North Carolina Secretary of State has a Business Registration Search service that allows anyone to look up your LLC and find the listed member information included with the articles of the organization. The articles of organization, a foundational document required when establishing an LLC, are public records. In this document, you are asked to list the owners. In some states, you don’t have to list your information and can instead avoid releasing your personal information to the public. The following information may be helpful to owners who desire more security from prying eyes.
What is an Anonymous LLC?
An Anonymous LLC is a limited liability company whose owners are not publicly identified by the state. An Anonymous LLC is created by being careful where and how an LLC is formed. Some states require managers to be listed, but a nominee manager may often be used. However, even if you are in a state that allows you to withhold member information, a registered agent and Organizer are always listed. The registered agent and organizer may be provided by a 3rd party service.
Anonymous LLCs are a good option for business owners who prefer to keep their business participation private for any reason, including wanting to keep their work and personal lives separate.
How does an Anonymous LLC Works?
The basic information requested when registering as an LLC includes the name of the officers and directors, LLC manager names, and your business address. However, some states allow you to withhold your name and instead provide a law firm, temporary owner, or nominee. Another benefit is that you don't have to update your LLC documentation if ownership of your company changes.
Some states allow you to directly file for an anonymous LLC within the state. These states include Wyoming, Delaware, Nevada and New Mexico. If you want to file for an anonymous LLC in one state only, you will need to select a state that allows you to withhold business member information.
Alternatively, if you live in a state that does not allow the filing for an anonymous LLC, you can use a double LLC/Holding company setup. For instance, if an owner must be listed, then make the owner an anonymous company from another state.
Unfortunately, North Carolina is one such state that does not allow you to withhold business member information. You will need to take the more circumferential route of filing in a state that allows you to withhold this information, and then utilize the double LLC/holding company set up.
Why would someone create an anonymous LLC?
An Anonymous LLC provides all of the benefits of a regular LLC, with the additional benefit of keeping your information private on the Internet. Filing for an anonymous LLC keeps your home address from being readily available to the public. It will also keep others, including friends, neighbors, and strangers, from knowing what you own from owning an LLC. So, in summary, this is a way to protect this information while still establishing an LLC.
What are the benefits of anonymous LLCs?
There are many potential advantages to opening an anonymous LLC. These benefits include privacy protection, confidentiality, harassment prevention, and safety.
- As mentioned above, Anonymous LLCs allow you to keep your name and address away from the public eye. You can avoid association with any negative fallout from your LLC.
- You can keep your personal life and work separate. This protects your financial status from prying eyes from anyone you may not want to have your information.
- You can avoid media and mass marketing campaigns to your emails by providing a 3rd party address that can filter through these messages for you.
- Filing for an anonymous LLC prevents potentially dangerous individuals, such as stalkers and criminals, from gaining access to your information for use in a predatory or malicious way.
What are the steps to forming an Anonymous LLC?
In States that allow the formation of an anonymous LLC, including Delaware, Nevada, and New Mexico, the general steps are similar.
Step 1: Name your LLC
The rules surrounding what you can name your LLC can vary from state to state. However, some basic rules include the following.
- Must be completely distinguishable from other LLC names on record in the State you are applying
- Include terminology to indicate your business type, such as “limited liability company,” “L.L.C.”, or “LLC”
- The name can’t contain terms that imply a different business type.
Step 2: Select a Registered Agent
A registered agent is an individual or business entity that processes your tax and legal documents on your behalf. They make sure that you maintain compliance with regulations for your business. North Carolina requires every business entity to appoint a registered agent and list it in the articles of organization when establishing the LLC.
The agent must also have a physical address within North Carolina you are filing. You will put your registered agent’s address down and withhold your own. Do not list yourself as the registered agent because then you will have to provide your address anyways. This is the only unique step for establishing an anonymous LLC compared to filing for a regular LLC.
Step 3: File the formation documents with your state
Most states provide many options for filing your LLC’s Articles of organization. This can include online, mail, fax, and email. Make sure to include your filing fee.
In states that allow anonymous LLCs, the filing process is not too complicated. It is only slightly different than obtaining a regular LLC. You only have the added step of finding a third party to stand in as your registered agent. In Utah, you will file the Certificate of Organization.
Is an Anonymous LLC Right for You?
Deciding whether you should file for an anonymous LLC depends on how much you desire your information to remain private. Some forms, such as your bank and IRS, can still list your legal name. However, filing for an anonymous LLC makes it more challenging for the layperson to find out your real identity. Some business types that may benefit in particular from an anonymous LLC include landlords who don’t want to be bothered by angry tenants and celebrities who don’t want to be harassed by the media or stalkers.
Do I need a Lawyer?
You do not need to hire a lawyer. However, an attorney can be helpful when setting up and maintaining an anonymous LLC. They can act as your registered agent, help navigate the rules and regulations specific to North Carolina, and respond to concerns in a timely and professional way. This can increase efficiency and, with the aid of experts, make errors less likely. If someone is trying to harass or solicit your business, a business lawyer can also handle this matter with less conflict. With the defense of an attorney, they may move forward with less disruption to your business.