How To Start a North Dakota LLC

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Last Updated: August 17, 2022

Overview

Before we get started on the details of how to start a Limited Liability Company in North Dakota, it’s important to understand that you can use a professional service like Northwest Registered Agent to help you accomplish all these steps.

Recommended: Northwest Registered Agent 

Use Northwest Registered Agent and they will also give you the first year of their registered agent service included too. Go check it out and you’ll appreciate that you did.

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I also love spending time looking at what North Dakota is known for and the best business ideas that come from that. Based on my research, I’d recommend starting the following types of businesses:

  1. Start a Geographical Center Touring Company
  2. Start a wildlife birding touring business
  3. Start a Lake Sakakawea boating rental company

Once you’ve determined the type of business you want to start, you’ll need to focus on your business name. Whether you’re going to setup an individual or business entity, sole proprietorship or just a plain old North Dakota business – you’ll need an official business name through the North Dakota Secretary of State’s office.

Name Your North Dakota LLC

The typical North Dakota business naming guidelines are:

The name must end with “Limited Liability Company,” “L.L.C.” or “LLC.”

The name cannot contain certain restricted words without a special license/permit (e.g. Bank, Attorney, University).

The name cannot be deceptively similar to another registered company in North Dakota.

The name must be available for you to use.

To check the availability of your proposed ND LLC name, you can:

Conduct a business search on the North Dakota Secretary of State website.

You can check out their search portal here:

https://firststop.sos.nd.gov/search/business

After you’ve validated you can use this name, you’ll want to make sure there are no trademarks covering this either. You can go check that out at the USPTO office where you’ll have a great search portal to determine if you’re able to use this or not.

Go here to search: https://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/search

The alternative is hiring a professional service like Northwest Registered Agent to perform a business entity search on your behalf.

Note: If you find that your desired name is already taken, don’t worry. You can choose an “alternate name” which can be used as your Doing Business As (DBA) name, trade name or fictitious business name.

After you’ve done all this, you’ll want to make sure you can conduct business online for collecting business income as LLC owners will need to do through their new business.

Get a Website Domain for Your STATE Limited Liability Company

I recommend going to GoDaddy for this so you can get a website domain and use their website builder which will save you quite a bit of time when trying to figure out how to get this up and running quickly. It is not North Dakota law to have a website but if you have more than one member of your LLC and you’re thinking about conducing business at your physical street address, it will be wise to have a digital version too.

After you’ve done this, it’s time to move on and figure out who you’re going to use as your registered agent.

Choose your registered agent

A registered agent is required in North Dakota and is responsible for receiving and sending important legal documents on behalf of your business.

Your registered agent must have a physical address (PO Boxes are not allowed) in North Dakota and be available during normal business hours to sign for any documents that may be delivered.

You can choose to be your own registered agent, but I generally don’t recommend this as it requires you to be available during business hours and could result in important documents being delivered to your home address.

If you do choose to use a professional registered agent service, I recommend using Northwest Registered Agent. They are one of the largest registered agent services in the country and have an A+ rating.

They will also include the first year of this service when you use their LLC formation service. I highly recommend going this route vs. trying to do it on your own.

You can also look for a reliable registered agent service that could be a North Dakota law firm too. There will be local law firms that offer this service but as LLC members trying to make sure the registered LLC you’ve put together is following the law, I’d recommend using a professional service for this.

Prepare and File Articles of Organization

After you’ve chosen your registered agent, it’s now time to prepare and file your Articles of Organization with the North Dakota Secretary of State.

Fortunately, this state only requires a few items to be included in your Articles:

  • The name and address of your LLC
  • The name and address of your registered agent
  • The LLC’s purpose
  • The effective date of the Articles (this can be a future date)

You can file your Articles online, by mail or in person. The filing fee is $135.

If you want to file by mail or in person, you’ll need to fill out this form: https://www.sos.nd.gov/business-services/business-filings/forms-fees

And send it to this address:

North Dakota Secretary of State

600 E Boulevard Ave Dept 108

Bismarck ND 58505

If you want to file online, you can do so here: https://www.sos.nd.gov/business-services/business-filings/file-online

Once you’ve filed your Articles, congrats! You’ve now officially formed your North Dakota Limited Liability Company and it’s time to move into building your operating agreement.

Create an operating agreement

Operating agreements are my favorite part of an LLC formation. It’s not officially a step you have to go through but all the business entities that I’ve put together have an operating agreement.

If you’re going need to invest personal assets and potentially have multiple LLC members involved in your business, it will be important to document it.

An LLC operating agreement typically contains:

  • The names and contact information for each LLC member
  • How profits and losses will be allocated
  • Voting rights of members
  • Members’ contributions
  • Manager-managed vs. member-managed LLCs
  • Dissolution procedures

While you are not required by law to have an operating agreement, I highly recommend that you put one together. It’s similar to trying to operate as your own registered agent. You could do it but it’s not very wise so make sure you really focus on making this a priority for you and the business structure you’ve set out to have for your business.

Get an EIN

Your Employer Identification Number is one of the most important items in this whole process. Some people also call it the Federal Tax Identification Number but it really is just your social security number for your business. You can apply for one on the IRS website here and as a government agency looking to help businesses succeed- they will gladly do just that.

The Internal Revenue Service will make sure you collect sales tax, self employment taxes and depending on your type of business you might find that pass through taxation is something too.

Once you’ve gotten your EIN, you’ll be able to go setup a business bank account and get your journey started as a new business owner.

Open A Business Bank Account

I recommend going to Lili to get your business bank account setup. If you’re going to be transacting business using a Federal Employer Identification Number and want to make sure you’re following business law, it will be important that you have a bank account setup.

You’ll also need a bank account if you’re planning to hire employees, use a business credit card or just need a way to track the difference between business and personal tax returns.

After you’ve done this, you’ll need to go look at getting some insurance for your business.

Get Small Business Insurance

When you’re ready to get started with some quotes for business insurance, I recommend using CommercialInsurance.net. They will help you get the quotes you need for personal liability protection along with product liability and property damage too.

You can get started with some quotes here: https://www.commercialinsurance.net/

And that’s it! You’ve now successfully set up your North Dakota LLC.

Get a Business License

Depending on where you’ll be building your business, you may need a business license or business licenses depending on the line of work that you’re in.

I would check with your local Chamber of Commerce or the business licensing office in your town to see what’s required of you.

There are different types of licenses too so it will be important that you get the right type for your business.

For example, there are general business licenses, home businesses licenses and professional licenses just to name a few.

Go check it out and make sure you’re covered.

File an Annual Report

In order to keep your business in good standing with the state of North Dakota, you’ll need to file an annual report each year.

You can find the form here: https://www.nd.gov/eforms/Doc/s1005fill.pdf

Or if you want to file your annual report online, you can do that here: https://firststop.sos.nd.gov/

And that’s it! You’re all set up and ready to go.

There are a few other things you might want to do like getting a business credit card or setting up a retirement plan but those are optional.

The most important thing is that you get it done so you can make sure your LLC formation stays intact year after year.

Pay Annual Taxes

In addition to the annual report, you’ll also need to pay taxes each year.

The good news is that North Dakota has a fairly simple tax structure for LLCs.

You’ll just need to pay state income tax and self employment tax if you’re the only member of your LLC.

If you have employees, you’ll also need to pay unemployment taxes.

But other than that, there aren’t any other special taxes that you’ll need to pay.

So that’s it! You now know how to start a North Dakota LLC.

Just make sure you follow all the steps and file all the necessary paperwork and you’ll be in good to go!

FAQs

Can an LLC own land in North Dakota?

Yes, an LLC can own land in North Dakota.

How long does it take for an LLC to be approved in North Dakota?

It usually takes about 4-6 weeks for an LLC to be approved in North Dakota.

Can an LLC have more than one owner in North Dakota?

Yes, an LLC can have more than one owner in North Dakota.

What is a series LLC in North Dakota?

A series LLC is an LLC that has more than one owner and each owner has their own asset protection.

How much does it cost to set up an LLC in North Dakota?

It usually costs about $100 to set up an LLC in North Dakota.