Do you own a business operating in the state of North Dakota? If so, you may need to acquire licenses and permits to ensure that your company operates in a compliant fashion.

But how do you determine which permits and licenses you need (if any), and where do you acquire them? In this guide to North Dakota business licenses and permits, we’ll answer all the tough questions about this process.

Are There Federal Licenses That My Business Needs?

First off, let’s discuss the matter of federal licenses and permits. There are many business activities that are regulated by various federal agencies, from agriculture to transportation and logistics. We recommend taking a look at the U.S. Small Business Administration’s guide to federal licenses and permits to make sure you’ve got your bases covered.

In addition, most businesses should acquire a federal tax ID number, also known as an EIN (employer identification number). This is essentially a social security number for your business, and it enables you to hire employees, pay business taxes, open business bank accounts, and more. You can acquire an EIN from the IRS for free.

What State-Level Licenses and Permits Apply in North Dakota?

North Dakota does not have a general business license. However, there are various state and local licenses that your business may need to obtain.

The Secretary of State’s website provides a list of industry-specific license requirements in the state, like the Alcoholic Beverage License, Gaming License, and Tobacco License. You can also find a directory for the departments and boards that manage occupational and professional licenses right here.

Finally, certain business activities may need permits if they affect air, soil, or water quality. You can learn more about North Dakota’s environmental licensing requirements at this link.

Which Tax Registrations are Required for North Dakota Businesses?

In addition to occupational licenses and permits, there are a number of state-level tax registrations, which are based on the industry you operate in and which business structure your company uses.

Every North Dakota corporation must file a corporate income tax return with the state. While North Dakota LLCs do not need to pay business income tax, they will need to file annual reports and pay the $50 filing fee every year. Additionally, most businesses in the state will need to pay withholding and sales and use tax.

There may also be one or more industry-specific tax requirements that apply to your business, such as the Oil & Gas Tax, Alcohol Tax, or Telecommunications Tax. You can learn more about these requirements on the North Dakota Office of State Tax Commissioner website.

Are There Local Licenses, Permits, or Registrations in North Dakota?

The answer to this question obviously depends on where in North Dakota you’re operating your business, but there are indeed quite a few licenses, permits, and tax registrations required by North Dakota localities.

All local licenses are managed at the city or county level. You will need to contact the clerk for the city or county in which your business is located for more information.

However, some cities in North Dakota have business resource websites that offer useful licensing information for local businesses. You can learn more about local licensing requirements in cities like FargoBismarck, and Grand Forks.

If we were to break down the exact rules and regulations regarding permitting in every locality in the state of North Dakota, this article would become excessively lengthy. With that in mind, we’ll simply say that every business owner should check with their local government to determine whether there are licenses, permits, or tax registrations required to operate in compliant fashion.

Can I Hire Someone to Research Licenses and Permits for My Business?

If this process sounds like a bit of a hassle, that’s because it certainly can be. If you would rather hire a reputable business services provider to handle this for you, that is always an option.

ZenBusiness can research the necessary licenses and permits for your company on the federal, state, county, and municipal levels. We’ll then send you the applications you need to acquire these permits and licenses, meaning all you need to do is fill them out and mail them in. Plus, if you need help with company formation, we can help with that filing as well.


There is no one-size-fits-all answer for the question of which licenses and permits your business might require to operate in the state of North Dakota. Instead, it’s important that you know how to access the resources to determine which permits your company needs to operate in a compliant fashion.

We hope this article helped you to do just that, and we wish you good fortune in your business future!

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