How to Start an LLC in North Carolina: If you’re looking to start an LLC in NC, you’ve come to the right page. Setting up an LLC is easy and cost-effective. To form an LLC, you must follow a few steps that include naming your LLC, hiring a registered agent, filing your formation documents, doing the operating agreement, and finally obtaining the EIN. You can easily set up your LLC at a very low cost in North Carolina. Though, you must pay the mandatory state filing fee. These fees and charges can be tax deductible, making the LLC formation cost almost negligible.
On this page, You’ll find all the steps that must be taken to ensure that your North Carolina LLC has been correctly formed. We recommend you read the whole article very carefully, word by word, don’t miss anything 🙂
On this page, you’ll learn about the following:
- How to Start an LLC in North Carolina
- After Starting Your North Carolina LLC
- North Carolina Foreign LLC
- North Carolina LLC Formation Review
How to Start an LLC in North Carolina
An LLC (aka Limited Liability Company) is a hybrid business entity combining a corporation’s characteristics with a partnership or sole proprietorship. It separates your personal assets from your business assets, thus giving you personal asset protection. For an LLC, members’ personal assets are not affected by business debts. However, in some cases, if the LLC is sued for business debts, courts might pierce the corporate veil and use the owner’s personal assets to meet their corporate liabilities.
If you wish to start an LLC, you must file your Articles of Organization with the State and pay a filing fee of $125. While it’s the most important step, it’s not the only one. There are 4 other crucial steps to follow to get your LLC formed in North Carolina. Below are all 5 steps that explain everything you need to do to start a North Carolina LLC in 2023. Let’s get started! You can always hire a professional LLC formation service in North Carolina to set up your LLC instead of doing it alone; a Pro service will ensure everything is done properly.
Step 1: Decide a Name for Your North Carolina LLC
The first step while forming a limited liability company in North Carolina is to give a proper name to your LLC. Before you name your business, you must know that the name should be easy to remember, available in the state, and follows all the LLC naming guidelines.
LLC Naming Guidelines in North Carolina
There are a few specific requirements all the LLCs in North Carolina have to follow while naming their Company. Some of the most important requirements are as follows:
- Your business name should be available, and no other existing business in North Carolina can have the same name. ZenBusiness offers unlimited business name searches without any hassle.
- “Limited Liability Company”, “LLC”, and “L.L.C.” – any one of these has to be used as a suffix in your business name.
- You cannot use any name for your business that is confusing or misleading. Terms such as “Treasury”, “State Department”, “FBI”, “CIA”, etc. shouldn’t be included.
- Terms like “Bank“, “University“, “Attorney“, “Doctor“, etc can be added only after the additional requirements by North Carolina State Government are fulfilled.
- (Optional) It’s better to name your business something for which your desired domain is available.
|Important Links –||Submit Offline Form to –|
|North Carolina Business Entity Search – Online Name Search|
Name Reservation Form – PDF
North Carolina LLC Name Search – Instructions
|Business Registration Division|
PO Box 29622,
Raleigh, NC 27626-0622
Reserve Business Name for Future
If you do not wish to file your LLC right now but want to hold the name you have decided on, you can reserve your LLC name for 120 days. To keep the name, you must file a name reservation application and pay $30 to reserve your name with the North Carolina Secretary of State.
Doing Business As (DBA) or Trade Name
Once you have a legal name for your LLC, you can register it. However, it is not mandatory. You can, instead, use DBA, Fictitious Name, or Trade Name. In that case, you must register your name with the North Carolina Secretary of State by submitting an Application to Register a Trade Name in North Carolina along with the filing fee of $26.
Recommended: You can do name search, business domain, website, emails, and a lot more in one place by hiring a professional service. We recommend using –
ZenBusiness – ($0 for LLC Formation)
Apart from LLC formation, ZenBusiness offers customized website templates and business emails at a very reasonable price. If you plan to get a website, then it is wise to have a “.com” domain for your business, but these days you can also use other TLDs like “.io”, “.company”, “.xyz,” etc. Here you can get everything you need for your business in one dashboard.
It is not legally mandatory to use the word LLC in your domain name or email. If you want, you can use it. However, it is recommended not to use LLC in the domain name. A domain name should be short and easy to remember.
Step 2: Assign a Registered Agent in North Carolina
The second step to forming an LLC in North Carolina is to appoint a Registered Agent. A registered agent is a person or business entity working on your LLC’s behalf. This person or business will receive important tax forms, legal documents, all notices of lawsuits, and other official government correspondence in North Carolina. Hence, hiring a competent North Carolina Registered Agent for your LLC is necessary.
Make sure your registered agent is a resident of North Carolina or has a physical street address. This address will be used as the principal address of your LLC to receive any legal documents. Most LLC formation companies also provide registered agent services. Below are two great LLC formation services; even if you buy their cheapest plan (normally $0), you also get registered agent service and other services at a very reasonable price.
These two are our top recommendations for registered agent service, as they are competent and authorized to conduct business in North Carolina. Some LLC formation services also offer standalone North Carolina registered agent services. You can purchase only Registered Agent services without purchasing any other LLC formation services. This standalone service might become handy if you are doing it yourself and don’t want to disclose your home address or you don’t want to pierce the corporate veil.
A person above 18 years of age and has a physical address in the state of North Carolina can be a Registered Agent. A Registered Agent can be an independent person or can be a business entity. One is responsible for handling all the legal documents on the LLCs behalf.
Yes, you can be your own registered agent if you are a resident of the state of North Carolina and you are above 18 years of age. To become a registered agent, you must have the authority to conduct any type of business in North Carolina.
There are a few reasons why you shouldn’t be your own registered agent. The address of the registered agent is used to communicate with the SOS or for any legal activities. If you are your own registered agent, you might have to upload your personal address to the public forum. Besides, the registered agent must be at the address during business hours. It won’t be easy for you as you also have to take care of other things in your LLC. Hence, it is wiser to appoint a separate entity as your registered agent.
If an LLC is sued in North Carolina, in some cases, courts might decide to lift the corporate veil, which means the owners of the LLC will be personally liable for their business debts. They might have to forgo their personal assets to repay their business debts. This is called piercing the corporate veil, where personal and business assets are not separated anymore. Your personal assets can be protected if you have enough capital and all your LLC documents are properly filed.
Registered Agent Consent Application
In North Carolina, there is no separate Consent Letter to be produced to the Secretary of State. At the time of change of Registered Agent (or the name or address), the new Registered Agent has to sign the consent letter. It comes with the Application form to Change the Registered Agent. The filing fee of $5 should be paid for it.
Step 3: File Articles of Organization in North Carolina
The third and most important step in forming an LLC is to file the Articles of Organization. This North Carolina Articles of Organization is a legal document that is required to register your business with the North Carolina Secretary of State. It costs $125 to file your formation certificate in North Carolina.
The Articles of Organization include details like the name of the LLC, the registered agent’s name, address, employees’ details, and the company’s structure (member-managed or manager-managed). Before hiring employees in North Carolina LLC, one should know about the rules and regulations thoroughly. Also if you are expanding your existing business (an LLC) in other states to North Carolina then you need to register as a North Carolina Foreign LLC.
How to File Online
Go to the Secretary of State Online Service. You will get the online service page. If you are already registered then click on the “log in to Subscribe Account” option and log in with your credentials. If you’re not registered, then you can directly start filing your LLC by clicking on the “Online Filing” button below. Read more about the North Carolina Articles of Organization for online registration.
How to File by Mail
If you prefer filing real-life forms for your LLC registration, then you can download Domestic LLC Formation Form. Read the form thoroughly, fill it out, and mail it to the following address,
The Secretary of State
Business Registration Division
P.O. Box 29622
Raleigh, NC 27626
Processing Time: Normally, it takes around 14 business days (approx) to get your LLC formed in North Carolina. The processing time for online filing might be a little faster than offline filing. With an additional cost, you can get expedited filing as well. However, the document processing time can be changed due to various factors.
Recommended: Online LLC Formation service can provide all these documents way faster than usual time with lifetime customer support and 100% accuracy. We recommend using –
ZenBusiness – ($0 + State Fees) Online LLC Setup
Every LLC owner has to pay the filing fees to register their business in North Carolina. This fee is mandatory but also tax deductible. If you’re doing it yourself (filing on your own), it will not cost you any additional service fee. However, it is not feasible to do that as the DIY process might be delayed, complicated, and messy, especially if you’re a novice entrepreneur. Hence, it is recommended to get professional guidance to get your LLC formed in North Carolina.
Step 4: Create Your LLC Operating Agreement in North Carolina
Moving on to the fourth step, filing your operating agreement. An operating agreement is an internal document that legally outlines the proprietorship and operating procedures of your LLC. This document is vital as it ensures that all business owners are on the same page regarding how they operate, thus reducing future conflicts.
When it comes to filing a North Carolina LLC Operating Agreement, the state does not require you to have a comprehensive operating agreement, but it is ideal to have one that contains all the details of your business operation that helps in taking future business decisions, especially if you decide to dissolve North Carolina LLC later. Hence, having an operating agreement may not be necessary but it is surely ideal.
Recommended: You can get a professionally made operating agreement for very less cost with ZenBusiness. You don’t need to worry about drafting it as they will take care of it on your behalf. We recommend using –
ZenBusiness – ($0 + State Fees) Online LLC Setup
The operating agreement draft can be created for free if you don’t hire a professional. However, there is an advantage to appointing a proficient person/service. You will get a businesslike quality operating agreement at a very cheap fee, which will help you in the future. Hiring a professional service means you can sleep well at night 🙂
Step 5: Filing a North Carolina LLC EIN
The Employer Identification Number (aka EIN) is a nine-digit number given by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to make it easier to identify the type of business for tax purposes and taxes in general. The EIN is necessary for any active business or any form of business, for that matter.
EIN is needed when the LLC hires employees. Hiring employees in Nortn Carolina LLC requires following specific rules and regulations. On the other side, EIN for North Carolina foreign LLC should be obtained if your LLC is based in other states.
To obtain EIN (aka FEIN), one must fill up a form (Online or by mail) and submit it to the IRS. Enter details of your LLC, and finally, complete the form and send it to the address given. You can also get an EIN Assistant to help you with the process.
Mail to: Internal Revenue Service, Attn: EIN Operation, Cincinnati, OH 45999
Fax: (855) 641-6935 | Fee: Free
Recommended: This hassle will be reduced when you hire an LLC formation service. They take care of obtaining EIN and all other things for your LLC. We recommend using –
ZenBusiness – ($0 + State Fees) Online LLC Setup
Note: You don’t need a Social Security number when getting an EIN. You can proceed to fill out I.R.S. Form SS-4 and leave section 7b blank. You must then call the IRS at (267) 941-1099 to complete your application. Agents or employees will help you with that.
Congratulations, you are now done with all the necessary steps to form your Limited Liability Company in North Carolina. If you do it yourself, it should take you a long time to understand and do all the steps properly.
However, if you use ZenBusiness, it should be way faster. You will always have a live chat option and phone support with experts for any help you need. Their worry-free service will make things easier for you.
After Starting Your North Carolina LLC
After forming your LLC, there are still some things that you will need. The most important thing is to separate your business and personal assets. LLCs have limited liability protection that protects your personal assets from business liability. This is called a corporate veil. However, the corporate veil can be lifted or pierced by the court if the LLC is sued. In that case, the owners of the LLC become personally liable for their corporate debts. A few things like appointing a legit registered agent, having enough capital, and filing all the major documents with the state can save the LLCs from being pierced into the corporate veil.
Apart from that, there are a few things you need to take note of,
- Get a company business bank account. Along with a business credit card, business accounting software and other business accounting tools are required.
- File North Carolina business permits & licenses. Depending on the nature of the LLC, business licenses and permits are needed. For example, signage permit, building permit, health permit, etc. Business licenses help conduct business with ease.
- Get general liability insurance and professional liability insurance with coverage for employees. Just like professional liability insurance, there are other types of business insurance available. You can explore business insurance companies to get the best business insurance provider for your LLC.
- File a North Carolina LLC annual report or biennial report
This page has provided you with broad steps to LLC formation and filing processes. You now have to remember upcoming filing deadlines and filing fees or filing costs, including fees for late filings, to make sure your LLC is up-to-date.
Cost of Starting an LLC in the State of North Carolina
LLCs can be formed by spending very less price. Apart from the mandatory state filing fees, you don’t have to bear additional service charges if you do it yourself. Following are the fees and taxes LLCs in North Carolina must pay to register and run a business in the state. Forming an LLC is no doubt cost-effective compared to other business structures. However, the fees and charges (tax-deductible) that you must pay to the state, such as name reservation fee, name filing fee, LLC filing fee, and Franchise Tax & Sales Tax (If applicable). Here are the main fees and taxes you must pay while forming your limited liability company in North Carolina,
|Fees/Tax||Amount to be Paid|
|Name Reservation Fee||$30|
|DBA Filing Fee||$26|
|Articles of Organization Fee||$125|
|LLC Annual Fee||$200|
In North Carolina, an LLC name reservation is not mandatory. You can register your LLC name at the time of registering your LLC. If you wish to hold the name for some time without registering your LLC, you can do that online. Your LLC name will be reserved for 120 days without registering your LLC. It can be done by paying $30.
In North Carolina, an Annual Report has to be produced every year. It costs $200. Also, the State of North Carolina must pay 4.75% of the Sales Tax. Read our guide on LLC costs in North Carolina for more information.
North Carolina Foreign LLC
If you are interested in forming a Foreign LLC in the state of North Carolina, then you need to file the Certificate of Foreign LLC to the North Carolina Secretary of State. Foreign LLCs allow you to operate your business in more than one state. Along with the Certificate of Foreign LLC, you need to submit some more documents, like the Certificate of Good Standing, etc., to the North Carolina SOS to form your foreign LLC in the state of North Carolina. To know more in detail, check out our guide on North Carolina Foreign LLC.
Reasons to Start an LLC in North Carolina
In terms of GDP, North Carolina is considered the 9th wealthiest state in the USA, and the reason it has grabbed this position is the benefits designed by the state. When a new LLC thinks of incorporating in North Carolina, they have bundles of advantages, including fewer tax liabilities that they can redeem amid their registration and set-up in the state. Read more on North Carolina’s classification of LLC tax.
When it comes to an LLC, it gives limited liability protection, which brings lower risk to the owner. In NC, women entrepreneurs get special provisions. Any woman-owned business gets easy business loans and advances. They also get business incentives while conducting business in the state. Business costs in NC are much lower than in other neighboring states. Some of the benefits perceived are discussed below.
Infrastructure financing program
As an entrepreneur, take the step to start an LLC in the state of North Carolina, then from the same time, they start receiving the bundled benefits along with that. The first one is the financing programs. In North Carolina, it is only expected from a business personality to have a unique, mind-blowing idea. Based on that, one can arrange the finances very easily.
From the construction of a building to the generation of jobs, the state government is ready to help the LLC in the state of North Carolina in every way possible. There are small Microenterprise loans to large-sized Job Development Investment Grants are available in the state.
The Opportunity Zones of North Carolina
There are many opportunity zones in the state of North Carolina. These zones are the places of the state with a tract of low income compared to the whole state. A total of 252 tracts are decided by the North Carolina government in which the LLC needs to be situated if they want to enjoy the opportunity zone benefit. Such companies will have several benefits in which; the first one is taxation deferment for a temporary basis.
Government asks the business to invest the money to expand more in the opportunity zone and create more jobs for people there. The next benefit is on the long-term capital gains of the company on which the government is providing them a permanent tax deferment.
Sales and Use Tax Redemption
If a startup business is making heavy machinery, equipment, or machinery that is to be used in mills and its accessories, they are exempted from the sales and use tax. Moreover, there are some special exemptions for those businesses using piped natural gases in their facility.
Green Business Funds
This program is specially designed for LLCs in the state of North Carolina, which is working to develop a green energy source. Under this, several benefits are provided to a business, and also the federal taxes they have to pay are exempted to some levels.
Top Businesses Operating in North Carolina
Are you a new-age entrepreneur and want to form an LLC? Then it would be best for you to gain complete knowledge about industries operating in the state. Here is the list of the best businesses operating in North Carolina from time immemorial and their contribution to the industry.
Agriculture Based Businesses
North Carolina is known for producing high-quality tobacco for many years, making it the number one producer in the country. Along with that, there is a diverse production of sweet potatoes and poultry also. The farm production and its contribution to the state’s GDP are high, and it is generating around $15 billion annually, which accounts for 16% of the total GDP. Supporting crops of the region are hay, barley, sweet corn, and some vegetables.
Tourism of North Carolina
North Carolina is the sixth-largest tourism industry in the USA and is attracting millions of people every year. Whether the country is suffering from a recession or economic crisis, the state’s tourism has always shown colossal development. With a total generation of $20.2 billion income every year, the tourism sector gives jobs to 8.7% of people residing in the state.
The state is witnessing a vast huge production of tobacco which is used in the industry also. The state is known to produce a massive range of cigarettes and chewing tobacco. Along with that, there is a tremendous demand for chemicals and cleaning products produced in the state, due to which the industry is ranking at number 5 in the country. Approximately 20% of state GDP is contributed by this sector and is employing approximately 460,000 people. The interesting fact about the manufacturing sector of North Carolina is most of the industries are small-scale here.
Some of the small businesses north Carolina is catering well are:-
- Pepper sauce production
- Real estate investment
- Roof accessing device
North Carolina LLC Formation Review
Time needed: 5 minutes
Just to recap, here are the easy steps again when forming an LLC in NC. Click on the steps in this list to read the full detail.
- Name your North Carolina LLC
The first thing you must do is to choose a company name, which should be unique, easy to find, and available in the state.
- Choose a Registered Agent
In North Carolina, it is mandatory to select a registered agent for your LLC. Get a professional Registered Agent from LLC formation services to get things done hassle-free.
- File a Formation Certificate
Filing a formation certificate is necessary when forming a Limited Liability Company in North Carolina. Depending on the state, it could be called any of the following: Certificate of Formation, Articles of Organization, or Certificate of Organization.
- Create an Operating Agreement
An operating agreement is not a strict requirement in North Carolina but something encouraged when you start an LLC to avoid future conflicts.
- Get an EIN
The Employer Identification Number (EIN), also called Federal Tax Identification Number, serves to identify a business entity like a social security number but for a company.
Things to Consider While Starting an LLC in the State of North Carolina
In this article, almost all the essential steps to forming an LLC are mentioned. However, there are some points that one has to consider before starting an LLC. First, while choosing the LLC name, make sure you follow all the guidelines. There are a series of business name options available. However, it is important to choose a name that is available and also suits your LLC. You can check the business name database to find whether your desired name is used by others or not. If you hire a formation service provider, then they can provide business name reservation service included in their business kit.
The next thing to consider is after you form your LLC, make sure to get all types of business accounts that, including business accounting tools and business tax accounts. Business taxes are less in LLC, yet, there are some taxes that one has to pay. Single-member LLCs are taxed like sole proprietorships. Multi-member LLCs are taxed like corporations. However, there is no double taxation in LLCs.
Another important factor is a good business plan. It is a basic yet most important thing to be done. If you have a proper business plan, it will be easy to face any business challenges. In your business plan, business expenses, business funding, business law, details of business licenses needed, and other things should be mentioned.
In NC, even if you have an informal business structure, you have several options for lines of credit. But, you must check your business credit score to be sure that you are up-to-date with your credits. There might be fees for delayed filing, especially government filings, filing personal tax returns, amendment filings, or any other tax filing. Any critical filing shouldn’t be delayed.
For any first-time entrepreneur, it is mandatory to check up on licensing requirements, annual report requirements, business trends, and proper business law in NC. Depending on business trends, you can anticipate your business errors.
While choosing the registered agent for service of process, make sure to appoint a professional. Hiring a professional makes the formation process much faster. Not only the formation process but also other services such as domain name service, corp service, business license report service, and overall business checking services. They offer a domain name search tool, mail filings, online filings, filing through email address, and with some services, they offer business bank applications as well.
LLCs with employees have certain legal requirements to meet. When you hire employees in your LLC, make sure to get coverage for them. You might need to file employment tax. LLCs do not need to pay any business taxes. Individual owners have to file a personal income tax return based on their personal income (including income from the LLC). LLC is a simple business structure; hence, the federal tax return, or any type of federal return is easy to file.
How Fast Can I Form an LLC in North Carolina
Filing for LLC in North Carolina may take up to 2 weeks. However, this process can be expedited by paying an additional amount to the state.
North Carolina is known for its business-friendly environment and has taken steps to simplify the process of forming an LLC. This structure is popular among entrepreneurs due to its flexibility, limited liability protection, and favorable tax treatment. Understanding the steps and approximate duration required to form an LLC in the Tar Heel State is essential for business owners looking to hit the ground running.
The first step in forming an LLC in North Carolina is selecting a business name. It should be unique and must not be in conflict with any other registered businesses operating within the state. Entrepreneurs can have peace of mind in knowing that the Secretary of State’s website conveniently provides an online search tool to check name availability in real-time.
To formally establish your LLC, you will need to file Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State. This document outlines essential information, such as the LLC’s name, principal address, registered agent, and organizers’ names. North Carolina allows both online and mail filing options, providing entrepreneurs with flexibility based on their preference and circumstances.
While the Secretary of State is efficient in processing documents, the timeframe for LLC formation can vary based on factors like the number of requests being processed at any given time. Typically, once the filing has been submitted, it can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to receive confirmation of LLC formation. Maintaining transparency, the Secretary of State’s website conveniently provides updates on the estimated processing times for different entity types.
Although North Carolina has made the LLC formation process relatively quick and straightforward, it is worth noting that additional steps may be required depending on the nature of your business. Certain professions or industries may need regulatory approvals or licensure before commencing operations, which further highlights the importance of thorough research and planning.
Entrepreneurs forming an LLC in North Carolina would also do well to consider the necessity of other foundational elements, such as obtaining an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and drafting an operating agreement. The EIN is crucial for tax purposes and allows entrepreneurs to hire employees legally. An operating agreement is not a requirement in North Carolina, but it outlines the rights and responsibilities of LLC members and can greatly help in reducing potential legal disputes down the line.
In conclusion, the process of forming an LLC in North Carolina is generally streamlined and efficient. Entrepreneurs need to consider various factors including business name selection, filing Articles of Organization, obtaining an EIN, drafting an operating agreement, and addressing any additional requirements specific to their industry. By diligently following the necessary steps and doing thorough research, entrepreneurs can potentially have their LLC set up promptly so they can focus their time, efforts, and resources on running their business without undue delays.
If you are a resident of North Carolina, then you can file your LLC by yourself. However, it is always worth having a professional than doing it yourself to handle legal complexities, paperwork, and other documentation.
Apart from the formation fee of $125 (domestic LLC) and $250 (foreign LLC), LLC costs in North Carolina include $200 for Annual Reports every year. LLCs are liable to pay sales tax of 4.75% every year.
It takes 14 business days to get an LLC in NC if you file it online or via mail. If you hire a professional LLC service, then it might take less than that. We recommend TailorBrands, which has an impeccable turnaround time.
Every year all the LLCs have to submit an Annual Report and pay $200 to the North Carolina Secretary of State and renew the LLC. It is mandatory to renew your LLC every year.
Generally, for LLCs, it is a default tax structure. Once you obtain the EIN, you will get the various tax structure options to select. Sometimes LLCs choose S Corp to reduce federal tax burdens. Read more on the North Carolina Classification of LLC Tax.
LLCs are easier to establish than other business structures. Small businesses, especially start-ups, can easily start an LLC in the state of North Carolina at a bare minimum cost. LLCs have a ‘pass-through taxation’ advantage for which they are excluded from certain taxes. The formation of limited liability companies requires much lesser documents and legal processes. Share your queries with us, and leave a comment below.