How Much Does Starting an LLC in North Carolina Cost?

Legal business registration — and keeping your business in good standing — involves some necessary expenses. Some of these costs are payable to the North Carolina Secretary of State (SOS), while others are due to other state entities or the federal government. We’ve summarized some of the most common requirements and fees here.

Please note that North Carolina business license and permit fees might need to be paid when you first form your business, on an ongoing basis or on an ad hoc basis. Find more details below.

Initial North Carolina LLC Fees

When you first create your business, you’ll need to file a form with the North Carolina SOS and pay a fee. Here are the current North Carolina LLC fees and filing times:

State Fee State Filing Time Expedited Filing Time
$127* 5 Weeks 14 Business Days

*Includes state online processing fees

When you form your LLC through Incfile, we charge you this fee and forward it to the North Carolina SOS when we file your formation paperwork.

Incfile can file your formation paperwork for you for free

just pay the required North Carolina LLC filing fee.

North Carolina allows you to form your LLC more quickly by paying a rush fee.

Employer Identification Number

Every LLC in the U.S. should obtain a unique Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service. You'll use it when you open a business bank account, file taxes and pay employees. It's available at no cost from the IRS, or Incfile can get an EIN for you.

Foreign LLCs

When you want to do business in a state other than the one where your business is based, you must create a foreign LLC.

North Carolina Foreign LLC Registration

Before you can expand your business from another state into North Carolina, you must request a North Carolina Foreign Qualification. This means the state gives you permission to conduct business there.

To request registration of a North Carolina Foreign LLC, you must complete an Application for Certificate of Authority for Limited Liability Company and pay a processing fee of $250. The state may have additional requirements, so contact the North Carolina SOS for more information.

Foreign Qualification to Operate in Another State

If you plan to expand your North Carolina LLC into another state, you’ll first need a Foreign Qualification or a Certificate of Authority from that state. This is necessary if you'll have a physical presence, employees or banking in that state.

This process will likely entail completing an application and paying a filing fee, but each state has different requirements. To plan accordingly, compare state filing times and state filing fees first.

Also, contact the state government entity that administers business (usually the Secretary of State) to confirm their requirements and for specific instructions.

If you need assistance, Incfile provides a complete Foreign Qualification service for all states.

Annual Report Requirements

Most states — including North Carolina — require businesses to file an annual (or other periodic) report with the Secretary of State. When you file your annual report, you’ll need to pay a fee of $200. You can also file it online.

If you're changing your Registered Agent, you'll need to file by mail. You can still use the online tool to fill it out, then print it out. Here are the North Carolina LLC annual report filing requirements:

Annual Report

Frequency

Annually

Due

February 15th

Filling Fee

$200

Incfile can also complete and file your North Carolina LLC Annual Report on your behalf.

North Carolina Business License and Permit Requirements

You must ensure you have the proper state, federal or local business licenses to operate your LLC. Some of the associated fees only need to be paid once, while others are ongoing charges.

Permits and licenses vary based on:

1

The industry your LLC operates in (e.g., restaurants will need health permits)

2

The location of your LLC (state, county or city) (e.g., a license to conduct business from the city of Charlotte)

3

The type of business you run (e.g., healthcare providers must meet HIPAA requirements)

Running your business without the required licenses can expose you to risks and fines from federal, state and local governments.

You can research these permits and licenses yourself, or use Incfile’s Business License Research package, which includes:

  • A complete report on all the licenses, permits and tax registrations your LLC will need
  • The applications you'll need to file with the state, regional and federal licensing authorities

Operating Agreements

The state doesn't require you to have a North Carolina LLC Operating Agreement in place.

An Operating Agreement is a document that covers how the business will be run, how managers and members are chosen, rights and duties of members and several other key areas. It's usually filed with your Articles of Organization.

This document can be extremely helpful in making sure you’re organized and prepared for any future events that may affect your business.

Incfile can draft a general Operating Agreement template when you form your business.

Incfile can draft a general Operating Agreement template when you form your business.

Other Potential North Carolina LLC Fees or Requirements

You may need to pay and meet several other fees and requirements during the life of your LLC. These ad hoc fees will only be payable in specific circumstances, as listed below.

Obtaining an Assumed Name or DBA

If you want to establish a North Carolina DBA (assumed name), you must file a form with the Secretary of State and pay a filing fee of $26.

Incfile can file your Assumed Name or DBA forms on your behalf.

Changing the Registered Agent

Your LLC needs a North Carolina Registered Agent, which must be appointed when you file your Articles of Organization. You can also switch to a new Registered Agent later at no cost by filing a form and paying a fee of $5.00.

Have Incfile serve as your Registered Agent.

It’s free for the first year if you form your LLC with us and $119 a year thereafter.

Reserving a Name for Your LLC

If you don’t want to form your business right away, you can reserve a name for 120 days with the North Carolina SOS by filing a form and paying a fee of $30. First, perform a North Carolina business search and learn about business name rules to ensure you choose a name that meets state requirements.

Amending Certain Facts About Your LLC

Your business formation documents state certain facts about your business at the time it's formed. Over time, these facts may change. If they do, you'll need to file an Amendment of Articles of Organization (Form L-17) with the North Carolina SOS and pay a fee of $50. You can do this yourself or have Incfile file it on your behalf.

You may want to file an Information Change form when you:

  • Add, remove or change an LLC member or manager
  • Alter the stated business activities of your LLC
  • Change the business address of your LLC

Getting a North Carolina Certificate of Good Standing

Some organizations will request that you prove your LLC’s compliance with laws and tax requirements. In most states, this proof is provided with a Certificate of Good Standing. In North Carolina, it's a Certificate of Existence or a Certificate of Status.

If you need to prove you have met your commitments, you’ll need a North Carolina Certificate of Existence from the Secretary of State. You can obtain one by filing a Request for Certificate form and paying a fee of $10.

Incfile can obtain a North Carolina Certificate of Good Standing on your behalf.

The fees listed above detail many of the charges a standard LLC will be required to pay in North Carolina. In some unusual circumstances, there may be other one-off, periodic or ad hoc fees not listed above.

Of course, your LLC will likely also need to pay self-employment, payroll, federal, state and other taxes. More information about taxes can be found on the North Carolina Business Tax page.

FAQs About North Carolina LLC Fees

What Happens to the State Fees I'm Charged When Forming My LLC?

We charge you this fee at cost and then pay the fee to the Secretary of State on your behalf when forming your NC business.

Where Do I Get Business Licenses and Permits for My LLC?

It depends on various factors including:

  • The type of business you run
  • Where your business is located
  • Governing entities in your industry
  • Federal, state and local regulations

Many new businesses need a business license, and you may be required to obtain additional licenses and permits. Our Business License Research package can take the guesswork out of it for you and help you learn what your LLC needs to be compliant.

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