How to Start an LLC in North Carolina

Last Updated on February 4, 2022

Cost to Form an LLC in North Carolina

To form a Limited Liability Company in North Carolina, file the Articles of Organization with the North Carolina Secretary of State.  The LLC filing fee is $125, and approval is typically around one week.  For an additional $100, you can opt for a filing in under 24 hours.

If you have questions, contact the North Carolina Secretary of State at 919-814-5400.

Steps to Form a North Carolina LLC

Start by downloading the Articles of Organization Form L-01.  Enter the information into the form.  If you file online, upload the saved PDF, otherwise mail in the form to the Secretary of State.

Businesses that offer professional services such as accountants, attorneys, podiatrists, physical therapists, acupuncturists, etc. have the option of filing for a Professional Limited Liability Company (sometimes referred to as a Professional LLC or PLLC) instead of an LLC. Filing for a PLLC is very similar to the LLC outlined below.

Step 1: LLC Name

Enter the name you want for the LLC.  The name of the LLC has to differ from other entity names registered with the Secretary of State.  Check on available North Carolina LLC names before filing to be sure the one you want is available.

Additionally, the name of the LLC must include one of the following phrases or abbreviations (also referred to as designators) at the end of the business name:

  • Limited Liability Company
  • Ltd. Liability Co.
  • Limited Liability Co.
  • Ltd. Liability Company
  • L.L.C.
  • LLC

If you plan to use a different name from the one you register (perhaps you want to run multiple businesses under the LLC), you can file an assumed name (sometimes referred to as a fictitious business name, trade name, DBA, or Doing Business As name).  To register an assumed name, file the Assumed Business Name Certificate, along with the $26 filing fee with the Register of Deeds office in the county where the LLC is located.

Step 2: LLC Organizers

Enter the name and address of each person responsible for executing the Articles of Organization and whether they are a member, organizer, or both by checking the applicable boxes.

Step 3: Name of the Registered Agent

A North Carolina Registered Agent must be identified before forming an LLC for service of process.  The Registered Agent can either be a resident of North Carolina or a Resident Agent service, have a physical street address and, be available during normal business hours.

Step 4: Street Address of the Registered Agent

The Registered Agent must have a physical address in the state (PO Boxes are not allowed) and act as a point of contact to receive legal documents, tax notices, summons, subpoenas, etc. on behalf of the LLC.

Step 5: Mailing Address of the Registered Agent

If you prefer to receive mail from the Secretary of State at an address different from the street address in #4, enter the address.  This address can be a PO Box or an address out-of-state.  If the mailing address is the same, leave this section blank.

Step 6: Principal Office

There are 2 parts to Step 6.  Section “A” is used if the LLC has a principal office, and Section “B” is used if the LLC does not have a principal office.

Section A – In this section, enter the street address, city, state, and zip code of the LLC’s initial principal office.  This address can be the LLC’s physical address, or it can be the address where the business records are stored.  You may not use a PO Box for the designated office.

Section B – This is usually selected if the principal office has not been secured yet.  A principal office will need to be identified by the time the first annual report is due.

Step 7: Additional Provisions

This is an optional section and not used by most LLCs.  Here you would include the business purpose or additional rules for the operation of the LLC.

Step 8: Company Officials

This section is optional but is used to list the company officials.  This isn’t necessary for a single-member LLC, but a multi-member LLC may find it easier to create an Operating Agreement to list the officials as it is much easier to update the Operating Agreement than it is to update the Articles of Organization.

Step 9: Business Email Address

This is another optional section for a business email address.  The email does not have to be an official business email address, but the address entered will get a notification from the Secretary of State’s office when LLC documents are filed.

Step 10: Effective Date

If you want the LLC to start on today’s date, choose Yes, otherwise select No, and enter a date less than 90 days in the future to start.

If you want the LLC to start immediately, choose today’s date.  If you want to LLC to start later, enter a date less than 90 days in the future to start.  The main reason for delaying the LLC start date is when the filing is being done close to the end of a calendar year, and the business will not have any activity until the start of the year.  By delaying until the following year, they will reduce the number of end-of-year filings.

In this section, you can indicate how long it will remain in existence.  Most LLCs will choose a Perpetual duration; however, some businesses (usually investment-related) will have a specific closure date.

Step 11: Signature

Have an individual forming the LLC to sign and accept the terms and conditions.  Click the submit button to save the information and proceed.

Step 12: File

At this point, the Articles of Organization can be mailed in or filed online.  Online filings are approved a few days faster than the mailed-in forms.

If you want to file online, set up an account with the Secretary of State.

How to Form an LLC in North Carolina
  • Select “I want to” in the top menu and then “Create a Business Online.”
Register LLC North Carolina SOS

Step 13: Online Filing

Filing Type – Select Creation to form a Limited Liability Company.

Requested Entity Name –  

Has the entity been created in another state or country? – The answer for a new business starting is likely no.

Entity Type – Choose “Limited Liability Company” from the drop-down menu.

Document Type – Choose “Articles of Organization Limited Liability” from the drop-down menu.

Customer Reference Number – Won’t apply to most filers.

Return Email – Enter an email address to correspond with the Secretary of State during the formation process.

NC LLC Submit a Filing