How to Start an LLC in North Dakota (2024 Guide)
To get started, you'll need to pick a suitable business name, choose a registered agent, and file your Articles of Organization with the North Dakota Secretary of State ($135 processing fee).
You can do this independently, consult with a business attorney for specialized legal guidance, or join the other 65% of our readers and hire a specialized North Dakota LLC formation service (recommended).
Northwest ($29 + State Fees)
LegalZoom ($249 + State Fees)
How to Form an LLC in North Dakota in 6 Steps
In order to form your LLC in North Dakota, there are certain steps you’ll need to complete:
- 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 a Beneficial Ownership Information Report
Step 1: Name Your North Dakota LLC
Before you get started, you will need to pick a suitable name for your North Dakota LLC.
This will need to comply with all applicable naming requirements under North Dakota law and be both succinct and memorable, as this will make it easily searchable by your potential clients.
1. Important Naming Guidelines for North Dakota LLCs:
- Your name must contain the phrase “limited liability company” or the abbreviation “LLC”.
- Your name cannot contain words that are associated with different business structures, such as “partnership”, “corporation”, and “incorporated”.
- Your name cannot contain language that implies that it was organized for any purpose other than what is stated in its Articles of Organization.
- Your name cannot be the same (or be deceptively similar) to the name of any other entity registered to transact business within the state of North Dakota.
For more information, we recommend having a look at the North Dakota Century Code’s LLC Naming Guidelines.
2. Is the name available in North Dakota?
To check whether your desired name has already been taken by another business entity in North Dakota, you can perform a business name record search on the North Dakota Secretary of State website.
If you’re not going to start your LLC right away, it might be a good idea to consider reserving your name for up to one year ($10 filing fee).
For more information, you can have a look at our North Dakota LLC Name Search guide.
3. Is the URL available?
You should check online to see if your business name is available as a web domain. Even if you don’t plan to make a business website right away, this is an extremely important step as it will prevent others from acquiring it, potentially saving you both time and money in the long term.
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Once you have verified your name is available, you may now select a professional service to complete the LLC formation process for you.
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If you need additional information before getting started, you can have a look at our in-depth comparison of the Best LLC Services in 2024 instead.
FAQ: Naming a North Dakota LLC
LLC is short for "limited liability company". It is a simple business structure that offers more flexibility than a traditional corporation while still providing legal protection for your personal assets. Read our What is a Limited Liability Company guide for more information.
Or, watch our two-minute video: What is an 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.
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.
Step 2: Choose a Registered Agent in North Dakota
After you find the right name for your LLC, you will need to nominate a North Dakota registered agent. This is a necessary step in your Articles of Organization, which is the formation document used to register your LLC with the Secretary of State.
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. You can think of your registered agent as your business’s primary point of contact with the state.
Who can be a registered agent? A registered agent must be a resident of North Dakota or a domestic or foreign LLC or corporation that is authorized to transact business in the state. You can choose to elect an individual within the company (e.g., yourself, etc.) as your LLC’s registered agent, hire a business attorney, or use a registered agent service.
Note: North Dakota law does not allow an LLC to serve as its own registered agent.
FAQ: Nominating a Registered Agent
Yes, as long as you are at least 18 years old and are a resident of the state of North Dakota. This is generally not recommended as it offers less privacy and time flexibility but can be a good choice for owners operating on extremely tight budgets.
Read more about being your own registered agent.
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 relatively small annual cost.
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.
Before getting started, we recommend ensuring you have the following information on hand:
- Your LLC’s desired name and physical street address
- The name and address of your registered agent (can be commercial or non-commercial)
- Your LLC’s management structure (i.e., whether it will be member-managed or manager-managed)
- The names and addresses of your LLC’s organizers and/or members
- Your LLC’s duration period (can choose a perpetual period or set a specific timeframe)
- Your contact information (e.g., email address, phone number, etc.)
File the Articles of Organization
File Online With the North Dakota Secretary of StateFile Online
Fee: $135 (Nonrefundable)
For help with completing the form, visit our North Dakota Articles of Organization
Note: If you're expanding your existing business to the state of North Dakota, you'll need to register as a foreign limited liability company (LLC).
FAQ: Filing North Dakota LLC Documents
According to the Secretary of State’s website, the average processing time for your LLC’s Articles of Organization in North Dakota is around one to two business days. Keep in mind that this can only be filed online.
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.
The minimum cost you’ll need to incur in order to start a North Dakota LLC will be $135. This is because this is the cost of each LLC’s Articles of Organization, which is the formation document filed with the Secretary of State.
To learn more, read our guide on the cost to form a North Dakota 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 LLC members 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
FAQ: Creating a North Dakota LLC Operating Agreement
No. The operating agreement is an internal document that you should keep on file for future reference. However, many other states do legally require LLCs to have an operating agreement in place.
Step 5: Get an EIN for Your Oklahoma LLC
You can get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS for free. It is used to identify a business entities 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 website (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.
Get an EIN
Option 1: Request an EIN from the IRS
- OR -
Option 2: Apply for an EIN by Mail or Fax
Internal Revenue Service
Attn: EIN Operation
Cincinnati, OH 45999
Fax: (855) 641-6935
FAQ: Getting an EIN
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.
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.
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.
However, some LLCs can reduce their federal tax obligation by choosing the S corporation (S corp) status. To learn more, read our LLC vs. S Corp guide.
Step 6: File a Beneficial Ownership Information Report
Beginning January 2024, LLC owners will need to file a Beneficial Ownership Information (BOI) Report with the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). Existing LLCs can file their report any time between January 1, 2024, and January 1, 2025, while new LLCs will need to file their report within 90 days of formation.
This contains similar information to that of your Articles of Organization, such as your LLC name and member information, and can be filed online for free. Failure to file an accurate report on time can result in a $500 per day fine.
Note: There are certain filing exemptions, such as for large companies (i.e., more than 20 full-time employees), tax-exempt entities, and publicly traded companies.
Considering Using an LLC Formation Service?
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Maintain Your North Dakota LLC
After you’ve successfully formed your LLC, there are a couple of steps you’ll need to periodically take in order to maintain it, including:
- Filing an annual report
- Sorting out your taxes
We’ve broken down how to complete each of these steps in greater detail below.
File the Annual Report
All LLCs based in North Dakota will be required to file an annual report and pay a $50 fee in order to keep themselves compliant. This is typically filed electronically with the Secretary of State using the FirstStop platform and is due by November 15 each year.
After forming your LLC, you’ll have to file your first annual report by this deadline the following year – missing this deadline, or any after it, will result in a $50 penalty for failure to file in a timely manner.
Note: Your LLC's business registration can be revoked after 6 months of failing to file an annual report.
Sort Out Your Taxes
Regardless of where your LLC is registered, you will be required to pay certain federal taxes. This includes corporation and employer taxes (for LLCs filing as a C corporation), and federal income tax and self-employment taxes (for LLCs taxed as pass-through entities).
In addition, there are a number of different taxes you’ll be required to pay at a local and state level, which can vary depending on the nature of your business.
Below are some of the most common taxes in North Dakota:
There are a couple of different state-level taxes your LLC may be required to pay on the income it generates from North Dakota sources. In addition to your federal tax obligations, this includes:
- Individual Income Tax: For LLCs with a default tax structure based in North Dakota, an individual tax rate varying between 1.10% and 2.90% will be applied to the salaries the members receive from the business’s total income. Each member will also need to file a tax return by April 15, which can be done electronically or by mail using Form ND-1.
- Corporate Income Tax: LLCs structured as a C Corporation for tax purposes are currently required to pay corporate income tax at a rate that varies between 1.41% to 4.31% on the business’s total taxable income and file an income tax return with Form 40 by April 15.
While your LLC can pay its North Dakota state income tax bill using a check or money order made payable to the ND State Tax Commissioner, it’s far easier and quicker to do this online using the ND Taxpayer Access Point (TAP).
Sales and Use Taxes
For most retail sales in North Dakota, sales tax is applied at a rate of 5%, though local tax rates can increase this by an additional 1% to 3%, depending on the locality. You can find out the combined sales tax rate that’s in effect in your zip code using the ND TAP Sales Tax Rate Lookup tool.
Sales tax returns are filed online through ND TAP at a filing frequency that’s determined when you register with the North Dakota Office of the State Tax Commissioner. Typically, sales tax returns will either be due on a monthly, quarterly, seasonal, or annual basis.
Note: If your LLC will be selling any taxable products or services, it will typically need to register for a Sales and Use Permit through ND TAP at least 30 days before it begins to make sales.
Steps After LLC Formation
After forming your LLC, you will need to get a business bank account and website, sort out any required business licenses, and get business insurance, among other things.
Visit our After Forming an LLC guide to learn more.