How to Start an LLC in North Dakota

Starting an LLC in North Dakota can be both exhilarating and overwhelming. Staying compliant is important as you build your dream business. 

our comprehensive limited liability company (LLC) guide is straightforward and easy to follow. We can help you start an LLC in North Dakota quickly and correctly.

Forming an LLC in North Dakota

In this LLC guide, we’ll take you through every step of the North Dakota LLC formation process, so you can get your business up and running with confidence. We’ll offer a quick overview of the process, take a deeper dive into the individual steps, and offer insights and ways to seek help if you need additional assistance.

We know how important it is to get your North Dakota business running as quickly as possible. Our guide can steer you in the right direction.

LLC requirements vary state by state so it’s important that you are well-versed in North Dakota laws before proceeding. Generally, it comes down to these steps:

Starting an LLC in North Dakota

In order to start an LLC in North Dakota, you’ll need to register the business with the state government. This is an important step — the government must officially recognize your North Dakota Limited Liability Company as legitimate for your company to begin operating. This also helps the state of North Dakota keep you informed about changes to important business laws and procedures. 

Before you can have your LLC registered, you’ll have some tasks to complete. This initial work must include choosing an official name for your LLC, selecting your company’s registered agent, creating an operating agreement to mandate how your LLC will operate, and setting your LLC up to pay taxes.

We understand that these steps can feel complicated, so we’ll take a close look at each one to help you make better decisions while forming your North Dakota Limited Liability Company.

1. Name your North Dakota LLC

The first thing you’ll need to do when setting up your LLC is deciding on your company’s name. Since your name will likely be the first thing prospective clients see or hear about your LLC, it’s important to choose a name that fits your brand, message, and/or service. You also want to make sure your LLC name follows all North Dakota state regulations.

We recommend making a shortlist of names that all LLC members can agree on. Once you have your list, you’ll want to run a search to ensure no other company is already registered with that name. North Dakota requires all companies to have unique names, so if one of your options is already taken, move on to the next.

To check your name, follow the instructions on our North Dakota business name search page.

Once you chose a name that’s available, you’ll need to add an LLC designator to its end. This designator is essentially a suffix indicating that your company is an LLC. In North Dakota, you can choose from “Limited Liability Company,” “LLC,” or “L.L.C.” For a full list of naming requirements, see Section 10-32.1-11 of the North Dakota Uniform Limited Liability Company Act.

Reserving a Business Name for a North Dakota LLC

If you find a name you like but aren’t yet ready to file your Articles of Organization, North Dakota allows you to reserve a name for a fee.

Secure a domain name for your ND LLC

When you’re coming up with a name, it’s wise to consider whether you can secure a matching domain name so that your future website can be easily found online. We have a tool to help you do a preliminary domain name search, and our domain name registration service can help you secure the online name that will best serve your company.

Check for existing state or federal trademarks

To make sure you’re entirely in the clear with your business name, visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office website to see whether your name or logo is federally trademarked. Trademarks can also happen at the state level. To find out if your desired business name is already trademarked and/or apply for a trademark of your own, go to the North Dakota Secretary of State website page for trademarks.

Filing a North Dakota DBA

Lastly, if you decide to market your company with any name other than your official LLC name, you’ll need to secure a DBA (“Doing Business As”) name. A DBA is called a trade name in North Dakota. You can file a trade name online via the FirstStop government portal. There is a fee involved for filing.

2. Appoint a registered agent in North Dakota

In North Dakota, you must assign a registered agent to your LLC. A registered agent is a party that acts on your behalf and receives official documentation from the North Dakota Secretary of State’s office as well as legal notices (such as subpoenas).

When selecting a registered agent in North Dakota, the agent must have an office address in the state (P.O. boxes are not permitted) and operate under normal business hours (9 a.m. to 5 p.m. local time, Monday through Friday).

You can choose to serve as your own registered agent, but there are a few downfalls to this such as running the risk of being served embarrassing paperwork (like a service of process) in front of clients.

Benefits of a Registered Agent Service for Your New LLC in ND

For this reason, many business owners in North Dakota decide to work with an outside business entity like a registered agent service that can handle this paperwork and pass it along at a convenient time for both parties.

Partnering with professional service like our third-party registered agent service in North Dakota is affordable and can save you time and energy.

3. File North Dakota Articles of Organization

Now you’re ready to file your North Dakota LLC with the state.

Filing official government documents like this can be daunting for some people, which is why we’re here. With our business formation plans, our professionals handle the filing for you to make sure it’s done quickly and correctly the first time. But, although we can handle this for you, we’ll show you how the process works below.

To file the Articles of Organization online, log in via FirstStop. There is a filing fee involved. You can access this form via your FirstStop portal and submit it online or print it and mail it to the state office.

When completing this form, you’ll need to provide:

  • Your LLC’s official name
  • Your LLC’s principal office address
  • Your registered agent’s name and physical address. Also include the mailing address if different from the physical address.
  • All names of the company’s organizers
  • Your LLC effective date
  • Signature of at least one organizer

Keep all of your ND LLC documents in one digital dashboard

If you have us handle filing your Articles of Organization, once the state approves your LLC, your paperwork will be available from your ZenBusiness dashboard, where you can keep it and other important paperwork digitally organized.

Once you get your physical paperwork back from the state approving your new LLC, you’ll want to keep it in a safe location along with your other important documents, such as your operating agreement, member certificates, contracts, compliance checklists, transfer ledger, etc. We offer a customized business kit to help you keep these important documents organized and looking professional.

4. Create an operating agreement

Another step you’ll want to consider is creating an LLC operating agreement. Although operating agreements are not required by North Dakota law, they’re very important documents for your LLC.

Your North Dakota operating agreement outlines your business structure and how your company will be run and/or managed. It can also dictate voting structures and specify how to handle disputes. Even if you’re a sole-member LLC, your operating agreement will help the government understand how your company should be run if you’re incapacitated or unable to manage your company.

Good Reasons for a ND LLC Operating Agreement

A few other reasons why you may want to draft an operating agreement include:

  • It creates a better separation between your personal and company finances, offering you and your fellow LLC members more protection from legal liability.
  • It helps new investors or members understand how your company is managed before they decide to join.
  • It allows you to better resolve and prevent conflicts between members or managers by detailing how voting structures and resolutions will be handled.

You don’t have to file your operating agreement with the state, but you want to make sure it covers all of the most important aspects of your company’s operations.

If you’re unsure as to how to start creating an operating agreement for your North Dakota LLC, we offer a customizable operating agreement template to help get you started.

5. Apply for an EIN

The next and final step you’ll want to take is setting your LLC up to pay business taxes and ensuring you apply for any special permits or licenses you need to operate.

You’ll get your tax paperwork set up by requesting an Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Tax ID Number or Federal Tax Identification Number, through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Your EIN is similar to an individual’s Social Security number, except this number is for tax purposes. It lets you pay and file taxes, hire and pay employees, open business bank accounts, and much more. Even if you’re the only member of your LLC, you might want to secure an EIN to help separate your personal finances from your business finances.

You can get your North Dakota LLC’s EIN through the IRS website, by mail, or by fax, but if you’re not fond of dealing with that particular government agency, we can get it for you. Our EIN service is quick and eliminates the hassle.

Open a business bank account for your North Dakota LLC

Once you’ve secured an EIN, you’ll be able to open a business bank account. Having separate accounts for your business and your personal banking is critical for sorting out your finances at tax time and helps you avoid commingling funds. Commingling funds can not only make your taxes more difficult, but it could also be used against you if someone takes you to court to challenge whether you and your LLC are truly separate entities.

Banking Payments and Invoicing for Your North Dakota LLC

We offer a discounted bank account for your new business. This allows for unlimited transactions, online banking, a debit card, and more. When you want to authorize others in your business to use the account, we offer a banking resolution template to simplify the process.

For further help managing your new business’s finances, try ZenBusiness Money. It can help you create invoices, receive payments, transfer money, and manage clients all in one place.

Licenses and Permits for Your New ND LLC

With your EIN complete, the last step is to check to see if you’re required to obtain any licenses or permits to operate in North Dakota. Regulations vary depending on the industry of your LLC, so be sure to review the state’s guidelines. There are also licenses that may be needed at the federal and local levels, so you’ll need to do some research.

We can help

Once you’ve finished the steps above, you’re the new owner of a limited liability company! You’ve taken the first steps to becoming the entrepreneur you’ve been wanting to be. But there’s a lot more to know. You need to know about things like hiring employees, getting business licenses and permits, getting additional financing if you need it, how to make changes in your business, and how to stay in compliance with the government.

Our many services can do more than just help you form your LLC. Our business experts can also give you long-term business support to help start, run, and grow your company. 

So, if the paperwork of starting a business feels overwhelming, we can help. Let us take care of LLC formation, compliance, and more.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.


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North Dakota LLC FAQs

  • It costs $135 to file your Articles of Organization, thereby starting your LLC in North Dakota.

    Note that fees change over time, so you should check the Secretary of State website for the most recent fee schedule.

  • Many companies opt to form an LLC for a good reason. That’s because an LLC structure offers more flexibility in management style and requires fewer reporting requirements than corporations, yet still offers financial and legal protections.

    Here are a few other reasons why you might want to form an LLC in North Dakota:

    • There’s a better delineation between your personal finances, assets, and debts and your business’s than there is with sole proprietorships and partnerships.
    • LLCs are exempt from double taxation, which means the LLC’s profits will only be taxed on your personal taxes. This is unlike most corporations, in which profits are taxed twice, first at the business level and again at the individual shareholder level.

    Want more details on why you should form a North Dakota LLC? Take a look at our comprehensive LLC guide to learn more.

  • When you file and submit your Articles of Organization online for your North Dakota LLC, your filing is typically processed and active within 24 hours. Online filing is strongly encouraged, but if you file via mail, expect the process to take several business days. North Dakota does not have any expedited processing options.

  • No, North Dakota does not require LLCs to file an operating agreement to operate, but it strongly recommends all companies create one.

  • In addition to double taxation exemptions, there are some tax requirements you should be aware of when forming an LLC. 

    Here’s what you need to know:

    • You’ll have to pay self-employment taxes: You’ll be considered a self-employed individual. You’ll file your personal taxes detailing your business income, losses, and expenses every year.
    • You can choose to be taxed as a corporation: If you want to be taxed as a corporation, you’ll file separate taxes, one for your company and one for your personal taxes. Your company taxes will detail your business income, losses, employee expenses, and general expenses every year. You’ll also need to fill out an 8832 tax form online via the IRS if you file as a C corporation and Form 2553 for an S corporation.
    • To avoid tax penalties at the end of the year: You’re required to pay estimated quarterly taxes on behalf of your LLC. Paying them throughout the year will save you from owing more at the end of the year. You’ll need to make both state and federal payments online to avoid these penalties. You’ll also need to set up tax withholding accounts if you have employees to withhold tax from your employees’ paychecks.
    • If you collect sales tax: If your LLC is collecting sales tax, you’ll have to set up a sales tax account with North Dakota’s Office of State Tax Commissioner.

    If you want to determine your bookkeeping, accounting, and tax needs, check out our Free Accounting Assessment.

  • Most LLC owners elect to have their business taxed the default way, which is as a sole proprietorship (for single-member LLCs) or a partnership (for multi-member LLCs). This method only requires partners to pay taxes on their percentage of the profits on their personal tax returns. The LLC itself is not taxed. This avoids the “double taxation” that many corporate shareholders pay, in which profits are taxed both at the business level and the personal level.

    If you have a large LLC or one that yields high earnings, it could make sense to be taxed as a corporation. We recommend partnering with a professional accountant or tax specialist if you need further guidance.

  • A Series LLC is a group of LLCs that operate under one parent LLC. While many states in the U.S. do not allow Series LLCs, North Dakota is one of the few that do.

  • You’ll need to make sure your LLC has all the licenses and permits it’s required to have by law. Unfortunately, because licensing varies by industry and location and can occur on the federal, state, and local levels, there’s no central place to check to see if you have all the licenses and permits you need. You’ll have to do some research.

    If you don’t have the time or inclination to do all this research, or if you just want the peace of mind to know that your business has all the licenses and permits it’s legally required to have, our business license report service can do the work for you.

  • In North Dakota, LLC annual reports are due on or before November 15 each year. The first annual report is due the year after you initially established your business entity.

    We can help you with your annual report in a couple of ways. Our North Dakota annual report service will help you file your annual report, and our Worry Free Compliance service not only helps with filing your annual report, but also sends you other important compliance reminders and helps you with two amendment filings each year.

  • To dissolve your North Dakota LLC, you will need to file the Articles of Dissolution and Termination form via the FirstStop portal. You’ll need to pay a filing fee.

    For more information, visit our North Dakota business dissolution guide.

“This is your life.
You want to get it right.”

– Mark Cuban on Starting a Business

Entrepreneur and Shark Tank host lays out
3 steps to follow when starting a business

  • Form an LLC to protect your liability
  • Set up your banking and accounting
  • Grow sales by marketing your website

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Start Your LLC in North Dakota