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How to Get a North Dakota Business License

4-minute read

Two contractors with a North Dakota business license load wood into the back of a van.
Stephanie Knapp

Stephanie Knapp

1 December 2020

You’ve thought, planned, hoped, and dreamed. Deciding to start a business is a big decision and comes with its fair share of work. When you’re excited and raring to go, the last thing you may want to do is to get tied up in applications and state rules.

Learning how to get a business license in North Dakota is worth the effort, though. North Dakota business licenses have their merits (which I’ll talk about soon), and it’s a good idea to run your business on the right side of the law.

I know you have a long to-do list to get your dream gig off the ground, so I’ve compiled all the info you need to know about ND business licenses into one simple how-to guide.

Let’s get started!

Signs You Need a North Dakota Business License

You want to work smarter, not harder. I totally get it. So your first question is probably, “Do I even need a license?” Since there’s no all-inclusive North Dakota business license, the answer to your question is: it depends.

Generally, business license requirements vary by occupation. This full list of businesses with ND license requirements includes everything from auctioneers to frog dealers (yes, you read that correctly). Since these two jobs are so different, it makes sense that the rules and standards are unique for each business.

Getting a business license is in your interest, too. Being able to proudly display your license and tell potential customers that you’re licensed builds trust. Having a license also shows your dedication to doing things the right way.

How to Get a Business License in North Dakota

1. Find your licensing agency based on your occupation.

So you’re ready to check how to get a business license in North Dakota for your business type. The first place to look is the State of North Dakota New Business Registration site. On this page, you’ll find links for occupations regulated by:

  • The Attorney General, who regulates alcoholic beverage sales and gambling
  • The Secretary of State, who regulates work by contractors

If you see your job on one of those lists, follow the link to find application requirements, fees, and forms. If nothing on that list applies to you, this list of regulated occupations is the next place to check. Here you’ll find over 100 regulated industries along with the agencies that handle licensing, the cost of the application and renewal, and where to find additional help.

Some of the jobs that require North Dakota business licenses include:

  • Asbestos abatement
  • Bakeries
  • Hunting guides
  • Salons
  • And more

2. Check for city business license requirements.

After checking the state of ND business license rules, check the local level next. You may need a state license, a local permit, both, or neither.

For example, a Bismarck contractor needs a North Dakota business license but has no local license requirements. A Fargo house mover doesn’t need a ND business license but must pay $125 for a Fargo license. A bakery owner in Grand Forks needs a state license and a city business license.

To help you out, I’ve found links to business license pages in some of North Dakota’s largest towns:

3. Submit your application.

Once you know which business licenses you need, it’s time to get the job done. Business license application forms are typically straightforward and are usually submitted online, via mail, or in person.

You’ll likely need to provide personal info like your name, address, and SSN (if you’ll operate as a sole proprietor). If you already have a business, the app will ask for your business name, address, phone number, and Federal Employer Tax Identification Number (EIN). You also might need to show a Certificate of Insurance (COI).

One thing that can draw out the business license application process is securing and providing supporting documents. You may need to meet education or experience requirements before applying, so check with your licensing agency. Other supporting materials you might need include these examples:

How Much Does a North Dakota Business License Cost?

Starting a business usually comes at a price, and you should expect to pay to get your North Dakota business license. Licenses for your occupation might have an application fee, license fee, or both. For example, asbestos abatement contractors don’t have to pay to apply, but as of the date of this posting there’s a $150 license fee required at annual renewal.

While fees vary based on occupation and can change over time, they also can range within a single business type. A mobile home park license with ten lots costs $90 a year, while one with 200 lots will set you back $320 annually.

As with every step in your business licensing journey, if you have questions, reach out to your licensing agency for the most up-to-date information.

ND Business License + Insurance Requirements

Applying for a business license isn’t the only rite of passage new business owners face. Getting a general liability insurance policy is just as important, since it could be a legal requirement before you make your first dollar.

Business insurance can potentially help cover costs in case of accidents, third-party property damage, and more. Plus, it can give potential customers peace of mind and build trust in your business. As you review business license requirements, you might come across a note regarding business insurance policy requirements. For example, contractors need to submit proof of insurance with their application for a contractors license.

If you think you’ll need insurance to apply or just want the credibility and protection that comes with being insured, we can help. You can check Simply Business’s free quote comparison tool to find custom policies in just a few minutes.

Applying for a ND Business License?

You may need to show proof of business insurance to get your license.

That’s where we come in. Compare free insurance quotes for policies as low as $25.95/month.*

Start Here >

Ready to Get Your North Dakota Business License?

It’s obvious that you’ll have to put a little work into applying for your ND business license. The effort you put in now will pay off in the future, though, since you’re creating a solid foundation for your business.

If you have questions about starting and growing a business along the way, check out our small business advice blog to find other guides like this one. The best of luck to you!

* Monthly payment calculations (i) do not include initial premium down payment and (ii) may vary by state, insurance provider, and nature of your business. Averages based on January - December 2020 data of 10% of our total policies sold.

Stephanie Knapp

Written by

Stephanie Knapp

I'm a freelance writer who has always had an interest in entrepreneurship, starting way back with lemonade stands. These days I write to help business owners with their everyday challenges and choices. When I'm not typing away, you'll find me eating pizza, volunteering at the animal shelter, or taking too many pictures of my cats.

This content is for general, informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting, or financial advice. Please obtain expert advice from industry specific professionals who may better understand your business’s needs. Read our full disclaimer

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