The North Carolina Secretary of State LLC process begins with its Articles of Incorporation, which define the corporation from its inception. The Articles of Incorporation is a legal document that satisfies certain requirements made by the state.

Information on Forming a North Carolina LLC

  • Begin the process of forming a North Carolina LLC by selecting a business name. Using the database at the North Carolina Secretary of State website, you can search names for availability.
  • When creating the LLC name, there are restricted words that require additional paperwork, such as attorney, university, or doctor. Prohibited words such as FBI, Treasury, and Secret Service cannot be used, as they would cause confusion between your LLC and federal or state agencies.
  • LLC, L.L.C., limited liability co, or limited liability company must be included in the name, according to state law.
  • Once you've determined the desired name is available, you have the option of reserving it for 120 days. To reserve a business name with the SOS, fill out and mail an application, along with the $30 filing fee.
  • You may want to register the name of your LLC as a state or federal trademark.
  • Two other things to consider are reserving your LLC name as a domain name and getting an email address separate from your personal account. 
  • Consider creating an operating agreement for the LLC. While the agreement is not a requirement by the state, it is recommended that one is created. 

Steps for Filing a North Carolina LLC

North Carolina has rules and requirements in place for forming an LLC to ensure it is properly set up and maintained.

  • The articles of organization must be filed with the SOS when creating an LLC. The articles require certain information such as the name and address of the LLC; the dissolution date of the LLC, if applicable; whether the LLC will be manager-managed or member-managed; the registered agent's name; and names and addresses of the members who signed the articles. 
  • It is a requirement by the State of North Carolina that an agent for service of process is assigned to the LLC. The agent is an individual or business entity that accepts legal papers on behalf of the LLC in the event the company is sued.
  • Regulatory and tax requirements you may need to fulfill include obtaining a state or local business license and applying for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for LLCs with more than one member.
  • An annual report is required by the state for foreign and domestic LLCs. The filing fee is currently $200.
  • If filing to do business in North Carolina as a foreign LLC, a registered agent must be appointed and must be physically located in North Carolina.
  • An Application for Certificate of Authority for a Limited Liability Company must be submitted to the SOS along with a $250 filing fee by the foreign LLC. A certificate of legal existence or of good standing provided by the home state of the LLC must accompany the Certificate of Authority application. The validation of legal existence or good standing must be no more than six months old.
  • If the name chosen by the foreign LLC is not available in the North Carolina business name database, the foreign LLC must use a fictitious name within the state. When submitting the initial paperwork to the SOS, a copy of the resolution to adopt a fictitious name agreed to by the LLC's manager should be attached to the application.


Q. Do I need to consult with an attorney before forming an LLC?

A. It is recommended that you consult with an attorney who will explain the different structures and help you choose the one that would work best for your business.

Q. What types of businesses are available?

A. There are several. These include a sole proprietorship, a corporation, and a general partnership.

Q. My LLC will be selling products. Is there anything I need to do?

A. Yes. You need to register with the Department of Revenue for North Carolina to satisfy North Carolina sales tax requirements.

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