North Carolina LLC

How To Get an LLC in NC

When starting an LLC in NC, there are no limits to how large your company can be. Most people who create a company begin as a small business. Though the definition of a small business can be based on size or revenue, there is no doubt that these companies form the backbone of the North Carolina economy.

The nearly 844,000 small businesses in this state account for 97.9% of all companies. They put 1.6 million people to work. Employees who work for small companies make up 46% of the workforce in the private sector. When you form an LLC in North Carolina, you contribute to the state’s growing economy.

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Step 1

Choosing a Name for Your Limited Liability Corporation

It sounds simple: Pick a name for your new company. However, many people find this to be the most challenging step. You need to choose a name that you like. It should also be easy for people to remember. In addition, your business name must follow North Carolina’s rules for naming an LLC. The law says that the name:

  • Has to be different from other companies registered in the state
  • Must include the “limited liability corporation” designator, or an abbreviation of it (LLC, Ltd)
  • Can’t have a restricted identifier — such as University, Bank or Attorney — without proper authorization.
  • Can’t use the designator of another type of business, such as Corporation, Corp, Incorporated or Inc

After you decide on a name, go to the Secretary of State’s name search page to make sure no other company in the state has the same name.

Once you have a name that is compliant and available, it’s time to do a domain search. In today’s world, most companies have at least a basic website so future clients can find out about their business. If your company’s name is available as a domain, you may want to buy the domain right away.

Step 2

Appointing a Registered Agent in North Carolina

When starting an LLC in NC, you must appoint a registered agent, maintaining an appointment for as long as you own the business. If you don’t have one at any time, the SOS can cancel your LLC. You would no longer be able to operate your business in the state.

Why is a registered agent so important? This is the person or company responsible for accepting legal documents and state mail on behalf of the business, including tax documents, lawsuit notices, subpoenas and government documents. Your registered agent must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a legal resident in the state
  • Have a physical mailing address (not a P.O. Box)

You can appoint any willing individual who meets those requirements as your registered agent. That person can be yourself, a friend or family member, or someone who works in your company. You may also hire a commercial registered agent to do the job for you. One of the benefits of hiring a professional company to fill this role is that it keeps your personal information out of the public records.

Step 3

Completing and Filing the Articles of Organization for Your LLC

Every limited liability corporation in North Carolina must be registered with the Secretary of State. To register, complete the Articles of Organization and file them with the SOS office. The Articles of Organization is a legal document that establishes your business structure as an LLC. It defines member rights, duties, and liabilities. Even if you are the only member of your company, you still need Articles of Organization.

In North Carolina, you can file the document online or by mail. The cost is $125, a fee that you only pay once. It may take up to two weeks to process. If you submit online, you could hear back from the SOS within three to five business days. The government does offer expedited filing, but you must indicate you want this service when you file. To receive same-day service, submit your application by noon and pay the additional $200 fee. For a 24-hour turnaround time, turn in your form before 5 p.m. and pay the $100 fee.

If the SOS approves your application, you will receive a copy of your Articles of Organization with an approval stamp on it. You will also get a cover letter acknowledging the approval. If the SOS does not approve your application, you will receive a letter explaining what steps you need to take to get approved.

Step 4

Getting Your Federal Employer Identification Number

All businesses need a federal Employer Identification Number for tax purposes. The Internal Revenue Services assigns the nine-digit EIN. It’s like having a Social Security Number for your company. Not only do you need it for taxes, but you also need it to open a bank account for your business and if you hire any employees.

Applying for your EIN is free. Be prepared to complete your application in one sitting. You can’t save your work and return to it later. Additionally, your session will time out after 15 minutes of inactivity, and you’ll have to start over. Everyone who forms an LLC in North Carolina needs to apply for an EIN, even if they are converting a sole proprietorship into a limited liability corporation.

Step 5

Creating an Operating Agreement

In North Carolina, the state does not legally require you to create an operating agreement, but it’s a good idea to do so. An operating agreement provides information about:

  • Each member of the company
  • What percentage of the company each member owns
  • Who the managers and officers are
  • How taxes are paid
  • How profits and losses are distributed

It should also outline your business’s operations. You can add any additional information you think is important to include.

The Operating Agreement is an internal document. You do not need to file a copy with the Secretary of State. Keep the agreement with your business records. The agreement provides written guidelines for your company that can help resolve disputes that arise. Even if you are the only member of your LLC, you still may want to create an operating agreement to help you organize your business.

Step 6

Getting Your Licenses and Permits

The final step in how to get an LLC in NC is to make sure you have any licenses you need to operate. If your company has a physical location and sells goods and services, you will likely need to apply for a permit from the municipal government.

How To Keep Compliant

To keep your business operational, you need to make sure you maintain compliance with regulations for LLCs in North Carolina. The two basic requirements are filing your annual report and paying your taxes.

Filing Your Annual Report

Each year, you will be required to file an annual report by April 15th. The report contains your company’s name and address, your registered agent’s information, identities and contact information for the company’s members, and a short description of the business. You can file your report online or by mail, and the fee is $200.

Paying Your Taxes

You will complete your LLC’s federal taxes along with your personal income taxes. This is known as “pass-through” taxation. However, you still need to file state and local taxes for the LLC. Additionally, if you sell goods and services, you are responsible for paying sales taxes.


LLC is an abbreviation for a limited liability corporation. The name refers to a type of business that is like a corporation but with more flexible options for business owners. LLCs may have more than one owner. Most people think that only small companies can form an LLC, but there is no limit on how large a limited liability corporation can be.

You do not need a trade or DBA name to operate as an LLC. Most companies use the same name for all aspects of the business. If you want to do business under a name that is different than your company’s legal name, you can register a trade DBA name.

You can choose anyone who is a legal resident in North Carolina to be your registered agent as long as the person has a physical address in the state and is over 18. You can serve as your LLC’s registered agent or you may appoint a family member, friend or someone else in your company. You may also hire a commercial registered agent to serve in this role.

If you file your Articles of Organization online with the NC Secretary of State, you should receive a response within seven to 10 business days. Mail-in registrations can take much longer. The SOS offers expedited services for an extra fee. For a 24-hour processing time, the cost is $100. It is twice that much if you want same-day service.

When someone starts an LLC in NC, that company is known as a domestic LLC. Business owners who start a company in another state or country and decide to expand to North Carolina must register with the state as a foreign LLC.

Getting Help Starting an LLC in NC

At GovDocFiling, we want to make it easy for you to get your limited liability corporation off the ground. It is our goal to help you make your dream of owning your own business a reality. Find out how we can help you start your LLC for free today! Our partners at Inc Authority can file your articles with your secretary of state for free (you only pay state fees) and get free registered agent services for 1 year.

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