How do I form an LLC in North Carolina?
Filing the Articles of Organization creates a North Carolina LLC. In this lesson we will walk you through the process.
You must file an official document called the Articles of Organization to form a North Carolina LLC. This lesson will walk you through the process.
North Carolina LLC filing fee ($125)
The North Carolina LLC filing fee (the fee to create a North Carolina LLC) is $125. This is a one-time fee.
Note: The “LLC filing fee” is the same thing as the “Articles of Organization fee”. The Articles of Organization are the document that, once approved by the Secretary of State’s office, creates your North Carolina LLC.
LLC University® prior lessons:
Before filing the Articles of Organization for your North Carolina LLC, make sure you have read these two lessons:
North Carolina LLC filing methods
You can file your North Carolina LLC Articles of Organization by mail or online.
The filing fee is $125 for both methods.
If you form your LLC by mail, it will be approved in 10-15 days (this accounts for mail time). Your approval will be mailed to you.
If you form your LLC online, it will be approved in 7-10 business days. And your approval will be emailed to you.
Note: Filing times may take longer due to the current global situation and government delays. For the most up-to-date LLC processing times, check how long does it take to get an LLC in North Carolina.
LLC University® recommendation:
We recommend the online filing because it’s easier to complete and has a faster approval time.
How do I file a North Carolina LLC by mail?
If you want to file the Articles of Organization by mail (instead of online), you will need to:
- Go to: North Carolina Secretary of State: Business Forms
- In the first menu, select the Division “Business Registration“
- In the second menu for which forms, select “Business Entities Common“
- From the documents listed below, click “Cover Sheet for Corporate Filings” (PDF will download)
- Back at the top of the page, in the second menu for which forms, change your selection to “Limited Liability Companies“
- Below, click “Articles of Organization” (PDF will download)
- Prepare a check or money order for the $125 filing fee and make it payable to “Secretary of State”
- Send your completed Cover Sheet, Articles of Organization, and filing fee to:
North Carolina Secretary of State
PO Box 29622
Raleigh, NC 27626-0622
Mail filing video instructions:
How do I file a North Carolina LLC Online?
First, you will need to create an online account with the North Carolina Secretary of State:
- Visit North Carolina Secretary of State: Create a New Account
- Create a username and password, enter your contact information, and click Register
- Visit North Carolina Secretary of State: Business Registration to get started
Next, follow the instructions below to file your Articles of Organization online.
Has this entity been created in another state or country?
If you are forming a new North Carolina LLC, select “No“.
If you are registering an out-of-state LLC as a Foreign LLC in North Carolina, select “Yes“.
Choose which type of entity you want to create or register to do business in North Carolina:
Select “Limited Liability Company“.
Enter your desired North Carolina LLC name, using your preferred capitalization. For example, if your desired LLC name is “cummings typewriters LLC” (and not “Cummings Typewriters LLC“), make sure you enter “cummings typewriters LLC” here.
Make sure to include the designator at the end of the name. As per Section 55D-20 of North Carolina LLC Act, the designators you can use are:
- LLC (most common)
- 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 or you can leave it out. For example, “Bayside Bicycles, LLC” and “Bayside Bicycles LLC” are both acceptable.
Registered Agent Information
- Prior lesson: Please read North Carolina Registered Agent before proceeding.
If you or someone you know will be your LLC’s Registered Agent:
Select the option that says “you or a company not in the list will be the Registered Agent” and go to the next page.
Enter your Registered Agent’s email address.
Is the Registered Agent a business entity?:
If your LLC’s Registered Agent is a company (and not a Commercial Registered Agent), select “Yes” and enter the company’s name. Most people will select “No“, because it is not common to have a company (other than a Commercial Registered Agent) as your LLC’s Registered Agent.
If you select “No“, enter the Registered Agent’s first and last name.
Then on the next page, enter the address of the Registered Agent. If the Registered Agent’s physical and mailing address are the same, check the box at the bottom. If the Registered Agent has a mailing address that is different from their physical address, then don’t check the box.
If you hired a Commercial Registered Agent:
Select the Commercial Registered Agent’s name from the list and continue to the next page.
Principal Office Information
The Principal Office is the place where the actual business is conducted or a place where you keep your LLC’s business records.
A Principal Office address can be an actual office, a virtual office, a home address, a storefront, a warehouse, etc.
Does the business entity have a principal office?
Note: The reason the state gives you the option to say that you don’t have a Principal Office is in case your business is planning to lease space. The state allows you to skip the Principal Office address during LLC formation. However, you must enter a Principal Office address when you file your first North Carolina LLC Annual Report.
If your LLC has a Principal Office, select “Yes” and:
- Enter a phone number for your business (can be a work phone, home phone, or cell phone, VOIP phone, etc.)
- On the next page, enter the Principal Office address.
- Related article: LLC Organizer vs LLC Member
The Organizer is the person submitting the Articles of Organization to the state and signing the Articles of Organization.
Note: Your LLC only needs one Organizer to submit the Articles of Organization. As mentioned in the article linked above, simply being an LLC Organizer doesn’t mean that person owns the LLC. The LLC Members (owners) are listed in the North Carolina LLC Operating Agreement.
Click “Add Entity/Individual“.
Is this party a commercial entity?
Select “Yes” if the LLC Organizer is a company. Select “No” if the LLC Organizer is a person. Most people select “No“.
Enter the Organizer’s information and click “Save“. And then continue to the next page.
Company Officials (optional)
Note: Whether or not Company Officials are entered here, they won’t be signing the Articles of Organization.
In North Carolina, you do not have to list the LLC Members in the Articles of Organization (it’s optional). LLC Members are listed in the LLC Operating Agreement.
However, you may have a problem when you try to open a bank account for your LLC. Some bankers don’t know this and they get confused when the LLC Members aren’t on the Articles of Organization. The Secretary of State decided to help with this confusion, so they added this Company Officials section. It allows people forming an LLC to list the Members on the Articles of Organization.
Again though, it’s optional. And we have another solution if you want to keep the LLC Members private and still have an easy time when dealing with the bank.
If you prefer to have all the Members listed publicly:
Enter the Members in the Company Officials section.
If you want Member privacy:
- Leave the Company Officials section blank.
- Have the LLC Member(s) sign the LLC Operating Agreement, which is a private document (not on public records).
- Have the LLC Organizer(s) sign a Statement of LLC Organizer. This is also a private document in which the Organizer also lists the LLC Member(s).
- Read our LLC bank account page.
- Call the bank before you go to a branch location and ask to speak to the branch manager or a business specialist. Tell them you want to open a bank account for your LLC. Explain to them that LLC Members don’t have to be listed in the Articles of Organization in North Carolina. And tell them you have the LLC Operating Agreement and a Statement of LLC Organizer.
- Ask the banker for their email address and ask if they will review your paperwork before you arrive. This can save you a lot of time.
Attach, as a PDF, any other provisions which the business entity elects to include (optional):
If your LLC has special rules, those can be included in an attachment and uploaded here.
Most people don’t include an attachment unless they have been instructed to by their attorney.
Please provide a business email address (optional):
The email address entered here is kept private.
The state will use this email address to notify you of any documents that are filed for your LLC. It’s a security feature to prevent “business identity theft”. We recommend entering your email address here.
You can use any email address that you own. It doesn’t have to be a business email address. You can just use your primary email address.
Please indicate when you want the document to become effective:
- Related article: What is an LLC effective date?
An LLC Effective Date is the date your LLC officially comes into existence. Think of it as the day your LLC is “born”.
If you would like your LLC to come into existence on the date it is approved by the North Carolina Secretary of State, then select “Effective upon filing” from the drop down menu.
However, if you want your LLC to come into existence on a future date, then select “Effective on a future date“. Then select the date from the calendar. The date can’t be more than 90 days from the date of filing.
Note: You can’t back-date your filing.
Tip if you’re forming your LLC later in the year:
If you’re forming your LLC later in the year (October, November or December) and you don’t need your LLC open right away, we recommend using January 1st of the next year as an effective date.
This will save you $200 by pushing your LLC’s first Annual Report due date more than a year ahead. And depending on how your LLC is taxed, this can also push your tax filing due date more than a year ahead.
For example: Let’s pretend it’s currently November 2022 and you’re filing your LLC. If you don’t need to use the LLC right away, you can use an effective date for your filing of January 1, 2023. This means your 1st Annual Report is due by April 15, 2024 (instead of April 15, 2023). And depending on how your LLC is taxed, your tax filings are now due in March or April of 2024 (and not 2023).
The date the document was executed:
From the calendar, select today’s date (regardless of what date you used for the effective date). “Document” here means the Articles of Organization.
Who needs to sign the document?
- Only the person(s) listed in the Organizers section need to sign.
- If you listed any Company Officials, they don’t sign the document.
From the drop down lists, select the person(s) you entered in the Organizer section and then click “Next“.
You will only be using the blank field to the right if the “person” from the drop down is a company. If that’s the case, then you would enter the name and title of the individual signing on behalf of the company.
Most people forming their own LLC list themselves as the Organizer, so they will just be selecting themselves from the list on the left (and leaving the field on the right blank).
A PDF preview of your online filing will show up in this section. Review the information you’ve entered and check for any typos.
If you need to make changes, click the “Previous” button and go back to the section where changes are needed.
If everything looks good, click “Next” to proceed.
Business email address to send receipt of filing:
Your email address will likely be auto-filled. You can leave it as-is or enter a different email address. This email address is where your North Carolina LLC approval documents will be sent.
Would you like your document to be expedited?
If you are comfortable with the usual approval time (and don’t want to pay extra), select “None” from the first drop down menu. This means you will just pay the standard filing fee of $125 and your LLC will be approved in 7-10 business days.
If you want your LLC approved faster, you can select “24 Hours (+$100)“. This will cost $225 total ($125 filing fee + $100 expedited fee). After the state receives your Articles of Organization, they will review and process it within 24 hours. If you pay for an expedited filing, you will have your LLC approval in about 2-3 business days.
If filing on behalf of a client, you may enter their Customer Reference Number here:
Leave this section blank. It doesn’t apply to people forming their own LLCs. It’s sometimes used by filing companies or law firms.
Fees and Payment
This section shows the total payment required for your filing. There is a small additional fee added for online filings.
You can pay with a credit card, debit card, or by ACH. Enter your payment information, click “Submit“, and finalize your payment to the state.
Congratulations! Your LLC Articles of Organization have been successfully submitted to the state. Now you just need to wait for approval.
North Carolina LLC Approval (online filing):
Your North Carolina LLC will be approved in 7-10 business days (regular filing) or 2-3 business days (expedited filing).
After your LLC is approved, you will receive an email with your stamped and approved Articles of Organization. You will also receive a Cover Letter confirming your filing. The stamped and approved Articles of Organization are your LLC’s official approval document.
Make sure to keep these documents in a safe place. We recommend making a physical copy as well as storing an electronic copy on your computer.
Congratulations on your new LLC!
Next Step: LLC Operating Agreement
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.
Their hours are Monday through Friday, 8am – 5pm Eastern Time.
North Carolina LLC Act: Chapter 55
North Carolina LLC Act: Section 57D-2-20
North Carolina LLC Act: Section 57D-2-21
North Carolina LLC Act: Section 57D-2-22
North Carolina LLC Act: Section 57D-2-23
North Carolina LLC Act: Section 57D-3-20
North Carolina LLC Act: Section 57D-3-21
North Carolina LLC Act: Section 57D-3-22
North Carolina LLC Act: Section 57D-3-23
North Carolina Secretary of State: Frequently Asked Questions
North Carolina Secretary of State: Launching a North Carolina Business
North Carolina Secretary of State: Organizing Your Limited Liability Company in North Carolina