North Dakota Business Checklist Download:

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How to Start a Business in North Dakota:

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How to Start a Business in North Dakota:

Many businesses are attracted to North Dakota because of its support for small businesses and its positive business climate. The state government has made forming a business, registering for tax, reporting new hires, and general compliance simple and easy with a user-friendly online services tool.

While North Dakota's low corporate taxes are attractive, it has a complicated sales and uses tax with several rates to keep track of. The state offers more business structure options to those registering businesses including unique structures such as farm LLC, farm/ranch corporation, and cooperative association.

1. 

Form your business.

1.1 

Review North Dakota formation options.

Review North Dakota formation options.

North Dakota offers 6 main ways of forming your business. Review these closely and pick the one that fits your business best.

1.2 

Name your business.

Name your business.

In North Dakota, business names must be registered with the Secretary of State. Business names must be distinguishable from others. Registering a business name in North Dakota does not automatically mean the trademark for that name is available so a thorough availability search of all records is very important.

If you need help finding a business name, be sure to check out NameSnack's free business name generator.

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

Do a trademark search on the North Dakota Secretary of State website

Do a trademark search using the US Patent and Trademark Office's Trademark Electronic Search System.

Use the Secretary of State's FirstStop tool to find the right forms. Sole proprietors and partnerships can register a trade name without having to file formation documents.

Create a North Dakota Online Service account.

Go to the online services login page.

Click on "Business Account."

Create login details.

Provide information about your business.

Set up security and account recovery measures.

Agree to the terms and conditions.

Click "Create Account."

1.3 

Get an employer identification number.

Get an employer identification number.

Nearly all businesses will need to register for federal taxes by applying for an employer identification number.

1.4 

Register your business in North Dakota.

Register your business in North Dakota.

In North Dakota, sole proprietorships and partnerships do not need to file any formation documents with the state, unless they intend to operate under a name other than that of their owner. To form a corporation, limited liability company, or limited partnership you need to file specific documents with the North Dakota Secretary of State's Office. This can be done online. The cost of formation depends on the structure of the business.

To register a limited liability partnership you need to file a Limited Liability Partnership Registration with the Secretary of State. There is a fee of $35.00.

To register a limited partnership you need to file a Certificate of Limited Partnership with the Secretary of State. It costs $110.00.

To register a limited liability limited partnership you need to file a Limited Liability Limited Partnership Registration with the Secretary of State. There is a fee of $110.00.

To register a limited liability company you need to file articles of organization with the Secretary of State. It will cost $135.00.

To register a farm limited liability company you need to file a farm/ranch limited liability company articles of organization and submit a farm report. It will cost $135.00.

To register a corporation you need to file articles of incorporation with the Secretary of State. There is a fee of $100.00.

To register a farm corporation you must file farm/ranch corporation articles of incorporation with the Secretary of State. There is a fee of $100.00.

To register a cooperative association you need to file cooperative association articles of association with the Secretary of State. There is a fee of $30.00.

1.5 

Obtain necessary permits and licenses.

Obtain necessary permits and licenses.

In North Dakota, some licenses are issued by the Attorney General and others by the Secretary of State.

Common licenses:

2. 

Register your business for taxes.

2.1 

Register for sales and use tax.

Register for sales and use tax.

Most businesses in North Dakota must charge and collect sales tax on gross receipts. The general rate of 5% covers most tangible items including tobacco products, admissions tickets, and leasing of property. A 7% sales tax is imposed on receipts from the sale of alcoholic beverages, and a tax of 3% on sales of farm machinery and irrigation equipment.

Some counties charge a further sales and use tax. For more information on that visit the North Dakota government local taxes page.

Apply for a sales and use tax permit using the North Dakota online tool, ND TAP.

Go to the ND TAP page.

Click on "Apply for a Sales & Use or Withholding Account."

Click on "Electronic Application."

Select "New Business" as your purpose for applying. Click "Next."

Choose your business structure.

Provide you EIN.

Provide your business name.

Complete the application process.

Once you receive your access code, log in to your account.

2.2 

Register for income tax withholding.

Register for income tax withholding.

Most employers in North Dakota must withhold income tax from employee pay checks. Wages paid by a farmer or rancher are not taxed in this way. To learn more about how to go about withholding income tax and how much to withhold from each pay check, read the Income Tax Withholding Rates and Instructions guide.

Apply for permission to withhold income tax using the North Dakota online tool, ND TAP.

Go to the ND TAP page.

Click on "Apply for a Sales & Use or Withholding Account."

Click on "Electronic Application."

Select "New Business" as your purpose for applying. Click "Next."

Choose your business structure.

Provide you EIN.

Provide your business name.

Complete the application process.

Once you receive your access code, log in to your account.

3. 

Hire employees and report them to the state.

3.1 

Purchase workers' compensation insurance.

Purchase workers' compensation insurance.

Businesses in North Dakota are required to purchase workers' compensation insurance before they begin hiring employees. This is to ensure that employees are financially supported in the event of injury or loss of employment.

Apply for coverage at North Dakota Workforce Safety and Insurance using your North Dakota Online Services Account.

3.2 

Report new hires to the state.

Report new hires to the state.

Every new hire and rehire must be reported to the State Directory of New Hires within 20 days of employment.

Go to the North Dakota Department of Human Services Child Support new hire reporting page.

Click "Log in to report new hires."

Type in your EIN number.

Or, download the New Hire Reporting Information form.

Fill out the form.

Mail the completed form to the Child Support Division, North Dakota Department of Human Services, PO Box 7190, Bismarck, ND 58507-7190

3.3 

Register for the unemployment insurance program.

Register for the unemployment insurance program.

All businesses in North Dakota must register for unemployment insurance within 20 days of making their first hire. This tax is used to support people who are unemployed and keep the economy stable during periods of higher than usual unemployment.

You will then be allowed to create an account for the Unemployment Insurance Employer Account Systems (UI Easy).

Login to your UI Easy account.

Register your business as an employer.

North Dakota Business Types:

1. Sole Proprietorship.

Owned by one person who is responsible for running the business as well as for all its financial obligations and liabilities, a sole proprietorship is the most common and simplest type of business to form in North Dakota. No formal documents need to be filed with the state.

If the business operates under a trade name and not the owner’s name, the trade name must be registered with the Secretary of State.

2. General Partnership.

When two or more people or organizations join to run a business, a partnership is formed. These general partnerships are mostly informal but can be formalized by creating a partnership agreement. There is no need for partnerships to file with the North Dakota Secretary of State.

If the business intends to operate under a name that is not the name of one of the partners, it must register a Partnership Fictitious Name Certificate.

Limited Liability Partnership.

A limited liability partnership is a general partnership wherein each partner's personal liability is limited. Both partners have a say in the management of the business. To become a limited liability partnership, a general partnership needs to file a Limited Liability Partnership Registration with the Secretary of State.

3. Limited Partnership.

A limited partnership is a general partnership wherein one of the partners has full management powers while being fully liable for the business's debts and obligations, and the other partner has no say in running the business but enjoys limited liability. In North Dakota, businesses in banking and insurance may not register as limited partnerships.

Limited partnerships are created in North Dakota by registering a certificate of limited partnership with the Secretary of State. If the business operates under a fictitious name it must register a Partnership Fictitious Name Certificate.

Limited Liability Limited Partnership.

A limited liability limited partnership is a limited partnership wherein both partners are protected from liability. In terms of management power, it remains the same as a limited partnership in that only one of the partners has a say in running the business. To become a limited liability limited partnership, a limited partnership needs to file a Limited Liability Limited Partnership Registration with the Secretary of State.

4. Limited Liability Company.

A limited liability company (LLC) is a type of business structure that separates the business entity and its members. It has the characteristics of a corporation and a partnership. Many small businesses register as LLCs because of the greater degree of financial protection from liabilities and debts and the pass-through tax treatment it offers.

In North Dakota, LLCs are created by filing articles of organization with the Secretary of State.

Farm/Ranch Limited Liability Company.

North Dakotan law allows for one person or multiple people to register a farm limited liability company. The big difference between an LLC and a farm LLC is that all the members of a farm LLC must be related.

Professional Limited Liability Company.

A professional LLC is just like an LLC only each of the members is a licensed professional.

5. General Corporation.

Corporations are usually owned by several shareholders, but are seen as single entities and so have their own rights, privileges, and liabilities. Shareholders appoint directors to manage corporations. Each shareholder is liable for the business's debts and obligations only to the extent of their investment.

To create a corporation in North Dakota you need to file articles of incorporation with the Secretary of State. In North Dakota, farming businesses may not register as corporations. They can register as Farm Corporations.

Farm/Ranch Corporation.

Farm corporations are corporations wherein all the shareholders are related.

Professional Corporation.

Professional corporations are corporations that are made up of licensed professionals.

Cooperative Association.

In North Dakota, cooperatives are organized by people wanting to provide themselves with goods and services. All the members have a common purpose and have a say in the running of the cooperative. People tend to organize cooperatives around common needs such as child care, marketing, and farm supplies.

North Dakota Business Formation Fees:

Fee Type

Cost

Search of records

$5.00

Registration of Trade name

$25.00

Partnership Fictitious Name Certificate

$25.00 for two partners, plus $3.00 per additional partner.

Limited Liability Partnership Registration

$35.00

Certificate of Limited Partnership

$110.00

Limited Liability Limited Partnership Registration

$110.00

Articles of Organization

$135.00

Articles of Incorporation

$100.00

Articles of Association

$30.00

FAQs:

How much does it cost to register a business in North Dakota?

There are many business structures to choose from in North Dakota and each has its own related fees. To register an LLC will cost $135.00, a corporation, $100.00, and a limited partnership, $110.00.

Do you need a business license in North Dakota?

While the state does not issue a general business license, many industries are regulated. Some licenses and permits are issued by the Attorney General, and others by the Secretary of State.

Is North Dakota a good place to start a business?

North Dakota has a reputation for having a business-friendly environment and supporting entrepreneurship and small business. It has the highest business survival rate in the country, low corporate income taxes, and above-average household income.

How do I start an LLC in North Dakota?

In North Dakota, LLCs are created by filing articles of organization with the Secretary of State.

How do I file a DBA in North Dakota?

After a thorough search of the state's business name records and its trademark records, use the Secretary of State's FirstStop tool to find the right forms and register a trade name. Sole proprietors and partnerships can register a trade name without having to file formation documents.

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