How to Form a North Carolina Corporation

How to Use this Guide

To form a Corporation in North Carolina, use the step-by-step guide below or hire a professional service to do it for you:

  • IncFile ($49 + state fee) for basic & quick incorporation.
  • LegalZoom ($149 + state fee) for the most popular incorporation service.
Kayla Price
This Guide is Attorney Approved

Kayla Price is a licensed North Carolina attorney in business law, nonprofit law & more.

If you'd like a legal advisor on your side, call (919) 307-5874.

Step 1) Verify & Secure Brand Name

Choose a Business Name

To secure and register your brand name it must be unique, not too similar to another registered name in North Carolina, and shouldn’t contain any restricted wording. Keep in mind the name you choose should contain the words “Corporation”, “Incorporated”, “Company”,  or “Limited.” Abbreviations like, “Corp.”, “Inc.”, “Co.” or “Ltd.” are also acceptable.

Action Steps:

  1. Conduct a free Business Entity Search through the Secretary of State’s Office.
  2. To check, If there are potential trademark issues, conduct another quick search using the TESS System through the U.S. Patent Office.

TIP: If needed, you can file an Application to Reserve a Business Entity Name that’s good for a decade.

Quick Note: Before you commit 100% to a name, you may also want to check that there’s a decent URL available for your business. Use GoDaddy to search your options. If there’s a quality domain name for purchase, we advise buying it right away. Even if launching a business website isn’t on your radar right now, it’s going to be soon, and you might as well nail down a domain name that’ll make it easy for customers to find you!


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Step 2) Appoint A Registered Agent

Choose a Registered Agent

A North Carolina registered agent is a major player who receives and helps to handle/process all important documents on behalf of your brand like state filings, legal notices, tax forms, etc. Some basic requirements include:

  • Must be a natural citizen of the state of North Carolina,
  • Must have a street address or office address in North Carolina (P.O. box isn’t considered a street address),
  • Must be available during business hours (9am to 5pm) Mondays-Fridays.

Action Step: Appoint or find a registered agent. You can hire a 3rd party professional and expect to pay up to $160/year, or get a registered agent free of charge when incorporating through IncFile. They handle this along with so much more depending on your startup package.

Step 3) File Articles Of Incorporation

Register an LLC

To legally form your North Carolina Corporation, you need to file your Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State. Some of the information that you may need to file ahead of time include the following:

  • Corporate name and address,
  • Name and address of registered agent,
  • Number of shares the corporation is authorized to issue,
  • Name and address of every incorporator,
  • Effective date of your Articles of Incorporation.

Action Step: File your Articles of Incorporation with the North Carolina Secretary of State.

Step 4) Get A Corporate Records Book

File Annual Reports & Publication Requirements

Think of this as the hard copy record book where all critical corporate documents are kept like the Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, meeting minutes, stock certificate ledger, stock certificates, stock certificate stubs, stock transfer documents, etc.

It’s the ultimate company binder! They’re very common and while not necessary having one is highly recommended for all serious business entities.

Action Step: Find or create a corporate records book. You can find them at nearby office supply stores, but we’re huge fans of Corporate Kits which include gorgeous records books/binders for as little as $99.

Step 5) Elect Director, Meet, Discuss Bylaws

Hold a Meeting with Your Board of Directors

Appoint at least 1 initial Director who among other things will oversee the North Carolina corporation until the first shareholder meeting where new directors will be voted in. Prepare an “Incorporator Statement” with complete names and addresses of each director and keep it in your records book. Once elected, an initial meeting should:

  • Appoint officers & discuss/create Corporate Bylaws.
  • Choose a bank & approve the issuance of stock certificates.
  • Agree on corporate seal and adopt official stock certificate form.
  • Approve s-corp (opt.). Record Minutes of Meeting, have directors sign, then add to records book.

Step 6) Open A Business Bank Account

Best Business Bank Account

As discussed in your initial meeting, now’s the time to set up your brand’s financial groundwork (or have your CFO do it). And this isn’t personal banking, so if you’re new to this then shop around. Look at an assortment of local, state, and national banks as well as credit unions. There’s plenty of great deals, perks, incentives and kickbacks to be leveraged.

The other big important thing to remember is to completely separate your brand’s financials from other data streams and bank accounts of any kind.

Action Step: Open the business bank account. Here’s a quick breakdown article of Business Checking Accounts from some of the biggest banks to begin the research process.

Step 7) Handle Taxation & Licensing/Permits

Business Licenses

When starting a business, you’re required to be 100% compliant with all relevant local/state/federal agencies. Ideally you should have an attorney or at least dedicate time to knocking this out yourself and doing the homework. That said, here are four resources to get started:

  1. Get a free EIN, or Employer Identification Number, quickly through the IRS website.
  2. Bookmark the Charlotte Small Business Administration and the state’s Biz-Dev Center.
  3. To form an S-Corp, submit Form 2553 with the IRS and be sure all board of directors have signed it.
  4. Consider professional Business License Research packages that handle the legwork for you.

Need Help Incorporating?

Use one of these reliable incorporation services & have all paperwork handled on your behalf. Each service offers a different level of features and pricing but all take care of incorporation. No matter which you choose, you’ll be in good hands.

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  • 10,000+ Businesses Formed

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Note that this North Carolina incorporation guide isn’t a legal document or legal advice. It’s for informational purposes and the information above is subject to change. For specific legal questions regarding how to form a North Carolina Corporation, please consult with an attorney. We recommend K. N. Price Law.