Last updated October 1, 2020
Filing North Carolina LLC
Articles of Organization
Quick Start Guide
This Quick Start Guide is a brief overview of how to form an LLC in North Carolina.
North Carolina LLC Costs:
North Carolina LLC filing fee: $125 (one-time fee)
North Carolina LLC annual report fee: $200 per year
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In order to form an LLC in North Carolina, you need to file an Articles of Organization and a Cover Sheet with the North Carolina Secretary of State. These are the documents that officially register and create your LLC under North Carolina law (North Carolina LLC Act).
You can file your Articles of Organization and Cover Sheet in 1 of 2 ways:
1. Online: the LLC filing fee is $125 and your North Carolina LLC will be approved in 3-5 business days.
2. By mail: the LLC filing fee is $125 and your North Carolina LLC will be approved in 4-6 business days.
Note: The $125 is a one-time filing fee.
Note: The “LLC filing fee” (the fee to create a North Carolina LLC) is the same thing as the “Articles of Organization fee”. The Articles of Organization is the document, that once approved by the Secretary of State’s office, creates your North Carolina LLC.
Regardless of the filing method you choose, you’ll need to download the documents and sign them.
If you file by mail, you’ll put the documents in an envelope and mail it to the state along with a check or money order. If you file online, you’ll scan and upload the documents to the state’s website and submit payment with a credit or debit card. Either way, you still have to print and sign the forms.
Our Recommendation: Since the approval times are nearly identical, we recommend choosing whichever method you are most comfortable with. Meaning, if you’re good with computers and knowledgeable about scanning documents to PDF format, then we recommend filing online. However, if you’re not very “tech-comfortable”, we recommend filing by mail.
You’ll find instructions for both options below.
Prior Lessons: Before filing your North Carolina LLC Articles of Organization and Cover Sheet, please make sure you have read the prior lessons:
– North Carolina LLC Name
– North Carolina Registered Agent
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The video below includes an overview of forming an LLC in North Carolina as well as detailed instructions on how to complete the Articles of Organization. We recommend watching the video below as well as reviewing our written instructions further down the page.
Download North Carolina LLC Articles of Organization (L-01):
1. Go to North Carolina Secretary of State: Forms by Title
2. Choose “Business Registration” from the “Within the Department” drop down menu.
3. Choose “Limited Liability Companies” in the second drop down menu.
4. The Articles of Organization (L-01) will appear at the top of the list. Click on the link to download a PDF copy.
Tip: You can either print the form, fill it out by hand (using a black pen), then sign; or, you can type in the form on your computer, then print it out and sign it. When printing, use regular white paper (8.5″ x 11″).
1. North Carolina LLC Name
Enter your desired North Carolina LLC name. Make sure to include the designator at the end of the name. As per North Carolina law (Section 55D-20), here are the allowable designators:
- LLC (this is the most commonly used)
- Limited Liability Company
- Ltd. Liability Co.
- Limited Liability Co.
- Ltd. Liability Company
Comma in LLC name: You can use a comma in your North Carolina LLC name if you’d like, or you can leave it out. For example, “Bayside Bicycles, LLC” and “Bayside Bicycles LLC” are both acceptable.
2. Name and address of each person signing the documents (aka, the Organizers)
Enter the name and business address of the persons who will execute the Articles of Organization and indicate whether they are a Member, an Organizer, or both by checking the appropriate boxes.
An LLC Organizer is a person who files the Articles of Organization with the state. Just being the Organizer of an LLC does not automatically make someone a Member (owner) of an LLC, although, sometimes, an Organizer can also be an LLC Member.
Tip: Most filers are usually both the LLC Organizer and a Member.
If your LLC has more than 3 Members (and you’d like to list these additional names on your Articles of Organization), then you will need to include an attachment with your filling. We’ve prepared that document for you here: https://www.llcuniversity.com/north-carolina-llc/additional-members/
Note: You don’t have to list all LLC Members here though. You can just list an Organizer and then have the LLC Member(s) sign an Operating Agreement, which will discuss in the next lesson.
3. Name of Registered Agent
A North Carolina Registered Agent is a person or company who agrees to receive “Service of Process” (legal mail) on behalf of your LLC in the event it is involved in a lawsuit or court case. So in this section, you’ll be entering the name of a person or the name of a company (if you hired a Commercial Registered Agent).
4. Registered Agent’s Street Address
Enter the complete street address of your North Carolina Registered Agent. Remember, this address must be located in North Carolina and it must be a street address. PO Boxes are not allowed.
5. Registered Agent’s Mailing Address (if applicable)
If your North Carolina Registered Agent receives mail at an address different from that listed in #4, then enter that address here. You’re allowed to use a PO Box address for this section, if needed.
Tip: This is not commonly used and most filers just leave #5 blank.
6. Principal Office Address & Phone Number
Tip: #6 sort of has “2 parts” to it and the 2nd part extends onto the top of page 2. #6 can also be a little confusing at first glance, but don’t worry, we’ll explain it all below.
First, what is a Principal Office? A Principal Office is a place where the actual business is conducted or a place where the official LLC documents and business records are kept.
So for example, an office, a store, a warehouse, or your home.
At first, when filers see two options in #6 (“check off ‘A’ if you have a Principal Office or check off ‘B’ if you don’t have a Principal Office”), a lot of people think that they can just check off ‘B’ and keep their address private.
Well, that won’t be the case, because next year, when you file your Annual Report, you’ll be required to list a Principal Office address. It’s mandatory.
The purpose of having option “B” is really a courtesy on behalf of the Secretary of State. You see, many people are in the process of finding office space (or a store or a warehouse) at the same time they are forming their LLC, so they often haven’t found a space yet, or they have, but haven’t signed the lease yet. So the Secretary of State lets you check off “B” so you’re not forced to write down an address you don’t know or don’t have yet. But again, you’ll need to include this information in your Annual Report next year, and every year your LLC is in business.
So, having said all that:
If you have a Principal Office location, we recommend checking off “A” and listing your address.
But “Wait“, you say, “…there are two addresses. What’s the difference?”
Street address: This is simply the street address of your Principal Office. So again, that’ll be an office, a store, a warehouse, or your home. If you check off “A” you have to include an address here. This address doesn’t have to be located in North Carolina (only your Registered Agent address does), but it must be a physical street address. It cannot be a PO Box address.
Mailing address: This section is optional and is usually used by filers who received mail at a PO Box because they cannot receive mail at their street address location. This address doesn’t have to be located in North Carolina. It can be located in any state. However, most filers leave this blank.
“Will my phone number be made public?”
Don’t sweat, your phone number will not be made public. Your number will only be used by the Secretary of State in case they have questions and need to call your LLC. You can use a home phone, a cell phone, or an office phone number. It really doesn’t matter, as long as you list some phone number.
Note: Although it looks like the phone number is only a part of section A, that is not the case. Regardless of whether you check off A or B, you still need to list a phone number in #6. Again, this phone number will be blacked out on your documents and only used by the Secretary of State (if needed at all).
7. Additional Provisions
This section basically states that if your LLC will have any additional provisions that they will be attached (included) with your Articles of Organization. This doesn’t mean you have to include attachments though. This is an optional section.
You can think of additional provisions as “additional rules” which your LLC must follow.
Note: Most filers do not attach additional provisions unless they’ve been instructed to by their attorney or other business advisor.
8. Company Officials
This section, which is optional, can be used for listing the Company Officials (aka, the LLC Members).
The Secretary of State’s office is trying to help avoid confusion for bank representatives when you go to open an LLC bank account. Since most bank representatives aren’t trained on the details of how LLCs work, they sometimes will look for all of the LLC Members to be listed on the Articles of Organization (although they don’t have to be).
While we appreciate the state’s attempt to be helpful, we find this section hard to use for people who have more than 2 Members.
So here’s what we recommend:
• If your LLC has more than 2 Members, we recommend leaving this section blank to help avoid confusion when opening a bank account. Just have the LLC Members sign an LLC Operating Agreement. And to take it a step further, you can also have the LLC Organizer sign a Statement of Organizer. This helps connect the “paper trail” and shows how the Organizer appoints the Members after the LLC is formed. With this document and your LLC Operating Agreement, you should have no issues at the bank.
• If your LLC has 1 or 2 Members, and you don’t mind them being listed publicly, enter them in this section. If you prefer for the Members not to be listed, leave this section blank and have the Member(s) complete the Operating Agreement. You can also complete the Statement of Organizer as well.
9. Email Address
We recommend entering your email address in this section as the state will use it to notify you of any documents that are filed on behalf of your LLC.
This helps the state prevent what is called “business identity theft”, which is the act of someone filing documents on behalf of an LLC they do not own or do not have the right to do so.
Don’t worry, your email address will not be made public.
You can use any email address you’d like. It doesn’t have to be a “business email” address. We recommend using your primary email address; the one you check most often.
10. Effective Date
An LLC Effective Date is the date your LLC officially goes into existence. Think of this as the day your LLC is “born”.
If you would like your LLC to go into existence on the date it is approved by the North Carolina Secretary of State, then leave this section blank (this is what most filers do).
However, if you want your LLC to go into existence on a future date, then enter that date here. This date cannot be more than 90 days ahead.
Tip: If you’re forming your North Carolina LLC in October, November or December (and you don’t need your LLC open right away), you can forward-date your filing to January 1st of the following year. This will save you the hassle and expense of filing any unnecessary paperwork or taxes. For more information, please see LLC effective date.
– The Effective Date cannot be back-dated.
– Do not enter the Effective Date in the “This is the _____ day of _____________, 20____” section.
Date, Signature, Name, and Title
In the “This is the ______ day of _____________, 20____” section, enter today’s date (regardless of what date you used for the effective date).
To the right is where the LLC Organizer will sign and enter their name and title.
You’ll notice there are 3 lines, however, the top line should be left blank (we’re not really sure why it’s there).
On the 2nd line (“Signature”) you’ll sign your name after you print the document.
On the 3rd line (“Name and Title”) you’ll enter your name followed by a comma and the word “Organizer” or the words “Organizer and Member”. Most filers are both the Organizer and a Member, so they use “Organizer and Member”.
If you listed more than 1 person in #2, then that person (or people) will need to sign and enter their name and title below.
Congratulations! Your North Carolina LLC Articles of Organization is complete and ready to submit to the state, but… before you do that, you’ll need to complete a Cover Sheet.
Download the Cover Sheet for Corporate Filings
1. Go to: https://www.sosnc.gov/forms
2. Choose “Business Registration” from the “Within the Department” drop down menu.
3. Make sure “Business Entities Common” appears in the the second drop down menu (it will appear by default).
4. The “Cover Sheet for Corporate Filings” will appear at the very top of the selection. Click on the link to download a PDF copy.
Tip: You can either print the form, fill it out by hand (use a black pen), or, you can type in the form on your computer, then print. When printing, use regular white paper (8.5″ x 11″).
Cover Sheet instructions:
Contact Person Name: Enter your first and last name.
Phone: Enter your phone number. This can be a cell phone, an office phone, or a home phone number. Enter whichever number you prefer.
Contact Business Name: Leave this blank.
Mailing Address: Enter your mailing address.
Email Address: Enter your best email address; the one you check most often.
Fax #: You can leave this blank.
Customer Ref #: You can leave this blank.
Name of Entity: Enter your LLC name here.
Type of Document: Enter “Articles of Organization”.
– Select your “Processing Method”. Most filers choose “Regular Process” (which is the regular $125 filing fee). If you need your documents faster (faster than 3-6 business days) you can choose “24-hour Guaranteed Filing” and submit an extra $100 ($225 total).
– Select whether you will personally pick up your documents, you want them returned by mail, or you want them returned by email. You can leave “Special Notes” blank.
Instructions for Filing North Carolina Articles of Organization Online
Note: You need to create a free online account with the North Carolina Secretary of State in order to upload your Articles of Organization and Cover Sheet online. Also, after you complete and sign your documents, they’ll need to be scanned and saved in PDF format.
Create an account:
1. Go to the North Carolina Secretary of State’s website: https://www.sosnc.gov
2. Click on “Sign In” in the upper right corner of the home page, then select “First Time User”.
– Although it looks like only a few sections are required (sections with a red asterisk), all sections need to be completed.
– All information entered here will be kept private. It will not be listed on public records.
3. Create a username and a password in the first section, then enter your password again to confirm it.
4. Enter the name of your LLC in the “Business Name” box. It’s okay that your LLC doesn’t exist yet. You can always change this field later (if needed). The state just requires that you enter something here.
5. Enter your name and address in the next section. This address does not need to be the same address that you listed in your Articles of Organization (like your Registered Agent or Principal Office address), although it can be. And this address doesn’t have to be in North Carolina. It can be located in any state. Just use an address where you regularly check your mail.
6. Enter your telephone number. This can be your home, office, or cell phone number. You likely won’t receive any phone calls, but the state will use this number in case they have any questions about your filing.
7. Enter your email address in the “Contact Email” field. This doesn’t have to be an official business email or anything like that. Just use a reliable email address that you check most often. Go ahead and enter that same email address in the “Notification Email” and “Billing Email” boxes.
8. Click the “Register” button at the bottom. Your account will be created and then you’ll be redirected back to the homepage (however, you’ll now be signed in).
Make sure to keep your username and password in a safe place. You’ll use this information to file your Annual Report each year.
Let’s Get Started:
Click on “Online Services” in the main menu (should be on the far right), then under the “Business Registration” column (far left) select “Create A Business Online”.
Make sure “Creation” shows up as the default choice.
Requested Entity Name:
Enter the full name of your LLC here.
Make sure you’ve read our North Carolina LLC Name lesson. The #1 reason LLC filings are rejected in North Carolina is because the name isn’t available.
Has this entity been created in another state or country?
Select “Limited Liability Company” from the drop down menu.
Select “Articles of Organization Limited Liability” from the drop down menu.
Customer Reference Number:
You can leave this blank.
Enter your email address here.
Click “Browse for Attachment”, and attach your scanned Articles of Organization and Cover Sheet. Make sure the Articles of Organization is signed.
Note: The state doesn’t allow for uploading more than one file, so your Articles of Organization and Cover Sheet must be saved into one PDF file.
Fees & Payment:
If you want a regular approval time, select “None” from the first drop down menu. This will be 3-5 business days for approval and is the standard filing fee of $125.
If you want your documents approved faster, select “24 Hours (+$100)”. This will cost $225 total ($125 filing fee + $100 expedite fee). After the state receives your documents, they will review and process them within 24 hours.
Under the “Payment Type” drop down menu, select “Credit Card”.
Enter your credit or debit card information and then click “Pay and Submit”.
Congratulations! Your North Carolina LLC has been filed online for processing. Now you just need to wait for approval.
North Carolina LLC Approval (online filing):
After you submit your documents and payment online, your North Carolina LLC will be approved in 3-5 business days (if you did not pay for expedited filing). You’ll receive back by email a stamped and approved copy of the Articles of Organization and a Cover Letter confirming a successful filing.
Note: You can ignore the next section below (instructions for filing by mail) and skip to Next Step at the bottom of this page.
Instructions for Filing North Carolina Articles of Organization by Mail
Prepare a check or money order for $125, made payable to the “Secretary of State”. This is the filing fee amount for a regular approval time when filing by mail (4-6 business days).
If you’d like your documents approved within 24 hours (after the state receives them), send a check or money order for $225 ($125 filing fee + $100 expedite fee).
Send your completed Articles of Organization, Cover Sheet, and filing fee to:
North Carolina Secretary of State
PO Box 29622
Raleigh, NC 27626-0622
Congratulations! Your North Carolina LLC has been filed for processing. Now you just need to wait for approval.
North Carolina LLC Approval (mail filing):
Your North Carolina LLC will be approved in 4-6 business days (if you did not pay for expedited filing).
You’ll receive back by regular mail a stamped and approved copy of the Articles of Organization and a Cover Letter confirming a successful filing.
Once you’ve filed your Articles of Organization and your North Carolina LLC has been approved, you can then proceed to the next lesson: North Carolina LLC Operating Agreement.
North Carolina Secretary of State Contact Info
If you have any questions, you can contact the North Carolina Secretary of State at 919-814-5400 (Monday through Friday, 8:00am – 5:00pm Eastern Time).
NC Business Corporation Act: Chapter 55
NC Secretary of State: Frequently Asked Questions
NC Limited Liability Company Act: Section 57D-2-20
NC Limited Liability Company Act: Section 57D-2-21
NC Secretary of State: Launching a North Carolina Business
NC Secretary of State: Organizing Your Limited Liability Company in North Carolina