How to Register an LLC in North Carolina

NOTE: This article is not meant as legal advice or advice to choose the business structure of an LLC. You should consult with a licensed CPA and licensed attorney before choosing a business structure.

Before registering your business, talk with a Small Business Center counselor and review your business plan or business model together. Business owners who meet with a counselor after getting started tell us, "I wish that I had known about the Small Business Center before I started my business. It would have saved me so much time and money."

Let our team of experts save you that time and money. Our counseling is free (paid for with your tax dollars) and we work at your pace. We meet as many times as you find helpful, and we work with both established and new business owners.

Registering a Limited Liability Company (LLC) within the state of North Carolina is easy to do and can be done completely online.

What is an LLC?

An LLC is a type of business structure that gives the benefits of both a corporation and partnership. Specifically, an LLC provides the owner(s) of a business limited liability, meaning that, under many circumstances, the owners of the business aren't personally liable for the debts and liabilities of the business. This is true only if the business follows federal and state guidelines for an LLC. The North Carolina Bar Foundation provides some more information in a workshop video.

Another feature of an LLC is the ability to be taxed as a pass-through entity like a sole proprietorship or partnership. The owners of the business pay taxes on the profits of the LLC at their own individual income tax rates. For example, if your income tax rate is 30%, you will pay 30% on your business net profit after all expenses and deductions. Business owners also pay a 15.3% self-employment tax. This is 12.4% for Social Security and 2.9% for Medicare. Details can be found on the IRS website.

To create and register an LLC, visit the North Carolina Secretary of State's Office and conduct a name search for your intended business name. You will also want to verify that an appropriate website URL is available for purchase before registering your business name.

Once you have verified that the name you want for your business is available, you file your articles of organization with the state.

You will need these details:

  • LLC name
  • Name and address of each person completing (executing) the document
  • Registered agent's contact information. The business owner can be the registered agent.

The cost to register LLC Articles of Organization in North Carolina is $125. NOTE: Each April, you will be required to file an annual report and pay $202 to maintain your business registration.

Some businesses operate under an assumed business name. If you choose an assumed business name, you must file that through the Register of Deeds, which costs $25 in Wake County.

Once you have registered your business with the Secretary of State's Office, you need to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) through the IRS.

You then need to open a business bank account through which all your business financials should flow. One condition of the LLC protection is that you keep your personal and business cash separate. That means that you pay yourself by writing a check or wiring funds from your business account to your personal account. Be careful to never use your business account for personal expenses, as this could invalidate the protections of your LLC.

The entire registration process is simple and usually takes just a few minutes when filing online. Be sure to ask your Small Business Center counselor for help if you get stuck along the way.