1. N.C. Secretary of State Corporations
2. North Carolina LLC Name

N.C. Secretary of State Corporations

To form a corporation in North Carolina, you must go through the NC Secretary of State. Corporations, partnerships, sole proprietorships, and LLCs must all go through this process. A Limited Liability Company (LLC) established in North Carolina is a hybrid business entity, combining the main features of a partnership, corporation, and sole proprietorship. After you file your LLC's Articles of Incorporation, the Secretary of State in North Carolina requires the filing of a Statement of Information. The state LLC filing fee is $125 and the LLC annual report fee is $200.

In order to qualify, the end of your LLC's name has to include “Limited Liability Company,” or either of the abbreviations: “LLC” or with periods between the letters, “L.L.C.” The name of the LLC cannot contain any words that show it's a corporation. The words “Incorporated” or “Corporation” or abbreviations for either (“Corp.,” “Inc.”) cannot be used in the LLC name. In order to qualify as an LLC name, it must be unique or distinguishable. Distinguishable means it can't be similar to any existing organized entity's name in the state of North Carolina, as found when searching the state database. 

North Carolina LLC Name

You cannot use different designators, or the identifiers following your business name, to make the name distinguishable from a similar business name. If you want to name your LLC “Smith Investments, LLC”, it would be too similar to an existing business named “Smith Investments, Inc.” Changes to the grammar of the LLC name you want, including variables and differences in possessive, plural, or singular forms of one of the words will not make the name distinguishable. If you located a business registered under “Apple's Farm, LLC” (including an apostrophe and an “s” after the word apple), you could not register an LLC named “The Farm of Apples, LLC.”

Changes to the name's articles, for example “A” vs. “An” will not make your business name distinguishable either. If you wanted to use the name “Print Shop, LLC,” it would likely be unavailable if a business exists under “The Printing Shop, LLC” or “A Print Shop, LLC.” Using conjunctions like “Or” or “And” (or the ampersand) does not make your business name distinguishable. For example, a business named “Day & Night, LLC” with the ampersand is not distinguishable from “Night Day LLC” or “Day and Night, LLC.”

Using punctuation, like periods, hyphens, slashes, commas, or others, will not make your business name distinguishable. If you wanted to name your business “Mary, Peter, & Paul Studios, LLC”, it wouldn't be approved if a business already exists called “Mary, Peter and Paul Studios, Incorporated” or “Mary-Peter-Paul Studios, Incorporated.” Making changes to the written or numerical numbers is not a distinguishing feature either. Spelling out the name in a proposed business name of “Three Teachers Consulting, LLC” isn't unique enough from an existing business called “3 Teachers Consulting, LLC” without the number spelled out.

If the proposed name for your business is too much like to the name of an existing entity, it will likely be rejected. The name “Speedy Delivery Services, LLC” would be considered too similar to examples like “Super Speedy Delivery Services, LLC” and "Speed Delivery Services, LLC.” Even the process of completing the paperwork for the name of the LLC is more complicated than you may have realized.

The business name you request must be truly unique. It cannot be very similar to any existing names of organized entities in the state. When the name you desire is not available, either because there is an identical match already in use or because it is similar to the name of an existing business, it's best to create a different variation of the original name. The name should be unique and “distinguishable,” helping it to stand out from others while preventing confusion.

When people are looking for your business, it shouldn't be too complicated, so make sure your LLC name is easy to spell. Any registered LLC name should also have a connotation that is positive. A positive LLC name will give people a positive feeling when they hear or talk about your company.

When you perform a search of existing companies in the state database, the results will include various statuses, making it easy for you to determine availability for the LLC name.

Statuses in the database include:

  • Active
  • Cancelled
  • Consolidated
  • Dissolved
  • Forfeited
  • Incorporated
  • Inactive
  • Merged
  • Old Name
  • Revived

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