North Carolina Business Facts
With the lowest corporate income tax in the US and a pro-business legal and regulatory environment, North Carolina has one of the strongest business climates in America and has consistently ranked as one of Forbes’ top 5 Best States for Business for more than a decade. Built on a mostly agricultural economy with tobacco its leading crop, modern-day North Carolina thrives on knowledge-based industries such as aerospace & defense, biotechnology & pharmaceutical, energy, business and finance.
Major Companies in North Carolina
North Carolina serves as headquarters to many major companies including Compass Group USA, Lowe’s, Bank of America, Hanesbrands and Food Lion.
North Carolina Startup Environment
North Carolina has some of the most affordable business costs in the United States with favorable costs on construction, labor, housing and a corporate income tax rate of 2.5%. With its renowned academic environment of higher education and research, North Carolina offers an educated workforce with strong cultural values.
Steps on How to Start a Business in North Carolina
Before starting a business in North Carolina, you will need to complete the following steps.
There are 3 basic options: a DBA, a Corporation, or an LLC. Click here to learn more about business entities.
Choosing a business name is easier said than done – many legal and business problems can arise from choosing the wrong name (you can always change it later but the less times you have to do that, the better). In Step 3 we’ll show you how to search for the name in North Carolina, but we highly recommend you do the following before searching North Carolina state databases:
TIP: search misspellings, plurals, variations of spelling, sound-alikes, and other versions of your chosen name to be sure it’s not already registered.
Restrictions on North Carolina Business Name & Business Purpose
Your North Carolina company name should be unique and can’t already be in use by a current North Carolina business. For Corporations, your business name will need to include “Corporation”, “Incorporated” or an abbreviation. Your North Carolina LLC should end with “Limited Liability Company”, LLC or L.L.C.
Each state has its own requirements for registering a business. Now that you’ve chosen a business structure and selected your business name, here are the requirements to register your business in North Carolina.
How to form an LLC in North Carolina
How to Incorporate in North Carolina
Note: The North Carolina Secretary of State takes 5-6 days to process the paperwork. Rush filing service is completed in 1-2 business days.
TIP: Check our order form to see how long North Carolina is currently taking to process regular and expedited orders.
How to File a DBA in North Carolina
North Carolina DBAs are called Assumed Business Names. These DBAs are filed with the Register of Deeds in each county. You can find the local Register of Deeds office by searching “YOURCOUNTY Register of Deeds”.
Considerations when registering a North Carolina business
Ready to register a business in North Carolina?
MyCompanyWorks can guide you through every step of starting your North Carolina business.
Sure, you could do all the steps above or you could spend 5-10 minutes on our order form and let us take care of it while you work on more important things.
Your EIN is like your Social Security Number for your company. It’s required for Corporations and LLCs and optional for DBA’s (if you don’t have any employees, then it’s required). However, if you are a DBA and don’t obtain an EIN you will be forced to use your Social Security Number on many documents so it’s typically recommended you obtain the EIN to prevent identity theft.
To obtain an EIN you can apply online with the IRS or via IRS Form SS-4.
TIP: We will obtain your EIN for you if we form your company.
To keep business and personal expenses separate, you should open a separate account for your business. In addition, getting business credit cards is how you begin to build a company credit profile (corporation or LLC required) and can later qualify for larger loans and lines of credit. To open the account simply call your chosen bank and inquire about the steps to open a business bank account. Typically you’ll need a) your filed paperwork, b) your EIN, and c) a company resolution authorizing your company to open the account (signed by the owners, members, officers or directors, etc.).
Top 5 Major Banks in North Carolina
Click here to view a list of our recommended banks in our Vendor Network.
TIP: Our business formation service includes a free banking resolution for your use.
Setup your Accounting and Record-keeping system and learn about the taxes your new company is responsible for paying.
Company documents generally are required to be kept for 3 years, including a list of all owners and addresses, copies of all formation documents, financial statements, annual reports, amendments, or changes to the company. All Tax and Corporate Filings should be kept for at least 3 years. View our “Accounting & Financial Management” section for help with setting up an accounting system and purchasing accounting software.
Review our list of Accountants, Accounting Software, and Bookkeepers in our Vendor Network.
Now that you’ve registered your business name you need to obtain a business license for your company – this authorizes your company to do business in your city or county. Typically this also involves registering for state taxes and permits (the city may require them as part of the business licensing process).
North Carolina does not issue a standard business license. Call Business Link North Carolina at 800-228-8443 or 919-447-7828 to learn more about what type of license your business might require.
TIP: We can help you identify the necessary forms to obtain your business license.
If you intend to hire yourself or others as a full or part-time employee of your company, then you may have to register with the appropriate State Agencies or obtain Workers Compensation Insurance or Unemployment Insurance (or both). View our “Employees & Payroll” section for help with hiring employees and processing payroll.
Review our list of recommended Payroll Providers in our Vendor Network.
There are many types of insurance for businesses but they are usually packaged as “General Business Insurance” or a “Business Owner’s Policy”. This can cover everything from product liability to company vehicles. A decent policy can run as little as $300/year and offers a great extra level of protection.
Click here to view our list of insurance providers in our Vendor Network.
Prepare the business as if someone needed to take it over and run it for you. This means having a method to process orders, pay bills, pay employees, pay taxes, maintain your permits, etc. Basically, try to make the operational aspect of the business as automated and efficient as possible so you can concentrate on growing your business. View our “Manage Your Company” section for help with systemizing and automating your business.
Now that you’ve set up the company for success, you need to get the word out. Create a marketing plan for your products and services that targets your ideal customer. View our “Marketing & Sales” section for help for more information.
DBA: Assumed Business Names do not expire in North Carolina, however,you must file a Certificate of Amendment within sixty (60) days of any change of information provided on the original certificate. Also, any North Carolina Assumed Business Name filed prior to December 1, 2017 will expire on December 1, 2022 and a new certificate must be re-filed.
LLC: You will need to file an Annual Report by April 15 each year after the year your LLC was created. The filing fee is $202.
Corporation: Every year you will be required to file an Annual Report on the 15th day of the fourth month following your Corporation’s fiscal year-end. The filing fee is $20 online and $25 by mail.
Click here to view our MyCompanyWorks Premium™ service which can automate most of your ongoing compliance tasks.
North Carolina Secretary of State
2 South Salisbury Street
Raleigh, NC 27601
North Carolina Taxation Department
North Carolina Labor and Employment Departments
North Carolina Startup Resources
1. Small Business Administration (SBA) North Carolina District Offices
3. North Carolina Legal Statutes:
4. North Carolina Chambers of Commerce
5. North Carolina Business Portal
6. North Carolina Angel Investors
7. North Carolina Business News
8. North Carolina Department of Commerce
9. North Carolina Small Business Association
10. North Carolina Green Business Program
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