What Business Licenses and Permits are Needed in North Dakota?
Starting a business in North Dakota will mean potentially registering with a number of federal, state, and local agencies. Let’s take a look at common licenses and permits a business will register for in North Dakota.
Before applying for any licenses, the legal business entity will first need to be established. Learn more about the differences between the sole proprietorship, general partnership, corporation, and Limited Liability Company (LLC).
Related: Comparison of Business Entities
Learn more about forming an LLC in North Dakota
General Business License
There is no general state of North Dakota business license, however, many cities require businesses to be licensed in order to operate. Rules for business registration vary depending on location and what the business does. Below are a few cities that have licensing requirements.
Fargo – A few types of businesses will need to apply for licensing to operate in the City of Fargo. A Business License is needed for kennels, transportation businesses, pawn brokers, second-hand dealers, and a few others. An Occupational License is needed for HVAC and plumbers.
In addition, businesses selling alcohol and auto service stations will need licensing from the city as well.
More information on business licensing in Fargo is available from the Fargo Auditor’s Office.
Bismarck – Certain businesses such as those in food service or selling alcohol, pawnbrokers, and others in city limits will need a City of Bismarck Business License.
Grand Forks – The City of Grand Forks requires several types of businesses to be licensed. A few include kennels, bakeries, bed & breakfasts, mobile food vendors, and others. Businesses such as junk yards, towing services, bowling alleys, and more will need to register with the city.
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Building & Zoning Permits
Zoning – Depending on the location of the business, it’s important to verify whether the business needs an occupancy permit or has specific zoning regulations to follow. Depending on city ordinances, home-based businesses may need to apply for a home occupation permit.
Building Permit – A building permit may be needed from the city or county building and planning department if there is any construction or renovations to a facility.
Signage Permit – Some municipalities require a permit before adding signage.
Sales & Use Tax Permit
Any business making retail sales of tangible personal property on a regular basis in North Dakota must register for a Sales & Use Tax Permit (also called a Seller’s Permit) from the Office of State Tax Commissioner.
Businesses purchasing merchandise to resell will usually want to obtain a North Dakota Sales Tax Certificate of Exemption to not pay sales tax for merchandise resold to customers.
A variety of professions in the state are regulated and need to be registered before offering certain services. A few common professions that require licensing in North Dakota include; auctioneers, electricians, door-to-door home repair sellers, cosmetologists, and many more.
Any person or business in the construction or contracting business when the price per job exceeds $4,000 has to obtain a Contractor’s License from the North Dakota Secretary of State.
Employer Identification Number (EIN)
Many businesses will register with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for an EIN (also referred to as a FEIN, Federal Employer Identification Number, or Federal Tax ID Number). The EIN is the business equivalent of a Social Security Number for an individual. Corporations, Limited Liability Companies, Partnerships, and Sole Proprietorships with employees will all need to register for one. Sole Proprietorships without employees can use the owner’s Social Security Number.
There is no cost for an EIN, and it only takes a few minutes to get.
Trade Name Registration
While not a business license, it’s common for Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships operating under a name that is different from the full name of the owner(s) to register for a Trade Name (also known as a Doing Business As, DBA, or Fictitious Name Certificate) with the North Dakota Secretary of State.
These are just some of the most common business licenses a new business will need to register before starting. Before starting your business, be sure to check with City Hall, County Clerk, Chamber of Commerce, and/or Economic Developer in your area to get more information regarding business licensing.