A North Carolina Registered Agent provides various services, such as accepting formal documents and correspondence from the North Carolina Secretary of State (NC SOS).

Your LLC must have a Registered Agent at all times. You appoint one when you first start your business. You can also replace your existing North Carolina Registered Agent at a later date, provided there is a smooth transition between the old and new agents.

North Carolina Registered Agent Requirements

  • Every LLC, both foreign and domestic, must have a Registered Agent with a registered office within the State of North Carolina at all times.
  • The Registered Office must be in the State of North Carolina and located at a street address (a P.O. Box only is not acceptable).
  • The Registered Agent can be a domestic or foreign (licensed to conduct business in the state) artificial legal entity (corporation, LLC, LP or LLP) or a natural person.
  • The Registered Agent must be available in person to sign for any correspondence during normal business hours.
  • If the Registered Agent is a company, they must be authorized to conduct business in North Carolina.
  • If the Registered Agent is a person, they must live in North Carolina.

Note that the address for your North Carolina Registered Agent does not need to be the same as your business address. And instead of a physical address, you can use a North Carolina virtual mailbox for your business.

Important: A virtual mailbox is not a replacement for a Registered Agent. They perform entirely different functions and per state law, you must have a Registered Agent.

What a North Carolina Registered Agent Does

A Registered Agent’s main function is to accept official documentation and correspondence.

This includes:

  • State and federal government correspondence and notices
  • Service of process notices (e.g., if your LLC is sued or required to appear in court)
  • Correspondence from the NC SOS
  • Tax forms and requests to complete permits, company filings and reports

Having a Registered Agent also provides proof to the state that your business exists.

Incfile Provides Free NC Registered Agent Services for the First Year

Incfile provides complete North Carolina Registered Agent service for any LLC that’s formed in the state. Even better, if you form your LLC through Incfile, your Registered Agent is completely free for the first year and only $119 a year after that.

Incfile is authorized to conduct business in North Carolina and can legally act as your Registered Agent. Here’s what our Registered Agent service provides:

An always-available North Carolina Registered Agent who can receive correspondence, documents and legal proceedings on your LLC’s behalf

Automatic forwarding of all legal correspondence, documentation and information directly to you

Email notification whenever we receive documents for your business

A digital dashboard where you can access, store and retrieve any information we’ve received for your business

Appointing a Registered Agent for Your LLC

When you first form your LLC, you must appoint a Registered Agent. You can change it at any point after that. Here’s how.

Assign a Registered Agent When You Form Your LLC

Your business needs to have a Registered Agent as soon as it’s formed. You can do this in one of two ways:

1
File Articles of Organization with the NC SOS

When you formally create your business, include details of your Registered Agent in your Articles of Organization.

2
Get a Free Registered Agent When You Form Your LLC with Incfile

Establish your business through us, and you’ll get a free year of our Registered Agent Service. We’ll also complete and file your Articles of Organization for you with the information that you provide.

Assign a Different Registered Agent After Formation

You can also assign someone else to be your North Carolina Registered Agent after you’ve formed your LLC. There are a couple of ways to achieve this.

1
Choose a New Registered Agent Service and File a Form with the NC SOS

Once you’ve chosen a new Registered Agent, you can complete the Statement of Change of Registered Office and/or Agent form that’s available on the NC SOS website. Once you’ve filled it out, send it to the Secretary of State and they’ll update your records. There's a filing fee of $5.00.

2
Sign up for Incfile’s Registered Agent Service and We’ll File the Change on Your Behalf

When you use our Registered Agent service, we'll take care of all the form filling and filing for you. We’ll collect pertinent information about your business, complete the form and send it to the NC SOS. We'll notify you when we officially become your Registered Agent.

North Carolina Registered Agent Search

In some situations, you might want to know the name of the Registered Agent that represents another LLC in North Carolina. If you do, you can search the NC SOS business database.

If you're unable to find the Registered Agent information there, you can request it from the Secretary of State.

What Happens If You Don’t Have a Registered Agent?

If you don’t assign or provide details of a Registered Agent to the Secretary of State, there are several possible ramifications, including:

  • Falling out of good standing with the NC SOS. The state may revoke your right to do business if you don’t respond to certain correspondence (such as a request for your annual report).
  • Getting sued or served and not knowing about it. You could lose to a default judgment in your absence if your LLC is sued and you don’t respond.
  • Losing your status as an LLC in North Carolina. A Registered Agent is evidence to the state that your business exists. Without it, you could lose your business entity protections and your LLC may be dissolved.

Acting as Your Own Registered Agent

If you have an address in the state, you can be the Registered Agent for your North Carolina LLC. We don’t recommend this as there may be some risks:

  • The Registered Agent’s name and address are part of the public record and available through the NC SOS website. If you prefer to keep your name and address private, you should use a Registered Agent service.
  • The Registered Agent must have a physical street address in North Carolina. If you’re forming an LLC outside the state, you’ll need to use an in-state Registered Agent.
  • Someone must always be available during business hours at the North Carolina address to sign for important documents.
  • If you change your business address or move out of state, you need to file additional documentation with the Secretary of State for the new address. This won't be necessary if you use a Registered Agent service, making a move or address change much simpler.

Other Useful Resources

FAQs About North Carolina Registered Agents

Do I Need to Appoint a North Carolina Registered Agent?

Yes. All LLCs in North Carolina are required to have a Registered Agent. This is mandated by the NC SOS You'll find more information above.

When Should I Assign a Registered Agent?

You must assign an agent when you start your North Carolina business with the NC SOS. You can also change your agent afterward by filing the correct form. If you form your business through Incfile, we'll file all necessary forms on your behalf. You'll find more details above.

Can I Be My Own Registered Agent?

Yes, but we don’t recommend it for the reasons listed above.

Does the Registered Agent for my North Carolina–Based LLC Need to Have an Address in North Carolina?

Yes. Additionally, if it's a business providing Registered Agent services, it must be legally able to conduct business in your state. You'll find more information above.

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