Starting an LLC in North Carolina is Easy
You can form a North Carolina LLC online by registering the Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State. The cost to start an LLC in North Carolina is $125.
Follow our How to Start an LLC in North Carolina guide below to get started.
Step 1: Create A Name For Your North Carolina LLC
Before you register your LLC, you'll need to come up with a name. Your business name needs to be catchy for branding purposes and legitimate for legal purposes.
We go into depth on this topic in our LLC naming guide. We’ll go over the basics below.
Naming Your LLC
First, brainstorm some possibilities. Use our LLC name generator to get the ideas flowing.
Next, make sure your name meets North Carolina guidelines:
- it contains the words limited liability company, limited company, or the abbreviation LLC or L.L.C.
- it doesn't contain restricted words or phrases (these often include words like bank, attorney, and university) without approval
- it's distinguishable from any other entity or trade name registered in North Carolina
- full list of North Carolina naming guidelines
Next, do a North Carolina LLC name search with the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to find out if your name is available in North Carolina.
If your business name is available and meets guidelines, you’ll be able to register it when you file your North Carolina Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State.
Is the URL available? Before you commit 100% to a name, check to see if there’s a good web domain available.
We recommend buying your domain right away because even if launching a business website isn’t on your radar right now, it will be soon.
Step 2: Appoint A North Carolina Registered Agent
When you file your Articles of Organization, you'll need to list a registered agent.
A registered agent's job is to accept legal documents like service of process and tax notices for your LLC.
Your registered agent can be a person or a registered agent service. You can act as your own registered agent, but many business owners choose to use a registered agent service.
Here are a few things to think about before you decide to act as your own registered agent:
- You’ll need to be available during normal (9 am - 5 pm) business hours at the address you provide
- If you run your business from home, you’ll have to make your personal address public
- You could be served with a lawsuit in front of your family or coworkers
Step 3: File the North Carolina Articles Of Organization
It’s time to officially form your LLC by filing your Articles of Organization with the North Carolina Secretary of State.
Recommended: Now is a good time to decide if your LLC will be member-managed vs manager-managed.
You'll need to know the following information to complete each Article:
- Entity Name and Address
- Registered Agent Name and Registered Office Address
- Effective Date
For more detailed help with completing the form, visit our North Carolina Articles of Organization guide.
Mail Your Articles of Organization:
Send the form and payment (payable to the Secretary of State) to:
The Secretary of State Business Registration Division
P.O. Box 29622
Raleigh, NC 27626
How long does it take to get an LLC approved? Processing time is 2 weeks, but you can expedite this for an additional fee.
Step 4 : Create A North Carolina LLC Operating Agreement
Creating a North Carolina LLC operating agreement is the only way for you and your members to fully define your roles and lock down your LLC’s management and ownership structure. Having this document in place will also give you all something to return to if a dispute or lawsuit arises.
Your operating agreement should outline the following:
- each member’s responsibilities
- how new members will be admitted
- how existing members may transfer or terminate their membership
- how profits and dividends are to be distributed
From there, you can add as many provisions as you want, provided they are not in conflict with North Carolina business law. Learn more about Operating Agreements in North Carolina.
To learn more, read our What Is an LLC Operating Agreement guide. You can also download a template or create a custom Free Operating Agreement using our tool on How to Start an LLC. No credit card required, ever.
Step 5: Get an EIN
An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is like a Social Security number (SSN) for your company. The IRS and the state of North Carolina will use this number to track your business activity.
Your EIN will come in handy when it’s time to:
- Open a business bank account
- File Federal and State taxes
- Hire employees
The best way to get an EIN for your LLC in North Carolina is by using the free online application on the IRS website.
Read our Get an EIN guide for instructions.
Steps After Forming an LLC
After forming your LLC, it's important to:
- Open a Business Bank Account. A business bank account legally separates personal finances from business finances. This separation is required to maintain your LLC's corporate veil (your limited liability protection).
- Research North Carolina Business Licenses and Permits. For help, visit our How to Get a North Carolina Business License guide. There are also business license services that can help.
- File Your North Carolina LLC Annual Report. File online with the North Carolina Secretary of State by April 15th each year.