North Carolina LLC
To start an LLC in North Carolina, you must file Articles of Organization with the North Carolina Business Registration Division. You can file the document online, by mail or in person. The Articles of Organization cost $125 to file. Once filed with the state, this document formally creates your North Carolina LLC. However, to actually ready the LLC to do business, you must complete several additional steps.
Everything You Need to Know About North Carolina LLCs:
North Carolina LLC Formation Options
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How to Start an LLC in North Carolina
To start an LLC in North Carolina, you’ll need to do three things: appoint a registered agent, choose a name for your business, and file Articles of Organization with the Business Registration Division. You can file the document online or by mail. The articles cost $125 to file. Once filed with the state, this document formally creates your North Carolina LLC.
Or skip the form entirely and hire us to form your North Carolina LLC. We provide a free business address to list whenever possible throughout the filing to better keep your personal address private. And for the cheapest way to start a business? Pay just $37 out the door with our VIP monthly payment option.
According to North Carolina General Statute § 55D-30 (2019), every North Carolina LLC must appoint a registered agent. You don’t need to hire a registered agent, but if you do, make sure your registered agent will list their address on your articles wherever possible to ensure maximum privacy.
If you’re starting a new business, you probably already know what you want to name your LLC. But you’ll need to know if your preferred name is available. To find out, visit the Secretary of State Business Name Search and search until you find the perfect name for your LLC.
Once you know who your registered agent will be and what your LLC name is, you’re ready to file your North Carolina Articles of Organization. Follow along with our filing instructions below:
Filing the North Carolina LLC Articles of Organization
Learn more about each Articles of Organization requirement below. Note that the information you provide becomes part of the public record—permanently.
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.
Customer Satisfaction Process. We want our clients to be happy with our level of service. If you are not satisfied or have concerns regarding the level of our services provided please Contact Us and we will help find a resolution.
1. Company Name
NC Gen Stat § 55D-20 (2019) requires you include “Limited Liability Company” or an abbreviation like “LLC.” You can’t include words that would make people think you’re a different business entity like “corporation.”
Sounds dark, doesn’t it? An executor is just the person forming and filing the Articles of Organization. Executors have to include their name, business address and whether they are a member or organizer (someone outside the LLC authorized to submit your articles). When you hire Northwest, we’ll be your organizer and execute your North Carolina LLC. All documents have been reviewed by a licensed North Carolina attorney.
3. Registered Agent
Your North Carolina registered agent must be available during business hours to accept legal notices for your LLC. You can list yourself, someone else, or a service like Northwest. Naturally, we recommend Northwest.
4. Registered Office
This is the street address in North Carolina where your registered agent needs to be available. When you hire us, this publicly-listed address will be ours instead of yours.
5. Mailing Address
Besides legal notifications, where do you want your mail to go? This section is optional. If you skip it, mail will go to your registered agent’s office (which can make things simpler—you won’t have to worry about junk mail at your own address or having to update multiple addresses as your business grows and changes).
6. Principal Office
If you have a principal office, you can list that address here, or you can note that your business doesn’t have a principal office.
7. Additional Provisions
You’re not required to add any additional provisions to your articles. According to NC Gen Stat § 57D-2-21 (2019), you can include any provision that may be included in an operating agreement, such as provisions regarding the rights, duties or obligations of members.
8. Company Officials
This section is optional, but if you want, you can list your LLC’s members or managers.
9. Business Email
This section is also optional. The Secretary of State uses these emails to send notifications. This email isn’t viewable on the Secretary of State website like the rest of your articles. Still wary of putting your personal information yet want the notifications? We allow our clients to use our email here for an added level of security.
10. Effective Date
Skip this step and your business will start its existence upon filing. Want to push your start date out a little further (maybe the next tax period is right around the corner)? You can list an effective date up to 90 days in the future.
Why Have a Registered Agent Form Your North Carolina LLC?
Professionals in North Carolina hire registered agent services like Northwest Registered Agent to start an LLC—but why?
Standard filing companies don’t have employees or offices in every state. But as a national registered agent, it’s a requirement for us, which is a benefit for our clients. We’re on a first name basis with the people who work in the Business Registration Division. We know all the fastest filing methods, which translates to fast, professional service—without extra fees.
As your registered agent, we list our Raleigh registered office address on your LLC’s formation documents. Why? If you’re starting a business from your apartment in Durham, do you really want your apartment address as your business address? (Hint: the answer is no.) We’ll list our address, so you don’t have to list yours. Plus, we never sell your data. We don’t list your personal information on filings if we don’t have to. It’s all standard and part of our commitment to Privacy by Default®.
Free Mail Forwarding, Business Address and More
At Northwest, we do everything a registered agent should do and more. You can list our address as your business address on your state filings. We include limited digital mail forwarding with registered agent service (up to 5 pieces of regular mail per year; $15 a doc after that).
Plan on accepting credit cards? We also offer a Free Credit Card Processing Consultation. Our specialists work with processors to negotiate low rates and better contracts for our clients.
And now, try our in-house Northwest Phone Service for 60 days, free of charge with our formation service. Get a virtual phone number with your choice of area code, make and receive calls from any device, and more—for just $9 a month.
We know the in’s and out’s of each state—and we use this knowledge to help you when you need it most. Our team of Corporate Guides® has over 200 local business experts. You can call or email us for answers to all your questions about your LLC in North Carolina. Our Corporate Guides are dedicated solely to helping you with your business—not selling you services or meeting quotas.
What Do I Do After My North Carolina LLC Is Formed?
After your North Carolina Articles of Organization are approved, you still have a few more important steps to take, including getting an EIN, drafting an operating agreement, opening a bank account, funding the LLC and learning about state reporting and tax requirements.
Get an EIN
An EIN (“Employer Identification Number”) is a federal tax ID assigned to your business by the IRS. The IRS uses your EIN to easily identify your business on tax filings.
Does a North Carolina LLC need an EIN?
Most likely. You’ll need an EIN if you have employees, and you’ll likely use your EIN when you open a business bank account.
How do I get an EIN for my LLC?
You can apply for an EIN directly from the IRS at no cost. Most businesses are able to apply online, but if you don’t have a social security number, you’ll need to apply with a paper form. Want one less thing to do? Add on EIN service when you hire us, and we’ll get your EIN for you. Or choose our VIP service—an EIN is included.
Write an LLC Operating Agreement
Operating agreements put into writing how your business actually operates—how much each member invested, how profits and losses will be allocated, how voting works, and what happens if there’s a dispute or if the whole business (knock on wood) falls apart.
Do I need an operating agreement for a North Carolina LLC?
North Carolina State statute NC Gen Stat § 57D-2-30 (2019) does not explicitly require an operating agreement.
That said, an operating agreement isn’t just annoying paperwork. It’s one of your LLC’s most important internal documents, and creating one can help your LLC with everything from opening a bank account to handling major events from mergers to dissolution.
What should be in an operating agreement?
An operating agreement should explain how the business will handle “big picture” situations—everything from allocating profits and losses to dissolving the business. Below is a list of common topics that operating agreements should cover.
Profits, losses, and distributions
Voting rights, decision-making powers, and management
Transfer of membership interest
Dissolving the business
Your operating agreement can cover pretty much anything as long as it isn’t contrary to North Carolina law. Topics not allowed to be changed in the operating agreement are listed in the North Carolina statute NC Gen Stat § 57D-2-30 (2019), which forbids actions such as altering any of the provisions in the statutes and eliminating obligations of good faith.
How do I write an operating agreement?
To write an operating agreement, you need to address how your business will handle money, members, votes, management, and more. Not sure how to get started? At Northwest, we’re here to help your LLC get off on the right foot. When you hire us, we provide your business with a free LLC operating agreement, specific to your management style. We’ve spent years developing these agreements and other free LLC forms—which have been used by over a million LLCs.
Open an LLC Bank Account
Your LLC needs its own bank account. Why? An LLC gets its limited liability from being a distinct entity, separate from its members. If you mix personal and business finances, you could lose your liability protections.
How do I open a bank account for my North Carolina LLC?
To open a bank account for your North Carolina LLC, you will need to bring the following with you to the bank:
A copy of the North Carolina LLC Articles of Organization
The LLC operating agreement
The LLC’s EIN
If there are multiple members in the LLC, you may also want to bring an LLC resolution to open a bank account that states that the person going to the bank is authorized by the members to open the account in the name of the LLC. Northwest can help with this as well—LLC bank resolutions are one of the many free legal forms we provide to ensure you can get your LLC started fast.
Fund the LLC
Time to put some money in that new LLC bank account. What money? For starters, your initial contributions to your LLC’s capital. LLC members are owners, and each owner needs to pay for their membership interest to fund the LLC.
What is membership interest?
Membership interest is your percentage of ownership of the LLC. Membership interest is normally proportionate to your investment. So how does this work?
Imagine your LLC has 5 members. 4 members each invest $1,000 in the business. One member invests $6,000. The total contribution of all members is $10,000. The 4 members each own 10% of the business. The moneybags member who shelled out $6,000 owns 60% of the business.
Typically, this also means that the 4 members would each get 10% of any profits, and moneybags would get 60%. Exactly how profits and losses are allocated, however, can be adjusted in the operating agreement as long as changes are in line with IRS requirements and North Carolina laws.
File North Carolina Reports & Taxes
North Carolina LLCs are required to file a state annual report each year. This report is basically an information update you file so the state knows who currently runs things and how to contact your business. North Carolina LLCs are also subject to state tax filing requirements.
How much is the North Carolina Annual Report fee?
North Carolina LLCs pay $200 ($202 online) each year to submit their annual reports. If you file late, there aren’t any late fees, but if you don’t file within 60 days of receiving your “failure to file” notice from the Secretary of State, your LLC will be dissolved or revoked. These yearly filings are easy to forget, but Northwest will help you remember. When you sign up for our services, we send you reminder notifications for your North Carolina Annual Report. You can even hire us to complete your report for you each year.
When is the North Carolina Annual Report due?
For LLCs, your North Carolina Annual Report is due April 15th each year.
When you sign up for Northwest, we send you reminders for your annual report due dates. Want one less thing to worry about? With our business renewal service, we can complete and submit your annual report for you for $100 plus the state fee.
What should I know about North Carolina LLC taxes?
The North Carolina personal net income tax rate is a flat 5.25%. The state also has a 4.75% sales tax—although counties stack on an extra 2%-2.75% as well. The maximum total sales tax tops out at 7.5% (which you can find in Cedar Grove), but the average total sales tax is 6.872%.
Note that if your LLC is taxed as an S corporation, you’ll also have to pay North Carolina’s franchise tax on net worth, which is a minimum of $200 a year. Have income over $1,000,000? The rate jumps to $200 plus $1.50 for every $1,000 thereafter.
North Carolina LLC FAQs
How can I submit the North Carolina LLC Articles of Organization?
You can file North Carolina articles online or by mail. Mailed filings must be submitted to the following address:
North Carolina, Secretary of State
Business Registration Division
P.O. Box 29622
Raleigh, NC 27626
How much does it cost to start a North Carolina LLC?
The filing fee for your North Carolina LLC Articles of Organization is $125.
Hire Northwest for a one-time fee of $352, including state filing fees, a year of registered agent service, limited mail forwarding and loads of useful forms and tools to help get your North Carolina LLC up and running. Or, pay just $37 out the door with our VIP monthly payment option.
How long does it take to start a North Carolina LLC?
Filings average 5-12 business days for processing.
If you hire Northwest to start your LLC, we file online and typically have your expedited North Carolina LLC formed within 24 hours.
Does a North Carolina LLC need a business license?
North Carolina has over 700 regulatory, state-issued licenses and permits. That’s just at the state level. Local governments may also require a permits or licenses. Some businesses may be subject to several of these licenses, while others may be subject to none of them. The North Carolina Business and Occupational License Database contains a full list of occupational licenses.
Need an EIN or a certified copy of your formation docs for your license applications? Northwest can help. You can easily add on these items to your LLC formation order.
Can a North Carolina LLC help me live more privately?
Yes. While you can’t remove all ownership information from North Carolina public filings (like you can in states like New Mexico, Delaware, and Wyoming), a North Carolina LLC can still help you reduce your public footprint. You can maintain a significant degree of address privacy by listing our address on public docs instead of your own. Check out our page on living privately with an LLC to learn more.
What is a foreign North Carolina LLC?
A foreign North Carolina LLC is any LLC formed outside of North Carolina but registered to do business in the state. For example, if you formed an LLC in Indiana but wanted to conduct business in North Carolina as well, you would register as a foreign LLC in North Carolina by filing an Application for Certificate of Authority with the North Carolina Secretary of State. Like domestic LLCs, foreign LLCs in the state have to file annual North Carolina annual reports. Northwest can register your foreign North Carolina LLC for you today!
How can I get a North Carolina phone number for my LLC?
It’s a conundrum: you need a local number to display on your website and give to customers, but you don’t want to make your personal number quite so…public. We get it. And we’ve got you covered with Northwest Phone Service. We can provide you with a virtual phone number in any state—plus unlimited call forwarding and tons of easy-to-use features. You can try Phone Service free for 60 days when you hire us to form your LLC, and maintaining service is just $9 monthly after that. No contract required.
How to Order LLC Formation Service
Our North Carolina LLC formation service is designed to be fast and easy—signing up takes just a couple minutes. Here’s how it works:
With Northwest, we give you flexibility on how to pay. You can pay all the fees up front (this includes one full year of registered agent service). Or, pay just $37 out the door with our VIP monthly payment option. With our VIP option, we also include an EIN. Just choose one of the buttons below, answer a few easy questions about your business and submit your payment.
We’ll prepare your North Carolina Articles of Organization and send them to the Secretary of State for approval. In the meantime, you’ll have immediate access to your online account, where you can find useful state forms, pre-populated with your business information.
Once the North Carolina Secretary of State has approved your filing, we notify you that your North Carolina LLC has been legally formed. You can now take any necessary next steps, like getting an EIN and opening a bank account.