Follow our step-by-step How to Start an LLC in North Dakota guide to get started today.
- Name Your North Dakota LLC
- Choose a Registered Agent in North Dakota
- File the North Dakota Articles of Organization
- Create an Operating Agreement
- Get an EIN
- File the Annual Report
- Keep Your Company Compliant
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Step 1: Name Your North Dakota LLC
Choosing a company name is the first and most important step in starting your LLC. Be sure to choose a name that complies with North Dakota naming requirements and is easily searchable by potential clients.
1. Follow the naming guidelines:
- Your name must include the phrase “limited liability company” or one of its abbreviations (LLC or L.L.C.).
- Your name cannot include words that could confuse your LLC with a government agency (FBI, Treasury, State Department, etc.).
- Restricted words (e.g. Bank, Attorney, University) may require additional paperwork and a licensed individual, such as a doctor or lawyer, to be part of your LLC.
2. Is the name available in North Dakota? Make sure the name you want isn't already taken by doing a North Dakota LLC Search on the Secretary of State's website.
To learn more about searching for a North Dakota LLC name, read our full guide.
3. Is the URL available? We recommend that you check to see if your business name is available as a web domain. Even if you don't plan to make a business website today, you may want to buy the URL in order to prevent others from acquiring it.
Find a Domain Now
Once you have verified your name is available, you may now select a professional service to complete the LLC formation process for you.
We reviewed and ranked the best LLC services. Find out which is best for you.
Step 2: Choose a Registered Agent in North Dakota
You are required to nominate a North Dakota registered agent for your LLC.
What is a registered agent? A registered agent is an individual or business entity responsible for receiving important legal documents on behalf of your business. Think of your registered agent as your business's point of contact with the state.
Who can be a registered agent? A registered agent must be a resident of North Dakota or a corporation, such as a registered agent service, authorized to transact business in North Dakota. You may elect an individual within the company including yourself.
Recommended: Check out these best registered agent services.
Step 3: File the North Dakota LLC Articles of Organization
To register your North Dakota LLC, you will need to file the Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State. This can be done online.
Now is a good time to determine whether your LLC will be member-managed vs. manager-managed.
File the Articles of Organization
File Online With the North Dakota Secretary of State
Fee: $135 (Nonrefundable)
For help with completing the form, visit our North Dakota Articles of Organization guide.
If you’re expanding your existing LLC to the state of North Dakota, you will need to form a foreign LLC.
Step 4: Create a North Dakota LLC Operating Agreement
In North Dakota, LLCs are not required to have an operating agreement, but it's a good practice to have one.
What is an operating agreement? An operating agreement is a legal document outlining the ownership and operating procedures of an LLC.
Why are operating agreements important? A comprehensive operating agreement ensures that all business owners are on the same page and reduces the risk of future conflict.
For more information on operating agreements, read our North Dakota LLC operating agreement guide.
Recommended: Download a template or create a free operating agreement using our tool.
Step 5: Obtain an EIN
You can get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS for free. It is used to identify a business entity and keep track of a business’s tax reporting. It is essentially a Social Security number (SSN) for the company.
Why do I need an EIN? An EIN number is required for the following:
- To open a business bank account for the company
- For federal and state tax purposes
- To hire employees for the company
Where do I get an EIN? An EIN is obtained from the IRS (free of charge) by the business owner after forming the company. This can be done online or by mail.
FOR INTERNATIONAL APPLICANTS: You do not need an SSN to get an EIN. Learn more here.
Step 6: File the Annual Report
North Dakota requires LLCs to file an annual report online with the Secretary of State. The filing fee is $50.
LLC annual reports are due November 15 each year. The first annual report is due the year following LLC formation. North Dakota charges a $50 penalty for failure to file on time. In addition, North Dakota can revoke an LLC’s business registration after six months for failure to file an annual report.
Steps After LLC Formation
Read all the steps you’ll need to maintain your LLC’s personal liability protection, open a business bank account, get business insurance, and stay up to date with state reporting requirements.
Visit our After Forming an LLC guide to learn more.
Step 7: Keep Your Company Compliant
North Dakota Business Licenses & Permits
To operate your LLC, you must comply with federal, state, and local government regulations. Fees and requirements for licenses and permits will vary depending on what sort of business license you need.
Find out how to get the necessary business licenses and permits for your LLC with our North Dakota Business License guide.
Recommended: Consider having a professional service research your business’s licensing requirements. Read our best business license services review.
North Dakota LLC Tax Filing Requirements
In order to keep your business in good standing, it's important to stay up to date on your North Dakota LLC taxes.
Depending on the nature of your business, you may be required to register for one or more forms of tax.
The sales tax rate for most retail sales in North Dakota is 5%. Local sales tax rates can add an additional 1% to 3%.
If you have employees in North Dakota, you will need to register for the Unemployment Insurance Tax through the North Dakota Unemployment Insurance Employer Account System. You will also need to sign up for Employee Withholding Tax through the North Dakota Taxpayer Access Point.
North Dakota's graduated individual income tax ranges from 1.1% to 2.9% depending on your LLC's income.
State tax returns are due each year by April 18. To calculate your tax or determine your tax bracket, visit the North Dakota Office of State Tax Commissioner website.
If you plan to hire employees, stay compliant with the law by following these steps:
- Verify that new employees are able to work in the US
- Report employees as "new hires" to the state
- Provide workers' compensation insurance for employees
- Withhold employee taxes
- Print workplace compliance posters and place them in visible areas of your workspace
Find out more information from the State of North Dakota website.
Recommended: Check out our Hiring for your Small Business Guide for resources like sample job descriptions, payroll service reviews, and more.
Common Questions About North Dakota LLCs
What is an LLC?
LLC is short for “limited liability company.” It is a simple business structure that offers more flexibility than a traditional corporation while providing many of the same benefits. Read our What is a Limited Liability Company guide for more information.
Or, watch our two-minute video: What is an LLC?
How do I name my North Dakota LLC?
You must follow the North Dakota LLC naming guidelines when choosing a name for your LLC:
- Include the phrase "limited liability company" or one of its abbreviations (LLC or L.L.C.).
- Do not use words that could confuse your business with a government agency (FBI, State Department, CIA, etc.).
- Receive the proper licensing when using the words such as lawyer or doctor.
If you are having trouble coming up with a name for your LLC, use our LLC Name Generator. That will not only find a unique name for your business but an available URL to match.
After you get your business name, get a unique logo using our Free Logo Generator.
Do I need to get a DBA or trade name for my business?
Most LLCs do not need a DBA or trade name. The name of the LLC can serve as your company’s brand name and you can accept checks and other payments under that name as well. However, you may wish to register a DBA if you would like to conduct business under another name.
To learn more about DBAs in your state, read our How to File a DBA guide.
Can I be my own Registered Agent?
Yes. You or anyone else in your company can serve as the registered agent for your LLC.
Read more about being your own registered agent.
Is a Registered Agent service worth it?
Using a professional Registered Agent service is an affordable way to manage government filings for your LLC. For most businesses, the advantages of using a professional service significantly outweigh the annual costs.
For more information, read our article on North Dakota registered agents.
What is the processing time to form my North Dakota LLC?
Business filings can take up to four weeks.
What is the difference between a domestic LLC and foreign LLC?
An LLC is referred to as a "domestic LLC" when it conducts business in the state where it was formed. Normally when we refer to an LLC we are actually referring to a domestic LLC. A foreign LLC must be formed when an existing LLC wishes to expand its business to another state.
Read our What Is a Foreign LLC article to learn more.
How much does it cost to start a North Dakota LLC?
The cost to start a North Dakota LLC is $135.
To learn more, read our guide on the cost to form a North Dakota LLC.
Do I need to file my operating agreement with the state?
No. The operating agreement is an internal document that you should keep on file for future reference. However, many states do legally require LLCs to have an operating agreement in place.
How do I get an EIN if I don’t have a Social Security number?
An SSN is not required to get an EIN. You can simply fill out IRS Form SS-4 and leave section 7b blank. Then call the IRS at (267) 941-1099 to complete your application. Learn more here about applying as an international applicant.
What tax structure should I choose for my North Dakota LLC?
When you get an EIN, you will be informed of the different tax classification options that are available. Most LLCs elect the default tax status.
Do I need an EIN for my LLC?
All LLCs with employees, or any LLC with more than one member, must have an EIN. This is required by the IRS..
Learn why we recommend always getting an EIN and how to get one for free in our Do I Need an EIN for an LLC guide.
What is the minimum wage in North Dakota?
The minimum wage in North Dakota is $7.25 per hour.
How often do I need to pay employees?
North Dakota requires wages to be paid regularly at least once per month.