North Carolina requires that you appoint a registered agent for your LLC. You’ll need to do that before you can file when forming your LLC in NC. Here’s some useful information about what a registered agent does, who can be a registered agent, and whether you should consider using a registered agent service that will handle the responsibilities for you.
A registered agent for a North Carolina LLC is a person or company responsible for receiving important notices and legal documents for the LLC and forwarding them to you.
The registered agent receives and informs you about documents that the agent receives on behalf of your LLC, including:
A North Carolina registered agent must:
Yes, you can be your own registered agent for your North Carolina LLC, as long as you fulfill the state’s requirements, including maintaining a physical office where you are available to receive documents and service of process on behalf of your LLC.
The address of your registered agent’s physical office will be made public. So, if you act as your own registered agent, and you use your home address as your physical registered office address, you must be willing for your home address to be public. You also must be available at your registered address during regular business hours.
What about using a friend or someone from your company as your registered agent? You can do that, but they would face the same challenges you would if you did it yourself. They would have to make their address public, be available during regular business hours, and fulfill all other responsibilities required of registered agents.
You first name a registered agent when you file your articles of organization. This is the document you file to establish your LLC. Be sure your chosen registered agent consents to be appointed before you put their name on the form.
The articles of organization form asks for the name of the “initial registered agent.” It says “initial” because you are not locked into your choice forever. You can change your registered agent at any time—but be aware that you will need to file another form to do so.
You’ll also need to put your registered agent’s street address and county on the articles of organization form. A physical street address in North Carolina is required.
You can also provide a mailing address (that also must be in North Carolina), but that’s optional. Use a mailing address only if mail is not delivered to the registered agent’s street address or if the agent prefers to get mail in a P.O. box or P.O. drawer. Even if your agent uses a P.O. box, you must still provide the physical street address of the agent on the articles of organization.
Your articles of organization is also the document in which you select a name for your business and provide the names, addresses, and signatures of all your LLC’s members and organizers. When the form is completely filled out, file it with the North Carolina Secretary of State.
You can fill out and submit the articles of organization online, or you can send the form by mail. Either way, the filing fee is $125.
To file online, you’ll need to create an account with the North Carolina Secretary of State if you don’t already have one. This is simple: You just need to provide your name, business name, and contact information. Once you have an account, sign in to access the Secretary of State’s online business registration services.
To file the Articles of Organization by mail, go to the North Carolina Secretary of State’s business registration page, and select “Limited Liability Companies” in the box under “For Which Forms.” Download the PDF form, fill it out, and mail it with a $125 check payable to “NC Secretary of State” to cover the filing fee to:
North Carolina Secretary of State
Business Registration Division
P.O. Box 29622
Raleigh, NC 27626-0622
You could also bring the filled-out articles of organization in person to the Secretary of State’s office (located at 2 South Salisbury Street, Raleigh, NC 27601), across from the State Capitol Building. Office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except on state holidays.
You’ll need to file a “Statement of Change of Registered Office and/or Registered Agent” when your agent and/or their registered office address changes. To file by mail or in person, download the PDF version of the form by going to the state’s business entities common forms page, and scroll down to find the link to the form. The filing fee is $5.00.
You’ll have to put on the form the name of your LLC and the addresses for your registered agent and office that the state currently has on file. Then you’ll provide any information that has changed. If you have a new agent, that agent must fill out a separate statement that says they have given their consent to the appointment.
To submit by mail, send the form, the consent statement, and a $5 check payable to “NC Secretary of State” to:
North Carolina Secretary of State
Business Registration Division
P.O. Box 29622
Raleigh, NC 27626-0622
To file in person yourself or by using a courier, deliver the completed materials and $5 fee to the Secretary of State’s office (2 South Salisbury Street, Raleigh, NC 27601), which is directly across from the State Capitol Building. Office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except on state holidays.
To file online, create an account if you don’t already have one, and sign in on the Secretary of State’s online services page.
While you can be your own registered agent, many small business owners choose to use a registered agent service instead. They do it for the convenience and reassurance of knowing they’ll receive timely notice of important legal matters and state filing requirements.
When you use a registered agent service, you’ll know that someone will always be available during regular business hours to accept important documents and service of process on your LLC’s behalf. You don’t have to worry about it and can focus your time and energy on making your small business thrive.
If you become your own registered agent, you’ll have to use your own name and address as the registered agent and office when you file with the state. Your name and address will then become part of the public record, and anyone can look them up. For some people, this is a problem, especially if they don’t have an office outside their home and are using their home address.
The state may send notices to your registered agent when you need to pay taxes, pay annual fees, renew licenses, or complete any other required actions that have deadlines. If you try to be your own registered agent, it can be easy to overlook these important notices, especially if they are mixed in with your personal correspondence or other business mail. If you are late or neglect entirely to file required documents or pay required fees, you could be fined or even lose your LLC.
When you use a registered agent service, the agent is responsible for informing you when notices arrive for your LLC. This helps ensure that you are aware of all the state requirements you need to fulfill before you risk missing deadlines. By staying in compliance with state law, you avoid penalties and the stress that comes with them.
Also, despite hoping it never happens, someday your business may get sued. Having a registered agent service ensures someone will be available to accept service of process and let you know right away that you’ve been sued. If you didn’t know about a lawsuit and missed a deadline for filing required responses, you might automatically lose the case.
A registered agent has to be at their registered office address during regular business hours. This can be a heavy burden for a small business owner who tries to be their own registered agent. You may not want to have to maintain regular business hours and be tied down to the same place every business day.
Many small business owners enjoy the flexibility that comes with having their own businesses and being their own boss. Some travel frequently for business or for pleasure. Using a registered agent service gives you the flexibility and freedom you need to run your business and enjoy your life.
A North Carolina registered agent service may handle or assist you with some of your LLC paperwork. For example, the service may help you file your required annual report. The service may also have an online document management system where you can access the documents you need without having to clutter your own office with paper copies and forms.
North Carolina law requires you to have a registered agent and registered office for your LLC. You could do it yourself, but using a registered agent service provides many benefits for small business owners.
Such a service helps ensure you meet all required deadlines for filing documents with the state, so you stay in compliance with state law and avoid having to pay penalties. You will be notified quickly if your business is ever sued, so you can take the required actions in time to avoid defaulting on your case. And using a service frees you from having to stay in your office during all regular business hours.
This all adds up to peace of mind and having time and energy to focus on what you do best and enjoy most—working on your business.
This portion of our website is for informational purposes only. Tailor Brands is not a law firm, and none of the information on this website constitutes or is intended to convey legal advice. All statements, opinions, recommendations, and conclusions are solely the expression of the author and provided on an as-is basis. Accordingly, Tailor Brands is not responsible for the information and/or its accuracy or completeness.
Shai Shmarel started his life as a corporate lawyer before switching to being an SEO and Content Manager at Tailor Brands. He has experience in managing companies, rankings SERPs and covering a content-driven approach for all things legal, business and marketing. When off work, you’ll usually find him chilling with a cup of coffee and a book in the desert.