Starting an LLC in North Carolina comes with more costs than just filing the initial paperwork. But it doesn’t have to be as expensive as you think.
We explain all of the initial and ongoing North Carolina LLC cost details below, as well as give you tips on how to save money.
How much does an LLC cost in North Carolina?
It costs $125 to form an LLC in North Carolina. This is a fee paid for the Articles of Organization.
You’ll file this form with the North Carolina Secretary of State. And once approved, your LLC will go into existence.
In addition to this LLC filing fee, there are other costs to be aware of when forming a North Carolina LLC (Limited Liability Company).
Costs to forming a North Carolina LLC
There is a $125 one-time state filing fee to form a North Carolina LLC.
There are also ongoing fees (like a $200 Annual Report fee), which we discuss below.
LLC Costs in North Carolina
|Registered Agent||$0 or $125 per year|
|Articles of Organization||$125|
|Operating Agreement||$0 (free on our site)|
|EIN Number||$0 (free through IRS)|
|Taxes||varies (filed and/or paid every year)|
North Carolina LLC Articles of Organization Filing Fee ($125)
Starting an LLC costs $125 in North Carolina. This is the state filing fee for a document called the North Carolina Articles of Organization.
The Articles of Organization are filed with the North Carolina Secretary of State. And once approved, this is what creates your LLC.
The $125 fee is a one-time fee. You don’t have to pay any monthly (or annual) fees to start your North Carolina LLC.
Note: LLCs are the most common business structure used in North Carolina. They are the most popular business entity because they offer liability protection for the LLC owners.
Depending on the state, the Articles of Organization form is sometimes called a Certificate of Organization or Certificate of Formation. Articles of Organization is the most common name – but they all mean the same thing: the form used to create your LLC.
North Carolina business name cost ($0)
Naming your Limited Liability Company doesn’t cost anything. Your North Carolina LLC Name is approved (at no extra cost) when your Articles of Organization filing is approved by the state.
You may have read online that LLC Name Reservations are required. However, this is not true in most states. Most states don’t require a Name Reservation to form an LLC.
How much does a DBA cost? (varies)
A DBA is filed with the county in North Carolina. So the cost of a DBA varies, depending on which county your LLC does business in.
Note: A DBA is sometimes called a Trade Name, Fictitious Name, Assumed Name or Fictitious Business Name. They all mean the same thing.
Tip: You aren’t required to get a DBA for your LLC. It’s optional. For more information, read our article: Do I need a DBA?
North Carolina Registered Agent Fee ($0 or $125/year)
North Carolina law requires that you designate a Registered Agent when forming your LLC.
A North Carolina Registered Agent is a person or company who receives legal documents and state notices for your LLC. A Registered Agent needs a street address in the state and should generally be available during normal business hours.
There is no additional cost if you will be your own Registered Agent, or have someone you know be your LLC’s Registered Agent.
However, you have the option of hiring a Registered Agent service. This will cost you between $100 to $300 per year. But Registered Agent service companies offer other helpful business services and can protect your privacy.
Hiring a Registered Agent service is a good idea if:
- You don’t have an address in the state (North Carolina law requires Registered Agents to have a physical address in the state
- You want to keep your address off public record (depending on which company you hire, you may be able to use their address to keep your address private)
LLC Operating Agreement Fee ($0)
A North Carolina LLC Operating Agreement is a written contract between the LLC Members. Operating Agreements include detailed information about LLC ownership, how the LLC is managed, and how profits are distributed.
Single-Member LLCs and Multi-Member LLCs should draft an Operating Agreement, keep it with their business records, and give a copy to each Member.
Most websites charge $50 to $200 for LLC Operating Agreements. But you can save money by writing your own Operating Agreement.
Here at LLC University®, we offer free LLC Operating Agreement templates for all types of LLCs.
LLC EIN Number Fee ($0)
An EIN Number is also known as an Employer Identification Number (EIN) or a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN).
This number is used to file income taxes, to open an LLC bank account, and to hire employees (if applicable).
Although many websites charge a service fee to get an EIN for your LLC, it can actually be done for free.
You can obtain an EIN for your LLC from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at no cost. The online filing can be completed in a few minutes.
North Carolina LLC Annual Report Fee ($200/year)
North Carolina requires you to keep your LLC’s information up to date by filing an Annual Report.
This keeps your NC LLC in good standing and in compliance with state law so it can continue operating. You simply confirm the information on the Annual Report, file it with the North Carolina Secretary of State, and pay the Annual Report fee.
The North Carolina LLC Annual Report costs $200 per year. These filing fees are paid every year for the life of your LLC.
North Carolina Business License and Permit Fees (varies)
Depending on where your LLC does business in North Carolina and the industry you’re in, you may need to obtain additional Business Licenses or Permits. For example, you may need to get a City Business Permit.
The costs for these other business licenses or permits will vary depending on location and industry, but usually the filing fees are not very high. Some licenses and permits are issued at the state level, and others are issued by a municipality (the town, city, or county).
LLC Taxes (varies)
There are many different types of North Carolina LLC taxes that owners must pay, so this annual cost varies widely.
Some of the taxes LLC owners pay include:
- Federal taxes
- State income tax
- Local income tax
- Business taxes
- Self-employment taxes
- Sales and use tax
- Payroll tax (if you have employees)
- Property tax (if the LLC owns property)
Your North Carolina LLC taxes depend on your industry and amount of business activity, so we’re not able to provide an estimate. Every business is different, and your specific circumstances determine what taxes apply to your LLC. How much your LLC pays in taxes depends on your business income.
Hiring an Accountant
How much your small business pays in taxes is best determined by working with a qualified accountant in North Carolina.
The amount you’ll pay your accountant will vary. However, most accountants will charge $300 per year for a simple tax return, or up to $900 for more detailed filings.
Note: We recommend speaking with a few accountants in North Carolina to make sure they can help you meet all of your federal, state, and local tax obligations. We offer detailed tips on How to Find an Accountant.
North Carolina Secretary of State
If you have any questions about the cost of opening a North Carolina LLC, you can contact the North Carolina Secretary of State (aka the North Carolina Department of Business Registration).
North Carolina LLC Cost FAQs
Some LLCs may need a business license in North Carolina. This depends on your industry and where your LLC is located. The cost of local business permits varies.
If you hired a Registered Agent service, you’ll have an annual subscription fee to pay each year. This is usually about $125 per year.
Some LLCs may need a business license in North Carolina. This depends on your industry and where your LLC is located. You’ll need to check with your municipality to see if there are any annual renewal fees for the business permit.
However, if you want to save time and make sure your LLC is filed correctly, we recommend hiring Northwest Registered Agent.
Northwest Registered Agent has excellent customer service and they include Registered Agent services free for the 1st year. They also offer other services, like an Operating Agreement and filing your Annual Report.
Check out Best LLC Services for more suggestions.
However, some people may want to hire an attorney if their LLC has a complex ownership or management structure, has investors, or requires industry-specific documentation.
A business attorney usually charges between $800 and $2,500 to form an LLC.
- Choose an LLC business name and make sure it’s available
- Choose who will be your North Carolina Registered Agent
- File the North Carolina Articles of Organization
- Complete and sign an LLC Operating Agreement
- Get a Tax ID Number (EIN) from the IRS
- Open an LLC bank account
- Check whether you need a business or sales tax license in North Carolina
By forming your LLC yourself, being your own Registered Agent, and using our Operating Agreement template you can save over $400.
You can get an LLC in North Carolina approved in 7-10 business days if you file online. On the other hand, filing by mail takes about 3-4 weeks (including mail time).
And you might be able to find a bank that doesn’t charge any monthly fees.
Before you open your LLC business bank account, we recommend calling and asking if there are ways to avoid the monthly maintenance fees.
The North Carolina Foreign LLC cost is $250.
If you form an LLC in North Carolina, it is called a “Domestic LLC”. If you formed your LLC in another state, it would be a Foreign LLC once you register it in North Carolina.
However, the most important factors in deciding where to start a business are where you live and where you’re doing business.
Meaning, if you live in or do business in North Carolina, then you should start your business in North Carolina. While many websites talk about tax rates and advantages of certain states, none of that applies if it’s not the state where you live and do business. And just because a certain state has cheaper LLC fees doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to form your LLC there.
For example, if you form an LLC in Wyoming, but live in and conduct business in North Carolina, you’ll also need to register your Wyoming LLC in North Carolina (and pay fees). And you’ll end up paying North Carolina taxes anyway. This ends up leading to more costs and more headaches with no advantages.
In summary, if you are a North Carolina resident, then yes, North Carolina is the best state to form an LLC. If you don’t live in and do business in North Carolina, then no, North Carolina probably isn’t a good state to start an LLC.