To form a corporation in North Carolina, you need to take the steps set forth below. To find out what’s required to form a corporation in any other state, see Nolo’s 50-State Guide to Forming a Corporation.
Your corporation's name must end with one of the following terms or its abbreviation: "Incorporated," "Corporation," "Company," or "Limited."
Your corporation's name must be distinguishable from the names of other business entities already on file with the North Carolina Secretary of State. Names may be checked for availability at the North Carolina Secretary of State business name database.
You may reserve a name for 120 days by filing an Application to Reserve a Business Entity Name with the North Carolina Secretary of State. The application may be filed online or by mail. The filing fee is $30.
Your corporation is legally created by filing Articles of Incorporation with the North Carolina Secretary of State. The articles must include the corporate name and address; the name and address of agent for service of process; the number of shares the corporation is authorized to issue; the address of the principal office, if any; the name and address of each incorporator; and the effective date of the articles.
The articles may be filed online or by mail. The filing fee is $125.
Every North Carolina corporation must have an agent for service of process in the state. This is an individual or corporation that agrees to accept legal papers on the corporation's behalf if it is sued. A registered agent may be an individual who resides in North Carolina, or a domestic or foreign business entity authorized to do business in North Carolina. The registered agent must have a physical street address in North Carolina. The agent should agree to accept service of process on your corporation's behalf prior to designation.
Domestic and Foreign North Carolina corporations must file an Annual Report with the North Carolina Secretary of State. The annual reports are due by the due date for filing your corporation's income and franchise tax returns. You may file the Annual Report online at the Secretary of State's Online Annual Report portal. Alternatively, you may file a paper copy directly with the Department of Revenue, along with your corporation's tax return. The filing fee is $25.
Your corporation must obtain a federal employer identification number (EIN). You may obtain an EIN by completing an online application on the IRS website. There is no filing fee.