Form an LLC in North Carolina with Inc Authority for Free

Get your New Carolina LLC started quickly using Inc Authority’s free LLC formation services. They’ve helped form 250+ businesses in their 32-year-long history. Plus, you will get 1 year of registered agent service completely free of charge.

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$0 + State filing fees

Completely free LLC formation service with no hidden charges, only the state filing fee.

Free North Carolina registered agent service for one year with both free and paid plans.

Free tax consultation, business funding analysis, s-corp election, and other services.

Things to Know Before Starting an LLC in North Carolina

LLCs are one of the most preferred business entities as they offer liability protection, tax flexibility, and a lot of other benefits. However, you should be aware of all the costs and compliance requirements associated with an LLC, before your form one.

Let’s discuss some of the important requirements briefly.

  • Understand whether you need to file for a domestic LLC or a foreign LLC, as both will require different forms and procedures. If you’re merely expanding your existing business to NC, you’ll need a foreign LLC, otherwise domestic.
  • If you want to run an LLC in North Carolina, you need to file an annual report and submit it online or via mail to the Secretary of State. For this, you need to pay an annual filing fee of $200, which can be quite expensive for small businesses.
  • Every LLC needs to file the annual report, align with the filing fee, by April 15 of each year. However, if you’ve formed a new Limited Liability Company in North Carolina, you need to start filing after one year of your LLC registration.
  • If you hire employees for your LLC, you’ll need to pay employer taxes. You can withhold and pay employee income taxes using Form NC-5 and use Form NC-3 for tax reconciliation. You may also need to pay state unemployment insurance taxes.

While forming an LLC offers many benefits, you should understand the ongoing costs and see if that suits you. If you want a cheaper alternative, you can compare the costs of forming and running an LLC with that of an S-Corp or Sole Proprietorship.

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Select a Business Name

The first step in this guide on how to form an LLC in North Carolina is to choose a unique, memorable, and relevant business name. Also, ensure that the name you choose meets the naming guidelines of North Carolina, like the use or omission of certain words.

You will also need to check the state database to ensure that no other business is using your chosen name. Inc Authority’s business name search tool makes this process easy as you simply have to type in your name in a search box and enter to find matches.

Select a Business Name
Reserve a Business Name

Reserve a Business Name

Sometimes, the process of forming an LLC can take a long time, especially to prepare all the documents and understand all requirements. In such cases, it is best to reserve your business name so no one can use it while you’re busy preparing.

North Carolina, like most states, allows you to reserve your chosen business name for up to 120 days for a fee of $30. You need to use Form BE-03, not to be confused with Form BE-14, which is for officially registering the business name for ten years.

Appoint a North Carolina Registered Agent

When you start an LLC in North Carolina, you’ll need a local registered agent who can receive all your business correspondence and legal documents. They should be available at the official address on weekdays, during regular business hours.

Inc Authority can provide you with a North Carolina registered agent for your business. It offers this service for free for the first year, even with the free plan. After that, you can choose to continue with the registered agent service for a nominal annual fee.

Choose the Type of LLC You Want to Form

Before you register an LLC in North Carolina, you need to be clear about whether you should form a domestic LLC or a foreign LLC. If you’re forming an entirely new business and plan to run it within the state, you will need to form a domestic LLC.

If you already have an established business in another state and want to expand to North Carolina, you’ll need a foreign LLC. Also, depending on the number of LLC owners, you’ll need to decide whether to form a single-member LLC or a multi-member LLC.

Create an LLC Operating Agreement

If you want to run your business smoothly and avoid any conflict in how you manage your LLC, you need to create an LLC operating agreement. This is a document that lists all the rules of governance for your LLC, including how decisions will be made.

Your LLC operating agreement should include how profits will be divided, member roles and responsibilities, the process of how a member can get out, the process for dissolving the business, and other important rules for managing the business.

File Your North Carolina LLC Articles of Organization

This is the step where you officially register your business with the North Carolina Secretary of State. You can submit your LLC formation application along with your  articles of organization online, via mail or fax, or even in person.

Inc Authority can help you with this by reviewing your application and ensuring there are no mistakes, checking if you have provided all the necessary documents, and filing the application and articles of organization on behalf of your business.

Get an Employer Identification Number

Every business needs an employer identification number as that’s what the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) uses to identify a business. Just like individuals have social security numbers, businesses need employer identification numbers.

But that’s not all that an EIN is good for. You will need an EIN for opening a business bank account, getting funding for your business, hiring and paying employees, etc. You also need an EIN or Tax ID for paying the income taxes for your business.

Open a Business Bank Account

Next, in this guide on how to start an LLC in North Carolina, you need to open a bank account for your business. A separate business bank account is a great way to manage your business finances and keep them separate from your personal finances.

There are many banks and business checking account options in the market, so you need to do some research before you choose one. Experts at Inc Authority can help you with that by giving you some great business banking options to choose from.

Acquire Business Licenses and Permits

Once you register your business and get your certificate of formation, you’re legally allowed to run your business. However, you’ll need to acquire all the licenses and permits for your business as required by your county and state where you operate.

Check out the requirements for your specific type of business and your country and state permit requirements. These can range from general business licenses and professional licenses to fire permits, food permits, and even real estate permits.

Choose How You Want to be Taxed

An LLC in North Carolina can choose to be taxed as a Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, S-Corp, or C-Corporation. This offers a lot of flexibility to a Limited Liability Company as there are numerous options for how you want your business to be taxed.

Most LLCs choose the default pass-through taxation option, in which the business income passes to the LLC members. Each member then pays the federal and state personal income taxes on their income from the business and any other sources.

File for a DBA (Optional)

We’ve covered all the essential steps involved in forming a Limited Liability Company in North Carolina. Now, let’s discuss some of the optional steps, which involve things that you should preferably take care of before you start running your business.

You can, for example, file for a DBA (doing business as) if you want to operate your business under a shorter, more catchy name. Official business names often include words like “LLC” or “Limited Company”, which are not the best for marketing purposes.

Apply for a Trademark (Optional)

When you run a business, you need to establish a brand for your products and services. Brand marketing involves several brand elements like logo, brand colors, tagline, etc. that consumers can associate with the brand, creating a strong brand identity.

You can apply for a trademark to protect your brand. You can apply for state or federal trademarks for your business name, logo, etc. Inc Authority offers this as an add-on paid service and also offers the expedited e-filing service for a cost.

Build an SEO-Friendly Website (Optional)

If you want to market your business and attract relevant customers, you need to build an SEO-friendly website. It not only helps new customers find your products and services but also helps them get the information they need about your business.

You also need a domain name matching your business or brand name. GovDocFiling has partnered with GoDaddy to give you the best deal on its web design and marketing services that you can use to build a high-converting website.

 Stay in Good Standing

As soon as you receive your certificate of formation, you are legally allowed to start operating your LLC in North Carolina. After that, running your business and staying in good standing with the state is an ongoing process.

For that, you must comply with all the rules and regulations of the state and meet your compliance deadlines. This includes paying taxes on time, filing the annual report before the deadline, and meeting any other requirements.

Why Should You Outsource LLC Formation Services?

Starting an LLC requires a lot of paperwork and a single mistake on your application can get it rejected. Outsourcing to professionals ensures that everything goes smoothly, letting you hit the ground running when starting a new business.

Streamlined Process

Hiring a professional service provider that knows the ins and outs of the LLC formation process ensures a smooth and streamlined process. It’s better to let experts handle the process while you focus on other important aspects.

Zero Errors

Hiring an expert to review and file your application, along with all accompanying documents, ensures there are no mistakes and no scope for error. This ensures that your application gets approved in the first go.

Faster Filing

If you choose to do it yourself, it will take a lot of time and effort on your part. Outsourcing to a professional will get the process completed quickly and efficiently. With an expedited filing option you can file on the same day.

Form Your North Carolina LLC Today


Here are the features you’ll get with the free LLC formation plan:

  • Business name search: You can use Inc Authority’s business name check tool to quickly search for your chosen business name and find matches, if any. This is quicker and easier than searching the state databases for the same.
  • 1-year registered agent services: Every business must have a local registered agent who is available during business hours to receive any legal correspondence for the business. Inc Authority offers this service for free for the first year.
  • Digital document management: With your Inc Authority account, you get the option to store and manage your business documents online. This helps you better manage your documents without the risk of damage or misplacement.
  • Tax planning consultation: With the free plan, you will get a short tax planning consultation with an expert who’ll guide you through the process of planning your taxes in a way that helps you maximize your tax benefits.
  • LLC formation: This is the key service that Inc Authority offers and is known for. Experts at Inc Authority will review your application and documents to ensure there are no mistakes and file them with the state on your behalf.
  • S-Corp election and filing: If you wish for your LLC to be taxed as an S-Corp, Inc Authority can help you with that as well. They will help you fill out the s-election form, review your application, and submit it on your behalf.
  • Business funding analysis: If your LLC needs sources of funding for business expansion or day to day operations, Inc Authority can help. Their team will assess your funding needs and provide you with relevant options.

If you want an easy, hassle-free, and affordable way to start an LLC in North Carolina, you can go with the free plan.

Price: Free


You will get these services with the Starter plan, in addition to the services offered in the free plan:

  • LLC operating agreement: Experts at Inc Authority will help you draft a comprehensive LLC operating agreement that covers all important aspects of managing an LLC and making strategic business decisions.
  • Tax ID Application: As part of its Starter Business Bundle, Inc Authority will help you obtain an EIN/Tax ID. This involves reviewing the paperwork and submitting it to the authorities on behalf of your business.
  • Business forms and documents package: Every business needs different types of business documents for various purposes. Inc Authority’s documents package includes templates that you can use to prepare those documents.
  • Compliance notifications: When you run an LLC in North Carolina, you need to stay compliant with the state’s regulations. To ensure you don’t miss any deadlines, Inc Authority will inform you of your requirements. 
  • Detailed tax planning consultation: Unlike the brief consultation you get with the free plan, this would be more in-depth. You can ask questions and get a personalized consultation to help you best plan your taxes.
  • Web domain + 5 business email addresses: If you want to run a successful business, you need a business website. Inc Authority can help you design an SEO-friendly website and also claim business email addresses.

Price: Custom


Here are the additional services you’ll get over the Starter plan:

  • Customer success advisor: With this top-tier plan offered by Inc Authority, you will get a dedicated customer success advisor. They will guide you through the process of forming an LLC in North Carolina and running it successfully afterward. They’ll be your point of contact for anything and everything you need to take your business to the next level and help it grow.
  • Private banking expert: As mentioned earlier, you’ll need a business bank account to keep your personal and business finances separate. With Inc Authority’s Fastrack plan, you’ll get access to an expert who will guide you through the various options you have for your business banking needs and will also help you make the right choice for your business.
  • Personalized business advisory services: When you opt for this plan, you will get personalized business advisory services from the experts at Inc Authority. They will guide you not only through the initial stages of forming an LLC in North Carolina but even after. This includes helping you run your business more efficiently and growing your business.
  • Expedited preparation & filing: One of the biggest advantages of opting for the top-tier plan is that you can get your North Carolina LLC application filed on the same day. Inc Authority gives first priority to its Fasttrack plan’s clients and files their applications on the same day, thus expediting the process.

If you want expedited business formation and personalized advisory services, then this is the best plan for you. However, if you just want North Carolina LLC formation services, no frills attached, then Inc Authority’s free plan is one of the best options for you.

Why Choose Inc Authority to Form an LLC in North Carolina

Inc Authority has 32 years of experience and has helped over 250K businesses. Given the complexities of the LLC formation process, choosing a professional to do your paperwork is your best option. Here’s why you should choose Inc Authority.

Free Service

Most business formation service providers charge hundreds of dollars for the services they provide. Inc Authority, on the other hand, offers this service, along with some others, completely free.

Zero Errors

Expert Guidance

No matter which plan you choose, you will get the opportunity to work with experts, ask questions, and seek guidance throughout the LLC formation process. They’ll also ensure the process goes smoothly.

No Stress

Forming an LLC in North Carolina involves numerous steps, complex paperwork, and dealing with state departments. Inc Authority can take care of everything on your behalf, providing a stress-free experience.

Form an LLC with Inc Authority


To start an LLC in North Carolina, you merely need to pay the state filing fee of $125.

You will, however, need to pay all applicable federal and state taxes and annual report filing fees annually, which will be a recurring cost of maintaining your good standing with the state.

If you choose to hire a business formation services provider, other than Inc Authority or any other free options, you will need to pay for their services as well. This can be anything from $100 to $300.

While some states charge state-level corporate income taxes on LLCs, North Carolina does not. An LLC in North Carolina does not need to pay corporate income taxes.

The business income passes through to the owners and they pay personal income taxes on it. This is called pass-through taxation.

LLCs do, however, need to pay employer taxes if they hire employees. They also need to pay all applicable sales taxes within the state.

Here are some of the key benefits of forming a North Carolina Limited Liability Company:

  • Liability Protection: Members’ personal assets are protected against the debts and liabilities of the business.
  • Flexible Tax Structure: LLCs in North Carolina can choose to be taxed as they like, for example, choosing to be taxed as an S-Corporation.
  • Affordable: Starting and running an LLC in North Carolina is comparatively cheaper than maintaining the status of a Corporation.
  • Less Paperwork: LLCs require less paperwork than a C-Corporation, both for starting and running a business.
  • Ease of Management: North Carolina LLCs do not need to meet the complex requirements of running a C-Corp and are much easier to manage.
  • Ownership Flexibility: LLCs have fewer restrictions on the number and type of owners, compared to some other business entities.
  • Ability to Hold Assets: LLCs in North Carolina can hold assets, purchase property/equipment, etc.
  • Ability to Enter into Contracts: An LLC in North Carolina is a separate legal entity and can enter into contracts as a business.

Here’s what you need to do to form an LLC in North Carolina:

  • Select a Business Name: Choose a unique and relevant business name that no other business is using within the state.
  • Reserve a Business Name: If you foresee a delay in completing your business registration process, you can reserve your business name.
  • Appoint a North Carolina Registered Agent: Hire a local registered agent who can receive all your business mail and forward them to you.
  • Choose the Type of LLC You Want to Form: Choose between a single-member and multi-member LLC, and decide if you need a foreign LLC or a domestic one.
  • Create an LLC Operating Agreement: Draft a comprehensive operating agreement that lays down the rules of how the LLC will operate.
  • File Your Articles of Organization: Register your business officially by filing your articles of organization with the right North Carolina department.
  • Get an EIN: Obtain an EIN for your business as it will be useful for various tasks like opening a bank account and hiring employees.
  • Open a Business Bank Account: Open a separate bank account for your business to keep personal and corporate finances separate.
  • Acquire Business Licenses and Permits: Get all the permits and licenses you need to run a business in a particular county in North Carolina.
  •  Stay in Good Standing: Pay your taxes on time and meet all compliance requirements to stay in good standing with the state of North Carolina.

If you file your LLC formation application online, it can be processed as fast as 2-5 business days. If you send your application via mail, it can take two to three weeks to process.

With Inc Authority, you can simply fill out an online application and choose the expedited filing option to get it filed the same day. Their team will help you finish the process efficiently and get your business up and running in no time.