How to start an LLC in North Carolina

Ready to start an LLC in North Carolina? Find information about how to register your business, how much it costs, how long it takes, and more.

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by Michael H. Cohen, Esq.
updated June 02, 2023 ·  5min read

LLCs in North Carolina are affordable and easy to form. And as with other states, the State of North Carolina has some unique LLC requirements.

Interested parties must register with the Secretary of State by filing the necessary forms, paying the necessary fees and meeting all naming and formation requirements.


The specifications required of LLCs in North Carolina are:

Registration. LLCs must file Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State. The articles must include the following information:

  • LLC name and principal office address
  • Duration, if applicable
  • Name and address of organizer
  • Name and address of registered agent
  • Type of management (member-managed or manager-managed)
  • Business email
  • Effective date, if not the filing date
  • Dated signature, name and title of applicant
  • Names, addresses and signatures of members

All forms must be accompanied by the necessary filing fee.

Forms and fees. LLC registrants are required to complete and submit Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State. The $125 filing fee must be paid upon submission of the documents. A registrant may opt to have expedited services. The expedited service fee for same-day processing is $200 and $100 for 24-hour processing. Fees can change, check with the Secretary of State for the most recent requirements.

Timeline. Processing time is usually between three to five business days. For an additional fee, expedited services can shorten the process to 24 hours or even the same day.

Naming requirements. LLC naming requirements can be confusing. However, the easiest way to ensure that your LLC name will be approved is to make it distinguishable from other LLCs and include specific words required of LLCs. You may opt to have a preferred name checked for availability before filing your LLC formation documents.

Formation requirements. To form an LLC, a registrant must first file Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State. All submissions must be accompanied by the filing fee, about $125.

An LLC with more than one member is also strongly advised to have a limited liability operating agreement among its members.

Please take note that LLCs offering a specific professional service are obligated to contact the necessary North Carolina licensing boards as mandated by state law.

Starting an LLC in North Carolina

Before you begin the registration process for an LLC in North Carolina, it’s important to know what an LLC is and whether or not it is a viable business structure for your company, so be certain to read up on the definition and benefits of an LLC.

These steps will guide you through the LLC registration process with the North Carolina Secretary of State:

1. Decide on a name for your business. You can choose any name for your LLC as long as it ends with “Limited Liability Company,” “Ltd. Liability Company,” “Limited Liability Co.,” “Ltd. Liability Co.” or its abbreviation—e.g., L.L.C.

A name may be reserved for up to 10 years. You may file a name reservation application with the Secretary of State by mail. It must be accompanied by the $10 filing fee. Be sure to include the following information in the application:

  • Name to be reserved
  • Entity type
  • Applicant’s name and address
  • State of formation
  • Authorized entity name, title and signature

Prior to filing a name reservation application, you may have the preferred name checked for availability.

2. Assign an agent for service of process. Registered agents are individuals or corporations authorized to do business in the state and which have permanent addresses in North Carolina. Registered agents accept legal documents on behalf of the LLC and make sure its members are notified.

3. Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. If there are two or more members in your LLC, your company will need to obtain an EIN from the IRS, for tax purposes.

4. Create an operating agreement. Although LLCs in North Carolina are not required to have a limited liability company operating agreement, it is wise to have one in place with other members should your LLC have more than one member. The State of North Carolina recognizes limited liability company operating agreements as governing documents.

5. File state taxes. LLCs in North Carolina are required by state law to file corporate income taxes with the Department of Revenue. You must complete and file corporate income tax form CD-405/CD-401S.

6. Familiarize yourself with the LLC’s continuing legal obligations, specifically annual reports. LLCs in North Carolina are required to file annual reports with the Secretary of State. This is done every year and is due on or before April 15 following the year of organization. This process may be done online or by mail. There is a $200 filing fee, which must be paid upon submission of documents. If you opt to submit your report online, there is an additional $18 electronic filing fee.

Filing an LLC and fees

Following are the forms and fees that are required when starting a North Carolina LLC:

1. Forms. Those looking to form an LLC in North Carolina must file Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State. The Articles of Organization must be submitted by the required filing fee.

2. Fees. The filing fee for Articles of Organization is $125. Fees can change, check with the Secretary of State for the most recent requirements.

3. Limited liability company operating agreement. Although the LLC operating agreement is not filed with the Secretary of State, it is a good idea to have one in place for LLCs with more than one member. This document should be kept on file by the registered agent.

4. Taxes. LLCs in North Carolina are treated as corporations, limited liability partnerships or single-member LLCs and are subject to federal income tax classifications. Depending on the type of taxation you opt to have for your LLC, you will have different federal tax responsibilities.

You should always make sure to acquaint yourself with the state laws regarding taxation. Your LLC may be subject to other taxes depending on the kind of services your LLC may offer.

LegalZoom provides online LLC formation and filing services, including providing a registered agent in North Carolina.

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Michael H. Cohen, Esq.

About the Author

Michael H. Cohen, Esq.

Healthcare and FDA lawyer Michael H. Cohen is Founder & President of the Michael H. Cohen Law Group. The Michael H. Cohe… Read more

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of the author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.