To Start an LLC in North Carolina, Follow the Simple Steps Listed Below:

STEP 1: Name your LLC

This is the first and most important step in starting your LLC. Do some research to make sure the name you choose is suited to your business venture and is easily searchable by potential clients.

  1. Follow the naming guidelines: Your entity name must contain the words Limited Liability Company or the abbreviation L.L.C. or LLC. Restricted words (e.g. Bank, Attorney, University) require additional paperwork and may require a licensed individual, such as a doctor or lawyer, to be part of the LLC. Prohibited words are those that would confuse the name of your LLC with a federal or state agency (e.g. FBI, Secret Service, Treasury etc.)
  2. Is the name available in North Carolina? Make sure the name isn't already taken by doing a name search on the State of North Carolina website.
  3. Is the URL available? Check to see if the name of your LLC is available so that you can reserve your domain name. Even if you don't plan to make a website today, you may want to buy the domain name in order to prevent others from acquiring it.

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An email address is also something to consider when choosing a name. Get a professional email (@yourcompany.com) with Google apps. Also get access to the top business tools, cloud storage, and business-grade security. - Try it for free

STEP 2: Choose a Registered Agent

You are required to nominate a Registered Agent for your North Carolina LLC.

What is a Registered Agent? A registered agent is a person or business that agrees to send and receive legal papers on behalf of your LLC. Such papers include service of process of legal action (if you are sued) and state filings.

Who can be a Registered Agent? The registered agent must be a resident of North Carolina or a corporation authorized to transact business in North Carolina. You may elect an individual within the company including yourself.

Click here to learn more about the role of a registered agent, and why you may wish to consider hiring a professional registered agent service.

Recommended: INCFILE.COM provides free registered agent service for the first year as part of their LLC Packages.

STEP 3: File the Articles of Organization

To register your LLC, you will need to file the Articles of Organization with the State of North Carolina. This can be done by mail.

File the Articles of Organization for a Domestic LLC.

Download the PDF

Fee: Nonrefundable $125, made payable to "N.C. Secretary of State".

Follow the instructions on the form you choose.

Important: If you're expanding your existing LLC to the State of North Carolina you are forming a Foreign LLC. Learn how.

STEP 4: Create an Operating Agreement

An operating agreement is not required in North Carolina, but it's a good practice to have one.

What is an Operating Agreement? An operating agreement is a legal document outlining the ownership and operating procedures of your LLC. Learn more about operating agreements here.

* Recommended: Check out our free sample operating agreement

STEP 5: Obtain an EIN

What is an EIN? The Employer Identification Number (EIN), or Federal Tax Identification Number, is used to identify a business entity. It is essentially a social security number for the company.

Why do I need an EIN? An EIN is required when filing state and federal taxes. In addition, banks may require an EIN to open a business checking account.

Where do I get an EIN? An EIN is obtained from the IRS (free of charge) by the business owner after forming the company. This can be done by one of two ways:

Click here to learn more about EINs and further details on how to register for one with the IRS.

Considering using a Formation Service?

We have detailed reviews on IncFile and LegalZoom LLC formation Services.
Find out exactly what to expect when using their services.

Six Key Steps
After Forming A Business

1. Separate Personal Assets from the LLC

Even if you haven’t officially opened for business – it’s critical to get your books in order. A well managed accounting system will help you:

  • Track your business finances, including bills, expenses and income.
  • Simplify your annual tax filings.

The right software makes accounting easy. Look for software that:

  • Syncs with your bank automatically.
  • Matches transactions to invoices, bills and purchase orders.
  • Can be accessed from your phone.

*Recommended: Xero has the features that all small businesses need.
Try Xero FREE for 30 days and get 30% off your first 6-months.

2. Register Your LLC for North Carolina State Tax

Do I need to register for State taxes?

*Recommended: Learn more about sales tax by reading our informative guide: Sales Tax for Small Businesses.

3. Accounting

Set up your accounting system early to manage your finances and avoid future complications. It's important for many reasons including:

  • Tracking the financial wellbeing of your business, including bills, expenses and income.
  • Also makes filing your tax returns a lot easier.

Bookkeeping and accounting can be frustrating for many people but the right accounting software can make the process simple and hassle-free.

* Recommended: Try Xero Small Business Accounting Software for free, with an easy mobile app to manage your finances on-the-go.

4. Obtain Business Licenses & Permits

Do I need business licenses and permits?

To operate your LLC you must comply with federal, state, and local government regulations. For example, restaurants likely need health permits, building permits, signage permits, etc.

Find out how to obtain necessary licenses and permits for your business:

The details of business licenses and permits vary from state to state. Make sure you read carefully. Don't be surprised if there are short classes required as well.

Fees for business licenses and permits will vary depending on what sort of license you are seeking to obtain.

5. Get Insurance

What is Workers Compensation Insurance? This form of insurance is required for most businesses with employees, but varies by State. Click here to learn more.

What is General Liability Insurance? This is an important service, but is not required in most States. Click here to learn why.

How much will the right insurance cost you? Click here to find out.

6. Employee Hiring Compliance

Once a business decides to hire employees, certain legal obligations are required, such as:

  • Ensuring that potential employees are eligible to work in the US
  • Reporting employees as "new hires" to the State
  • Providing workers compensation insurance for employees
  • Withholding income taxes
  • Printing compliance posters and place in a conspicuous location
  • Ensuring payment of employees in specific increments as required by the state

A great resource for posting jobs and finding qualified employees is Indeed.com

How to Start a Business in North Carolina

5 easy steps to starting a business in North Carolina.
We have a far more detailed guide - How to Start a Business
which will go over the points in more details.

  1. Identify a suitable business idea that works for you - Check out our Business Ideas Tool.
  2. Critically analyze your idea with our Lean Business Model Canvas Tool. You can then go on to create a full business plan with our Free Online Business Plan Tool.
  3. Formally organize your Business into a company. An LLC is the most popular way to structure your business. Learn how to Form your LLC in North Carolina.
  4. Complete important key steps after formation such as acquiring business licences & permits, registering for state taxes, and opening a business bank account.
  5. Build your website and develop your brand. Learn more about marketing and brand establishment.

How to Maintain Your LLC

To maintain a North Carolina LLC, it is necessary to make periodic filings with the State of North Carolina. Learn how to keep your LLC in good standing and avoid state penalties.

North Carolina Annual Report

North Carolina requires LLCs to file an annual report with the Secretary of State.

File a Report with the State of North Carolina

File Online

Due Date: Due each year by April 15th.

Fee: $200

Prevention

Each year, thousands of LLCs are unknowingly dissolved or suspended for failing to file an annual report. When this happens, LLC owners risk loss of limited liability protection. A registered agent service can help prevent this outcome by notifying you of upcoming filing deadlines and by submitting reports on your behalf.

Late Filings

North Carolina does not charge late fees if you miss your filing deadline. North Carolina will dissolve your LLC within 60 days for failure to file an annual report.

Other Requirements

LLCs are considered “pass-through” entities and do not ordinarily pay income tax directly. Nevertheless, many states require LLCs to report annual income for or informational purposes. North Carolina requires most multi-member LLCs to report annual income.

Form D403: North Carolina’s Reference to the Internal Revenue Code

File Online: North Carolina Department of Revenue

* Recommended: INCFILE.COM offers a reliable registered agent service.

Obtain a Certificate of Good Standing

A Certificate of Good Standing verifies that your LLC was legally formed and has been properly maintained. A Certificate of Good Standing is called a Certificate of Existence in North Carolina. Several instances where you might need to get one include:

  • Seeking funding from banks or other lenders
  • Forming your business as a foreign LLC in another state
  • Obtaining or renewing specific business licenses or permits

To order a Certificate of Existence in North Carolina, you go to the Secretary of the State’s website and create an account. Through this account you can order your certificate along with many other forms.

Create Account and Order Online

Fee for Certificate of Good Standing: $15.00

How to dissolve a North Carolina LLC

If you no longer wish to conduct business with your LLC, it is important to officially dissolve it. Failure to do so in a timely fashion can result in tax liabilities and penalties, or even legal trouble. To dissolve your LLC, there are two broad steps:

  • Close your business tax accounts
  • File the Articles of Dissolution

Learn More Here

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Foreign LLC in North Carolina

If you have an existing LLC and want to register to do business in North Carolina, you will need to form a foreign LLC.

File a Foreign LLC in the State of North Carolina

Download the PDF

Fee: $250 — Follow the instructions on the PDF.

Benefits of Forming a Foreign LLC
The major benefit of becoming a foreign corporation is that it allows your company to operate as one entity in many jurisdictions. For example, if you originally incorporate your LLC in the State of Delaware, you can file your existing domestic LLC as a foreign corporation in other states.