North Carolina business registration is a simple and easy process that involves several steps depending on the type of business. North Carolina has the tenth largest population and ninth largest gross domestic product. It's home to 21 of the country's biggest companies, including Bank of America and Lowe's.

The state is known for its good business climate and is home to more than 800,000 small businesses. It also employs 1.5 million workers. Some of the areas in which the state is most competitive include:

  • Aerospace
  • Automotive
  • Biotechnology
  • Energy
  • Financial services
  • Information and communications technology

Starting a Business in North Carolina

Starting a business in North Carolina involves a few simple steps:

  • File your Articles of Incorporation with the North Carolina Secretary of State.
  • Obtain a Federal Tax ID number or Employer Identification Number from the Internal Revenue Service.
  • Open a business bank account.
  • Register your business with government entities if you plan to hire employees and perform payroll withholding.
  • Apply for any statewide licenses to make sure you are in compliance with state laws.
  • Obtain any necessary permits to open and operate your business.

North Carolina Corporation Requirements

When sending in your Articles of Incorporation, you will need to pay an incorporation fee of $125 to the North Carolina Secretary of State and meet certain requirement to get approved. Some of the state's basic corporation requirements include:

  • A name for your company with inc., corporation, or incorporated after it. 
  • The number of company shares you would like to authorize in North Carolina.
  • The shares' class.
  • The North Carolina address of the company's principal offices.
  • The date when your corporation will officially go into effect.
  • The names, addresses, and signatures of all the incorporators.
  • Your registered agent's name address and signature.

Note that North Carolina does not require original signatures on the filings. Therefore, you can copy documents and have them mailed, emailed, or picked up.

Requirements for a North Carolina LLC

There are a few steps you must take to form a limited liability company (LLC) in North Carolina. You will need to send in a $125 filing fee with your forms to the North Carolina Secretary of State's Office. Some items you must include on your forms are:

  • Your business name, including the LLC designator at the end. Your name must be different from any other LLC in North Carolina.
  • The dissolution date for your LLC, unless you want it to be perpetual.
  • The purpose of your North Carolina LLC.
  • The physical address of your registered agent.
  • The principal office address, if one has been established.
  • The names and addresses of all the LLC's organizers.
  • Whether the LLC will be member-managed or manager-managed.
  • Your Articles of Organization's effective date. You do not need to fill this out if you would like to use the date of filing.

Naming Your LLC in North Carolina

There are multiple steps to take when incorporating your business in North Carolina. One of the first steps is choosing your business name. In doing so:

  • You need to make sure the name is not in use by any other company.
  • You must choose a name that your customers can remember or search for easily. 
  • You must make sure your name includes endings such as LLC for limited liability companies or Inc. for corporations. 
  • Your name must not imply something other than what the company is in business for.

When determining whether your company name is different from other company names, the state will not take into account the end designator or forming words into contractions. These would only be considered similar names if they were the only changes. For some words and phrases, North Carolina requires additional paperwork or licenses. Some of these restricted words include:

  • Bank or Banking
  • Trust
  • Mutual
  • Co-op
  • Insurance
  • Realtor
  • Engineer
  • Architect
  • Surveyor
  • CPA
  • Wholesale

It is good practice to reserve your business name for 120 days to make sure it will still be available when it comes time to file your paperwork. You can reserve it by filling out a Name Reservation form and paying a filing $30 fee. 

If you need help with your North Carolina business registration, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.