A North Dakota business license gives your Limited Liability Company (LLC) permission to operate in a certain location or within a specific industry.
While we can’t walk you through any applicable license applications step-by-step, we do provide helpful resources like:
- information about state licensing rules
- instructions for researching municipal licenses
And if you want to just hire a company to do the research for you, we have a recommendation below.
North Dakota Business License Requirements
After you form a North Dakota LLC, you may need to obtain a business license or permit.
Your requirements are determined by the industry you are in and where your North Dakota Limited Liability Company is located.
Because of the large number of industries and all of the municipalities in North Dakota, it’s not possible for us to explain them all. However, you can use the search tools below, call your local municipality, or hire a company for help.
Need to save time? We recommend hiring MyCompanyWorks (for $99) to handle the business license research for you.
How to get a Business License in North Dakota
You can obtain a business license in North Dakota by applying with the relevant licensing or regulatory agency. The agency you apply with will depend on where your business is located and what business activities it engages in.
The business license application typically requires basic information, such as your LLC name, EIN Number, business address, and contact information. Many also include a questionnaire that asks about your business activity.
There are three main licensing jurisdictions:
- State licensing
- Local licensing, such as county, city, township, etc.
- Federal licensing
Does North Dakota Require a Business License?
That depends on where your business is located, and what it does.
There are two types of state-level business licenses:
- a general business license
- and an occupational license
North Dakota General Business License
Some states have a general license requirement, which means all businesses operating in those states must have the license, regardless of what they do.
But good news: North Dakota doesn’t require a general license to do business in the state.
Meaning, your North Dakota LLC doesn’t need a general state business license. But depending on what type of business you run, your LLC might need an occupational license.
North Dakota Occupational License
Most states have occupational business license requirements. This means a license or permit may be required depending on what your business does or what your occupation is. For example, if you sell used cars, or run a hair salon, you may need an occupational business license. But a license may not be required for other types of businesses.
Occupational licenses (industry-specific licenses) are issued by three divisions of the North Dakota government: the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and specific professional licensing boards. This Business Licensing page lists which licenses are handled
by which department.
If your LLC needs a license from the Secretary of State, select the industry or occupation from the menu on their Business Services page.
If your LLC needs a license from the North Dakota Attorney General, check out their Licensing page.
If your LLC’s business needs a license from an Occupational License Board, you can review the list of all North Dakota Occupational Licensing Boards to help you determine if your North Dakota business needs an occupational license or permit, and which agency to contact about applying for the license.
Note that in 2023, North Dakota is changing their occupational license requirements and application methods. Learn more here: Occupational License Reform.
North Dakota State University has compiled a list of license applications, forms and other documents that are required for various business licenses: Business Reports, Forms and Licenses Required in the State of North Dakota. You should review this list to see if your LLC needs a license, or needs to submit other reports to the state.
How much is a North Dakota Business License?
North Dakota doesn’t have a general business license at the state level, so there are no fees there.
However, your business may need a state-level occupational license or municipal-level license or permit to operate. The filing fee for these licenses will vary depending on where you’re doing business and what industry you’re in. To be honest, we can’t predict your specific North Dakota business license cost.
For example, licenses issued by a county that contains a large city are usually more expensive than licenses in less populated, rural counties. And licenses for regulated industries, like child care facilities, are usually more expensive than generic business licenses.
But your LLC might not need a license or permit at all. So your North Dakota business license cost could be $0.
See LLC Cost in North Dakota to learn about all the possible LLC fees.
Municipal Business License
Municipal business licenses can be issued by the city, town, county, parish, township, borough, etc. We refer to all of these as a “municipality” to keep things simple.
There are two types of municipal business licenses:
- general business license
- industry-specific license
For example, if a municipality has a general business license requirement, all businesses operating in that municipality must have the license, regardless of what they do.
And if a municipality has industry-specific business licenses, a license or permit may be required depending on what your business does. For example, if you operate a food truck, or run a daycare, you may need an industry-specific municipal business license. Or if you’re purchasing or leasing real estate, you may need a zoning permit.
But a license may not be required for other types of businesses, like making wedding invitation templates or offering marketing consulting.
You can contact your municipality to check on their local licensing requirements:
North Dakota Sales Tax License
If you sell products to consumers in North Dakota, you may need to collect sales tax and file a Sales and Use Tax Return.
If your business activities are subject to sales and use tax, your LLC must register with the Office of the State Tax Commissioner. You can register for a sales tax license online using ND Taxpayer Access Point.
Note: This requirement will apply whether you sell products online or in a physical location in North Dakota.
For additional information about the Sales Tax License, check out these resources from the State Tax Commissioner:
- Starting a New Business
- Tax Guidelines
- select Sales and Use Tax, then click your industry/occupation to download a PDF
- Sales and Use Tax
Tip: Save time by hiring an expert. We recommend using TaxJar. They'll help you register for, collect, and pay sales tax.
Do I need any federal business licenses?
Most businesses in North Dakota don’t need a federal business license. However, certain industries do need federal licenses:
|If your business…||Contact this agency about business licenses|
|Transports animals, plants or biotechnology over state lines||Department of Agriculture|
|Imports or exports animal products, wildlife, or products derived from wildlife (including fish)||Fish and Wildlife Service|
|Fishes commercially||Fish and Wildlife Service|
|Broadcasts on radio or TV||Federal Communications Commission|
|Makes alcohol and sells it at a retail store||Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau|
|Makes or sells firearms, ammunition or explosives||Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives|
|Transports cargo by sea||Federal Maritime Commission|
|Transports goods or people by air||Federal Aviation Administration|
Check out the Small Business Administration’s Licenses and Permits page for a full list of industries with federal license requirements.
If your business isn’t one of these special cases, then the only federal requirements are that your LLC get a North Dakota EIN Number (aka Federal Employer Identification Number) and that you file taxes.
North Dakota Business License FAQs
How much does a business license cost in North Dakota?
North Dakota doesn’t have a general business license for LLCs, so there are no fees there.
If your business has to get an occupational license or municipal (city or county) permit, the fees are hard to predict. Depending on your LLC’s location, and what type of business or industry you’re in, the fee varies.
And you might not need a business license at all!
Unfortunately, we can’t say what your LLC’s business license costs would be, because it depends on several factors and the cost of North Dakota licenses varies.
Is an LLC considered a business license?
No, an LLC is not a business license. They are two completely different things.
An LLC is a type of business structure created by filing a document with the state government.
And a business license is a document that gives a person, or a company, the right to transact business. It doesn’t create an LLC.
Does a Sole Proprietor need a business license in North Dakota?
Sometimes a new business owner chooses to operate as a Sole Proprietorship in North Dakota instead of an LLC.
Even if you’re just trying out a business idea as a Sole Proprietorship, you may still be subject to license requirements at the state and municipal levels. It just depends on what you will be doing, and where you will be operating your business.
Does the North Dakota Secretary of State provide a business license?
That depends on what your LLC does. The North Dakota Secretary of State issues licenses for:
- Charitable Solicitation
- Notary Public
- Professional Fundraiser
But if your LLC does something else, the Secretary of State won’t be the government agency that issues your license. You will still need to create your LLC by filing the Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State, but your business license will come from the Attorney General or from the appropriate occupational licensing board.
For more information, or to determine if there is a North Dakota business license cost for your business, we recommend contacting the Secretary of State, Attorney General, or occupational board that handles your profession and/or your local government agency. For example, your local county or city government will have information about any local licenses.
How to start an LLC in North Dakota
Here are the steps to starting an LLC in North Dakota:
- Select a business name for your North Dakota LLC
- Choose your Registered Agent
- File the LLC Articles of Organization with the state
- Complete and sign an LLC Operating Agreement
- Get a Tax ID Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
- Open an LLC bank account
- Check whether you need a business license or tax permits in North Dakota