This is the first and most important step in starting your LLC. Do some research to make sure the name you choose is suited to your business venture and is easily searchable for potential clients.
- Follow the naming guidelines: Your entity name must contain the words Limited Liability Company or the abbreviation L.L.C. or LLC. Restricted words require additional paperwork (e.g. Banc, Bank, Banque, etc) and/or licensed individuals (e.g. Doctor, Engineer, etc). to be part of the LLC. Prohibited words are those that would confuse the name of your LLC with a federal or state agency e.g. FBI, Secret Service, Treasury etc.
- Is the name available in North Dakota? Make sure the name isn't already taken by doing a name search on the State of North Dakota website.
- Is the URL available? Check to see if the name of your LLC is available so that you can reserve your domain name. Even if you don't plan to make a website today, you may want to buy the domain name in order to prevent others from acquiring it.
An email address is also something to consider when choosing a name. Get a professional email (@yourcompany.com) with Google apps. Also get access to the top business tools, cloud storage, and business-grade security. - Try it for free
STEP 2: Choose a Registered Agent
You are required to nominate a Registered Agent for your North Dakota LLC
What is a Registered Agent? A registered agent is a person or business nominated by your company to officially receive and send papers on your behalf including annual state filings.
Who can be a Registered Agent? The registered agent must be a resident of North Dakota or a corporation authorized to transact business in North Dakota. You may elect an individual within the company including yourself.
Click here to find out why you may want to use a registered agent service.
Recommended: INCFILE.COM provides free registered agent service for the first year as part of their LLC Packages.
To register your LLC, you will need to file the Articles of Organization with the State of North Dakota.
File the Articles of Organization for a Domestic LLCFile Online
Fee: Nonrefundable $135, payable to "Secretary of State", or by credit using VISA, MasterCard, or Discover.
Follow the instructions on the PDF.
Important: If you're expanding your existing LLC to the State of North Dakota you are forming a Foreign LLC. Learn how.
What is an Operating Agreement? An operating agreement is a legal document outlining the ownership and operating procedures of your LLC. This agreement allows you to form financial/working relationships with co-owners into an established system suitable to your business. An Operating Agreement is not required to form an LLC in North Dakota, but is good practice to have one.
Recommended: We provide a free sample operating agreement however we recommend getting one professional drafted by a lawyer, especially if you are starting a multi-member LLC.
What is an EIN? The Employer Identification Number (EIN), or Federal Tax Identification Number, is used to identify a business entity. It is essentially a social security number for the company.
Why do I need an EIN? An EIN 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 by one of two ways:
* Important: An EIN is obtained after the LLC is formed. Obtaining an EIN registers the company for federal taxes.
Opening a business bank account is an important first step, as it:
- Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Getting a business credit card allows you to:
- Separate personal and business expenses.
- Build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money for your company later.
* Recommended: Compare business credit card offers at CreditCards.com.
Do I need to register for State taxes?
- If you have Employees in North Dakota, you will have to register for Unemployment Insurance Tax, and Employee Withholding Tax on behalf of your Employees.
- Register for North Dakota Unemployment Insurance Tax through the North Dakota State Government Website.
- Register for North Dakota Employee Withholding Tax through the North Dakota State Government Website.
- If you are selling taxable goods or services in North Dakota, you will need to register for North Dakota Sales Tax.
- Register for North Dakota Sales Tax through North Dakota State Government Website.
*Recommended: Learn more about sales tax by reading our informative guide: Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
Even if you haven’t officially opened for business – it’s critical to get your books in order. A well managed accounting system will help you:
- Track your business finances, including bills, expenses and income.
- Simplify your annual tax filings.
The right software makes accounting easy. Look for software that:
- Syncs with your bank automatically.
- Matches transactions to invoices, bills and purchase orders.
- Can be accessed from your phone.
*Recommended: Xero has the features that all small businesses need.
Try Xero FREE for 30 days and get 30% off your first 6-months.
Do I need business licenses and permits?
To operate your LLC you must comply with federal, state, and local government regulations. For example, restaurants likely need health permits, building permits, signage permits, etc.
Find out how to obtain necessary licenses and permits for your business:
- Federal: Use the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) guide to federal business licenses and permits.
- State: Apply for or learn more about licenses, permits and registration with The State of North Dakota's New Business Registration Licensing Information.
- Local: Contact your local Chamber of Commerce and ask about local licenses and permits.
- Alternatively, you can use a professional service to research all of your business licensing needs.
The details of business licenses and permits vary from state to state. Make sure you read carefully. Don't be surprised if there are short classes required as well.
Fees for business licenses and permits will vary depending on what sort of license you are seeking to obtain.
What is Workers Compensation Insurance? This form of insurance is required for most businesses with employees, but varies by State. Click here to learn more.
What is General Liability Insurance? This is an important service, but is not required in most States. Click here to learn why.
How much will the right insurance cost you? Click here to find out.
Once a business decides to hire employees, certain legal obligations are required, such as:
- Ensuring that potential employees are eligible to work in the US
- Reporting employees as "new hires" to the State
- Providing workers compensation insurance for employees
- Withholding income taxes
- Printing compliance posters and place in a conspicuous location
- Ensuring payment of employees in specific increments as required by the state
The requirements for having employees can be found at the State of North Dakota.
A great resource for posting jobs and finding qualified employees is Indeed.com
How to Start a Business
in North Dakota
5 easy steps to starting a business in North Dakota.
We have a far more detailed guide - How to Start a Business
which will go over the points in more details.
- Identify a suitable business idea that works for you - Check out our Business Ideas Tool.
- Critically analyze your idea with our Lean Business Model Canvas Tool. You can then go on to create a full business plan with our Free Online Business Plan Tool.
- Formally organize your Business into a company. An LLC is the most popular way to structure your business. Learn how to Form your LLC in North Dakota.
- Complete important key steps after formation such as acquiring business licences & permits, registering for state taxes, and opening a business bank account.
- Build your website and develop your brand. Learn more about marketing and brand establishment.
To maintain a North Dakota LLC, it is necessary to make periodic filings with the State of North Dakota. Learn how to keep your LLC in good standing and avoid state penalties.
North Dakota Annual Report
North Dakota requires LLCs file an annual report with the Secretary of State.
File a Report with the State of North DakotaFile Online
Due Date: Due November 15 each year. The first annual report is due the year following LLC formation.
Each year, thousands of LLCs are unknowingly dissolved or suspended for failing to file an annual report. When this happens, LLC owners risk loss of limited liability protection. A registered agent service can help prevent this outcome by notifying you of upcoming filing deadlines and by submitting reports on your behalf.
Prevent Late Fees
North Dakota charges a $50 penalty for failure to file on time. In addition, North Dakota can revoke an LLC’s business registration after 6 months for failure to file an annual report.
Recommended: INCFILE.COM offers a reliable registered agent service.
A Certificate of Good Standing verifies that your LLC was legally formed and has been properly maintained. Several instances where you might need to get one include:
- Seeking funding from banks or other lenders
- Forming your business as a foreign LLC in another state
- Obtaining or renewing specific business licenses or permits
To order a Certificate of Good Standing, you have a few options:
- Calling 701-328-4284 or 800-352-0867 (Ext. 328-4284)
- Fax at 701-328-2992 addressed to the Business Division
- Email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mail addressed to:
Secretary of State
600 E. Boulevard Ave. Dept. 108
Bismarck, ND 58505-0500
Certificate Request Fee: $20.00
If you have an existing LLC and want to register to do business in North Dakota, you will need to form a foreign LLC.
Benefits of Forming a Foreign LLC
The major benefit of becoming a foreign corporation is that it allows your company to operate as one entity in many jurisdictions. For example, if you originally incorporate your LLC in the State of Delaware, you can file your existing domestic LLC as a foreign corporation in other states.