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Cost to Form an LLC in North Carolina: A Complete Manual

North Carolina LLC Cost

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Embarking on the journey to establish an LLC in North Carolina entails more than just the straightforward filing of initial documents. While the process may seem costly at first glance, there exist opportunities to mitigate expenses and make the endeavor more financially viable. 

This article delves into the various costs associated with forming an LLC in North Carolina and offers insights into savvy approaches, including reputable services like ZenBusiness, that can effectively streamline the process and lead to significant cost efficiencies. 

Join us as we uncover the costs of forming an LLC in North Carolina and provide insights into cost-effective solutions like ZenBusiness.

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What Is the Cost of Forming an LLC in North Carolina?

The primary expense for initiating an LLC in North Carolina is the $125 charge, which covers the online submission of your LLC’s Articles of Organization to the North Carolina Secretary of State.

Here’s the LLC Cost Guide for all US States:

North Carolina Foreign LLC Formation Costs

If you possess an existing LLC registered in a different state and intend to extend your business operations into North Carolina, it will be necessary to officially register your LLC as a foreign entity within North Carolina’s jurisdiction.

The expense associated with the registration of a foreign LLC in North Carolina amounts to $250. The process for registering a foreign LLC in North Carolina involves submitting an Application for Certificate of Authority for Limited Liability Company (Form L-09).

Annual Cost for LLCs in North Carolina

Running a Limited Liability Company (LLC) in North Carolina involves grasping the expenses associated with meeting regulatory requirements. Key considerations encompass the pivotal filing of a $200 annual report to maintain the LLC’s active status. Supplementary business licenses or permits, entailing industry-based extra charges, and choosing between being a registered agent or hiring services cost $100 to $300 annually. 

Awareness of these yearly commitments is vital to uphold the LLC’s adherence to regulations and favorable legal standing.

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How Much Does It Cost to Start an LLC in North Carolina With the Best LLC Service? 

ZenBusiness LLC Formation Cost

The initial fundamental expense for initiating the process of establishing an LLC in North Carolina amounts to $125, with potential increments based on specific factors. Regarding processing duration, the standard timeline for processing stands at 2 to 3 weeks. Alternatively, applicants have the option to accelerate the processing period to 7 to 9 days for an additional fee of $50 or further expedite it to 4 to 5 days at a cost of $100.

ZenBusiness provides a selection of three pricing tiers for their business formation services: Starter, Pro, and Premium.

  • Starter package: This is an ideal choice for fundamental business formation requirements, with a pricing of $0 in addition to state fees.
  •  Pro package: The encompasses supplementary attributes like expedited filing and registered agent service, with a price of $199 in addition to state fees.
  • Premium package: The stands as the most all-inclusive plan, encompassing all features within the Pro plan along with limitless Worry-Free Compliance, a resource designed to assist businesses in maintaining adherence to state and federal regulations. The Premium plan is priced at $349 plus state fees.

As an added benefit, ZenBusiness extends a complimentary year of Worry-Free Compliance with the purchase of any of their plans.

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Additional Costs When Starting an LLC in North Carolina

North Carolina LLC Name Costs

Selecting a name for your Limited Liability Company (LLC) does not entail any fees. In North Carolina, the approval of your LLC name is included in the approval process of your Articles of Organization filing without incurring any additional charges.

There might be information circulating online suggesting the necessity of LLC Name Reservations. However, this assertion isn’t accurate for the majority of states. In most cases, forming an LLC does not mandate a Name Reservation.

If you opt to secure a specific name for a period of up to 120 days before officially establishing your LLC, you can achieve this by submitting an Application to Reserve a Business Entity Name (Form BE-03) along with the associated filing fee of $30.

North Carolina Registered Agent Costs

The state of North Carolina mandates the assignment of a registered agent for your LLC, with associated fees of either $0 or $125 per year.

A North Carolina registered agent, whether an individual or an entity, serves as the recipient of legal documents and official state communications on behalf of your LLC. It’s essential for the registered agent to possess a physical address within the state and be available during regular business hours.

In the event that you opt to act as your own registered agent or nominate a person you’re acquainted with, there are no supplementary charges.

Nonetheless, you have the alternative of enlisting the services of a registered agent company, entailing an annual cost ranging from $100 to $300. These companies extend additional beneficial business services and can aid in safeguarding your confidentiality.

Engaging a registered agent service is recommended if:

  • You lack an address within the state (as North Carolina stipulates that registered agents must possess a physical in-state address)
  • You wish to uphold the confidentiality of your address from public disclosure (certain companies you contract with might allow you to utilize their address for this purpose)

North Carolina Operating Agreement Costs

A North Carolina LLC Operating Agreement stands as a written agreement among the members of the LLC. These documents comprehensively outline aspects of LLC ownership, managerial procedures, and the allocation of profits. Both Single-Member LLCs and Multi-Member LLCs are advised to create an Operating Agreement, maintain it within their business documentation, and provide copies to each respective member.

Numerous online platforms typically impose fees ranging from $50 to $200 for the provision of LLC Operating Agreements. However, opting to formulate your own Operating Agreement can lead to cost savings.

North Carolina EIN Cost

An EIN Number, alternatively referred to as an Employer Identification Number (EIN) or a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN), serves various purposes. It’s utilized for filing income taxes, initiating an LLC bank account, and managing employee recruitment if relevant. 

Despite the prevalence of websites imposing service charges for procuring an EIN for your LLC, the process can, in fact, be undertaken without any expense.

The acquisition of an EIN for your LLC can be accomplished from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) without incurring any charges. The online application can be swiftly completed within a matter of minutes.

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North Carolina LLC Taxes

North Carolina LLC owners need to pay various types of taxes, leading to a significant variation in their annual costs. Some of these taxes comprise:

Federal Income Taxes

When it comes to federal income taxes, there are diverse options available for how the IRS treats your LLC for tax purposes.

Single-Member LLC Taxes (Default Status)

The IRS designates all Single-Member LLCs as Disregarded Entities for tax purposes. Essentially, this means that the IRS doesn’t require the LLC to file its own federal income tax return. Instead, the owner of the Single-Member LLC is responsible for filing the return and covering the federal income taxes.

The method of federal income tax payment for the LLC is determined by the owner’s identity:

  • If an individual owns the LLC, it’s taxed akin to a Sole Proprietorship
  • If another company owns the LLC, it’s taxed as a branch or division of the parent company

Multi-Member LLC Taxes (Default Status)

In cases where an LLC has two or more owners, the tax treatment is similar to that of a Partnership. The LLC is required to file a 1065 Partnership Return and issue a Schedule K-1 to its owners. These K-1s outline each owner’s share of profits, and this income “passes through” to the owners. Subsequently, owners pay income taxes on this through their personal tax returns (Form 1040).

Husband and Wife LLC Taxes

Certain states, like Texas, allow husband and wife LLCs the option to file taxes as a Single-Member LLC or Qualified Joint Venture rather than a Multi-Member LLC. However, this choice isn’t available in non-community property states like North Carolina.

Electing Corporate Taxation for Your LLC

Apart from the aforementioned default statuses, an LLC can opt for corporate taxation, which presents two types of corporate elections:

  • S-Corporation: By submitting Form 2553 to the IRS, an LLC can choose to be taxed as an S-Corporation. This election can benefit businesses with established profits, leading to potential savings on self-employment taxes.
  • C-Corporation: By filing Form 8832, an LLC can select C-Corporation taxation. This option may benefit larger employers seeking savings on healthcare fringe benefits. However, it’s not commonly chosen.

North Carolina State Income Tax for North Carolina LLCs

For single-member LLCs in North Carolina, the LLC usually doesn’t file a state-level return. Instead, the owner includes the LLC’s profits or losses in their personal state-level return. 

Multi-member LLCs may need to file a Partnership return at the state level, with owners also reporting the LLC’s profits or losses in their personal state-level returns. Various industry-specific taxes apply in North Carolina.

Local Income Tax for North Carolina LLCs

Local income taxes may be required from both your LLC and yourself, depending on your local municipality. Enlisting an accountant’s assistance is advisable for the preparation and filing of local income taxes.

North Carolina Sales Tax

Selling products to North Carolina consumers might necessitate collecting sales tax and obtaining a Seller’s Permit from the North Carolina Department of Revenue (NCDOR). This permit grants the authority to collect sales tax on retail sales within the state, and it’s often referred to as a resale, wholesale, or sales tax permit/license.

North Carolina LLC Payroll Taxes

If your North Carolina LLC employs individuals, payroll taxes become essential. These encompass federal and state income tax withholdings, Social Security tax, Medicare tax, federal and state unemployment taxes, and more. Setting up payroll, calculating taxes, and ensuring proper submissions can be intricate, often requiring professional assistance to prevent errors and penalties.

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North Carolina LLC Cost FAQs

How Much Does It Cost to Open an LLC in North Carolina?

Initiating a North Carolina LLC involves an initial expenditure of $125, which is a singular payment for filing the LLC Articles of Organization. Certain LLCs might necessitate a business license in the state, contingent upon factors such as industry and geographical location, with the expenses for local business permits differing accordingly.

How Much Does an LLC in North Carolina Cost Per Year?

Every year, North Carolina LLCs are obligated to pay $200 for their Annual Report, directed toward the Secretary of State. These state fees constitute the sole compulsory annual charges for North Carolina LLCs, essential for maintaining their valid status. In cases where a registered agent service has been enlisted, an annual subscription fee of approximately $125 is typically required. 

Moreover, the necessity of a business license in North Carolina hinges on the industry and geographical placement of the LLC, prompting the need to verify the potential presence of annual renewal fees associated with the business permit through local municipal channels.

Should I Hire an LLC Formation Service?

While it’s not mandatory, forming your North Carolina LLC can be done independently by business owners. However, for a time-efficient and accurate process, it’s recommended to consider ZenBusiness. It’s known for its top-notch customer service, the free registered agent services for the first year, and benefits like creating an Operating Agreement and facilitating Annual Report filings.


To conclude, embarking on the journey to establish an LLC in North Carolina entails a multifaceted financial outlook that goes beyond the basic formation expenses. Navigating this process involves not only paying the initial filing fees but also addressing essential document acquisition, utilizing registered agent services, and effectively managing critical components such as operating agreements and EIN acquisition. 

Given the complexity of these financial considerations, the support and expertise provided by reputable LLC services like ZenBusiness become invaluable. 

Armed with comprehensive insights into these diverse costs and bolstered by the guidance of ZenBusiness, individuals looking to establish an LLC in North Carolina can stride forward with assurance in their entrepreneurial endeavors.

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About the author

Dr. Gabriel O'Neill, Esq., a distinguished legal scholar with a business law degree and a Doctor of Juridical Science, is a leading expert in business registration and diverse business departments. Renowned for his academic excellence and practical insights, Dr. O'Neill guides businesses through legal complexities, offering invaluable expertise in compliance, corporate governance, and registration processes.

As an accomplished author, his forthcoming book is anticipated to be a comprehensive guide for navigating the dynamic intersection of law and business, providing clarity and practical wisdom for entrepreneurs and legal professionals alike. With a commitment to legal excellence, Dr. Gabriel O'Neill, Esq., is a trusted authority dedicated to empowering businesses within the ever-evolving legal landscape.