The state of North Dakota is booming largely due to being fourth in oil production behind Texas, Alaska and California. Oil is the principal reason North Dakota enjoys arguably the best fiscal situation in all its states. With a severance tax on locally produced oil, there’s a growing state surplus.

With plentiful coal supplies and dealings in wind generated electricity now ranking ninth in the country, there’s plenty that makes North Dakota an appealing location for new business investments. North Dakota also attracts the high-tech industries with the headquarters of Microsoft Business Systems based there.

Taxes are moderate—the state ranks near the middle in terms of tax per capita, according to the Tax Foundation—and North Dakota is a right-to-work state, which makes it attractive to new employers, especially in manufacturing. But the state’s real key to success is doing the first things first—such as producing energy, food and specialised manufactured goods for which there is a growing, worldwide market. This is what creates the employment and wealth that can support environmental protection and higher education.

There are a number of business entity types to consider when you are deciding the structure of your North Dakota business. The most common entities to form in North Dakota are typically corporations or LLCs. Although other options are possible, these are the types that offer the highest level of liability protection in North Dakota.

Your corporation’s name must contain the word, ‘Corporation, incorporated, company or Limited or one of the abbreviations, Corp, Inc., Co or Ltd. Your corporation’s name must not be the same as other business entities already on file with the North Dakota Secretary of State. You can check names at the North Dakota Secretary of State Business name database.

It is advisable to reserve a corporate name prior to filing. You can reserve a name for 12 months by filing a Reserve Name Application for a filing fee of $10.

Next you must prepare and file articles of incorporation with the North Dakota Secretary of State. They must include the corporate name and address, details of your agent for service of process, the purpose the number of shares the corporation is authorised to issue, name and address of each incorporator and date of the articles. They must be filed by mail for a fee of $100. You must then appoint a registered agent.

Set up a corporate records book for keeping all your corporation’s important papers, including minutes of the director and shareholder meetings, stock certificates.

Prepare corporate bylaws which are an internal document which sets out the ground rules for operating your corporation. They establish your operating rules and help show banks, creditors and others that your corporation is legitimate.

Appoint initial corporate directors

The incorporator—the person who signed the articles—must appoint the initial corporate directors who will serve on the board until the first annual meeting of shareholders (when the board members who will serve for the next term are elected by the shareholders). The incorporator must fill in an “Incorporator’s Statement” showing the names and addresses of the initial directors. The incorporator must sign the statement and place a copy in the corporate records book. The statement need not be filed with the state…

Hold a board of directors meeting

Directors appoint corporate officers, adopt bylaws, select a corporate bank, authorise issuance of shares of stock, set the corporation’s fiscal year, and adopt an official stock certificate form and corporate seal.

Comply with North Dakota Annual Report Requirements

All corporations doing business in North Dakota must file an annual report with the Secretary of State. Business corporations must the Annual Report online at the Secretary of State Business Records Search page, costing $50. Comply with other tax and regulatory requirements including obtaining an identification number (EIN) which can be applied for online free of charge.

Foreign investors setting up in North Dakota

All corporations organised outside of North Dakota must register with the North Dakota Secretary of State to do business there. Foreign corporations must appoint a registered agent for service of process and who is physically located in North Dakota. To register, file a Certificate of Authority Foreign Corporation Application which costs $135.

The completed application must be accompanied by a certificate of existence or good standing.