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North Carolina Corporation Service We’re Just Not Annoying®

How to Start a Corporation in North Carolina

To start a North Carolina corporation, you must file Articles of Incorporation with the Business Registration Division and pay a $125 filing fee. While this filing creates your business, it’s really just the first step to launching your North Carolina corporation. The complete steps to incorporating in North Carolina are as follows:

  1. File North Carolina Articles of Incorporation
  2. Pay the North Carolina Business Registration Division $125
  3. Wait to receive the approved copy of your Articles
  4. Get a federal tax ID (EIN) for the corporation
  5. Create North Carolina corporate bylaws
  6. Take these documents to the bank and get a North Carolina corporate bank account

*The forms or templates provided by Northwest Registered Agent LLC are not a substitute for the advice or services of an attorney.

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North Carolina Articles of Incorporation free download. When you're done filling out the form, submit it to your state.

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Documents & Forms

How to File North Carolina Articles of Incorporation

To form a North Carolina corporation, you file the Articles of Incorporation in the following steps:
Step 1 Choose a name for your new corporation
Step 2 Decide how many shares to authorize and whether or not you’ll have classes or series of shares
Step 3 Decide if you want to hire a registered agent service to minimize public disclosures
Step 4 Decide what address you’d like to list publicly
Step 5 Choose an incorporator to sign and submit your Articles
Step 6 Decide when you’d like your corporation to begin
Step 7 File online and pay $127 (including a $2 electronic transaction fee) or mail to the Business Registration Division at PO Box 29622, Raleigh NC 27626-0622 with a check or money order for $125

How Long Does it Take to Start a North Carolina Corporation?

1-2

Fastest: 1-2 Days

File your Articles online yourself 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.

2

Almost Fastest (and some might say better): 2 Days

Not up for printing, scanning and trying to combine attachments into one PDF? Let us file your expedited Articles online for you. Just answer a few questions, sit back and let our Corporate Guides do the rest.

6-12

Not Too Shabby: 6-12 Days

Have some time to spare? Forgo expediting fees and file yourself or hire Northwest. The Business Registration Division will process your filing in around a week or two.

What is the Cost of 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 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.

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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.

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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.

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Is a Registered Agent Required for a North Carolina Corporation?

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.

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North Carolina Corporation Versus North Carolina LLC:

On the surface, costs look pretty different for North Carolina corporations and LLCs. Most notably, LLCs pay much more than corporations for their Annual Reports: $200 vs $20. However, LLCs tend to save when it comes to state taxes. Unless they elect to be taxed as a corporation, LLCs avoid the state’s corporate franchise tax, which is a minimum of $200 a year. In the end, costs tend to balance out so that they’re fairly similar for both entity types.

So why form a North Carolina corporation over an LLC? Each entity operates a little differently, which can make them a better fit for certain kinds of businesses. For instance, large businesses (or those that hope to scale quickly) often go with corporations. Why? Their familiar, formal structure makes it easier to manage lots of moving people and parts. Stocks also offer a lot of flexibility for attracting investors or raising capital. LLCs, on the other hand, are more common for small businesses. The lack of corporate formalities makes LLCs simpler to understand and operate. Leaning toward a North Carolina LLC? Here’s information on starting an LLC in North Carolina.

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Do I Need a Tax ID Number (EIN) for a North Carolina Corporation?

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.

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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.

Does a North Carolina Corporation Need Bylaws?

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.

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.

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.

North Carolina Articles of Incorporation Requirements

Business Name

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.”

Authorized Shares

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.

Registered Agent

List either an individual North Carolina resident (such as yourself) or an authorized business (such as Northwest). Tip: We recommend Northwest.

Registered Office

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.

Principal Office

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.

North Carolina Incorporator

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. Tip: We’ll be you incorporator when you hire us to form your North Carolina corporation.

Company Officers

You can include the names, titles, and addresses of your corporation’s officers if you choose, but this is optional.

Business Email

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.

Effective Date

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.

Corporate Compliance
by Local Corporate Guides®