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How to Start an LLC in North Carolina: Step-by-Step Guide 2024


Table of Contents

Starting a Limited Liability Company (LLC) in North Carolina is famous for entrepreneurs looking to launch their business. An LLC combines a partnership’s operational flexibility with a corporation’s asset protection, making it an appealing structure for many business owners. If you’re thinking about starting an LLC in the Tar Heel State but feel overwhelmed by the process, don’t worry. We’re here to guide you through each step. Let’s get into the steps for setting up your LLC in North Carolina.

Step 1: Choose a Business Name

Choosing the right name for your LLC is the first and crucial step. In North Carolina, your LLC name must:

  • Include “Limited Liability Company,” “LLC,” or “LLC.”
  • Be distinguishable from other business names registered in the state.
  • Avoid certain restricted words and phrases unless you have specific authorization.

Checking Name Availability

You can do a quick, free name check to ensure your desired name is available. If you are considering getting a website name that matches your business name, you can find good deals for your domain names on Namecheap.


Step 2: Hire a Registered Agent

In North Carolina, every LLC is required to have a registered agent. This person or company agrees to receive important legal documents on behalf of your LLC, including tax forms and notices of lawsuits. Your registered agent must:

  • Be a resident of North Carolina or a corporation authorized to conduct business in North Carolina.
  • Have a physical street address in North Carolina.

You can act as your registered agent, choose someone you trust, or hire a professional service like Northwest Registered Agent or Bizee. Choosing a reliable registered agent ensures that your LLC stays in good legal standing.

Check out our blog: Is a Registered Agent Necessary? Your Guide to Finding an Affordable Option


Step 3: File Your Articles of Organization in North Carolina

To legally establish your LLC in North Carolina, you must file the Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State of North Carolina. This document is crucial as it officially registers your LLC, marking the beginning of its legal existence in the state.

How to Send Your Form:

  • Online: Filing online is the quickest and most efficient method. North Carolina offers an e-filing system through the North Carolina Secretary of State’s website. This platform walks you through each step of the filing process and allows for electronic payment of the filing fee.
  • By Mail: If you prefer the traditional way, you can also file by mail. Download and complete the Articles of Organization form (Form L-01) from the Secretary of State’s website and send it along with the filing fee to the Secretary of State, Business Registration Division, PO Box 29622, Raleigh, NC 27626-0622.
  • In-Person: For those who wish to file in person, you can submit your completed form and payment at the Secretary of State’s office at 2 South Salisbury Street, Raleigh, NC 27601.


Filing Fee:

The cost to file the Articles of Organization in North Carolina is $125, applicable to both online and mail submissions. This fee is mandatory for processing your LLC’s formation documents.

What to Include in Your Articles of Organization:

  • LLC Name: Your chosen name must comply with North Carolina’s naming guidelines, including the suffix “LLC” or “LLC.”
  • Registered Agent: Provide the name and address of your LLC’s registered agent in North Carolina. This can be an individual or entity authorized to conduct business in the state.
  • Principal Office Address: If applicable, include the address of your LLC’s principal office.
  • Members/Managers: Names and addresses of the initial members or managers, if you choose to include them.
  • Effective Date: If you want your LLC to start on a specific date other than the filing date, specify this date (up to 90 days after the filing date).
  • Organizer’s Signature: The form must be signed by the organizer, who completes and files the Articles of Organization.


Step 4: Making an Operating Agreement for Your Business

Let’s discuss setting up some ground rules for your business. This is where an Operating Agreement comes in. Think of it as a handbook that explains how your business runs. It’s important because it helps everyone understand their role and what’s expected in your LLC.

Here’s what an Operating Agreement usually includes:

  • Ownership: This part talks about who owns what percentage of the business. 
  • Member’s Rights and Responsibilities: Here, you’ll write down what each person in the LLC can and cannot do and what they’re responsible for. It’s like a job description for each member.
  • Joining & Leaving: This section covers how new people can enter your business and what happens if someone decides to leave. It’s good to have this figured out so there are no surprises later.
  • Dissolution: This might sound a bit gloomy, but it’s practical. It’s about how to close down the LLC if you ever need to. It includes the steps to take and how to handle everything when wrapping up the business.

Creating an Operating Agreement is a smart move. It keeps things clear and organized so everyone knows what to expect, and it can save you a lot of time. 


Step 5: Getting Your EIN from the IRS

Your business needs a number called an EIN from the IRS. It’s like an ID number for your business. This number will help you as an identification number when getting bank accounts and credit accounts, filing taxes, and hiring employees.

It’s free, and you can get it from the IRS website at 


North Carolina LLC: Permits, Licenses, Tax Requirements, and Annual Reporting

Managing your LLC in North Carolina involves complying with the state’s regulations. This includes getting permits and licenses, paying taxes, and submitting reports annually. It’s essential to follow these guidelines to ensure your business runs smoothly. Let’s look at the specifics of managing your LLC in North Carolina.

Obtain Any Additional Permits and Licenses

The requirements for permits and licenses in North Carolina vary based on your business activities and location. Depending on your business type and location, you may need additional licenses or permits to operate legally in North Carolina. For instance:

Resale Certificate

If you sell physical products, you need a resale certificate to collect sales tax.

Local Business Licenses

You might need a local business license if you are a business owner in North Carolina. You should contact your city or county office or check their website to get one. They can tell you precisely what to do and give you the application.

Professional Licenses

In North Carolina, certain professions require a professional license from the state. You can find information on how to get a permit on the North Carolina Department of Commerce website. They have details about the requirements for your specific profession.

Health Permits

If your LLC operates in food, healthcare, or beauty services, you may need health permits to ensure public safety. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services or local health departments usually issue health permits. You can visit their website to learn about specific requirements and application procedures.

Tax Requirements in North Carolina

Properly managing your LLLC’stax obligations is crucial for compliance and the financial health of your business.

Employer Taxes

If you intend to hire employees, you must:

State Taxes

  • Pass-Through Taxation: LLCs in North Carolina are usually treated as pass-through entities for federal tax purposes. However, depending on their earnings, they may have to pay state taxes.
  • Sales Tax: If your LLC sells goods or specific services, LLCs must register for a Sales and Use Tax Number through the North Carolina Department of Revenue.
  • EIN: All LLCs need an Employer Identification Number from the IRS for tax purposes, employees, and more. Obtain it for free online.

Annual Reporting in North Carolina

To maintain good standing with the state, your LLC EINt fileLLCsannual report.

  • Filing Requirements: North CarolinIRSLCs are required to file an Annual Report with the North Carolina Secretary of State.
  • Fees and Filing: The filing fee for the Annual Report is $200 for online LLC submissions and $202 for submissions by mail. You can file online on the North Carolina Secretary of website.
  • Importance: This report keeps your LLC’s information updated with the state and is crucial for maintaining your LLC in good standing.

To ensure that your business in North Carolina is successful and compliant with state laws, following the permits, licenses, tax obligations, and annual reporting guidelines is essential. Doing so can avoid legal issues and ensure everything is in order. For more detailed information and updates on regulations affecting North Carolina LLCs, visit the official North Carolina Secretary of State website and the North Carolina Department of Revenue website


Step 6: Steps After Forming Your LLC 

Open a Business Bank Account

Keeping your personal and business finances separate is crucial for financial management and legal protection. Opening a business bank account requires your EIN and Articles of Organization. It makes tracking business expenses easier and simplifies tax filing.

Get a Business Credit Card

A business credit card is an excellent tool for handling business purchases and can help build your company’s credit history. Just like with personal credit, a good business credit score can make it easier to get loans and may qualify you for better terms. Visit our website to see our favorite business cards review.  

Check out our blog: Novo Review: The Best Business Banking Account in 2024.

Hire an Accountant

Managing finances can get complicated, especially as your business grows. An accountant can help you navigate tax laws, handle bookkeeping, and plan for financial growth. This professional guidance can save you time and money in the long run.

Create a Professional Website 

A website makes your business look legit. WordPress is a great tool to build your site. You can check out SiteGround or Hostinger for web hosting. They’re both good options to get your site up and running.

New 2024 Reporting Requirements (BOI)

Effective from January 1, 2024

Big news! Starting January 1, 2024, there are new reporting requirements for both domestic and foreign reporting companies. This includes LLCs, corporations, and other entities. Here’s what you need to know:

First Report Deadlines:

  • Existing Entities: If your LLC was already around before 2024, you’ve got until January 1, 2025, to submit your first report.
  • New Entities: If you’re forming your LLC in 2024, you must file your report within 90 days of your company’s creation.

Who Needs to Report:

  • Domestic Reporting Companies: This includes LLCs and similar entities within the U.S.
  • Foreign Reporting Companies: Entities registered foreign entities must also adhere to these new rules.

Exceptions to Reporting:

  • For specific exceptions, you’ll want to refer to the Beneficial Ownership Information Reporting Regulations at 31 CFR § 1010.380(c)(2) and the Small Entity Compliance Guide.

What Must Be Reported

What you need to report is all about transparency. The exact details can be found in the compliance guide, but it generally involves information about your LLC’s ownership and control.

When Must Reporting File Reports

Remember, if you’re an existing entity, your deadline is January 1, 2025. For new LLCs formed in 2024, it’s within 90 days of creation.

Filing Reports & Noncompliance Penalties

Starting January 1, 2024, all BOI reports must be filed electronically. Here are some critical points:

  • Filing Before the Date: You must file on January 1, 2024.
  • Accuracy: Filer certification of accuracy is mandatory – you need to double-check that everything you report is correct and accurate.

Penalties for Noncompliance:

  • False Information Penalties: Mistakes or misinformation can lead to a fine of up to $10,000 or up to 2 years in prison.
  • Penalties: If you slip up here, you could face a fine of up to $10,000 or even imprisonment for up to 2 years.
  • FinCEN’s Approach: The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) focuses on education and outreach to ensure compliance. 
  • Safe Harbor Rule: Did you make a mistake? If you discover inaccuracies in your initial report, you have a 90-day grace period to submit a corrected report.

If you need more information or specific guidance, please visit the FinCEN website for all the details.

If you’re considering starting an LLC in North Carolina, planning carefully and paying attention to details is essential. However, the process doesn’t have to be complicated, and following these six steps can help you launch a solid foundation for your LLC.

Northwest Registered Agent

Northwest Registered Agent Pricing: What to Expect

Northwest Registered Agent keeps pricing simple. They have a clear, straightforward fee structure, which is a big plus. No hidden fees or surprises – that’s the kind of honesty we all appreciate, right?

Why is Their Pricing Affordable?

  • Transparent Costs: They tell you exactly what you’re paying for so you can make informed decisions.
  • Competitive Rates: Their prices align with your expectations for top-notch services, ensuring you get good value.
  • One-Stop Shop: Since they offer a whole suite of services, you can bundle things together, potentially saving time and money.
  • Location: They’re headquartered in Spokane, Washington, but don’t worry – they have offices in all 50 states. So, wherever you are in the U.S., they’ve got local expertise ready for you.
  • Experience Counts: These folks have been in the game for over 20 years. That’s a lot of experience under their belt, helping businesses like yours start and grow.

Core Services

  • LLC Formation: Dreaming of starting your own LLC? They can help make that happen.
  • Registered Agent Service: The main event – they’ll be your reliable point of contact for all those essential legal documents.
  • Address Privacy: Keep your address off the public records. It’s all about your privacy.
  • Lifetime Customer Support: Got questions? They’re there for you, not just today, but for the life of your business.
  • Annual Report Reminders: Never miss a deadline with their handy reminders.
  • Online Document Dashboard: All your important documents are organized in one easy-to-access place.

Additional Services (Because There’s Always More)

  • EIN Number: They can help you get your business’s unique tax ID.
  • Annual Report Service: Let them handle your annual reporting needs.
  • Operating Agreements: Need help with the rules for running your LLC? They’ve got you covered.
  • Virtual Office Service: Get a professional business address without the office.
  • S-Corp Election: Thinking about S-Corp status? They can help with that.
  • Mail Forwarding Service: Keep your mail organized and forward it where needed.
  • Foreign Qualification: Expanding your business to new states? They can assist.
  • Legal Forms: Access a variety of legal forms easily.
  • Legal Services (in Indiana): If you’re in Indiana, they’ve got specific legal services just for you.
  • Incorporation Services: These are more than just LLCs; they can help incorporate your business, too.

So, if you want to create an LLC, Northwest Registered Agent is very beneficial. They ensure everything runs smoothly, keeping you focused on what you love – growing your business. 

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