How to Start an LLC in North Dakota

L L C members happy after starting an L L C in North Dakota

It’s easy to form an LLC in North Dakota online yourself. Just follow these steps:

  1. Name Your LLC
  2. Choose a Registered Agent
  3. File the ND Articles of Organization
  4. Create an LLC Operating Agreement
  5. Get an EIN

Or, use a professional service:

four point eight out of five stars Northwest Registered Agent ($29 + State Filing Fee)

three point four out of five stars LegalZoom ($79 + State Filing Fee)

Forming an LLC in North Dakota is Easy

You can form a North Dakota LLC online by registering the Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State. The cost to set up an LLC in North Dakota is $135.

Follow our How to Start an LLC in North Dakota guide below to get started.

Steps to form an L L C in North Dakota

For more information on how to form an LLC in any state, visit our How to Start an LLC guide.

Step 1: Create A Name For Your North Dakota LLC

Before you register your North Dakota LLC, you'll need to come up with a name. Your business name needs to be catchy for branding purposes and legitimate for legal purposes.

We go into depth on this topic in our LLC naming guide. We’ll go over the basics below.

Naming Your LLC

First, brainstorm some possibilities. Use our LLC name generator to get the ideas flowing.

Next, make sure your name meets North Dakota guidelines:

  • it contains the words limited liability company, limited company, LLC, or L.L.C.
  • it doesn't contain restricted words or phrases (these often include words like bank, attorney, and university) without approval
  • it's distinguishable from any other entity or trade name registered in North Dakota
  • full list of North Dakota naming guidelines (select 10-32.1-11., Page 9)

Next, do a North Dakota LLC name search with the Secretary of State to find out if your name is available in North Dakota.

If your business name is available and meets guidelines, you’ll be able to register it when you file your Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State.

Is the URL available? Before you commit 100% to a name, check to see if there’s a good web domain available.

We recommend buying your domain right away because even if launching a business website isn’t on your radar right now, it will be soon.

Find a Domain Now

Powered by GoDaddy.com

Once you register a domain name for your LLC, consider setting up a business phone system to establish credibility and enhance your customer service. Nextiva provides a plethora of useful features and a quick, easy setup. Try Nextiva.

Using a North Dakota Trade Name or Fictitious Name (DBA)

A North Dakota DBA (doing business as), also known as a trade name or fictitious name, is any registered name that a business operates under that isn't its legal business name. A trade name or fictitious name can be used by any type of business, including a sole proprietorship, partnership, or limited liability company (LLC).

Learn how to get a DBA in our North Dakota DBA guide.

Step 2: Appoint A North Dakota Registered Agent

When you file your Articles of Organization, you'll need to list a registered agent.

A registered agent's job is to accept legal documents like service of process and tax notices for your LLC. To learn more about North Dakota Registered Agents, read our guide.

Your registered agent can be a person or a registered agent service. You can act as your own registered agent, but many business owners choose to use a registered agent service.

Here are a few things to think about before you decide to act as your own registered agent:

  • You’ll need to be available during normal (9 am - 5 pm) business hours at the address you provide
  • If you run your business from home, you’ll have to make your personal address public
  • You could be served with a lawsuit in front of your family or coworkers

Recommended: Northwest Registered Agent offers a free year of registered agent services when you form your LLC ($29 plus state fees).

Step 3: File the ND Articles of Organization

It’s time to officially form your LLC by filing your Articles of Organization with the North Dakota Secretary of State.

You can file online with the Secretary of State. Choose the "Business Limited Liability Company Articles of Organization" icon or the "Professional Limited Liability Company Articles of Organization" if you are a licensed professional such as a doctor or lawyer. 

The filing fee is $135. 

Recommended: Now is a good time to decide if your LLC will be member-managed vs manager-managed.

You'll need to know the following information to complete the form:

  1. Entity Name, Type, and Address
  2. Registered Agent Name and Registered Office Address
  3. Effective Date and Duration
  4. Business Purpose
  5. Organizer Names and Addresses

For more detailed help with completing the form, visit our North Dakota Articles of Organization guide.

How long does it take to get a North Dakota LLC approved? LLC processing time can be up to 4 weeks.

Step 4: Create An LLC Operating Agreement

Creating a North Dakota LLC operating agreement is the only way to legally lock down your LLC’s management and ownership structure. Having an operating agreement in place will give you something to return to if a dispute or lawsuit arises. 

Even single-member LLCs benefit from having an operating agreement.

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 will be distributed

You can add as many provisions as you want, as long as they don't conflict with North Dakota business law. Take a look at our What is an Operating Agreement guide to learn more.

Download a template or create a custom Free Operating Agreement using our tool.

Step 5: Get an EIN

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is like a Social Security number (SSN) for your company. The IRS and the state of North Dakota will 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

The best way to get an EIN for your LLC in North Dakota is by using the free online application on the IRS website.

Read our Get an EIN guide for instructions.

Need Help Forming an LLC?

We’ve reviewed and ranked the Top 8 LLC formation services.

Best LLC Services

Steps After Forming an LLC in North Dakota

After forming your North Dakota LLC, it's important to:

Open A Business Bank Account

A business bank account helps separate personal expenses and company expenses, which is required to maintain your North Dakota LLC's corporate veil. A corporate veil protects your personal assets from creditors in potential lawsuits against your LLC or Business.

Learn more by reading this guide to Banking for Entrepreneurs. For a multi-member LLC, you'll also want to set up capital accounts for LLC members. We also recommend checking out our review of the best business bank accounts.

Get A Business Credit Card

A business credit card will help separate personal and business expenses while building your company's credit history. A strong credit history will be useful for raising capital in the form of venture capital, angel investment, or small business loans.

Set Up Business Accounting

Hiring a business accountant is one of the best ways to ensure you’re taking advantage of LLC tax benefits; possibly saving you and your business thousands of dollars per year.

When forming an LLC in North Dakota, it’s a good idea to start a relationship with a business accountant as soon as you start your business to help set your company up for success.

Get Business Insurance

Business insurance helps manage risk. The most common forms of business insurance are general liability, professional liability, and workers' compensation.

Find out the real cost of getting insurance for your business. Get a free quote or call 855-965-3168.

Keep Your Company Compliant

Research North Dakota Business Licenses and Permits

To operate an LLC in North Dakota, you will need to comply with federal, state, and local government regulations such as health permits, building permits, and signage permits. 

Business licensing and permit requirements vary from state to state. To get started, visit our How to Get a Business License in North Dakota guide. To help facilitate this process, you can also utilize a business license service.

File Your North Dakota LLC Annual Report

All North Dakota LLCs must file an annual report with the Secretary of State by November 15 each year. This can be done online through the FirstStop portal for a filing fee of $50.

Understand North Dakota State Tax Requirements

If your North Dakota LLC sells physical products, you are generally required to register for a seller’s permit through the North Dakota Taxpayer Access Point website. Visit our North Dakota Sales Tax guide to learn more about seller’s permits and North Dakota sales tax.

Additionally, North Dakota LLCs with employees must register for unemployment insurance tax through the North Dakota Unemployment Insurance Employer Account System and employee withholding tax through the North Dakota Taxpayer Access Point.

Understand Your North Dakota LLC’s Federal Tax Requirements

Most North Dakota LLCs will need to report their income to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) each year using Form 1065: Partnership Return (multi-member LLCs) or Form 1040 - Schedule C (single-member LLCs).

How you pay yourself will affect your federal taxes. Visit our guide to learn more about how to pay yourself from your LLC.

Know Your North Dakota LLC’s Federal Tax Election Options

Pass-through taxation entails a business’s profits passing through to the LLC member’s individual tax returns. Like a sole proprietorship, an LLC is taxed as a pass-through entity, also known as a disregarded entity. 

Once this process is completed and after any tax-deductible expenses are taken out, the LLC members pay self-employment taxes and income tax on their portion of the business income. 

Alternatively, North Dakota LLCs can choose to elect to be taxed as an S corporation (S corp) or C corporation (C corp). If S corporation tax status is elected, LLC members can be taxed as employees of the business, potentially reducing tax burden.

More LLC Resources

Need Help Forming an LLC?

Read our Best LLC Services review to learn more about pricing and packages.