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NORTH CAROLINA

Why Form a Limited Liability Company (LLC) in North Carolina?


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North Carolina LLC Form, Filing and Permit Requirements

If you want to form an LLC in North Carolina, there are certain forms, requirements and legalities you need to get in place. Below is a rundown of what you’ll need to do, together with details on each form required for your North Carolina LLC. Some of these forms you only need to submit once, while others must be filed on a regular basis. You will need to set reminders in your calendar to file forms regularly if you're filing yourself. At Incfile, we provide an optional renewal service and can take care of renewals for you when you instruct us to do so.

Articles of Organization

Articles of Organization are the formal documents filed with the North Carolina Secretary of State to create your LLC. They state certain information about your business. Once the document is filed with the secretary of state, it legally creates your business as an LLC in North Carolina. 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

Here at Incfile we automatically create and file your Articles of Organization on your behalf when you start your business with us. You only need to file your articles once. There is a fee levied by the secretary of state of North Carolina to cover your filing, which is currently $125.

North Carolina Professional LLCs

In North Carolina, certain professions can form “Professional LLCs.” These are companies providing defined, professional services, and they typically need to be specially licensed. In North Carolina, businesses engaged in the following activities are considered professional service organizations and must be properly licensed and regulated.

  • Architects
  • Attorneys
  • Public Accountants
  • Doctors and others who practice medicine
  • Dentists
  • Optometrists
  • Osteopaths
  • Nurses
  • Veterinarians
  • Podiatrists
  • Psychologists
  • Marriage and Family Therapists
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Speech and Language Pathologists and Audiologists
  • Professional Counselors
  • Engineers
  • Land Surveyors
  • Landscape Architects
  • Social workers
  • Geologists
  • Foresters

Further information is available from the North Carolina Secretary of State website.

Incfile provides a complete Business License Research Package that will tell you all of the licenses and permits necessary for your new professional LLC.

Business Licenses for Your North Carolina LLC

Depending on the type of North Carolina business you’re running, you will need to obtain various business licenses and permits. These are not required to form your LLC, but it’s important to know which permits and licenses are required for your business to operate in compliance for your business jurisdiction.

A Business Permit or License From Your City

Various cities in North Carolina have slightly different rules and fees for permits and licenses. Check with your local North Carolina city administration to see what their rules are. You will need a separate permit or license for each city your North Carolina LLC operates in.

Additional business permits and licenses

Depending on the type of business you are running, you may need to get additional permits and licenses from the city, county or state of North Carolina.

Call Business Link NC at 1-800-228-8443 to find out about business licenses, occupational licenses, environmental permits and zoning requirements for your specific type of business. The federal government may also require you to get certain licenses or permits; the SBA has a comprehensive list of North Carolina license permits. How often you need to file permits varies depending on the permit type.

North Carolina has over 700 regulatory, state-issued, and occupational licenses and permits. If you are starting a business that might require an occupational license, contact your occupational board.

Federal Licenses and Permits

Depending on the type of North Carolina business you are running, you may need to get licenses and permits from the federal government and various national agencies. You can find a complete list on the U.S. Small Business Administration website.

Incfile Business License Research Package

You will need to pay licensing and permit fees on a regular basis depending on the type of business you are operating and where you are located. These do vary from city to city and industry to industry. If you don’t want to do the legwork yourself, we provide a complete Business License Research Package that will tell you all of the licenses and permits for your new LLC. It includes:

  • A comprehensive package of all the licenses, permits and tax registrations required for your business
  • The application forms to file with the appropriate licensing authorities
  • Your customized Business License Research Package will be emailed to you within two days of your company being filed by the state
  • Remember that operating your business without the required licenses can expose you to risks and fines from state and local governments

North Carolina Tax Registration

You may need to file for various types of tax registration including sales and use tax, re-employment tax and other types of tax. You can find full details on the North Carolina Department of Revenue website where you can register, file and pay taxes electronically.

Operating Agreement for Your North Carolina LLC

Setting up an LLC is easy, but actively managing one can be more complex. An operating agreement defines how your business works and ensures all the founders, owners, members or managers have a common understanding. An operating agreement normally covers areas including:

  • Legal standing: Declares the legal standing of your LLC, that it was formed in North Carolina and includes dates, formation details and other important legal information.
  • LLC ownership: States how ownership of the business is split between members. This influences how the business is run, voting rights and several other areas.
  • Ownership percentages: Defines the amount each member has invested and the percentage of ownership of each North Carolina LLC member.
  • LLC management type: States whether your LLC will be managed by managers (people the owners appoint) or its members (owners).
  • Management relationships: Declares the relationship between the members and the managers of your North Carolina LLC including the roles, rights and responsibilities of each.
  • Voting powers and decision authority: States how high-level decisions will be presented, discussed and acted on, including the voting rights of each LLC member.
  • LLC rules: Defines the rules, procedures and policies to follow for adding, removing, amending and making other changes to members and managers. This includes moving ownership between members.
  • Profit and loss allocation: How profits or losses will be split and allocated between North Carolina LLC members.

You are not required by North Carolina state or federal law to have an operating agreement for your LLC, but we recommend one for several reasons. An operating agreement:

  • Strengthens your legal standing as an LLC and adds credibility for your organization
  • Clearly states how your business will operate, so there’s no confusion or ambiguity
  • Reduces misunderstandings and disagreements between LLC members, which is important for a harmonious business
  • Allows you to create your own rules for your LLC, rather than being subject to the default North Carolina state rules for an LLC
  • Reduces the need for every member of an LLC to approve and sign off on every decision

Your operating agreement only needs to be created once and will need to be updated if significant changes are needed.

Annual Report for your North Carolina LLC

You must file an Annual Report with the North Carolina Secretary of State by May 1 of each year. The cost is currently $200. Your annual report is due by the fifteenth day of the fourth month following the close of your business’s fiscal year.

As you can see, there are several forms and permits you need to conduct business, both initially and on an annual basis. Here at Incfile, we can file your Annual Report on your behalf.

Certificate of Good Standing for Your North Carolina LLC

You may need a “Certificate of Good Standing” for certain business-related services like opening a bank account. You can order one from us for just $45.

Ready to Start your North Carolina LLC?

Incfile provides a cost-effective service to help you create your North Carolina LLC. We 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.

Only $49 + State Fee To Launch Your Business

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What are the fees and requirements to form a business in North Carolina?

Filing Time and Price

The state charges this amount to file a new business entity. This fee goes directly to the Secretary of State.

State Fee State Filing Time Expedited Filing Time
$127 3 Weeks 8 Business Days

Compliance Requirements

This report is mandatory and must be filed within the specified time frame in order for the entity to remain in good standing with the state. Failure to file this report can lead to the company being revoked or administratively dissolved.

Annual Report

Frequency: Annually

Due Date: April 15th

Filing Fee: $200

Learn more about starting a business in North Carolina

Additional resources, guides, and articles for better decision making.

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