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NORTH DAKOTA SECRETARY OF STATE:  CORPORATIONS AND LLC'S

Business Registrations

Business structures range from informal sole proprietorships to complex corporations with publicly traded stock. This site provides a brief overview of the most prevalent structures administered by the Secretary of State to prepare you to work with an attorney or other business advisor to determine which structure is best suited for your business.

The business structures previewed in this site include:

Each structure has certain advantages and disadvantages depending on the size and type of business. The Secretary of State’s staff cannot provide legal advice regarding advantages of the various business structures, filings, transactions, taxes, financing, indemnification, shares, stock certificates, preparation of minutes or bylaws, or other matters of internal business management. Procedural information and registration forms are available from this website or the Secretary of State’s office.

General Business Corporation

Statutory authority: NDCC, Chapter 10-19.1

A corporation is an entity created by one or more persons and granted a charter as legal recognition of a separate entity. The separate entity has its own rights, privileges, and liabilities distinct from those of its shareholders. A corporation exists only by virtue of law, and has only those powers conferred on it by statutes, its articles of incorporation, bylaws of the corporation, and the resolutions and decisions of its shareholders. A corporation enjoys inherent qualities:

  • Limited liability
  • Transferability of ownership
  • Possible tax advantages; and
  • "Immortality", unless dissolved or established for a specific period.

A corporation may hold property perpetually without the intricacies of conveyances regardless of the succession of shareholders or members.

Domestic Corporation

A domestic business corporation is one that has filed articles of incorporation with North Dakota's Secretary of State according to North Dakota's Business Corporation Act (NDCC, Chapter 10-19.1). Corporate existence commences when the articles of incorporation are filed, or at a later date specified in the articles of incorporation, but not later than ninety days from the date of filing.

A business corporation is formed for the purpose of generating profit for shareholders. It may be formed for any business purpose except banking, farming, and insurance (insurer backing claims). Insurance agencies selling insurance products may be formed as a business corporation.

Trade Name

A corporation using a trade name in the transaction of business must file a Trade Name Registration with the Secretary of State. A trade name is a name other than the corporate name.

The registration of the Trade Name Registration:

  • Affords exclusive right to that name in the State of North Dakota. No other business may file a name with the Secretary of State that is the same as, or deceptively similar, to any registered name.
  • Establishes a public record from which the name of the corporation using the name can be identified.

Foreign Corporation

A foreign corporation is one that has filed articles of incorporation under laws other than the laws of North Dakota. "Foreign" refers to corporations incorporated in jurisdictions out-of-state as well as out-of-country.

A foreign corporation must obtain a certificate of authority from the Secretary of State:

  • To transact business in North Dakota; or
  • To obtain any license or permit issued according to North Dakota laws.

A foreign corporation may obtain a certificate of authority to transact any business purpose except banking, farming, and insurance (insurer backing claims). Insurance agencies selling insurance products may obtain a certificate of authority to transact business.

A foreign corporation using a name other than its corporate name must comply with the Trade Name Registration requirement as described above.

 

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

Statutory authority: NDCC, Section 10-32

A limited liability company is a legal entity that may be established by one or more individuals. Limited liability company existence begins:

  • When articles of organization are filed with the Secretary of State, or
  • Within ninety days after filing articles of organization as designated in the articles.

The Secretary of State grants a charter upon filing of articles of organization legally recognizing the limited liability company as a separate legal entity having its own rights, privileges, and liabilities distinct from those of its members.

A limited liability company combines the characteristics of a partnership and a corporation. Like a corporation, a limited liability company provides its members with limited liability regardless of the members’ participation in management. Like a partnership, a limited liability company may be taxed under the flexible partnership rules, rather than the inflexible S corporation rules.

A limited liability company may be organized to transact any business except farming, banking, and insurance (insurer backing claims). An insurance agency selling insurance products may be formed as a limited liability company. Farming is permitted if the limited liability company is created under North Dakota’s Corporate and Limited Liability Company Farming Act, NDCC, Chapter 10-06.1.

Trade Name

A limited liability company using a trade name in the transaction of business must file a Trade Name Registration with the Secretary of State. A trade name is a name other than the limited liability company name.

The Trade Name Registration:

  • Affords exclusive right to that name in the State of North Dakota. No other business may file a name with the Secretary of State that is the same as, or deceptively similar, to any registered name.
  • Establishes a public record from which the name of the limited liability company using the name can be identified.

Foreign Limited Liability Company

A foreign limited liability company is one that has filed articles of organization under laws other than the laws of North Dakota. "Foreign" refers to limited liability companies organized in jurisdictions out-of-state as well as out-of-country.

A foreign limited liability company must obtain a certificate of authority from the Secretary of State:

  • To transact business in North Dakota, or
  • To obtain any license or permit issued according to North Dakota laws.

A foreign limited liability company may obtain a certificate of authority to transact any business purpose except banking, farming, and insurance (insurer backing claims). Insurance agencies selling insurance products may obtain a certificate of authority to transact business.

A foreign limited liability company using a name other than its limited liability company name must comply with the Trade Name Registration requirement as described above.

 

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