How to Form a North Carolina LLC

How to Use this Guide

To form an LLC 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 LLC formation.
  • Rocket Lawyer ($99 + state fee) for LLC formation & optional attorney advice.
  • Harbor Compliance ($399 + state fee) for top-to-bottom LLC formation & compliance.
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, set up a free consultation.


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 your LLC name should contain the words like ‘Limited Liability Company’ or ‘Limited Company.’ Abbreviations for these words like ‘L.C.’ or ‘L.L.C.’ are also acceptable.

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

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 through the U.S. Patent Office.


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 and find a registered agent. You can hire a 3rd party professional and expect to pay up to $160/year, or get a NC Registered Agent free of charge when you start an LLC through IncFile. They handle this along with much more depending on your startup package.


Register an LLC

Download and file the Articles of Organization (Form L-01) with the NC Sec. of State’s Office through mail or Online Filing System only when you’re ready. If you’re going to reserve the name do that BEFORE filing the articles which declare the basics of your LLC for the public record:

  • LLC name and address (if you have a principal location),
  • Complete name of North Carolina registered agent and address,
  • Hours of operation and nature of business.
  • Complete name and address of signatories in the articles.

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

Filing Fee: $125


Get an EIN for Your LLC

Your EIN, or FEIN, which stands for Federal Employer Identification Number is almost exactly like a social security number but for businesses.

State and federal agencies use it to track your business activity so it’s essential. You’ll use it to open business bank accounts and legally hire employees among other things.

Action Step: Apply for your EIN on the IRS website. To get your free EIN number, you can print out and mail in This IRS Form or apply online using the IRS Website.


Best Business Bank Account

Here we go, now you get to decide where to set up your brand’s financial groundwork. 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. 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 data streams and bank accounts of any kind.

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


Create an Operating Agreement

Do you have to have one of these in your brand’s “important documents” folder? No, not by law anyway, but it’s a good professional move to have one. Why? Because not only do they put down on paper the basic rules of operation, but managerial/owner duties and financial responsibilities as well, which includes any profit sharing, ownership percentages, etc.

This adds layers of protection for everyone involved, including your new company’s LLC status, but it also trumps default North Carolina state rules which take over if you don’t have this document in place.

TIP: If you are forming a multi-member LLC, consider seeking legal guidance regarding a buy sell agreement.

Action Step: Draft or seek assistance with drafting the operating agreement. To get started, consider checking out an online template which you can customize your own Operating Agreement.


Small Business Taxes

Complying with state taxes and obtaining business permits and licenses are mandatory requirements to start a North Carolina LLC. So depending on the nature of your business, how many employees, where you’re located and a number of other things it’ll either be a cake walk or take some time. If there are legal questions, consult your attorney.

Action Steps:

  1. Check on and comply with licensing and permit requirements.
  2. Check on and comply with tax requirements.

Start by bookmarking the Charlotte district office of the Small Business Administration and the state’s Small Biz Development Center because they’re likely going to be go-to sources. Also, consider professional Business License Research packages that can quickly source all needed documents for you.

Need Help Forming Your LLC?

If you’d like help forming an LLC, here are two great options:

IncFile ($49 + state fees) is ideal if you’re on a budget but refuse to sacrifice quality. However if you’d like to have access to an attorney past LLC formation, Rocket Lawyer ($99 + state fees) is the best option.

Visit IncFile Or Visit Rocket Lawyer

Note that this article on how to form an LLC in North Carolina 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 an LLC in North Carolina or business in general, please consult with a lawyer or other accredited professional.

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