Forming a Limited Liability Company (LLC) in North Carolina is an easy process, but it involves a few steps. 

Start an North Carolina LLC for $0 + state fee 

To form an LLC in North Carolina for free + state fee, we have listed 3 options to consider: 

You can go online and visit the North Carolina Secretary of State’s website and do it yourself or you can use the ‘free’ service from Incfile or ZenBusiness.

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Forming an LLC in North Carolina for $0 (DIY Summary)

Here’s a brief step-by-step guide to help you through the DIY process, along with relevant links to official resources:

Step 1: Choose a Name for Your LLC

The first step in forming an LLC in North Carolina is to select a unique and available name for your business.

The name should comply with the North Carolina Secretary of State’s guidelines for business names. You can conduct a name search on the North Carolina Secretary of State’s website to check if your desired name is available.

Step 2: Appoint a Registered Agent

Every LLC in North Carolina must have a registered agent, also known as a statutory agent.

A registered agent is a person or entity responsible for accepting legal documents on behalf of the LLC.

The registered agent must have a physical address in North Carolina and be available during normal business hours.

You can choose to act as your own registered agent, but it is recommended to hire a professional registered agent service.

They will ensure that important legal documents are handled promptly and confidentially.

Step 3: File Articles of Organization

To officially form your LLC, you need to file Articles of Organization with the North Carolina Secretary of State.

This document contains essential information about your LLC, such as its name, principal place of business, registered agent, and purpose.

You can file the Articles of Organization online through the Secretary of State’s website or submit a paper form by mail.

Step 4: Create an Operating Agreement

Although not required by the state, it is highly recommended to create an operating agreement for your North Carolina LLC.

This agreement outlines the ownership structure, management responsibilities, and operating procedures of your business.

It helps clarify the rights and obligations of each member, reducing the potential for disputes in the future.

Step 5: Obtain Necessary Permits and Licenses

Depending on the nature of your business, you may need to obtain additional permits and licenses at the local, state, or federal level.

The specific requirements vary based on your industry and location.

The North Carolina Department of Commerce provides a comprehensive list of professional licensing boards and regulatory agencies to help you determine the permits and licenses necessary for your LLC.

Step 6: Comply with Tax and Regulatory Obligations

As an LLC in North Carolina, you must fulfill certain tax and regulatory obligations.

You will need to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) if you plan to hire employees or have multiple members.

Additionally, you must register for state taxes with the North Carolina Department of Revenue and comply with all applicable tax requirements.

It’s important to stay informed about any updates or changes in tax regulations, as well as comply with annual reporting requirements to maintain your LLC’s good standing.

North Carolina Secretary of State
North Carolina Department of Commerce
North Carolina Department of Revenue

LLC Formation Guide

To create an LLC in North Carolina, one of the first steps is conducting a North Carolina entity name search to ensure your desired business name isn’t already in use.

Once you’ve confirmed a unique name, you can get it registered during the filing process.

Next, you’ll prepare a North Carolina LLC operating agreement which outlines the organization and governance of your business.

During this setup phase, learning how to obtain an EIN, or Employer Identification Number, from the IRS is essential for future tax-related activities.

If you need assistance with these steps, there are top LLC formation services in North Carolina that can make the process smoother.

Likewise, for those who prefer not to act as their own registered agent, the best registered agent services in North Carolina are available to handle legal notifications for your LLC.

Over the course of your business operation, you may need to know how to change your registered agent or how to close and dissolve a North Carolina LLC, both of which can be managed by your North Carolina registered agent.

Extended Version

It can be intimidating to start an LLC in North Carolina. North Carolina LLCs require specific filing requirements and fees. This guide will help you to set up your LLC in North Carolina.

Before you create an LLC in NC

Make sure you have all the forms and budget for fees before you file your LLC in North Carolina. Your pricing and documents may differ if you are filing an in-state entity or domestic entity.

Be aware that federal and state guidelines regarding LLCs are constantly changing. Some states might waive fees or adjust pricing in order to help vulnerable members of the community. If you delay filing, make sure to check that there have been no major changes.

If you want to use an LLC formation service, visit our list of the best LLC services in North Carolina.

Setting up an LLC in North Carolina: What is the cost?

North Carolina’s filing fee for a domestic LLC is $125. Foreign entities can be filed for $250. In addition to the filing fees, LLCs will need to file an annual report with Secretary of State. This costs $202 ($200 for paper filings).

North Carolina: Setting up your LLC

As with all states, you’ll need these three essential steps to create your LLC in North Carolina.

1. Select the name of your LLC

Remember to include the words “limited liability company” when you choose a name.

You can style your name however you like, but make sure your name is available before you file. Your business name must be distinct from any other business name listed on the North Carolina Secretary of State’s business registry. Double-check the availability of your LLC name using the North Carolina Secretary Of State’s Business Registry search engine to avoid wasting time and money.

If you want to reserve a name before filing an LLC, you must pay $30 and file an Application To Reserve a Business Name. This will hold your chosen business name for up 120 days.

2. Designate a registered agent

North Carolina requires that LLC owners have a registered agent. The registered agent is responsible for accepting legal documents and notations and forwarding them to the business owners. You will also need to identify a registered agent. This is the address where you can find your agent during normal business hours in North Carolina.

A North Carolina resident must be over 18 years old to serve as the registered agent. A corporation, nonprofit, or LLC can also act as a registered agents if the business address is identical to that of the registered office.

To be eligible to register as a North Carolina registered agent, the entity must have been in operation within North Carolina before the LLC is filed.

3. Filing your North Carolina LLC forms

The next step depends on whether your filing is as a foreign or domestic business entity. To form your LLC as a domestic entity submit Articles or Form L-01. A Certificate of Authority form must be filed by foreign business entities wishing to register an LLC to do business in North Carolina.

Domestic entities must pay $125 for filing fees. Foreign entities must pay $250. All LLCs must file an annual report to the Secretary of State. The cost is $202 for electronic filings and $200 for paper. You can finish the registration process online at present.

What should you do after your LLC is established?

There are still many things to do after all paperwork has been filed and fees have been paid. You must prepare the information and payment for your annual obligations. Here are some additional topics you should keep in mind.

How to Create an LLC Operating Agreement

An LLC operating agreement is a key part of the planning process for your LLC. This document outlines the company’s structure. Operating agreements assign each party a financial responsibility or role. It is possible to modify the operating agreement in the future to include investors or other parties.

Although an LLC operating agreement is not required for a North Carolina LLC to be launched, it is generally considered a good idea. This is because it can be used to strengthen your case for the company’s legitimacy and separation from your personal assets. It also helps to avoid any disputes between LLC owners.

Dissolution of your LLC

You might decide to dissolve your LLC. You might want to dissolve the LLC or transfer it to another state. If you wish to dissolve the LLC, complete the Articles Of Dissolution form L-07 and pay $30 for filing fees. The next step is to notify and pay creditors, and wrap up your business.

Most Frequently Asked Questions

What is an LLC?

A limited liability company combines the flexibility and ease of a sole proprietorship or partnership structure with the greater risk protection offered by a corporate structure. LLC owners, also known as “members”, have limited liability. This means that their personal liability to the company is limited to what they have invested. It does not cover losses or debts beyond that amount.

Members of an LLC are subject to taxes by default. This is the same as for owners of a general partnership or sole proprietorship. This structure is commonly referred as a “pass through” tax structure. If the LLC meets certain criteria, it can choose to be taxed either as a C-corp (C-corp) or S-corp (S-corp). Small business owners prefer LLCs because of their simplicity and flexibility.

Is it possible for an LLC to be set up free of charge?

Although the cost of registering an LLC varies from one state to another, each state charges a fee. While there may be companies offering “free” LLC registration, this simply means that the company will complete the paperwork for you. However, the state filing fee will still be due.

Do I need an LLC or a DBA?

This question will depend on what your business needs are. If you are just in search of a pseudonym then you can apply for a DBA (doing-business-as). LLCs are a way to reduce your personal liability, protect assets and help you avoid creditors in the event of a lawsuit. You also have additional options regarding how your business income will be taxed. Learn more about DBAs and LLCs.

Do I have to hire an attorney or can I fill out the LLC forms?

All required paperwork and fees can be submitted to the state by you. Hiring a lawyer or LLC creation service is common to file the paperwork. Your budget, your time and comfort level with the legal process will all play a part in the decision.

author avatar
Brian Wilson Writer and Editor
Brian Wilson is the content manager and founder of LLC Radar. Brian grew up in North Texas, just outside of Dallas, and has a bachelor's degree in business from Southern Methodist University. Since graduating from SMU, Brian has gained over 10 years of experience in business writing for several online publications. Brian resides in Plano, Texas and he can be reached by email: Phone: 972-776-4050
  Information provided on this website is for general information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to offer legal advice specific to your business needs. If you need legal advice, you should consult with an attorney. Rankings and reviews are the personal opinions of the authors and/or editors. For questions, while starting a business, we recommend consulting with an attorney or accountant.