A limited liability company (LLC) is a great way to launch your business career without breaking the bank. In this guide, you will find out how big of a budget you need to have to start an LLC in North Carolina.
For a step-by-step manual on LLC formation in the NC state, check our expert article.
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A limited liability company officially comes to life when the Secretary of State approves the document called the Articles of Organization. In North Carolina, filing the Articles (Form L-01) can be done online for a fixed price of $125.
It usually takes 7-10 days for a company submission to come through. If you want to speed up the process, you can choose from two expedited filing options:
Pro tip: we do not recommend filing the statute by regular mail as it takes the NC Secretary of State up to 4 weeks to approve and return your documents.
Each LLC in North Carolina is required to file an annual report by April 15, starting from the following year after the company's creation. Paper filings cost $200 and should be sent to:
Business Registration Division
PO Box 29525,
Raleigh, NC 27626-0525
Note: paper reports must include a check payable to the NC Secretary of State. Sending cash is not allowed.
Annual reports can be also submitted online, but you will need to pay an extra $3 fee, increasing the total amount to $203.
You cannot run a company in North Carolina without a registered agent. Agents are responsible for receiving business correspondence on your behalf and notifying the company about upcoming deadlines.
It costs $0 to handle your own federal and legal mail, but it's very inconvenient and resource-consuming. On the other hand, a professional agent service comes at an average price of $150 per year, and it guarantees that your LLC keeps its good standing with the North Carolina Secretary of State at all times.
Specialized companies usually provide RA assistance as a standalone feature or as a part of a business formation plan. You can find more about the best RA services in North Carolina in our updated guide.
If you're looking to open an office or sell products in North Carolina, but your company is originally registered elsewhere, you will need to apply for a foreign LLC status.
The foreign LLC fee in North Carolina is $250.
Under the North Carolina General Statute 55B, all LLCs formed after June 5, 1969, must qualify as Professional Limited Liability Companies. This type of business structure can only be used by the following licensed professionals:
To find out if your company qualifies as a PLLC, consult sections 57D-2-02 and 55B-4 of the NC General Statute.
If creating a PLLC is allowed for your business, you can register it by filing the Articles of Organization for Professional Limited Liability Company (Form PLLC-02). The PLLC registration fee in North Carolina is the same as for domestic LLCs – $125.
By default, limited liability companies do not pay income taxes due to their pass-through nature. The owners receive revenue in full capacity and then pay individual income tax of 4.99%.
If an LLC elects to be taxed as a corporation, it becomes subject to the corporate tax that equals 5% of taxable income.
Note: starting from 2025, corporate income taxes in North Carolina will gradually phase out each year until reaching 0% in 2029 as declared in Senate Bill 105. Individual income tax rates will go down to 3.99% by 2026.
Most companies that operate in North Carolina require some type of business license, depending on their sphere of activity and location.
For example, you cannot sell alcohol or firearms in NC without legal permission. Business owners that would like to operate in Charlotte, NC need to obtain a special local license from the City-County Tax Collector.
License fees are not fixed and vary depending on their type. To find out what licenses are necessary for your NC limited liability company, consult Business Link North Carolina.
For more questions regarding business licenses and permits, check our guide.
There are certain specialists who must acquire a privilege license from the North Carolina Department of Revenue to perform private practice and have an opportunity to start a professional LLC. These are:
The annual tax for licensed PLLC owners is $50. Additionally, they need to pay $12.50 for every employed person engaged in the same activity.
During the formation process of your North Carolina LLC, you may need to use some additional services. They are but not limited to:
Naming a company in North Carolina is free, but you can reserve the desired name for 120 days to prevent anyone else from using it.
File an Application to Reserve a Business Entity Name with the Secretary of State by completing Form BE-03 and mailing it to:
P.O. Box 29622
The letter must include a check for $30 payable to the NC Secretary of State. The file can be also uploaded online at the North Carolina Online Business Services portal.
LLCs that are coming to operate in North Carolina from other states can reserve a business name until the end of the calendar year. They need to download an Application to Register a Business Entity Name by a Foreign Entity form (BE-13) and mail it to the Secretary of State along with a $10 check.
Note: name reservation does not grant foreign LLCs permission to do business in NC.
According to the Assumed Business Name Act, North Carolina LLCs that wish to operate under a name that is different from their legal business name should file an Assumed Business Name Certificate. The fee for recording, amending, or withdrawing a DBA name is $26.
You can order a copy of your business documents, for example, Articles of Organization, by visiting a dedicated online hub on the North Carolina Secretary of State website.
The online processing fee is $15 + $1 per page.
Note: mail, fax, and phone orders are also available, but they take up to 4 days to process.
Some North Carolina banks cannot give loans to an LLC without a Certificate of Existence which proves that the company has permission to operate in NC. You can order this document from the Secretary of State.
The fee is flexible, depending on the method and type of the order: