger, and index tabs.
We don’t know of any other companies that can match this offering when it comes to features, and you can also acquire one as part of their $199 Entrepreneur or $279 Complete incorporation service packages.
We would like to reiterate that there is no legal benefit to purchasing a corporate kit and/or seal, so if you’re operating on a tight budget, you can safely pass on buying one.
Still, if you have a strong sense of nostalgia for the olden days when business documents were authenticated with wax seals, there’s nothing wrong with purchasing one. As for the binder, you need somewhere to store your business documents, and a customized binder is a nice-looking means to this end.