Starting an LLC in North Carolina
Located on the East Coast of the U.S. and sandwiched between South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia, North Carolina is a great location to start a business. It has excellent land and air links, with both Charlotte and Raleigh being major transport hubs. North Carolina is also the ninth most populous state in the U.S., so businesses are sure to find plenty of potential customers in their locality.
North Carolina’s landscape, culture and geography 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 New York City) 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.
For most business owners, the fastest and easiest way to start a business in North Carolina is by creating a North Carolina LLC. A Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a type of business entity that’s 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.
Briefly, the benefits of starting a North Carolina LLC include:
- Separating and limiting your personal liability from your business liability and debts
- Quick and simple filing, management, compliance, regulations and administration of your North Carolina LLC
- Easy tax filing and potential advantages for tax treatment
Learn more about the benefits of the LLC business structure here.
Six Quick Steps to Starting an LLC in NC
We’ve got lots of useful information on registering a business in NC. On this page you’ll find the basic steps of how to form a North Carolina LLC, with more in-depth content throughout the rest of our guide.
STEP 1: Gather Information for Your Members
First, you need to gather basic information about your LLC, including the names and addresses of the managers or members. The LLC members are typically the people who own and run the business. They are also the ones who can take profits out of the business to pay themselves.
STEP 2: Search for and Choose a Unique Business Name for Your North Carolina LLC
You will need a distinctive and original name for your North Carolina LLC that’s not used by any other business in NC. To find out if another company is using your chosen business name, carry out a North Carolina business entity name search on the NC Secretary of State website.
There are a few rules you’ll need to follow when choosing an LLC name. You can find out more in our guide to searching for and naming your North Carolina LLC.
Learn about North Carolina LLC business naming rules.
STEP 3: Provide an Official Address for Your NC LLC
Every North Carolina LLC must have a designated street address. That could be your home address (if you’re running the company from your residence), your company’s office building or any physical address of your preference. The address can be outside the state of North Carolina, but it cannot be a P.O. Box.
STEP 4: Assign a Registered Agent for Your North Carolina LLC
Every NC LLC must have a “Registered Agent.” This is an official position; the Registered Agent is someone who receives official legal and tax correspondence and has responsibility for filing reports with the North Carolina Secretary of State.
This position can be filled by you, another manager in the business or a dedicated Registered Agent service. Your NC Registered Agent must have a physical street address in North Carolina and must be present to receive important documents for your company during business hours.
At Incfile, all of our packages include a North Carolina Registered Agent service that is free for the first year and just $119 per year afterward. We also have a dashboard where you can log in and easily view any document your Registered Agent has received on your behalf.
Learn more about North Carolina Registered Agents.
STEP 5: Get an Employee Identification Number (EIN) From the Internal Revenue Service
You will 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. You can obtain one directly from the IRS, or we can get one for you as part of the North Carolina LLC business formation process.
STEP 6: File Articles of Organization With the North Carolina Secretary of State
Once you've gathered all the information for your North Carolina LLC, you’ll need to file a formal document with the NC Secretary of State. This document is known as your “Articles of Organization,” and filing the document creates your North Carolina LLC. Here’s what is typically included:
- Your business name and address
- Details of your Registered Agent
- Names of managers or members of the LLC at the time of filing
- Addresses of managers or members of the LLC at the time of filing
- Purpose of your business
- Name of the incorporator
You can file your North Carolina LLC Articles of Organization online, mail in a form or have Incfile do it on your behalf. There is a fee to file and start an LLC in North Carolina. You only need to file your Articles of Organization once.
Form Your LLC Now
Review Information From the North Carolina Secretary of State
The NC Secretary of State has plenty of additional information on forming and running a business in North Carolina.
Special Types of Ohio LLCs
A regular Ohio LLC is suitable for most business needs, but you also have a few other options to incorporate a special type of LLC.
Special Types of North Carolina LLCs
A regular North Carolina LLC is suitable for most business needs, but you also have a few other options to incorporate a special type of LLC.
Some states, including North Carolina, allow certain occupations to form “Professional LLCs.” These types of businesses typically have special requirements and licensing. North Carolina does not list the specific professions that can form a Professional LLC.
Foreign LLCs in North Carolina
If your business is already operating in another state and expanding to North Carolina, you’ll need to form a foreign LLC.
More information on North Carolina filing and licensing requirements here
What to Do After Forming Your North Carolina LLC
Want to know your next steps after creating a new LLC in North Carolina? We’ve got you covered. Here’s our guide to understanding your ongoing requirements, setting up new bank accounts, protecting your business name, getting accounting in place and more.
Read the Rest of the Guide for More
You’ll find plenty more insight and guidance on the other pages of this guide, including:
How to search the North Carolina business registry of the NC Secretary of State and find the right name. Includes information on naming rules, fictitious names, reserving a North Carolina LLC name and more.
How to appoint a North Carolina Registered Agent to your new LLC or change to a different Registered Agent. Includes information on Registered Agent rules and searching for North Carolina Registered Agents.
How to understand the various fees you’ll need to pay and the requirements you’ll need to meet for both federal and North Carolina rules. Includes details of Employee Identification Numbers (EINs), North Carolina and federal business licenses, North Carolina Annual Reports and more.
How to understand the various taxes you will need to pay to the federal and North Carolina government. Includes details of federal taxes like income and self-employment, and North Carolina taxes like sales tax and income tax.