To start a corporation in North Carolina, the only form you need to file is the articles of incorporation. As you prepare the form, however, you'll need to make a number of decisions that may require some additional research on your part. But once North Carolina accepts the articles, you can begin taking advantage of the protections that corporations offer, such as limits on your personal liability for business activities.
Choose a name for the corporation. To avoid public confusion and lawsuits by other business entities, North Carolina requires that you create a corporate name that isn’t already in use by a registered business or similar to it.
Obtain a copy of the articles of incorporation form. The North Carolina Department of State requires the filing of the “Articles of Incorporation for Business” form in order to incorporate. You can obtain a standard form on the agency’s website.
Answer all questions on the articles of incorporation form. The form requires a wide range of information such as the corporation’s name, the number of shares it’s authorized to issue, the name and address of a registered agent, the principal business address of the corporation, the names and addresses of incorporators and the date you want the incorporation to be effective. (See Reference 2, click on first link)
File the articles of incorporation with the Dept. of State. In North Carolina, you can file the articles in person or by mail. The document must be signed by all incorporators and include payment for the necessary filing fee, which you can pay by check, money order or cash if filing in person. (See Reference 1, pg. 6)
- A registered agent is a person or entity that you authorize to accept legal documents on behalf of the corporation. If your business doesn’t have a registered office in North Carolina, you may need to hire a registered agent prior to filing the articles of incorporation. You can use any person or entity with a North Carolina business address that’s the same as its registered office address.
- Once you create the corporation, it’s important to remember that North Carolina requires the filing of an annual report each year. You can file electronically or on paper and must pay a filing fee.
- Incorporating your business in North Carolina doesn’t automatically allow you to raise capital by issuing shares of stock to the general public. In order to receive authorization to issue stock, you must register, or apply for an exemption from registration, with the Securities Division of the North Carolina Department of State.
- The North Carolina Department of State website has a database of existing corporate names that you can search through -- which can help you determine whether the corporate name you want to use is available and unique.
- Instead of spending the time figuring out the North Carolina incorporation procedures, you may want to consider hiring a legal services company that can complete the entire process for you.