Known for its centers of excellence in education and research, the
Tar Heel state brings its cutting edge, innovative spirit to bear when
addressing how to get a small business license in North Carolina. Business Link North Carolina (BLNC), a free service of the North Carolina Department of Commerce,
provides entrepreneurs with business licensing information, one-on-one
counseling options, online filing forms, and public and private sector
referrals. The BLNC offers a planning checklist and a listing of potential grants and loans to put businesses on the path to developing or further expanding their companies. The state’s Small Business Ombudsman
can also help answer questions and assist start-ups in navigating
commercial and governmental mandates. The key licensing issues and
resources for new ventures in North Carolina are summarized below.
- General Business Licenses. A general business or “privilege” license is offered on a town, city, or county basis. The state of North Carolina does not offer a general business license. An online listing of North Carolina counties and cities or towns offers contact information for obtaining a general business license for each business location. AccessNC
provides demographic, economic data, and business site information to
help entrepreneurs to determine advantageous places to locate their
commercial ventures within North Carolina. Further local zoning and
building codes may apply to your business. In general, your company must
provide information about its planned name, start date, entity
structure, commercial purpose, and applicant contact information. To
help sort out your applicable licensing obligations, the North Carolina Department of Commerce
recommends that business people call a BNLC counselor for customized
licensing guidance for their chosen industry and business location. The
BLNC also provides a listing of links to relevant business tax agencies for all entities transacting business in North Carolina.
- Specialty Licensing Boards. In North Carolina, a host of boards and commissions administer more than 700 specialty business licenses and permits. The Directory of State Business Licenses and Permits
allows businesses to search a database of licensing information and
requirements. The online directory is organized by relevant agency and
licensing or occupational board to help guide your business.
- Registering Business Organizations. Corporations,
limited liability companies (LLCs) and limited partnerships, and
limited liability partnerships (LLPs) must register their business
structure with the North Carolina Secretary of State, Corporations Division. Once a business has created an account, its registration documents
can be downloaded and filed online. Sole proprietorships and general
partnerships do not need to register their entity structures with the
- Assumed Name or DBA Registrations. A certificate of assumed name
or “doing business as” (DBA) registration must be filed with the proper
government body if an individual or business expects to operate under a
name other than its legal name. Sole proprietorships and general
partnerships should file their assumed name applications with the Register of Deeds Office in
each and every county where their company operates a business location.
Corporations, limited partnerships, LLCs, and LLPs should file their
DBA forms with the Secretary of State, Corporations Division. Your business can search the state’s corporate name database for assumed name availability.