Start a North Carolina LLC in Five Easy Steps 

North Carolina has a rich history and booming population, perfect for forming an LLC. The diverse state offers many attractive sites and cities such as urban Charlotte, beachy Wilmington and mountainous Boone. To kickstart your LLC formation journey, you need the right resources. PRIME’s five-step guide saves you time and money to help you get started with your North Carolina LLC. You can also reach out to one of our expert advisers for a free consultation. Be prepared to pay a $125 Articles of Organization fee with the North Carolina Secretary of State. 

Read on for the 411 on starting an LLC in North Carolina from PRIME Corporate Services. (Want more info about LLCs? Check out our Guide to LLCs or set up a call with one of our advisors.)

STEP 1: Choose a Name for Your North Carolina LLC

This first step is important in helping your LLC stand out. Remember, your chosen name must fit in with North Carolina’s naming guidelines, be easy to search, and not already be chosen by another North Carolina business. 

North Carolina provides mandatory naming guidelines, which impacts how you name your LLC:

  • The North Carolina LLC may require you to fill out additional paperwork for restricted words and have a properly licensed professional as part of your LLC (Bank, Attorney, University, etc.).
  • The LLC name may not contain words that would confuse your business with a government agency (Treasury, State Department, FBI, etc.). 
  • The North Carolina LLC name must contain the phrase “limited liability company,” or one of its common abbreviations (LLC or L.L.C.). 
  • The LLC name must be different from any other registered North Carolina limited liability company, limited liability partnership, limited partnership, or corporation.
  • Make sure to do a name search to make sure your desired LLC name is not already taken. This can be done through the North Carolina Secretary of State website.  

Recommended—but not required—steps when naming your North Carolina LLC:

  • Make sure your desired URL name is available before deciding on a name for your LLC. You should consider purchasing the domain immediately. This way, you have the ability to create a future website.  

STEP 2: Choose a Registered Office for Your North Carolina LLC 

To continue with the process, you must designate a registered agent for your North Carolina LLC. A registered agent is a business entity or individual who is in charge of receiving and corresponding on all legal documents related to your LLC. Examples include tax forms and notices of lawsuits. To become a registered agent, you must be a resident of the state or of a registered agent service. You can serve as your own registered agent. 

You can learn more about choosing a registered agent here.

STEP 3: File the North Carolina LLC Certificate of Organization 

To continue with the North Carolina LLC process, you must file a Form L-01 Online through the Secretary of State. This process can be completed online, through the mail or by uploading a PDF. 

North Carolina LLC Certificate of Formation – What Information is Required?

  1. Entity Name and Type – This is where you will provide the name you have chosen and indicate that your entity will be an LLC. 
  2. Articles of Organization Signers – In this section you will indicate the people who have signed the Articles of Organization and their capacity 
  3. Registered Agent– In this section you will indicate the person you have chosen to serve as your registered agent.
  4. Registered Office– Enter the complete street address of the registered office and the county in which it is located
  5. Initial Mailing Address – Enter the complete mailing address of the registered office only if mail is not delivered to the street address shown in Item 4 or if the registered agent prefers to have mail delivered to a P.O. Box or Drawer.
  6. Principal Office– Select item “a” if the limited liability company has a principal office. Enter the telephone number and the complete street address of the principal office and the county in which it is located.
  7. N.C.G.S. §57D-2-21– In this section, the name and address of each of the initial members of the limited liability company may be stated as an attachment.
  8. Company Officials (Voluntary) – This field is being provided in order to assist business entities in identifying its company officials and complying with Federal banking regulations.
  9. Notification System (Voluntary) – The Department offers a free voluntary notification system for which you may choose to participate.
  10. Effectiveness of Filing – In most cases, your North Carolina LLC paperwork will be officially filed as soon as it is received and processed. If you wish to delay the effective date of your filing, you can indicate that information in this section. You can set up a date-based delay, or you can set up the filing to be triggered upon an event, occurrence of fact, or action that may occur in the future.

Execution – In this section you will sign the paperwork to make it official.

North Carolina LLC Certificate of Organization Filing Options

Click here to file Form L-01 Online.  

To print and mail your North Carolina LLC Certificate of Organization or via PDF upload, you must complete this form.   

The nonrefundable state filing cost is $125. This payment is made to the North Carolina Secretary of State.  

You can mail your printed and completed forms to the following address:

The Secretary of State

Business Registration Division 

P.O. Box 29622

Raleigh, NC 27626

To upload a PDF, click here.  

If you are planning to expand your already existing business to the state of North Carolina, you’ll need to register as a Foreign LLC.

STEP 4: File a North Carolina LLC Operating Agreement 

North Carolina does not require operating agreements, but they are considered best practice in business. LLCs use this agreement to outline ownership and operating policies, which mitigates future conflict. This document is internal, which means it does not need to be filed with the state. 

STEP 5: Obtain an EIN for Your North Carolina LLC

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a nine-digit number provided by the Internal Revenue System (IRS). This number is used for federal purposes, such as to keep up with tax reporting. This number functions similarly to a Social Security number. 

An EIN is required to hire employees, open a business bank account and pay taxes. Even if you have an EIN through a sole proprietorship, a new one is needed when transitioning to an LLC.  

This number is free to obtain through the IRS and having a social security number is not required. 

You can apply for an EIN online through this link.

To download the form that you can print and mail, click here

For this process, there is no filing fee. 

Mail your SS-4 Application for Employer Identification Number to:

Internal Revenue Service

Attn: EIN Operation

Cincinnati, OH 45999


(855) 641-6935

Forming a North Carolina LLC—Next Steps

Obtain Business Insurance for Your LLC 

Entrepreneurs should look at business insurance to aid in managing risks. Some of the options for insurance include: 

General Liability Insurance: This is a general policy which protects businesses during lawsuits. This type of insurance is common for small businesses. 

Professional Liability Insurance: This kind is for professional service providers such as consultants or accountants. This insurance accounts for malpractice and aids when other business errors occur. 

Worker’s Compensation Insurance: In North Carolina, this insurance is required for businesses with one or more employees. This insurance accounts for employee illness, injury or death. 

Create a Press Release for Your North Carolina LLC 

Press releases are a smart and cheap way for your business to attract customers at a fast rate. A great press release can help you establish a brand presence and improve your search engine optimization (SEO).


Forming a North Carolina LLC – Additional Resources

What is an LLC? Definition & Benefits | PRIME