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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:

State Fee State Filing Time Expedited Filing Time
$128 4 Weeks 2 Business Days
State Fee $128
State Filing Time 4 Weeks
Expedited Filing Time 2 Business Days

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.

Bizee can file your incorporation paperwork for you for free.

Just pay the required North Carolina corporation filing fees.

North Carolina allows you to incorporate more quickly by paying a rush fee

Employer Identification Number

Every corporation in the country should have a unique EIN (Employer Identification Number) from the Internal Revenue Service. You'll use your EIN when you open a business bank account, file taxes and pay employees. You can get one directly from the IRS.

Foreign Corporations

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.

Annual Report

Frequency

Annually

Due Date

April 15th

Filing Fee

$23*

*includes $3 paper copy fee

Bizee can complete and file your annual report on your behalf

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:

1

The type of business you run (e.g., attorneys must pass the state bar exam)

2

The industry your corporation operates in (e.g., restaurants will need health permits)

3

The location of your corporation (state, county or city) (e.g., a license to conduct business in the city of Charlotte)

Operating your corporation without the required State of North Carolina business license can leave you vulnerable to risks, such as fines from local, state and federal governments.

You can research these permits and licenses yourself, or use Bizee’s Business License Research Package, which includes:

  • A complete report on all the licenses, permits and tax registrations your corporation will need
  • The applications you'll need to file with the local, state and federal licensing authorities

Corporate Bylaws

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.

Appoint Officers

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."

Get an Assumed Name or DBA

If you want to register a North Carolina DBA (assumed name), you must file a form with your local county register of deeds and pay a filing fee of $26.

Bizee can file your assumed name or DBA forms on your behalf

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.

Let Bizee serve as your Registered Agent.

It’s free for the first year if you form your NC corporation with us and $119 a year after.

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.

Bizee can obtain an NC Certificate of Existence on your behalf

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.

FAQs About NC Corporation Filing Requirements and Fees

What Happens to the State Fees I'm Charged When I Incorporate?

We charge you this fee at cost and then pay it to the NC Secretary of State on your behalf when forming your business.

How Do I Get a Business License in North Carolina?

It depends on various factors, including:

  • Governing organizations in your industry
  • Federal, state and local regulations
  • Where you're located
  • The type of business you run

Many new businesses need a business license, and you may be required to obtain additional licenses and permits. Our Business License Research Package can take the guesswork out of it for you and help you learn what your corporation needs to be compliant.

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