How to Start an LLC in North Carolina
Here are the 6 steps to start a limited liability company (LLC) in North Carolina
For more information on how to form an LLC in any state, see the article How to Form an LLC.
Find out how to form a North Carolina LLC for yourself
Learn about North Carolina LLC formation, including information on Registered Agents, naming rules, business licenses, and more.
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Creating an LLC in North Carolina
A limited liability company (LLC) offers many benefits to small businesses, including liability protection and tax advantages.
A Limited Liability Company LLC must be formed in North Carolina by filing a Certificate of Formation with the North Carolina Secretary of State and paying the $125 filing fee.
However, you’ll first need to choose a name and registered agent for your North Carolina LLC. The formation of an LLC may take up to 7-10 business days if you file online (or 3-4 weeks if you file by mail).
An LLC can be easily formed in North Carolina. Our step-by-step guide on How to Start an LLC in North Carolina will help you get started today Find out more about LLCs and their benefits in our What is an LLC guide.
Step 1. Choose a Name for Your LLC North Carolina
Creating an LLC in North Carolina requires you to choose a business name before you can file a Certificate of Formation. Be sure that your business name complies with the North Carolina naming requirements and can be searched by potential customers.
- North Carolina law requires an LLC name to contain the words “Limited Liability Company” or “Limited Company,” or the abbreviations “Ltd.,” “LLC,” or “LC.” “Limited” may be abbreviated as “Ltd.” or “LTD,” and “Company” as “Co.”
- It is not acceptable for your North Carolina LLC to have words associated with a government agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.).
- You should avoid using words or abbreviations that may make your LLC North Carolina appear to be a different type of entity, such as “LP” or “corporation”.
- There may be additional documentation and licensure paperwork required for certain restricted words (bank, lawyer, attorney, credit union, etc.).
- Check the state’s business name database to ensure the name you want is not already taken(including businesses no longer in operation)
See a complete list of North Carolina’ naming rules here.
Check URL availability: You are likely to need a web page even if you don’t think you do. Buying your domain name now will at least give you the option of having one in the future. It’s a good idea to check the URL availability before finalizing your North Carolina LLC name.
North Carolina allows you to register up to five different DBA names. The name of the person or company that is operating under the DBA name. This is your name or the name of your corporation, partnership, or LLC.
By filing an Application to Reserve a Business Entity Name with the North Carolina Secretary of State, you can reserve a name for 120 days. The application must be sent through the mail. The cost of filing is $30.
An LLC stands for a Limited Liability Company. A simple business structure that is more flexible and offers many of the same benefits as a traditional corporation. For more information, see "What is a Limited Liability Company?".
Step 2: Appoint Your Registered Agent in North Carolina
Your next step in forming an LLC in North Carolina is to choose a Registered Agent, an individual or company authorized to receive legal and state mail on your behalf.
All North Carolina LLCs must have a registered agent. Please include your registered agent’s name and address on your Certificate of Formation.
Registered Agent Requirements in North Carolina
To comply with North Carolina law, your LLC’s registered agent must be a resident or business entity that maintains a physical address in North Carolina. The “registered address” cannot be a P.O. box. It must be a real physical address that can be visited in person.
Learn more about North Carolina Registered Agents by reading our full guide.
A Registered Agent must be a North Carolina resident or a corporation authorised to do business in North Carolina, such as a registered agent service. You have the option of electing someone from your company, including yourself.
The North Carolina Secretary of State website allows you to fill out and submit a Statement of Change of Registered Office and/or Registered Agent form online.
Are You looking for a Registered Agent?
Wise Business Plans offers a free year of registered agent service when forming an LLC in North Carolina.
Step 3.Prepare and File Certificate of Formation
To create a North Carolina LLC, you will need to file Form L-01 – Articles of Organization with the North Carolina Division of Corporations. You may apply online, by mail, or in person.
When filing an LLC in North Carolina online, you have two options:
For an additional $100, 24-hour processing is available.
For an additional $200, same-day processing is available (must be received by noon).
You will receive a duplicate form back from the state once it receives your documents.
If you choose one of our business formation services, we can handle this step for you.
The following information is typically required to create a Certificate of Formation:
- Your LLC name and principal place of business.
- Name, address, and signature of the LLC’s registered agent
- Decide whether your North Carolina LLC will be member-managed or manager-managed. Indicate the names and addresses of each member and manager.
- The reason for forming the LLC in North Carolina.
- Name and address of the LLC’s organizer.
- The effective date of the certificate,
- The person forming the LLC must sign the Certificate.
Foreign LLCs: LLCs that are based in another state but intend to conduct business in North Carolina must complete a form called the Qualification of Foreign LLC.
The cost of forming a foreign LLC in North Carolina is $250. An Application for Certificate of Authority for Limited Liability Company can be used to register a foreign LLC in North Carolina (Form L-09).
Two Ways to File the Certificate of Formation
The 1st option is:
Online filing of Form L-01 with the North Carolina Secretary of State
The 2nd option is:
File by Mail or via PDF Upload
There is a state filing fee of $125 payable to the North Carolina Department of State. (nonrefundable)
Address to Mail
The Secretary of State
Business Registration Division
P.O. Box 29622
Raleigh, NC 27626
An LLC managed by its members (owners) assumes all daily responsibilities. LLCs managed by managers elected by their members are known as manager-managed LLCs. The manager of your LLC will be able to perform a wide range of tasks, from hiring staff to opening bank accounts.
A domestic LLC is a company that is registered as an LLC in North Carolina. A foreign LLC is a type of entity that has a physical presence in another state.
Step 4. Get a Certificate From the State
Upon filing your Certificate of Formation, the secretary of state will review it. As soon as the Certificate of Formation is approved, the LLC becomes a legal entity.
Step 5. Write an North Carolina LLC Operating Agreement
An operating agreement is a legally-binding document that sets out how your LLC will operate, from the voting process to mergers.
Operating agreements are not required in North Carolina, but they are an essential part of your business.
Written operating agreements are helpful for different reasons, including resolving disputes over financial agreements and other potential litigation.
The LLC declaration can prove that your LLC is a separate entity, which can help preserve your limited liability.
An operating agreement ensures that all business owners are on the same page and reduces the possibility of future conflict.
How should an operating agreement be drafted?
The operating agreement should detail the LLC’s overall business purpose and other important matters, such as how the company will be taxed and how new members will be accepted. Legal agreements can clarify several important concerns, such as:
- Who makes decisions for the company, especially those who decide if partners disagree.
- Who is responsible for different aspects of the business as well as for strategic decisions.
- If a partner leaves the company, what will happen to their ownership interests in the corporation.
- The members and their contributions
- How profits and losses will be divided
- Procedures for admitting new members and removing outgoing members
In North Carolina, you can include just about anything in your operating agreement, as long as it doesn’t violate the state law or the Certificate of Formation.
A single-member LLC operating agreement in North Carolina is a legal document that, once created, establishes a clear separation between the owner and the business itself. This state does not require members to file this document in order to be able to conduct business in the state.
Operating agreements are not required in North Carolina, but they are highly recommended. An operating agreement will help protect your limited liability status, prevent financial and managerial misunderstandings, and ensure that you, not state law, determine the rules that govern your business.
Step 6. Get an EIN for Your North Carolina LLC
Basically, an employer identification number (EIN) is a social security number for your LLC in North Carolina.
To identify your LLC for tax purposes, the Internal Revenue Service assigns a nine-digit Employer Identification Number (EIN). You can apply for your EIN either by mail or online.
An EIN is used for the following purposes:
- Manage state and federal taxes
- Create a business bank account
- Hire employees
Get an EIN Number in North Carolina
Getting an EIN number is easy and free, There are two ways to get an EIN number in North Carolina.
The 1st option is:
Apply online for an EIN from the IRS
The 2nd option is:
Get an EIN by Mail or Fax
Address to Mail
Internal Revenue Service
Attn: EIN Operation
Cincinnati, OH 45999
Yes, An EIN is required for any LLC with employees or more than one member. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires this.
When you apply for an EIN, you will be informed of the various tax classification options available to you. The default tax status is chosen by the majority of LLCs.
Some LLCs, on the other hand, can reduce their federal tax liability by electing the S corporation (S corp) status.
An EIN can be obtained without an SSN. Fill out IRS Form SS-4 and leave section 7b blank. Call the IRS at (267) 941-1099 to complete your application.
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What to do After Forming Your North Carolina LLC
Keep your personal and business assets separate
Your personal assets (such as your home, car, and other valuables) may be at risk when your North Carolina LLC is sued if they are mixed with your business accounts.
Here are some steps you can take to protect your LLC in North Carolina:
1. Create a Business Plan:
If you have decided that a North Carolina LLC will be a good choice for your business in North Carolina, your next step is to create a business plan (although it is not required), so that you have a roadmap for what you will do and how you will accomplish it.
Free: Business Plans Examples
Do you need help creating a business plan? Check out these six free, proven business plan examples from different industries to help you write your own.
2. Open a Bank Account
As soon as your LLC is officially formed, you should open a business bank account. Why? Keeping separate bank accounts will help you maintain the legal distinction between the LLC and you (the owner).
Because LLCs are limited liability companies, creditors and litigants can’t take your assets.
It is essential for small business owners to partner with the right bank.
Recommended: Check out our business bank account page to learn which banks offer the best business check accounts, ATM access, interest-bearing accounts, and online and mobile banking options for businesses.
3. Obtaining a business credit card:
- Allows you to separate personal and business expenses.
- Develops your company’s credit history, which can be helpful to raise capital (e.g., small business loans) later.
4. Hiring a business accountant:
- It prevents your business from overpaying taxes while preventing penalties, fines, and other costly tax mistakes.
- Gives you more time to focus on your growing business by simplifying bookkeeping and payroll.
- Manage your business’s funding more effectively. Find out where extra profit or loss can be made
Getting Business Insurance for Your LLC
You can manage risks and grow your LLC with business insurance. Here are the most common types:
- General liability insurance protects your business from lawsuits. Most small businesses purchase general liability coverage.
- Professional liability insurance protects professionals and businesses from claims of negligence from their clients or customers. Liability insurance typically covers negligence, copyright infringement, personal injury, and more.
- Workers’ compensation insurance: Covers illnesses, injuries, and deaths resulting from a worker’s work.
Create Your Business Website
A website is an important step in legitimizing your business. It is essential for all businesses in north carolina. You are missing out on a large percentage of potential customers and revenue if you don’t have a website, even if your business is too small or in an offline industry.
More than 90% of consumers begin their search for products and services online. If you don’t have a website that is ready to welcome your customers, then they will simply find your competitors.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- Every respectable firm has a website. When it comes to getting your firm online, size or sector isn’t a concern.
- Creating a basic website has never been easier, thanks to website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder. To design a website, you don’t need to hire a web designer or developer.
Recommended: If you want to enhance your conversion rates and maximize revenue in order to help expand your business and meet objectives, you should always hire a professional business website design company to build your business website.
Wise Business Plans is a leading web design company, We have created over 2000 + websites across 20 countries for our clients but we are physically based in 7 major cities in the United States including Alabama web design, Pennsylvania, Las Vegas, Colorado Springs, Iowa, Michigan and San Diego.
North Carolina LLC FAQs
The North Carolina Secretary of State charges $125 for filing Articles of Organization. In order to reserve your LLC name prior to filing the articles of organization, you will need to file a name reservation application for $30.
If you file online, you can get an LLC in North Carolina in 7-10 business days (or 3-4 weeks if you file by mail). If you need your North Carolina LLC processing faster, you can pay for expedited services.
To dissolve a North Carolina LLC, submit form L-07, Articles of Dissolution of Limited Liability Company, to the North Carolina Secretary of State's Corporations Division (SOS).
You must file form L-17, Limited Liability Company Amendment of Articles of Organization, with the North Carolina Secretary of State, Corporations Division SOS, to amend a North Carolina LLC's articles of organisation. The amendment can be submitted by mail, in person, or online.