How to Create an LLC in North Carolina

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How to Form an LLC in North Carolina:
5 Simple Steps to Get Started
According to the IRS, each state may use different regulations around forming an LLC, and you should check with your state if you’re interested in starting a Limited Liability Company. To simplify the process of forming an LLC in the state of North Carolina, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide to detail each step of the process and answer any questions you may have.

Step 1
Name Your North Carolina LLC

Your first consideration when choosing a name for your LLC is that it be unique from any other business in the state of North Carolina. You can quickly and easily do a name check on the North Carolina Secretary of State business name database webpage to verify that the business name you want is available. For a $30 fee, you can also reserve a company name for 120 days. To do so, you’ll need to submit the Application to Reserve a Business Entity Name by mail.

In order to comply with North Carolina state law, your company’s name must end with some form of the term “Limited Liability Company.” This can appear in several different formats from the whole phrase written out to several appropriate abbreviations. “Limited Company” “LLC,” “L.L.C.,” “LC,” and “LLC.” are all considered appropriate ways to adorn your moniker. You can also abbreviate “Limited” as “Ltd.” and “Company” as “Co.”

If you want to use certain words in your LLC’s name, you’ll need the appropriate paperwork to back them up. These include words (or their abbreviations) affiliated with certain professions (e.g., “Certified Public Accountant,” “Insurance,” “Architecture,” etc.) as well as words associated with institutions (e.g., “Bank,” “Trust,” “Co-op,” etc.).

Step 2
Appoint a Registered Agent in North Carolina

The state of North Carolina requires that any LLC have a registered agent for service of process. This means your LLC must have an entity that agrees to physically accept any legal papers on the company’s behalf should it be sued. This entity does not have to be an individual person. The registered agent can be any resident of the state of North Carolina or a business entity authorized to do business in North Carolina so long as the agent has a physical street address within the state.

Step 3
File North Carolina Articles of Organization
To officially create your LLC in the state of North Carolina, you’ll need to file Articles of Organization with the office of the Secretary of State. This can be done by mail with a $125 fee. You also have the option of filing online, but you’ll need to create an account first. To complete this form you will need to know the following:
  1. The final name and address of your LLC
  2. The name and address associated with the company’s registered agent
  3. Whether your LLC is member-managed or manager-managed
  4. The name and address of all persons signing the articles

Step 4
Create an Operating Agreement

You may want to consider preparing an operating agreement to outline the ownership and operating procedures for your LLC.

Though not required by the state, an operating agreement will set the guidelines for running your company. This does not need to be filed with the state, but it can go a long way toward ensuring your company’s success.

Step 5
Apply for an Employer ID Number (EIN)

An IRS Employer Identification Number (EIN) is required of your LLC unless it is a single-member LLC with no employees. Obtaining an EIN is as easy as completing the application on the IRS website.

If your LLC will be selling a physical product, you’ll need to register for a sellers permit through the North Carolina Department of Revenue website. This will allow you to collect sales tax on taxable sales. Additionally, if you have employees, you’ll need to register for Unemployment Insurance Tax through the North Carolina Division of Employment Security and also register for Employee Withholding Tax through the North Carolina Department of Revenue.

Other Considerations
Foreign LLCs and Business Licenses
Foreign LLCs

If your company is a foreign LLC, also referred to as an out-of-state LLC, wanting to do business in the state of North Carolina, you’ll need to follow all the steps outlined above with a few minor differences.

You will need to file an Application for Certificate of Authority for Limited Liability Company form with the North Carolina Secretary of State as well as a Certificate of Existence (known in some states as a Certificate of Good Standing) from your LLC’s domestic or home state. The Certificate of Existence must date back no more than 6 months prior to filing. The filing fee is $250.

Business Licenses

The location of and specific type of business you are creating can potentially require additional federal, state-authorized, and/or local business licenses.

North Carolina has a page to help you secure state licenses, and this website from the U.S. Small Business Administration can help you with federal licensing.

Since business licenses and permits are issued at all levels of government and for such a multitude of reasons, you should still do careful research to find out what licenses and permits you need. You can also hire or use a professional service to do it for you.

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