How to Form a North Dakota LLC 5 Simple Steps

Use A Professional Service

A professional service will handle the entire formation process on your behalf, allowing you to focus on the other needs of your new business.

4.7 out of 5 starsIncFile ($49 + state fee) for basic & quick LLC formation.

3.6 out of 5 starsLegalZoom ($79 + state fee) for the most popular LLC service available.

Form An LLC

Step 1) Verify & Secure Your Brand Name

Choose a Business NameTo secure and register your brand name it must be unique, not too similar to another registered name in North Dakota, and shouldn’t contain any restricted wording.

To check, conduct a free Business Entity Search through the state, and if there are potential trademark issues conduct another quick search using the TESS System through the U.S. Patent Office.

Keep in mind your LLC name should contain the words like ‘Limited Liability Company’ or ‘Limited Company’. Abbreviations for these words like ‘L.C.’ or ‘L.L.C.’ are also acceptable. If needed, file a Reserve Name Application with the Sec. of State for via mail, fax, or card.

Filing Fee: $10

Quick Note: Before you commit 100% to a name, you may also want to check that there’s a decent URL available for your business. Use Weebly to search your options. If there’s a quality domain name for purchase, we advise buying it right away. Even if launching a business website isn’t on your radar right now, it’s going to be soon, and you might as well nail down a domain name that’ll make it easy for customers to find you!

Step 2) Appoint A Registered Agent

Choose a Registered Agent

When you file your Articles of Organization, you will be asked to appoint a North Dakota registered agent.

Your registered agent will be responsible for receiving important legal documents like tax forms and service of process notices on behalf of your LLC. Your registered agent can be an individual resident of the state or a company that’s legally authorized to represent businesses in North Dakota.

North Dakota does give you the option to act as your own registered agent, but many business owners choose to appoint a professional instead. Here are a few things to think about before you decide to act as your own:

  • You’ll have to maintain normal (9 am - 5 pm) business hours at the address you provide.
  • If you run your business from home, you’ll be required to make your personal address public.
  • You must keep up on important notices, dates, and deadlines.
  • You could be served in front of your family or coworkers.
What To Do:

If you’re considering acting as your own registered agent, do some research, starting with our registered agent guide. If you decide you’re up for the task, go ahead and list your own name and address on your Articles of Organization.

If you’re leaning toward hiring a professional, we recommend doing so through an online LLC formation service. Many of these companies (like Incfile) offer up to one year of registered agent service free when you form your LLC with them.

 

Step 3) File Articles Of Organization

Register an LLCHead to the LLC Forms page and download the Articles of Organization (SFN 58701) which needs to be filed through mail or fax with the Sec. of State when you're ready to set up shop. It's an official declarative document for the public record that among other things discloses:

  • Complete name of North Dakota registered agent and address.
  • Name and address of your LLC.
  • Complete name and address of LLC organizers.

LLC Filing Fee: $135

 

Step 4) Draft An Operating Agreement

Create an Operating Agreement

Creating an LLC operating agreement is the only way for you and your members to fully define your roles and lock down your LLC’s management and ownership structure. Having this document in place will also give you all something to return to if a dispute or lawsuit arises.

Your operating agreement should outline the following:

  • each member’s responsibilities
  • how new members will be admitted
  • how existing members may transfer or terminate their membership
  • how profits and dividends are to be distributed

From there, you can add as many provisions as you want, provided they are not in conflict with North Dakota business law. To access a free operating agreement and learn more about how this document works in North Dakota, click here.

 

Step 5) Get An EIN

Get an EIN for Your LLC

The Employer Identification Number (EIN), or Federal Tax Identification Number, is essentially a social security number for your company. State and federal agencies use this number to track your business activity.

 

Your EIN will come in handy when it’s time to:

  • Open a business bank account
  • File Federal and State taxes
  • Hire employees

We think the best way to get an EIN is by using the free online application on the IRS website. We prefer this method because it’s the most efficient, but if you’d prefer to apply via phone, fax or mail, read through our guide to find out how.

Maintain Your LLC's Personal Asset Protection

Best Business Bank Account

Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.

When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your LLC is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.

You can protect your business with these two steps:

1. Opening a business bank account:

  • Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
  • Makes accounting and tax filing easier.

2. Getting a business credit card:

  • Helps you separate personal and business expenses.
  • Builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise capital later on.

Reduce the Liability of Your LLC

Business insurance helps you manage risks and focus on growing your business. The most common types of business insurance are:

  • General Liability Insurance: A broad insurance policy that protects your business from lawsuits. Most small businesses get general liability insurance.
  • Professional Liability Insurance: A business insurance for professional service providers (consultants, accountants, etc.) that covers against claims of malpractice and other business errors.
  • Workers' Compensation Insurance: A type of insurance that provides coverage for employees’ job-related illnesses, injuries, or deaths. In North Dakota, businesses with one or more employees, including LLC members and corporate officers, are required by law to have workers' compensation insurance. Get a free quote with ADP.

Stay Compliant

Small Business TaxesIf your North Dakota LLC has employees or you intend to sell products with sales taxes, you must register at the ND Office of the State Tax Commissioner otherwise known as the Tax Dept. Your other option is to register manually through paper (Form SFN 59507) or Register Online.

Also, consider bookmarking both the Fargo district office of the Small Business Administration and the state’s Small Biz Development Center because they’re likely going to be go-to sources. If you need help with this step, consider professional Business License Research packages that can quickly source all needed documents for you and provide filing instructions.

Reduce Administrative Burden

There will be many demands on your time once you start your business. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to streamline your workflow and reduce administrative overhead from the get-go. The two most important business tasks to get help with are:

1) Accounting

Getting your books in order right up front will save you headaches in the future. At the very least, you can have a professional setup your bookkeeping and accounting for you. This will save you money and time in the long run.

There are all in one services that will do your bookkeeping/invoicing/tax filing for you all for one monthly fee. Mazuma ($95/month) is a reliable all in one tax service.

2) Employee Payroll

If you have employees, a payroll service will save you a lot of time and also save you from having to become an expert on state compliance or employee tax withholdings and filings.  

Gusto is a reliable and good payroll service for small businesses.

Need Help Forming an LLC?

If you'd like help forming an LLC in North Dakota, feel free to read our reviews of the two most popular services.

  • IncFile LLC Review: Pricing starts at $49 + state fee. Best for basic & quick LLC formation.
  • LegalZoom LLC Review: Pricing starts at $79 + state fee. Best if you're looking for the most popular LLC service available.

Note that this guide for forming a North Dakota LLC isn’t a legal document or legal advice. It’s for informational purposes and the information above is subject to change. For specific legal questions regarding how to form an LLC in North Dakota, consult with a business attorney.