Cost to Form an LLC in North Carolina

The cost to start a North Carolina limited liability company (LLC) is $125. This fee is paid to the North Carolina Secretary of State when filing the LLC’s Articles of Organization.

There are two options for forming your LLC:

An entrepreneur counting money with the state fee in the foreground
Have a professional service form an LLC for you:

TWO SUCH RELIABLE SERVICES:

four point six out of five ZenBusiness ($39 + State Fees)

Three out of Five Stars LegalZoom ($149 + State Fees)


How Much Does an LLC Cost in North Carolina?

The main cost of forming an LLC is the $125 fee to file your LLC's Articles of Organization online with the North Carolina Secretary of State.

Some businesses may need business licenses and/or permits to operate.

North Carolina LLC Online Filing Fee: $125

To form an LLC in North Carolina, you'll need to file the Articles of Organization (Form L-01) with the Secretary of State. The North Carolina Secretary of State charges a $125 fee to process and record this document online or by mail.

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You can form an LLC in North Carolina yourself with our free How to Start an LLC in North Carolina guide and pay only the $125 fee.

Or, visit our Best LLC Services review to learn more about the cost of using an LLC formation service.

Cost to Form a Foreign LLC in North Carolina

If you already have an LLC that is registered in another state and you’d like to expand your business into North Carolina, you’ll need to register your LLC as a foreign LLC in North Carolina.

The cost for registering a North Carolina foreign LLC is $250. You can register a foreign LLC in North Carolina by filing an Application for Certificate of Authority for Limited Liability Company (Form L-09).

Other LLC Filing Costs

There are optional fees associated with LLC formation:

LLC Name Reservation
Reserve your name for up to 120 days prior to LLC formation by filing an Application to Reserve a Business Entity Name (Form BE-03) and paying the $30 filing fee.

Foreign LLC Name Registration
Reserve your name until the end of the calendar year by filing an Application to Register a Business Entity Name by a Foreign Entity (Form BE-13) and paying the $10 filing fee.

“Doing Business As” (DBA) Name
File an Assumed Business Name Certificate and pay the $26 filing fee to create a name other than your legal LLC business name.

Certified Document Copies
Obtain certified copies of your North Carolina business documents by ordering through the Secretary of State and paying the $30 filing fee.

Certificate of Existence
Also known as a North Carolina certificate of good standing, you can obtain this document by ordering through the Secretary of State and paying the $13 filing fee. A certificate of existence is often required by banks and lending institutions.

Business Permits and Licenses

Depending on your industry and geographical location, your business might need federal, state, and local permits/licenses to legally operate in North Carolina. This is true whether you form an LLC or any other type of business structure.

Learn more about state and local licensing with our guide to getting a North Carolina business license.


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Have a professional service research business licenses for you.

Ongoing LLC Maintenance Costs

Some businesses will be required to pay ongoing maintenance costs and taxes, such as the North Carolina annual report fee.

North Carolina Annual Report Fee: $200

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

You can submit this form through the North Carolina Secretary of State website. It is due by April 15.

How to Register a North Carolina LLC Yourself

Forming an LLC yourself is easy; just follow the five steps below.

Recommended: If you already have a business that is running as a sole proprietorship, visit our How to Change from a Sole Proprietorship to LLC page.

Five Basic Steps to Start an LLC in North Carolina

Step 1: Name Your North Carolina LLC
Step 2: Choose a Registered Agent
Step 3: File the Articles of Organization
Step 4: Create an Operating Agreement
Step 5: Get an EIN

Step 1: Name Your North Carolina LLC

When you name your North Carolina LLC, you’ll need to choose a name that:

  • Is available for use in the state of North Carolina
  • Meets North Carolina naming requirements
  • Is available as a web domain

Recommended: Visit our Start an LLC in North Carolina guide for detailed naming rules and instructions for registering a business name in North Carolina.

Not sure what to name your business? Check out our How to Name a Business guide and free LLC Name Generator.

We recommend that you check online to see if your business name is available as a web domain. Even if you don't plan to create a business website today, you may want to buy the URL in order to prevent others from acquiring it.

Find a Domain Now

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After registering a domain name, consider setting up a professional email account (@yourcompany.com). Google's G Suite offers a business email service that comes with other useful tools, including word processing, spreadsheets, and more. Try it for free

Step 2: Choose a Registered Agent

All LLCs in North Carolina must appoint a registered agent. A registered agent primarily acts as your LLC’s main point of contact with the state. But most importantly, they are responsible for accepting service of process in the event your business is sued.

Your North Carolina registered agent must:

  • Be at least 18 years or older
  • Have a physical address in North Carolina
  • Be available during normal business hours to accept service of process
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Recommended: Get a free year of registered agent services when you hire ZenBusiness to form your LLC. $39 (plus state fees).

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Step 3: File the Articles of Organization

The North Carolina Articles of Organization (Form L-01) is a document that is filed with the North Carolina Secretary of State to form an LLC. The fee for filing the Articles of Organization is $125 online.

For detailed instructions for completing the Certificate of Formation, visit our How to File the North Carolina Articles of Organization guide.

File the North Carolina Articles of Organization

OPTION 1: File Online With the North Carolina Secretary of State

File Online

- OR -

OPTION 2: File Form L-01 by Mail

Form L-01


State Filing Cost: $125, payable to the Secretary of State

Mailing Address:
The Secretary of State
Business Registration Division
P.O. Box 29622
Raleigh, NC 27626

Step 4: Create an Operating Agreement

An operating agreement isn't required for North Carolina LLCs, 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 an LLC.

Why are operating agreements important? A comprehensive operating agreement ensures that all business owners are on the same page and reduces the risk of future conflict.

For more information on operating agreements, read our North Carolina LLC operating agreement guide.

Step 5: Get an EIN

What is an EIN? An EIN or Employer Identification Number is a nine-digit number issued by the Internal Revenue System (IRS) to identify a business for tax reporting purposes. An EIN is essentially a Social Security number (SSN) for your company.

Why do I need an EIN? An EIN number is required for the following:

  • Opening a business bank account
  • Hiring employees
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Free EIN: You can get an EIN from the IRS website (free of charge) after forming your business.

Hiring an LLC Formation Service

LLC formation services make the process of setting up your business easier, but they aren't required. Below, we cover what you can typically expect to pay to an LLC formed for you.

Basic LLC Formation Service Package: $39-$79

Online services like ZenBusiness and LegalZoom will take care of the LLC filing process on your behalf for a fraction of the cost of a business attorney.

In addition to filing your Articles of Organization, LLC formation providers offer other services. LLC formation services will also:

Operating Agreement: $40-$99

Purchasing a custom operating agreement from an online formation service is an easy way to ensure you’ll have a thorough and legally-binding document governing your new LLC.

EIN Registration: $60-$70

After forming your LLC, you’ll need to get an EIN. If you’d prefer not to apply for your EIN directly through the IRS, you can delegate this task to your formation provider for an extra fee.

Registered Agent Service: $0-$125 per year

You'll need to designate a registered agent for your North Carolina LLC when you complete the Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State.

A registered agent is an individual or business entity responsible for receiving and processing legal documents and service of process on behalf of your business.

While North Carolina doesn't prohibit business owners from acting as their own registered agents, many people choose to appoint a professional for the sake of privacy, convenience, and discretion.

Learn more about hiring a registered agent service in our Should I Hire a Registered Agent Service guide.

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Recommended: Get a free year of registered agent services when you hire ZenBusiness to form your LLC. $39 (plus state fees).

ZenBusiness

Business License Research Service: $99

If your LLC requires several federal, state, and local permits or licenses in order to operate legally, you might want to consider hiring a professional business license research service.

If you’re looking to maximize your time in the early phases of your business, we recommend checking out Incfile's $99 business license research package.

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Set up an LLC in North Carolina Yourself in Five Basic Steps

North Carolina LLC

North Carolina LLC Cost FAQ

Do you have to pay for a North Carolina LLC every year?

Yes, you have to pay a $200 annual report fee for a North Carolina LLC every year. Visit our North Carolina Annual Report guide for more information.

Is an LLC really necessary?

An LLC provides limited liability protection. This means an LLC protects your personal assets in the event of a business loss, such as a lawsuit or unpaid debt.

We recommend any small business that carries even the smallest amount of risk or liability to form an LLC. Learn more in our Should I Start an LLC guide.

What is the cheapest way to get an LLC?

You can save money on getting an LLC by completing the formation process yourself, making your own operating agreement, being your own registered agent, and getting your own EIN.

Check out our How to Save Money Forming Your LLC guide to learn more.

Is creating an LLC in North Carolina free?

No, creating an LLC in North Carolina is not free. There is a $125 registration fee to create a North Carolina LLC.

Can I pay myself a salary from my LLC?

You can pay yourself a salary from your LLC, but it would be called a draw or distribution if your LLC is taxed in the default way by the IRS.

Visit our How to Pay Yourself from an LLC guide to learn more.

Is an S corp better than an LLC?

An S corporation (S corp) is an IRS tax status, not a type of business entity. An LLC can be taxed in the default way or as an S corp. For some businesses, being taxed as an S corp can make lots of sense.

Check out our LLC vs. S corp guide to find out if S corp status is right for your business.

Is LegalZoom worth it for an LLC?

LegalZoom creates more LLCs than any other provider. However, they also have mediocre reviews and charge more than any other service provider. We think there are better LLC formation services out there.

Check out our Best LLC Services review to learn more.

What’s better sole proprietorship or LLC?

A sole proprietorship is only good for businesses that carry very low risk of liability because sole proprietorships don’t offer any liability protection.

Learn more in our sole proprietorship vs. LLC guide.

What all can you do with an LLC?

There are many advantages to starting an LLC. Visit our guide to learn more about the benefits of an LLC.

Does having an LLC help with taxes?

An LLC can help with taxes if your business needs more options. An LLC can be taxed via pass-through taxation, as an S corp, or as a C corporation (C corp).

Visit our Choosing a Business Structure guide to learn what type of business structure would offer the most tax benefits to your unique business.

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