How Much Does It Cost to Form an NC Corporation?
Legal business registration — and maintaining compliance — involves necessary expenses and investment. Some of these costs are payable to the NC Secretary of State, while others are due to additional state entities or the federal government. Here are some common requirements and fees.
Please note that fees for a State of North Carolina business license or permit may be due when you first form your business, on an ongoing schedule or on an ad hoc basis. Find more details below.
Initial North Carolina Corporation Filing Fees
When you start a business in North Carolina State, you’ll need to file a form and pay a filing fee. Here are the current North Carolina corporation filing fees and times:
When you use Bizee to register a business in North Carolina, we charge you the state filing fee and forward it to the Secretary of State when we file your incorporation paperwork.
If you want to do business in a state other than the one where your business is based, you must create a Foreign Corporation.
North Carolina Foreign Corporation Registration
Before you can bring an arm of your business from another state into North Carolina, you must request North Carolina Foreign Qualification. This means the state gives you permission to conduct business there.
To request registration of a North Carolina Foreign Corporation, you must complete an Application for Certificate of Authority and pay a processing fee of $275. The state may have additional registration requirements, so contact the North Carolina State Secretary of State directly for more information and to ensure you're in compliance with NC corporation law.
Foreign Qualification to Operate in Another State
If you plan to expand your North Carolina corporation into another state, you’ll first need Foreign Qualification or a Certificate of Authority from that state. This is necessary before you can create a physical presence, hire employees or bank in that state.
You'll likely have to complete at least one application and pay a filing fee, but each state has its own requirements. Before you start the process, compare state filing times and state filing fees so you can plan accordingly.
Before you begin, contact the state government entity that administers business (usually the Secretary of State) to confirm their requirements and for specific instructions.
If you need assistance, Bizee provides a complete Foreign Qualification service for all states.
North Carolina Annual Report Requirements
Most states require business entities to file an annual (or other periodic) report. North Carolina requires an annual report to be filed once a year with the NC Secretary of State.
When you complete your annual report you may file it online accompanied with a filing fee of $23. If you choose to file a paper form, the fee will be $25.
*includes $3 paper copy fee
State of North Carolina Business License and Permit Requirements
Before you start doing business, you must secure the necessary state, federal or local business licenses and permits to operate your corporation. Some of the fees will only need to be paid once, while others may be ongoing charges.
Permits and licenses vary based on:
You are required to have North Carolina corporation bylaws if you form a corporation in the state. You aren't required to file them with the North Carolina Secretary of State, but be sure that you have them with your documents and by all means, continue to follow them.
Bylaws typically outline rules for carrying out tasks related to managing your corporation including, but not limited to:
- The number of directors the corporation has
- How they'll be elected, their qualifications and the lengths of their terms
- When, where and how your board of directors can call and conduct meetings
- Voting requirements
The bylaws must then be adopted (and amended, if necessary) by the board of directors and shareholders.
Drafting a set of bylaws can be extremely helpful in making sure you’re organized and can help protect your business from any future changes and events that may affect your business.
Other NC Corporation Filing Requirements and Fees
The State of North Carolina requires you to complete a few more tasks before you can begin conducting business.
Appoint a Director
Some states require corporations to appoint a full board of directors. NC corporation law requires all corporations to have a board of directors consisting of at least one director.
In North Carolina, the board of directors may elect officers, such as the president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, etc. The same individual may simultaneously hold more than one office in a corporation, but no individual may act in more than one capacity where action of two or more officers is required.
Issue Stock to Shareholders
To raise business capital and keep it separate from company owners' money, every North Carolina corporation must sell stock to its shareholders. The Articles of Incorporation must authorize the sale of at least one class of share, and the corporation cannot sell more shares than are authorized.
Hold Annual General Meetings
This is one area where North Carolina differs from other states. You may hold annual meetings, and it's generally a good idea to do so. But should fail to do so, North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 55, Article 7, § 55-7-01 states, "The failure to hold an annual meeting at the time stated in or fixed in accordance with a corporation's bylaws does not affect the validity of any corporate action."
Change the Registered Agent
If your corporation is based in North Carolina, then you must have a Registered Agent in the state. You'll need to appoint one when you file your Articles of Incorporation. You can also change to a new Registered Agent later by filing a form and paying a fee of $5.
Reserving a Name for Your Corporation
If you're not quite ready to start your business, you can reserve a name for 120 days with the Secretary of State by filing a form and paying a fee of $30. First, conduct an NC corporation search and learn the state's business naming rules to ensure you choose a name that meets legal requirements.
Amending Facts About Your Corporation
When you incorporate, the North Carolina business forms you fill out include certain facts about your business at that time. Through the years, some or all of this information may change. If it does, you'll need to file an Articles of Amendment with the NC Secretary of State along with a filing fee of $50. You can do this yourself or Bizee can do it for you.
You'll need to file Articles of Amendment when you:
- change the company's name
- add, remove or change a director
- change the Registered Agent
- change the number of shares your corporation is authorized to issue
- change any other facet of your business that was listed on the original Articles of Incorporation.
Get a Certificate of Existence
Some organizations may request that you prove your corporation's compliance with laws and tax requirements. In most states, this proof is provided with a Certificate of Good Standing. In this state, it's an NC Certificate of Existence.
If you need to prove you have met your commitments, you’ll need to request an NC Certificate of Existence from the Secretary of State. You can do this by searching for your corporation on the Secretary of State website and completing the process. The fee for this is $10 for electronic ordering or $15 for a paper filing.
The information listed above details many of the fees a standard corporation will be required to pay in North Carolina. In some circumstances, there may be other one-off, periodic or ad hoc fees not listed above.
Of course, your corporation will also probably need to pay federal, state, self-employment (if it's an S Corp) and other taxes. You'll find more information on the North Carolina taxes page.