North Carolina Cleaning Business Start-up Laws

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This article provides three key state business startup requirements for self-employed sole proprietors and general partners who run residential house cleaning businesses. Information from the Secretary of State, the North Carolina Department of Revenue and selected city and county government sources were used to research this article.

Be aware that sole proprietor and general partner startup requirements in this state are always changing. Some requirements even vary from county to county.  It is important that you call or visit your local county or city government to find out local requirements for residential house cleaning businesses and home-based businesses. This article is not intended to be exhaustive or a substitute for qualified legal or tax advice.

Business Name Registration

Sole proprietors and general partners who want a business name that does not include the owner(s) full names (for example, Janice Smith’s Cleaning Service or Martha Harris and Tom Graham’s Maid Service) need to find out whether the name they want to use is available in the state.

Start with an online search for names similar to the one you plan to use. For example, if you want to use the name, Crystal Clean Maid Service, do simple Google searches for “Crystal Clean Maid Service+North Carolina” plus Crystal Clean Maid Service+your county” and “Crystal Clean Maid Service+your town or city”. Search beyond the first page of results. Go at least five pages deep into the search results to see if the name you want or similar names are being used in your state, county or city.  Then do a statewide search of registered corporate names.

Sole proprietors and general partners should file a Certificate of Assumed Name or DBA (“doing business as” name) for their business with the Register of Deeds Office in the county where the business will be based. Businesses that operate in more than one county need only file for a certificate in one county.  Find a North Carolina County Register of Deeds.

In the state of North Carolina, filing a Certificate Of Assumed Name does not guarantee a business sole rights to the use of that name. Other businesses in the county and state may also register the same Assumed Name. Registered businesses are expected to legally defend their Assumed Names.

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Business License Registration

Sole proprietors and general partners do not have to register for a business license with the state of North Carolina. Residential cleaning businesses must apply for a business license at their City Clerk or County Register of Deeds office.

In North Carolina, a general partnership is created when two or more owners form an oral or written agreement to start a business together. General partners are not required to file any documents with the Secretary of State. It is advisable for general partners to file a for an Assumed Name or DBA in the county where the business is based. A written partnership agreement drawn up by a lawyer is important for both or all partners. Partnership agreements do not have to be filed with the state.

Sole proprietors and general partners may apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS even if they do not plan to hire employees. Getting an EIN may make it easier to open a bank account and reduce your risk of identity theft. You can apply for an EIN online. In addition, some business registration forms will require a NAICS business classification number for the house cleaning industry.

Note: The State of North Carolina maintains a full page of business resources for start-up businesses that include:

• Business Plan Resources
• Sales and Marketing Resources
• Financing Resources
• Entrepreneur and Business Education Resources
• Resources for Women, Black, Latino and Native American-owned start-ups
• Government Contracting Resources
• Business Counseling Resources for startup and established businesses.

Counselors can be reached by phone toll free at (800) 228-8443 or (919) 447-7828 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Discover more online at:

Business Tax Registration

Sole proprietors and general partners do not have to register for a Certificate of Registration for state business taxes. Cleaning businesses do not have to apply for a Sales and Use tax number.

Housecleaning services are not taxable in the state of North Carolina. House cleaning businesses do not have to collect and send sales taxes to the North Carolina Department of Revenue.

Sole proprietors and general partners must pay taxes on the business income they earn through individual state income tax returns. Sole proprietors and general partners are responsible for paying estimated self-employment income taxes in North Carolina (on Form NC-40) similar to the way self employment taxes are paid to the federal government. Get more information about estimated tax requirements by calling the North Carolina Department of Revenue at 1-877-252-3052.

North Carolina general partnerships that file a Federal partnership information Form 1065, may need to file state income tax Form D-403. Get more information from a CPA or qualified tax preparer to find out if your partnership must file those returns.

Selected North Carolina City Licenses

Cary Business License:

Charlotte Business License:

Durham (County) Business License:

Fayetteville (Cumberland County) Business License:

Greensboro Business License:

Raleigh Business License:The city of Raleigh does not require a business license for residential house cleaning services. City Of Raleigh Business License Discontinued Effective July 1, 2015.

Wilmington Business License:

Winston-Salem Business License:

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