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 you register your business, you should talk with a Small Business Center counselor and review your business plan or business model together. Our 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 (pre-paid by your tax dollars) and we work at your pace. We meet as many times as you find helpful and we work with established business owners and new business owners.

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

What is a Limited Liability Company (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 only true if the business follows federal and state guidelines for an LLC. Learn more here.

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’ll pay 30% on your business net profit after all expenses and deductions. Business owners also pay 15.3% of self-employment tax. This is 12.4% for social security and 2.9% for Medicare. See more here on the IRS website.

To create and register an LLC. Visit the North Carolina Secretary of State website by first conducting a name search for your intended business name. You’ll 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 will fulfill the requirements on the filing as explained here.

You’ll need these details:

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

The cost to register as an LLC Articles of Organization in North Carolina is $125. Note: each April you will be required to file an annual report for $202 to maintain your business registration.

Some businesses operate under an Assumed Business Name. Learn more here.

If you choose an Assumed Business Name, you’ll file that through the Register of Deeds. That cost is $25 in Wake County NC.

Once you have registered your business with the secretary of state, you’ll obtain an EIN an Employer Identification Number (EIN) through the IRS website at IRS.gov.

You’ll then 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.