Start Your Own Business in North Dakota: Seven Steps You Need to Take

From licenses and permits to taxes and insurance, learn what you need to do to start a business in North Dakota.



Here’s an overview of the key steps you’ll need to take to start your own business in North Dakota.

Step 1. Decide on a Legal Structure

The most common legal structures for a small business are:

  • sole proprietorship
  • partnership
  • limited liability company (LLC), and
  • corporation.

There also are special versions of some of these structures, such as limited partnerships and S corporations. You’ll want to consider which business entity structure offers the type of liability protection you want and the best tax, financing, and financial benefits for you and your business. Check  Choose Your Business Structure  on Nolo’s website for more information on how to choose the best ownership structure for your business.

Step 2. Choose a Name

For LLCs and corporations, you will need to check that your name is distinguishable from the names of other business entities already on file with the North Dakota Secretary of State (SOS). You can check for available names by doing a  business records search  on the SOS website. You can reserve an available name for twelve months by filing a  Reserve Name Application  with the North Dakota SOS. There are certain name requirements for LLCs and corporations (like including a word such as “LLC” for LLCs or “Company” for corporations). See  How to Form an LLC in North Dakota  and  How to Form a Corporation in North Dakota  for more information.

Sole proprietorships and partnerships in North Dakota must file a  Trade Name Registration  with the North Dakota SOS if they use a business name that is different from the name of the business owner (for a sole proprietorship) or names of the individual partners (for a partnership).

If you plan on doing business online, you may want to register your business name as a domain name. See  Choose and Register a Domain Name  for more information. In addition, to avoid trademark infringement issues, you should do a federal and state trademark check to make sure the name you want to use is not the same as or too similar to a name already in use. See  How to Do a Trademark Search  for more information.

Step 3. Create Your Business Entity

  • Sole proprietorship:  To establish a sole proprietorship in North Dakota, you don’t need to file any organizational documents with the state. For more information, see  How to Establish a Sole Proprietorship in North Dakota.
  • Partnership:  To create a general partnership in North Dakota, you don’t need to file any organizational documents with the state. Although not legally required, all partnerships should have a written partnership agreement . The partnership agreement can be very helpful if there is ever a dispute among the partners. For more information, see  How to Form a Partnership in North Dakota.  To form a  limited liability partnership  (often used by professionals), you must file a Registration with the North Dakota SOS. For more information, see  How to Form a Limited Liability Partnership in North Dakota.
  • LLCs:  To create an LLC in North Dakota, you must file  Articles of Organization  with the North Dakota SOS. You will also need to appoint a  registered agent  in North Dakota for service of process. In addition, while not required by law, you also should prepare an  operating agreement  to establish the basic rules about how your LLC will operate. The operating agreement is not filed with the state. For more information, see  How to Form an LLC in North Dakota  and  How to Form a Professional LLC in North Dakota  (for professionals).
  • Corporations:  To create a corporation in North Dakota, you must file  Articles of Incorporation  with the North Dakota SOS. You will also need to appoint a  registered agent  in North Dakota for service of process. Although not legally required, you also should prepare  bylaws  to establish your corporation’s internal operating rules. Bylaws are not filed with the state.  S Corporations  must also file IRS Form 2553,  Election by a Small Business Corporation,  with the IRS. For more information, see  How to Form a Corporation in North Dakota.

Step 4. Licenses and Permits

Tax Registration.  If you will be selling goods in North Dakota, you must register for a sales and use tax permit with the North Dakota Office of the State Tax Commissioner (STC). If you will have employees in North Dakota, you must register with the STC for employer withholding tax. For both types of tax, you can register through the North Dakota  Taxpayer Access Point.

EIN.  If your business has employees or is taxed separately from you, you must obtain a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. Even if you are not required to obtain an EIN, there are often business reasons for doing so. Banks often require an EIN to open an account in the business’s name and other companies you do business with may require an EIN to process payments. You can get an EIN by completing an online application on the IRS website. There is no filing fee.

Regulatory licenses and permits.  These cover areas such as:

  • health and safety
  • the environment
  • building and construction; and
  • specific industries or services

For regulatory licenses and permits issued by the state, check the  Licensing Information  section of the nd.gov website. You’ll find that some of the agencies that issue business-related licenses and permits are:

Talk to a Lawyer

Need help? Start here.

How it Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you
NEED PROFESSIONAL HELP ?

Talk to a Business Law attorney.

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you