Why Create a North Carolina LLC?
The state offers several business grants and incentives, as well as tax savings, provided your LLC meets certain criteria. For example, new or growing companies may qualify for the Job Development Investment Grant, which provides cash to help offset the costs of expanding or locating business facilities in the state.
For most people looking to start a business, the fastest and easiest way is to create a North Carolina limited liability company (LLC). It's a type of business entity ideal for startups and small- to
medium-sized businesses. You get the advantages and protections of larger North Carolina corporations, but with much simpler rules and regulations.
Benefits of starting a North Carolina LLC:
Protect your personal assets from your business liability and debts
Easy to create, manage, administer and remain compliant
Potential tax treatment advantages and easy filing
Low filing fee ($125)
Learn more about the benefits of the LLC business structure.
In this guide, you’ll find information on naming your LLC, getting a Registered Agent, the fees you’ll need to pay, North Carolina business taxes and much more. We also cover what you'll need to register and file your LLC and how you'll interact with the North Carolina Secretary of State.
How to Form a North Carolina LLC Yourself in 6 Steps
Step 1 - Choose a Unique Business Name and Complete a North Carolina LLC Search
Step 2 - Provide an Official Business Address for Your LLC
Step 3 - Assign a Registered Agent
Step 4 - File Your Articles of Organization with the NC Secretary of State
Step 5 - Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service
Step 6 - Create an Operating Agreement
Choose a Unique Business Name and Complete a North Carolina LLC Search
You'll need a distinctive and original name for your North Carolina LLC that’s not used by any other business in the state. If you’re having trouble coming up with a name, try out Incfile’s Business Name Generator to brainstorm ideas. You’ll need to follow some naming rules, which you can read about in detail on the North Carolina LLC business names page.
Once you’ve chosen a business name, you’ll need to make sure it’s available in North Carolina. To find out whether another company is using your desired name, use our tool to do a business name search. You can carry out a name search on the NC Secretary of State website.
Provide an Official Business Address for Your LLC
Every North Carolina LLC must have a designated street address. It could be your home address (if you’re running the company from your residence), an office building or any physical location. The address can be outside the state, but cannot be a P.O. Box.
If you find securing a physical address difficult, you may be able to use a virtual mailbox instead. Incfile can provide you with a North Carolina virtual mailbox, where we'll receive your mail and scan it for you to access online. This can be especially helpful if you run your business from home and don't want your home address published in the public record.
Assign a Registered Agent
Someone who receives official correspondence on behalf of a business and is responsible for filing reports with the NC Secretary of State is called a Registered Agent. Every LLC in North Carolina is required to have one.
This position can be filled by you, another manager in the business or a dedicated Registered Agent service. If your North Carolina Registered Agent is a person, they must have a physical address in the state and must be present to receive important documents for your company during business hours. In North Carolina, you designate your Registered Agent when you file your Articles of Organization and officially form your business.
All of Incfile’s packages include Registered Agent service. It’s free for the first year and just $119 per year after that. You can also log in to our dashboard and easily view any document we've received on your behalf.
File Your Articles of Organization with the NC Secretary of State
Once you've gathered all the information for your North Carolina LLC, you’ll need to file a form with the NC Secretary of State, which will create your Articles of Organization. This filing officially creates your LLC.
Your Articles of Organization can be filed online with the NC Secretary of State, you can mail a form to the Office of the Secretary of State or you can have Incfile do everything on your behalf. The North Carolina LLC filing fee is $125. There's an additional $2 electronic transaction fee if you file online.
File by Mail
NC Secretary of State
Business Registration Division
P.O. Box 29622
Raleigh, NC 27626-0622
You only need to file your Articles of Organization once, but every year after, you'll need to file an annual report. Incfile can either remind you to do this, or we can do it for you.
What are the fees and requirements to form an LLC in North Carolina?
Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service
You'll need an EIN to identify your business to the IRS. You use this number when filing and paying taxes or when submitting payroll information and payments for your employees. An EIN is also required to open a business bank account. You can obtain one directly from the IRS, or Incfile can get one for you as part of the North Carolina LLC formation process.
Create a North Carolina LLC Operating Agreement
A sort of "instruction manual" that explains how your business will be run, an LLC Operating Agreement details how decisions will be made, how the business is divided among members and what will happen should a member leave the company.
Some states require that a company have an Operating Agreement in place. It's not required in North Carolina, but it’s a good idea to have one for your own protection and peace of mind.
Other North Carolina LLC Types
Some states, including North Carolina, allow certain businesses to form Professional Limited Liability Companies (PLLCs). A North Carolina Professional LLC will typically require members to be licensed, and possibly impose other specific requirements as well.
Note that the state also permits the formation of Professional Corporations and Professional Associations, both of which are different and separate from a PLLC. A North Carolina PLLC must comply with Statute 55 and Statute 55B under the state's Professional Corporations Act.
Learn more about PLLC vs. LLC and which one is right for your business.
If your business is already operating in another state and expanding to North Carolina — or vice versa — you’ll need to form a Foreign LLC.
Learn more about North Carolina Foreign LLC registration.
Helpful Resources from the State of North Carolina
More Information in This Guide
You’ll find plenty more insight and guidance on the other pages of this guide, including:
How to search the business registry of the NC Secretary of State to find the right name. Includes information on naming rules, fictitious names, reserving a North Carolina LLC name and more.
How to appoint, change and search for Registered Agents. Also includes the rules they’re required to follow.
How to understand the various fees you’ll need to pay and the state and federal requirements you’ll need to meet. Includes details on Employer Identification Numbers (EINs), state and federal business licenses, annual reports and more.
How to understand the various taxes you’ll need to pay to the state and federal governments. Includes details of state taxes such as sales and income, and federal taxes such as income and self-employment.