Simple Steps to Start Your North Carolina LLC
Located on the East Coast of the U.S. and sandwiched between South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia, North Carolina is a great state for starting a business. It has excellent land and air links, with both Charlotte and Raleigh serving as major transport hubs. North Carolina is also the 9th most populous state in the U.S., so businesses are sure to find plenty of potential customers in their locality.
The landscape, culture and geography of North Carolina are extremely varied, from the coastal lowlands in the east to the Appalachian mountains in the west. The state is known for being a major center of banking and finance (Charlotte has the biggest banking center outside NYC) and for its research triangle, comprising Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. North Carolina leads the southeastern states in both agriculture and industry. Western North Carolina is known for its tourist industry, with “leaf peepers” traveling from all over the U.S. to witness the spectacular fall colors.
If you want to start your own business in North Carolina, one of the best ways to do so is by forming an LLC. Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) are a business entity designed for startups and small- and medium-sized businesses. North Carolina makes forming an LLC easy and inexpensive.
LLCs are great for small and medium businesses because they give you many of the protections and advantages of larger corporations — without all the rules, regulations and compliance issues common to larger business entities. Let’s start by looking at the advantages of forming a North Carolina LLC.
Advantages of Forming an LLC in North Carolina
North Carolina LLCs have several benefits for business owners.
- Preparing to start a North Carolina LLC is quick and easy — you can complete all the necessary forms and actions online to start your company.
- An LLC limits your personal liability. Any liabilities created by your North Carolina business (debts, obligations and other liabilities) are legally considered to be completely separate from your personal assets as the business owner or founder.
- North Carolina LLCs are easy to maintain, since LLCs are light on rules and regulations. There’s no need for boards of directors, complex rules and regulations or formal annual meetings.
- LLCs are very easy to manage, and you can add and amend members and make other changes with just a little paperwork.
- Taxes are simple — any income you earn through your North Carolina LLC is reported on your personal tax return. This means you won’t run into “double taxation” issues common with larger corporations.
- Typically, gathering and preparing the information to start your business can be completed in an hour or two. Once you have the information, you can then file through us. See how long it will take for the North Carolina Secretary of State to form your LLC.
- Starting an LLC in North Carolina is relatively inexpensive, costing $125 ($175 for expedited filing). You will also need to file an annual report, which costs $200 a year.
Start Your North Carolina LLC in Six Steps
STEP 1: Name Your North Carolina LLC
- You will need a distinctive, original name for your North Carolina LLC that’s not used by another business in North Carolina.
- To find out if another company is using your choice of business name, carry out a North Carolina business entity name search.
- The name you choose should not be distinct and not able to be confused with the name of another North Carolina business.
- The name of your business must end with “Limited Liability Company” or the abbreviation “LLC.” “Limited” and “Company” can be abbreviated to “Ltd.” and “Co.”
- For example: “Appalachian Adventures LLC” or “Raleigh Industrial research Services, Limited Liability Company.”
STEP 2: Provide the Address for Your New North Carolina LLC
A North Carolina LLC must have a designated street address. That could be your home address (if you’re running the company from your residence), where your office is located or any physical address of your preference — even outside of North Carolina. It cannot be a P.O. Box.
STEP 3: Assign a Registered Agent for Your North Carolina LLC
Every North Carolina LLC must have a “registered agent.” That could be you, the managing director, owner or a dedicated registered agent service. The registered agent in North Carolina is someone who receives official legal and tax correspondence and has responsibility for filing reports with the North Carolina Secretary of State. There are several benefits to using a Registered Agent service.
Your Registered Agent must have a physical street address in the state where you are forming the company. Some people establish companies outside of the state they live in and will use a service to provide the address. This should not be confused with your company's address, which is not a service the Registered Agent provides.
The Registered Agent address is listed on public records on the Secretary of State's website. If you do not want your own name and address to be registered, you should use a Registered Agent service.
The Registered Agent must be present or available during normal business hours (9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday - Friday) to receive any legal correspondence delivered; the type of documents delivered to a registered agent sometimes require a signature on delivery. Some people travel or are not always at their business location to receive these documents.
At Incfile, all of our packages include a Registered Agent service free for the first year and $119 per year thereafter. We also have a dashboard where you can log in and easily view any document your registered agent has received on your behalf.
STEP 4: You Should Provide Names and Addresses of All North Carolina LLC Members
Your North Carolina LLC members are the people who own and run the business. They will be the individuals who withdraw profits from the business to pay themselves. North Carolina requires you to list the names and addresses of all managers or members signing the Articles of Organization when you register the North Carolina LLC. You can register these addresses as street addresses or P.O. Boxes. If you are the sole owner, operator and manager of your LLC, then you are the only member!
STEP 5: You Need to File Articles of Organization with the North Carolina Secretary of State
Once you've gathered all the information for your LLC, you’ll need to file formal documents with the North Carolina Secretary of State. Filing Articles of Organization creates your North Carolina LLC. You can do this online, mail in a printed form or have Incfile do it on your behalf.
STEP 6: You Can Create a North Carolina LLC Operating Agreement
North Carolina LLCs aren’t required to have an operating agreement, but having one is extremely useful for several reasons. Your operating agreement covers how the business will be run, how managers and members are chosen, rights and duties of members and several other key areas. These things are especially useful if you have more than one member to your LLC. You can learn how to create your operating agreement, or have a professional draft one for you.
If you’re interested in having your Operating Agreement created for you, Incfile will draft a general Operating Agreement within most of our online business formation packages. It can also be selected as an add-on option in our Silver package. This Operating Agreement will be a basic template that you can make changes to anytime you see fit.
You can find lots more useful information on how to form an LLC here. This page answers questions like:
- Who can form an LLC?
- Where should you form an LLC?
- When should you form an LLC?
- What are the ongoing responsibilities for an LLC?
Starting Your North Carolina LLC: Useful Resources
Form a North Carolina LLC Without Breaking the Bank
Incfile provides a cost-effective service to help you create your LLC. We'll guide you through the process and handle most of the administrative steps, such as filing the Articles of Organization on your behalf. Our basic package also provides a free Registered Agent service for the first year. If you're looking for help to start an LLC, our comprehensive services provide outstanding value.