Start a North Dakota LLC

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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. 

Fortunately, 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.

How to Start an LLC in North Dakota

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.

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Starting an LLC in North Dakota

To officially launch your new company, you’ll need to register your LLC with the North Dakota 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.

  • 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.

    Reserve 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. If you’d rather not deal with this process yourself, we have a business name reservation service that can handle it for you. As part of the service, we also check to see if your desired name is available.

    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.

    File 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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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