What Business Licenses and Permits are Needed in North Dakota

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Quick Reference

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.

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 in order to operate in 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 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.  Costs for a business license in Rockford vary but range from $50 for a massage establishment to over $1,600 for a business offering adult entertainment.

Employer Identification Number (EIN) – Many businesses will register with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for an EIN or Employer Identification Number.  The EIN is the business equivalent for 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.

Learn how to apply for an EIN.

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 from the Office of State Tax Commissioner. 

Resale Certificate – Businesses purchasing merchandise to resell will usually want to obtain an North Dakota Sales Tax Certificate of Exemption in order to not pay sales tax for merchandise that is being resold to customers.

Professional License – 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.  

In addition to professional licenses, businesses in a variety of industries such as food establishments, daycares and others that may require licensing.

Contractor License – Any person or business in the business of construction or contracting when the price per job exceeds $4,000 has to obtain a Contractor’s License from the North Dakota Secretary of State.

Fictitious 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 Fictitious Name (also known as a Doing Business As or DBA) with the Secretary of State.

These are a few of the most common business licenses, but there are way too many licenses and permits in North Dakota for us to keep track of. Before starting your business, check with the City Hall, County Clerk, Chamber of Commerce and/or Economic Developer in your area to get more information regarding business licensing.  Additionally, there are companies like IncFile or CorpNet that can do the research to ensure you have the proper federal, state and local licenses.