North Carolina Incorporation Services
To start a corporation in North Carolina, you must file Articles of Incorporation with the Business Registration Division. You can file the document online or by mail. The Articles of Incorporation cost $125 to file. Once filed with the state, this document formally creates your North Carolina corporation. However, to actually ready the corporation to do business, you must complete several additional steps.
Starting a North Carolina Corporation Guide:
North Carolina Corporation Filing Options
Skip the state fees! Get a North Carolina corporation and the best of our services today. Includes EIN, hassle-free maintenance, business address & mail forwarding, Privacy by Default®, local Corporate Guide® service, and everything you need to operate at full capacity.
Do It Yourself
Sign up for a free account and use our online tools to start your North Carolina corporation today. Includes North Carolina incorporation and maintenance walkthrough and company document creation. All for free.
Pay in Full
Includes North Carolina corporation, business address & free mail forwarding, Privacy by Default®, lifetime support from local Corporate Guides® and a year of registered agent service.
North Carolina Articles of Incorporation Requirements
To form a North Carolina corporation, you must complete and file the Articles of Incorporation with the Business Registration Division. See the document below and click on any number to see what information is required in the corresponding section.
Compliance with N.C. Gen Stat § 84-2.2:
An attorney licensed to practice law in the State of North Carolina has reviewed the blank template offered on our website to North Carolina consumers, including each and every part thereof that may appear in the completed document. The name and address of the reviewing attorney is kept on file by Northwest Registered Agent Service, Inc and will be provided to the consumer upon request.
The forms or templates provided by Northwest Registered Agent Service, Inc (“Northwest”) are not a substitute for the advice or services of an attorney.
Northwest does not disclaim any warranties or liability and does not limit the recovery of damages or other remedies by the consumer. Northwest does not require the consumer to agree to jurisdiction or venue in any state other than North Carolina for the resolution of disputes between the provider and the consumer.
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Your name must include “Corporation,” “Company,” “Limited,” “Incorporation” or an abbreviation for one of these words. Tip: Most corporations keep it short and sweet with “Corp” or “Inc.”
List the number of shares you wish to create. You must create at least one. If you have multiple classes or series of shares, you’ll need to include an attachment explaining the rights and limitations of each share type.
List either an individual North Carolina resident (such as yourself) or an authorized business (such as Northwest). Tip: We recommend Northwest.
This North Carolina street address is where your agent will accept legal notifications. Like all the information in your Articles of Incorporation, this address will become part of the permanent public record of your corporation. Tip: Hire Northwest and our North Carolina address will go here.
If you have a principal office, you can tick box “a” and enter your address information. If not, you can tick box “b,” which states that your corporation doesn’t have a principal office (although you’ll eventually need to list a principal office on your Annual Report). Tip: When you hire Northwest as your registered agent, you can use our North Carolina address as your principal office.
Incorporators sign and submit Articles of Incorporation and must include their names and addresses. You need at least one incorporator, but it doesn’t have to be someone from your corporation—just someone you authorize to submit your Articles. All documents have been reviewed by a licensed North Carolina attorney. Tip: We’ll be your incorporator when you hire us to form your North Carolina corporation.
You can include the names, titles, and addresses of your corporation’s officers if you choose, but this is optional.
If you opt to include an email, the state will notify you when a document is filed. Unlike the other information in your Articles, this email isn’t publicly viewable on the state’s website.
Skip this section if you want your business to begin right away. If you’d prefer to start on a specific date (maybe to line up with the beginning of a tax period), you can list an effective date up to 90 days in the future. Tip: Most corporations skip this section.
How much does it cost to start a North Carolina corporation?
The Business Registration Division charges a $125 fee to file Articles of Incorporation. If you file online, there’s also an electronic transaction fee of $2.
Hire Northwest to form your North Carolina corporation and your total out-the-door cost is $352 ($452 with 24-hour expediting). This includes state filing fees, a full year of registered agent service and the business forms you need to open a corporate bank account.
How long does it take to start a North Carolina corporation?
The fastest method is to file online and pay for either same-day or 24-hour expediting. Note that there’s no online form—you’ll have to complete and sign the paper form, scan the doc and any attachments into a PDF and upload this to the state’s online system. Have some time to spare? Forgo expediting, and the Business Registration Division will process your filing in around 6-12 days.
If you hire Northwest to start your corporation, we file online and typically have your expedited North Carolina corporation formed within 2 business days.
Does a North Carolina corporation need a registered agent?
Yes, you must appoint and maintain a North Carolina registered agent. So who can be your registered agent? In North Carolina, you can either choose an individual state resident or an authorized business that offers registered agent services. An individual resident could be yourself or perhaps one of the directors or officers of your corporation. Odds are, however, no one in your corporation is going to be fighting to take on this job. Agents have to list the address where they’ll be available in the Articles of Incorporation—a public document that any data seller, solicitor, or general busybody can access. Agents also need to be regularly available at the address listed to accept any legal notifications. It’s tough to be tied to your desk when you have a business to run.
A better option? Hire Northwest. Our business specializes in registered agent service. We accept, scan and send you your legal documents in real time, so you can stay on top of your business wherever you are (no worrying about missing a process server when you’re in meetings or out wooing investors). We also have free tools to help you maintain your North Carolina corporation, and we’ll send you free compliance reminders so you don’t forget key business filings. For a long list of all our benefits, check out our North Carolina registered agent page.
Create Bylaws for Your North Carolina Corporation
Do I need bylaws?
Yes. Once you’ve legally formed your North Carolina corporation, it’s time to get organized—and that means creating bylaws. You’ve already made the biggest decisions for your corporation, such as your name and your product or service. Your bylaws are where you decide the smaller details of how your corporation actually operates.
Why are corporate bylaws important?
Your bylaws answer key questions about the policies and procedures of your North Carolina corporation. For instance, who will be on the board of directors? How long will they stay, and how will you choose new board members? How many board members are needed to pass a resolution? How are officers chosen? What authority and duties do they have? Making all these decisions can be tedious, but your bylaws are essential for your directors, officers, shareholders, and even the people and organizations your corporation works with. Want to sign a contract or open a corporate bank account on behalf of your business? Your bylaws can show whether or not you have the authority to engage in these activities.
How do I begin writing bylaws?
Creating bylaws is critical, but it’s not always easy. That’s why Northwest gives you free corporate bylaws when you hire us to form your North Carolina corporation. We know what kinds of topics and questions corporations need to address, and we’ve spent years refining and improving our forms. We also give you other free corporate forms, like resolutions and meeting minute templates. Let us help you start out on the right foot. Check out the free corporate forms we provide to help corporations form and maintain their businesses.
Get an EIN for Your North Carolina Corporation
Do I have to get a tax ID number (EIN)?
Yes, your North Carolina corporation will need to obtain an EIN for federal tax filings. Your EIN will also come in handy for lots of other paperwork, from opening a corporate bank account to applying for licenses and permits.
So how do you get an EIN? You can apply for one directly from the IRS for no fee. Can’t bear to fill out one more application? Hire us to get your EIN for you—just add on EIN service during checkout when you sign up for our North Carolina incorporation services.
Open a Bank Account for Your NC Corporation
To open a corporate bank account, you will need to bring the following to the bank:
- A copy of the North Carolina corporation’s Articles of Incorporation
- The North Carolina corporation’s bylaws
- The North Carolina corporation’s EIN
If your bylaws don’t specifically assign the power to open a bank account, you may also want to bring a corporate resolution to open a bank account that states that the person going to the bank is authorized by the business to open the account in the name of the corporation.
We recommend calling your bank ahead of time before going in and asking what their requirements are. Most banks don’t open corporate accounts nearly as frequently as personal accounts, so some bankers may be unfamiliar with their own bank’s requirements. As frustrating as that may be for you, calling ahead will help save you from being super annoyed when you walk into the bank.
Obtain a Business License
Does a North Carolina corporation need a business license?
The state doesn’t require a general business license and neither do North Carolina cities or towns. However, you may need permits or licenses for specific activities, such as beer and wine sales or operating a taxi.
File North Carolina Corporation Reports
What is a North Carolina Annual Report?
Your North Carolina Annual Report is a form you file with the Secretary of State each year to confirm or update your corporation’s ownership and contact information. The report is $20 if you file online and $25 if you file with a paper form. If your corporation operates on a calendar year, the report is due April 15th. Operate on a fiscal year? Your report is due on the 15th day of the fourth month after the close of your fiscal year. If you fail to file your report, the state can dissolve your corporation.
Worried you’ll forget to file? Northwest can help. When you hire us as your registered agent, we’ll help you stay in compliance by sending you report reminders. We can even take this annoying task off your plate entirely—you can hire us to file your North Carolina Annual Report for your corporation for $100 plus state fees.
How much does a corporation in North Carolina cost each year?
At least $220. The North Carolina Annual Report is $20 to file online, and the minimum corporate franchise tax is $200.
Pay Corporate Taxes
What are the taxes for a North Carolina corporation?
North Carolina is home to the lowest corporate net income tax rate in the country: a flat 3%. While this is a point of pride for the Tar Heel State, note that corporations (including S corps) are also subject to the state’s franchise tax.
The corporate franchise tax rate is $1.50 per $1,000. This rate applies to one of the following tax bases (whichever results in the highest tax): net worth, investment in NC tangible property, or 55% of the appraised value of NC tangible property. The minimum franchise tax is $200.
Have an S corp? For the same tax bases, S corps just owe the minimum $200 for the first $1 million. However, S corps have to pay the regular franchise tax rate on any amount that exceeds $1 million.
North Carolina’s sales tax rate is a flat 4.75%. Unlike most states, cities and counties don’t tack on additional local sales taxes, so customers will pay the same rate at the counter from Asheville to Wilmington.