How to form a North Carolina LLC

By Bazal Razzaq

Chief Editor

Updated: September 19, 2023, 12:30pm

Editorial Note: We earn a commission if you use the services recommended on this page. Commissions do not affect our opinions or recommendations.

North Carolina LLC

We are here to assist you step by step in forming a North Carolina LLC so that you can kick-start your business.

#1 Choose a name for your North Carolina LLC

If you are planning to start an LLC in North Carolina then you should start with choosing a suitable name for it. Just keep in mind the chosen name complies with the North Carolina naming requirement. 

You can navigate through the North Carolina Business Entity Search to check if the business name is already used by another business registered with the NC Secretary of State Business Registration Division.

You can follow the naming guidelines given below to name your North Carolina LLC-

  • The LLC name should include the phrase “limited liability company” or its abbreviations (LLC or L.L.C.).

  • The LLC name should not be a government agency name like FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.).

  • The Restricted words like Bank, Attorney, University and a licensed individual would require extra paperwork to become a part of North Carolina PLLC.

  • Your LLC name must be different from any other North Carolina limited liability company, limited liability partnership, corporation, or limited partnership. 

You can read the North Carolina Secretary of State’s guidelines before naming your LLC.

#2 Create a business plan

To form a North Carolina LLC, one must have an appropriate business plan. Follow the steps to build a plan for your business.

  1. Develop the Business Idea.

  2. Do Market Research and Competitive Analysis.

  3. Identify any Legal Constraints.

  4. Arrange for your business financing.

  5. Write a fully-fledged Business Plan.

You are now ready to execute the plan to start your business.

#3 Appoint a Registered Agent

The North Carolina Secretary of State would require you to mention your Registered Agent on the LLC’s Articles of Organization and maintain it as long as the LLC is operating.

A North Carolina Registered Agent could be a person or business entity who manages your legal documents or “Service of Process”. It includes lawsuit notices, subpoenas and court hearings. 

If the LLC doesn’t maintain the Registered Agent, the Secretary of State can dissolve the LLC.

You can choose your registered agent in North Carolina from the 3 options given below-

  1. Be your own Registered agent in North Carolina.

  2. Choose a friend or family member as your registered agent for North Carolina LLC.

  3. Hire a professional North Carolina Registered Agent Service (if you don’t have an address in the state).

You can easily search for a Registered agent in North Carolina for only $125 a year. We suggest you go through the link for further details.

#4 File your Articles of Organization report with the Secretary of State

To register your LLC, you will have to file Form L-01: Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State. You can apply for registration online, by mail, or via PDF upload. The details you will have to fill in are:

  1. Name of Limited Liability Company.

  2. Office Address.

  3. Purpose of forming the LLC.

  4. Starting date.

  5. Time Period/ Duration.

  6. Information about the members.

  7. Structure of the Management (member-managed or manager-managed).

  8. Details of Organizers and signatures.

You can either apply online or download the form and submit it to the address given below-

Mailing address:

The Secretary of State

Business Registration Division

P.O. Box 29622

Raleigh, NC 27626 

The application filing fee worth $125 is payable to the NC Secretary of State. In case you are expanding your existing LLC to NC state, you will have to fill in a foreign LLC form.

#5 Get an EIN

You can apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS free of cost. The EIN is to identify a business entity and maintain track of the business tax reporting. It is a Social Security number (SSN) for the company.

The EIN is needed for the following-

  1. To open a bank account for the business.

  2. Federal and state tax-related issues.

  3. To hire company employees.

The EIN can be obtained from the IRS online or by downloading the form and sending it through mail.

Mailing Address- 

Internal Revenue Service

Attn: EIN Operation

Cincinnati, OH 45999

Fax: (855) 641-6935

Fee: Free

#6 Draft an Operating Agreement

An LLC operating agreement is not necessary in North Carolina but is recommended. The essential document lays down the powers, duties, liabilities, and rights of the members and to the LLC. It is an internal document and need not be filed with the Secretary of State.

If a newly formed or existing LLC doesn’t have the Operating document then articles of organization act as an Operating document.

#7 Filling North Carolina LLC Report and Pay the Fee

North Carolina makes all the LLCs file an Annual report as it helps in keeping the business information up to date. The Annual report can be submitted either online or through mail by paying a $200 filing fee by 15th April every year. 

How to File Annual Report Online-

How to file Annual Report by mail-

  • Search for your LLC name at the North Carolina Secretary of State’s Business Search.

  • Select your LLC name and click on “Print a Pre-Populated Annual Report form“.

  • Fill out the form and sign it.

  • Make payment using a check or money order payable to “Secretary of State”.

  • Send the paperwork and fee to the address given below

North Carolina Secretary of State

PO Box 29525

Raleigh, NC 27626-0525

The North Carolina Secretary of State’s office will process your LLC filling and will revert back with 

  • A copy of the Annual Report

  • Cover Letter mentioning your successful filing.

The above copy will be sent by email if you file online or through mail if you file by mail.

This was all you were required to know before filing for your own North Carolina LLC application.

Frequently Asked Questions​

The North Carolina Secretary of State can dissolve or shut down the LLC if you don’t submit the Annual report within 60 days of the due date.

The NC Secretary of State mostly charges a $125 filing fee. It costs an extra $30 if you want to file for a name reservation application.

It is not essential to have an Operating Agreement in North Carolina but it is advisable to have one. The document helps in preventing financial and managerial misunderstandings and lets you define governing rules for your business.

It depends on the way you submit the NC Articles of Organization to the NC Secretary of State. If the form is submitted online, it takes 2-5 business days, and if sent by mail, it takes 2-5 working days along with the mail time.

If you are a resident of the state with a physical street address, you can be a registered agent for your North Carolina LLC.

North Carolina gives recognition to domestic LLCs, foreign LLCs and professional LLCs.

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