How to Start an LLC in North Carolina

L L C members happy after starting an L L C in North Carolina

LLCs are the most popular structure for small businesses in North Carolina. That's because starting and running a limited liability company (LLC) is very simple and offers important benefits.

LLCs can protect your personal assets (car, house, savings) if something happens to your business. LLCs also offer credibility and options to save on taxes.

It’s easy to form an LLC in North Carolina online yourself. Just follow these steps:

  1. Name Your LLC
  2. Choose a Registered Agent
  3. File the NC Articles of Organization
  4. Create an LLC Operating Agreement
  5. Get an EIN


Or, you can use an online LLC service to form an LLC:


four point seven out of five stars ZenBusiness ($39 + State Fees)

Three out of Five Stars LegalZoom ($149 + State Fees)

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.

Steps to form an L L C in North Carolina

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.

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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

Recommended: Most registered agent services offer a year of registered agent service free when you form an LLC with them. 

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.

You can file online with the Secretary of State or fill out a hard copy of North Carolina Form L-01 and mail it in or upload it as a pdf to the Secretary of State. The filing fee is $125. 

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:

  1. Entity Name and Address
  2. Organizers
  3. Registered Agent Name and Registered Office Address
  4. 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:

Need Help Forming an LLC?

Read our Best LLC Services review to learn more about pricing and packages.

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