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Unauthorized Business in North Carolina

Posted by Craig M. Morgan | Jun 08, 2018 | 0 Comments

So you just moved to North Carolina, you've brought your out of state business with you, and you're ready to set up shop. You're all set right? Wrong! The questions remain: did you get a Certificate of Authority from the North Carolina Secretary of State to operate here? And if you didn't, what are the consequences for not doing so?

Allow me to explain…

Businesses that originated outside of North Carolina and are now doing business in North Carolina are known as “foreign corporations”. Keep in mind this does not mean “foreign” as in from another country! This means any corporation that did not originate in North Carolina, so if your business is from any other state in the U.S. you are considered a foreign corporation.

For a foreign corporation to operate legally in North Carolina they need to apply for a Certificate of Authority with the North Carolina Secretary of State. Once this Certificate of Authority is obtained then you are free to operate in North Carolina legally.

What are the consequences for not doing so?

In short: (1) fines, and (2) loss of legal rights. The fines for operating a business without a Certificate of Authority are $10.00 a day, with a maximum of $1,000.00 per year. This by itself does not seem horrendous, however it should be noted that the state can seek this money for all the years you have been in business without a Certificate of Authority. This means that if you have been operating without the certificate for 10 years, your business may owe $10,000.00 plus fees and taxes that would have been assessed were you to have properly applied for the Certificate of Authority.

Another huge implication for a business owner who does not have a Certificate of Authority with the state is that they lose the right to maintain any proceeding, in any court, in North Carolina. The implications of this cannot be understated! If you do not have a Certificate of Authority you cannot bring any legal action on behalf of your business to a North Carolina court. Needless to say it is unwise for a business to operate in a state in which they are not on an equal playing field with their competitors!

Therefore, if you believe that your out of state business does not possess a Certificate of Authority to legally operate in North Carolina – consult with a lawyer immediately to protect your wallet and your rights!

Contact Providence Law for more information. | 704.412.9450

On Location in Charlotte and Lake Norman 

Providence Law serves clients throughout NC and beyond.

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About the Author

Craig M. Morgan

Craig Morgan's practice areas include business and corporate law, franchise law and general corporate counsel. He has represented a variety of businesses including franchise businesses and independent, privately held companies. Craig has represented clients in negotiations and ...


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