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How to Form an LLC in North Dakota: The Benefits of Doing Business as a North Dakota LLC

There are many requirements that go into getting your North Dakota LLC up and running, some of which can be overwhelming when you don’t have any experience.

However, with the right support, you’ll be able to successfully form your North Dakota LLC so you can start doing business as a limited liability company. Below you will find an overview of each step:

The North Dakota LLC formation process has nine easy steps:

1. Complete an LLC Name Search

2. Select a Registered Agent

3. Obtain a Certificate of Formation

4. Create an LLC Operating Agreement

5. Get an EIN Number

6. Open a Business Bank Account

7. Obtain Business Licenses and Permits

8. File Your LLC Taxes

9. Complete an Annual Report

What is a Limited Liability Company (LLC)?

The legal procedures involved in setting up a new business can certainly be intimidating. The first step of forming an LLC is to establish a structure for your business.

The purpose of a limited liability company, called an LLC for short, is to protect your business or assets against legal actions such as business debts or a lawsuit against your business. The LLC formation process isn’t too difficult in North Dakota, but there are many steps involved in the process.

If you need help with any part of the LLC registration process, contact the professionals at LLC Formations. We’re here to help you get your North Dakota LLC up and running.

1. Choose an LLC Name for Your North Dakota LLC

Selecting an LLC name for your North Dakota LLC is the first step of the LLC formation process. You’ll need to pay careful attention to the naming rules determined by the state:

  • Your LLC’s name must contain the words “LLC” or “limited liability company.”
  • The inclusion of specific words, such as “Doctor” or “Attorney,” may require special conditions such as the presence of a licensed individual.
  • The business’ name cannot be the same as a government agency, such as the Secretary of State or State Department.
  • Your name must be unique and cannot be too similar to any other LLCs in the state of North Dakota. You can check this by conducting an LLC name search through the North Dakota Secretary of State Website.

Conduct a Name Search for Your North Dakota LLC

When forming an LLC, you’ll need to make sure that no other North Dakota LLC has a name that is too similar to your ideal LLC name. You can compare your LLC name to other LLCs through the North Dakota Secretary of State website.

You can simply search for your ideal LLC name in the state database to see if it has already been taken. To do this, you’ll type your ideal name into the search box. Be sure to not include any endings, such as LLC, in your search. Just input the desired name and click the search button.

The results will be displayed on the page. Be sure to read carefully, because if it isn’t available to be used for a North Dakota LLC, your LLC application will be rejected.

There are several ways to determine if your North Dakota LLC name is available:
  1. If the search results page displays a “Sorry, No Results Found” message, then your ideal name does not match other names registered with the state. This means that it is available for use and you can go ahead with the next step.
  2. If the results page displays results identical to your desired LLC name, then it is not available for you to use for your business in North Dakota. If you move ahead with the name anyways, your application will be rejected and your application filing fee will not be refunded.
  3. If your potential name is too similar to another LLC (meaning that a person can easily mistake it for a different LLC) then it is not available for use. The state advises making the LLC name more unique to avoid your application getting rejected.

It is also important to know that changes in grammar, designator, or special characters do not count as being unique and distinguishable for your North Dakota business. You’ll need to completely change the name in order for it to be usable for an LLC in North Dakota.

Other LLC Naming Requirements

LLC Designators

North Dakota requires that all LLCs end with an appropriate designator. A designator simply tells the public about which type of business structure you operate under. Your LLC name may end with one of the following:

  • LLC
  • L.L.C.
  • LC
  • L.C.
  • Limited Liability Company
  • Limited Liability Co.
  • Ltd. Liability Company
  • Ltd. Liability Co.

Reserve a Domain Name when You Form Your North Dakota LLC

It’s important that you make sure to reserve a domain name with your business name before submitting your LLC application to the North Dakota Secretary of state. Business is often done online, and missing the opportunity for an online presence can really affect the growth and popularity of your business.

A small business will benefit from having an online presence to attract customers and clients. The domain name of your website should be the same as your company name so your marketing material can remain consistent.

If you need help with reserving a domain for your business, contact the professionals at LLC Formations so we can help you form an LLC in North Dakota.

2. Choose a North Dakota Registered Agent for Your LLC

The next step in the LLC formation process is to choose a registered agent for your LLC in North Dakota. A registered agent is someone you have authorized to receive legal documents on behalf of your LLC, such as business mail from the Secretary of State, the IRS, or even lawsuits against your LLC.

Who Can be a North Dakota Registered Agent?

Anyone over the age of 18 who has a street address in North Dakota can serve as the LLC’s registered agent in North Dakota. As long as the mailing address is a physical address, it is considered valid. A PO box mailing address is not allowed within the state of North Dakota.

When you form a North Dakota LLC, there are a few options regarding who can be the registered agent for the company:
  1. You can be your own North Dakota registered agent. You will need to be over the age of 18, you will need to have a street address in North Dakota, and you will also need to be mostly available during normal business hours.
  2. A family member or friend can be your North Dakota registered agent as long as the person is over the age of 18 and has a street address in North Dakota. This person must be trustworthy and reliable as he or she will be responsible for very important company documents that must be handled in a timely manner.
  3. You can hire a registered agent service to receive business mail on the behalf of your company. Hiring a professional is a great way to ensure that your business is being properly taken care of, and there are many additional benefits that come with hiring a registered agent service for your North Dakota LLC.

Hiring a Registered Agent Service for Your North Dakota LLC

Many business owners prefer to hire a service to work as the registered agent for their North Dakota LLC. When you file for an LLC in North Dakota with the Secretary of State, the registered agent’s personal information becomes public record. In order to maintain your privacy, many people prefer to hire a registered agent who can get their address filed with the Secretary of State.

Additionally, remaining available during business hours isn’t convenient for every business owner. This is another reason why many people prefer to hire a registered agent instead of acting as their own agent for their North Dakota LLC.

If you need help with choosing a registered agent for your North Dakota LLC, contact the team at LLC Formations so we can help you form an LLC.

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3. Create the LLC Articles of Organization

The next step in setting up an LLC in North Dakota is to file the LLC Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State. After being filed and approved, the Articles of Organization lists your LLC as a registered and valid LLC within the state of North Dakota so you can legally start doing business as a North Dakota LLC.

You can prepare the Articles of Organization yourself or you can download an Articles of Organization template from a trustworthy source. The best option is to hire a professional company to help you through the process of writing your LLC Articles of Organization so you can be sure that there are no mistakes that could delay your LLC formation process.

If you need help drafting your Articles of Organization, contact the professionals at LLC Formations so we can help you submit this important document.

What is Included in the Articles of Organization?

Article 1: LLC name

Article 2: Registered agent and street address

Article 3: Principle executive office address

Article 4: Management structure of the North Dakota LLC

Article 5: Duration of the LLC

The Filing Fee for the Articles of Organization

The filing fee for your North Dakota Articles of Organization is $135, made payable to the Secretary of State if paying by check or money order. There are two ways to file for your North Dakota LLC,:

Online

You can also file online through the Secretary of State website. Scan and upload your document and be sure to have your credit card ready to make an online payment to complete your application.

By Mail

If you’re filing by mail, be sure to use this form. Mail your certificate forms along with a check or money order to the following address:

Secretary of State

600 E Boulevard Ave, Department 108

Bismarck, ND, 58505

Secretary of State Approval

If the state approves your application, you will receive back a receipt, a Letter of Acknowledgement, and a stamped copy of your Articles of Organization. The Secretary of State forwards these documents to the mailing address listed for your registered agent.

4. Write an LLC Operating Agreement for Your North Dakota LLC

An Operating Agreement establishes the basic structure of an LLC. It also lists who the members are and how the LLC should be operated day to day. When you file your North Dakota LLC formation documents, you should consider also writing your Operating Agreement document right when you form your LLC.

In North Dakota, it is not a legal requirement to have an Operating Agreement filed with the Secretary of State in the same way as needing to file Articles of Organization. However, it is a good idea to have this document handy when you form a North Dakota LLC so you can keep your business organized.

5. Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

After you form a North Dakota LLC, you will need to obtain an EIN. An EIN is a number the government uses to identify your limited liability company. You will need it for tax purposes, and also to open a bank account and hire employees.

You obtain your EIN by registering with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) when you complete your LLC filing in the state of North Dakota. You can apply for your EIN online, or you can fill out a form. You should get an EIN as soon as you start an LLC because of the many benefits that come with having an EIN for your North Dakota LLC.

Once you complete your LLC filing, step 1 of obtaining an EIN is to apply through the IRS website. There is no filing fee, and the process should be fairly quick. You’ll get an automated response that creates your North Dakota EIN for your business entity.

We can provide you with a more detailed overview on how to obtain your EIN for your North Dakota LLC. Contact the professionals at LLC Formations if you need us to guide you through the process.

Open a Business Bank Account for Your LLC

The purpose of forming an LLC is to protect business assets against legal claims. To ensure this level of protection, however, there are two additional things you must do: open a business account with the bank and get a business credit card.

Both of these things help keep your personal assets separate from your business assets once your LLC filing is approved. A business account and credit card also improve accounting and tax filings, and it makes it easier to report on your LLC annual report.

The credit card will help build your business’ credit, too. You may wish to shop around for the best business credit card. With a business credit card, members can put all of the business expenses in one place while also growing credibility with the bank. This is helpful for if your LLC ever wants to take out loans or expand the line of credit.

You can most likely walk in to open an account, but you may be better off scheduling an appointment. You’ll want to be very careful how you sign your business’ legal documents. Make sure you’re signing on behalf of your business and not as you yourself.

Here is a simple formula to use when signing for your North Dakota LLC:

  • Formal business name
  • Your signature
  • Your business title

Purchase Business Insurance for Your LLC

You should also look into purchasing additional insurance to protect your business and its assets. Most small business owners purchase general liability insurance. You may need to consider professional insurance and worker’s comp insurance also, which are sometimes legally mandatory anyways depending on your line of business.

You might also consider property insurance, product liability insurance, and more. Having insurance protects assets owned by the LLC, such as real estate, bank accounts, and other possessions. Without insurance, your business is exposed to circumstances that may be beyond your control.

If you need help with choosing the right insurance for your specific line of business, contact the professionals at LLC Formations so we can help you determine what is best for the protection of your business.

Remain in Compliance

After getting approved for your North Dakota LLC, you’ll need to do a few things to remain in good standing. You may need to obtain special permits and licenses, you may need to take classes within a certain timeframe, and you will need to file your North Dakota LLC Annual Report with the Secretary of State.

The Annual Report is an important document that updates the state of North Dakota about the position of your business. You’ll need to include your business name, business purpose, profits and losses, and some other relevant information specific to the nature of your business.

You can submit your annual report either by mail or fax. Be sure to have the due date marked on the calendar so you don’t miss the deadline. Late submissions can result in extra fees or the dissolution of your business. If submitting your annual report by mail, be sure to send it to the following address:

Secretary of State

600 E Boulevard Ave, Department 108

Bismarck, ND, 58505

Taxes for Your North Dakota LLC

Your business is liable for a number of state, local, and federal taxes. Remember, your company faces automatic dissolution if you miss any major tax filings, which means you would lose your legal asset protection along with your business.

The most outstanding tax obligations are state taxes and local sales tax. You’ll need to register for a seller’s permit with North Dakota state. It is also necessary to register for unemployment insurance tax and withholding tax.

If you need further tax advice, contact the professionals at LLC Formations so we can walk you through what to expect.

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Accounting and Bookkeeping

Well-kept books streamline your business’ finances, allow you to keep track of assets, and make life less stressful come tax day. You’ll want to use popular software like QuickBooks, or open-source accounting software to keep track of your expenses.

You should also strongly consider double-entry bookkeeping. This is usually standard on bookkeeping software, but it should be noted just in case. Single-entry, in which one record is made per transaction, is doable for very small enterprises. However, for a larger or growing business, double-entry — in which every transaction is registered as credit and debit — is invaluable. Without it, it would be impossible to keep track of payments and income and would make audits a nightmare.

Dissolving an LLC

If at any time you wish to dissolve your LLC, you should do so officially by closing your business tax accounts and filing the Articles of Dissolution for your company. If you don’t do this properly, you could face tax liabilities, penalties, or even legal trouble.

How Can LLC Formations Help You?

Entrepreneurship can be demanding. It requires determination, endless multitasking, and a willingness to work. It helps to have experts available to help you through the sometimes complicated process.

Planning is key to business, and research is key to your plan. Make sure you understand your target market and all your costs before you begin. You should also do research to understand how big the market is and how quickly your business is likely to start gaining traction.

If you’re interested in opening an LLC in another state, check out our overview about how to start an Ohio LLC.

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