The authority for incorporating in North Carolina is the Corporations Division of the North Carolina Secretary of State. This is the government agency responsible for all forms, filings, and record keeping. It acts under State Authority granted by the North Carolina Business Corporation Act.

The Corporations Division also maintains all corporate filings of record. The types of business structures available are For-Profit and Not-For-Profit Corporations, Limited Liability Companies, Limited Partnerships, and Registered Limited Liability Partnerships.

Five Basic Steps to Incorporate in North Carolina

  1. Search to make sure your company name is available. You can use the free CorpNet company name search. Your corporate name will have to include one of the suffixes, Corporation (or Corp.); Incorporated (or Inc.) and for limited liability companies, LLC. Your corporate name cannot imply a service or business which conflicts with the purpose stated when you register.
  2. Register your corporation (or LLC) with the Secretary of State. CorpNet offers filings of the Articles of Incorporation (for corporate structures) and for LLCs, Articles of Organization.
  3. Hold the first official meeting for the corporation or LLC and adopt the Bylaws (corporations) or Operating Agreement (LLCs). This is a legal meeting and must be recorded as such. (See section below about officers and documentation.)
  4. Apply for a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) under the corporate name. This will also serve as your state tax identification number. You will also have to arrange for a bank account under this number for accounting purposes. Your financial institution will want a copy of the EIN as well as a certificate of registration from the Secretary of State.
  5. Obtain any specific licenses and permits required, either statewide or for the county in which you will do business. Some examples would include electrician’s license, trucking licenses and permits, liquor license, etc.

Foreign and Domestic Corporations

A foreign corporation is a corporation registered in another state that does business in North Carolina. Foreign corporations are required to register in North Carolina and obtain a Certificate of Authority to Transact Business in North Carolina.

Domestic corporations are those formed in North Carolina itself. While there is no residency requirement for directors or officers of corporations, a registered agent (who can also be a corporate officer) must have a physical address in North Carolina along with regular business hours. They have to be available to take phone calls and respond to legal matters. Hiring a registered agent will protect your privacy and meet the requirements of incorporation in North Carolina.

Officers and Documents

Corporations in North Carolina must have one or more directors whose names and addresses will appear in the articles of incorporation. All must be at least 19 years old.

Corporate officers do not have to appear in filings, but information about officers, stockholders, minutes of required meetings, and annual reports have to be maintained at the corporate offices. Other records required at the principal place of business include a copy of the articles of incorporation along with any amendments.

Common Forms

  • Domestic For-Profit Corporation Articles of Incorporation – This is filed in triplicate at the Secretary of State’s Office in the county where the primary business location will be. This has to be accompanied by a certificate of name reservation.
  • Certificate of Name Reservation – This form is mailed to the Secretary of State in Montgomery. To ensure a name is available, a name search should be performed at the state level before a request is sent in. The suffix, Corporation, Incorporated, Corp. or Inc. is required, and some words (like Engineer, Engineering, or Bank) are reserved for those with proper documentation. There is also a version for Foreign Corporation name reservation.
  • Application for Certificate of Existence – This is used to prove a corporation is properly registered. Commonly, Corporations pay for certificates to be sent directly from the State to lenders (or others) in order to verify their status.
  • Change of Agent – Because the registered agent is the point of contact between the corporate entity and the State of North Carolina, any change must be documented with the State.
  • Domestic For-Profit Corporation Articles of Correction Form – This is used to alter the original articles of incorporation.
  • Domestic For-Profit Corporation Articles of Dissolution Form – Used to dissolve a corporation. Foreign registered corporations have an equivalent form called a Withdrawal Form.

Forming a Corporation Online

Incorporation in North Carolina can be handled remotely through our services. We offer complete packages that allow you to start your corporation or LLC without missing key steps or documents. This lets you focus on managing your business instead of getting stuck in state-mandated paperwork. Incorporating online is as easy as providing some initial information and deciding which type of corporation best fits your needs.

CorpNet is available to help you start a corporation and one-year registered agent services are standard in our packages. We also include unlimited customer support.

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