North Dakota Business Entity Search (Step-by-Step Guide)

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by How to Start an LLC Team
Last updated: June 23rd, 2024
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One of the reasons why you might want to conduct a business entity search in North Dakota is if you’re planning on starting a new business. The state’s business entity search function allows you to check your desired name against the Business Registry.

This, in turn, will confirm whether the desired name is available for business registration or if you’ll need to continue your search for a suitable business name.

The North Dakota business Registry may also be used to access information on various businesses registered in the state.

The following step-by-step guide will show you how to conduct a business entity search in North Dakota.

North Dakota search tips

When searching the North Dakota business registry, the following tips will help get you the best results:

  • The North Dakota entity search is not dependent on upper and lowercase letters. So whether you may choose to search using uppercase or lowercase letters, it will not affect the results.
  • Singular and plural words do matter, so adding an “S” at the end of a keyword will narrow down the results; leaving it out will broaden your search results.
  • Punctuation marks and special characters are irrelevant as they do not affect the search results, so you may choose to add them or not if applicable.
  • For the widest results, add just the first one or two words of the name.
  • To narrow down your search, add as many words as you would like.
  • Also free to feel free to refine your search using the drop-down menu under “Advanced search” by selecting:
  1. Contains
  2. Starts with
  3. Active entries only

The North Dakota business entity search gives you the option to search businesses by:

  • Name
  • System ID

Business search by name

To start searching businesses in the state, refer to the North Dakota Secretary of State’s website at the following address:

Enter the business name

Enter the name of the business into the search bar.

You may choose to refine your search by using the drop-down menu and selecting either:

  • Contains
  • Starts with
  • Active entries only

Then click on the search icon.

Review the results

If the name you’re looking up has matching entries, irrespective of whether it’s partial or exact matches, it will appear in the table.

Some of the information you will be able to view on this page includes:

  • Form info
  • SOS control ID#
  • Status
  • Standing
  • Filing date

Review additional business information

If you’d like to access further details on a specific company, simply click on the name of the company, and it will open up a business summary snippet on the right-hand side of the page.

Here you’ll be able to review various pieces of information, including the business’s filing type, status, nature of business, etc.

Business search by system ID number

While on the same page, you may perform a business entity search using the system ID number.

Enter the system ID#

If you’re conducting the business search by system ID number, then you already have the system ID number.

Simply enter it into the search bar and click on the search icon.

Review the results

In this case, if you entered the correct system ID #, there should only be one matching result.

You’ll have access to all of the information you had when searching businesses by name.

Review additional business information

You can access the same information you did during the “business search by name” when clicking on the company’s name.

North Dakota search results

Irrespective of your search type or search criteria used, you will have access to the following information:

  • Form info
  • SOS control ID#
  • Status
  • Standing
  • Filing date
  • Filing type
  • Owner’s name
  • Owner’s address
  • Nature or business
  • Term of duration
  • Initial filing date
  • Expiration date
  • Principal address
  • Mailing address

At the bottom of the business summary snippet, you’ll find a clock icon that says, “View History” underneath.

Click on the icon to view the initial filing information.

Copies of documents and certificates

After conducting the North Dakota business name search, you may want to obtain copies of business documents for various reasons. Business documents are available in either plain or certified copies as requested.

While plain copies are simply a photocopy of the document that the state has on file, certified copies come with an endorsement, seal, or certificate from the Department of State.

Ultimately, the seal or endorsement from the Department of State Business Filings Division verifies that the copies are indeed true and correct copies of what the state has on record.

Some of the most frequently requested copies of business documents include:

  • Articles of formation
  • Certificate of authority
  • Mergers
  • Articles of amendment
  • Fictitious name or DBA registration
  • Dissolution and withdrawals
  • Annual filings, such as annual reports

The best way to request certified copies of these documents is to use the below information:

North Dakota Secretary of State

Mailing address:
600 E. Boulevard Ave. Dept. 108, 1st Floor
Bismarck, ND 58505

Phone: 701-328-2900
Toll free: 800-352-0867
TTY: 800-366-6888
Fax: 701-328-0106

Additionally, if you’d like to request a Certificate of Good Standing or a Certificate of Fact, you may do so from the Secretary of State. Certificates of Fact are issued as verification of filings of limited liability limited partnerships, limited liability partnerships, and limited partnerships.

In order to request a Certificate of Good Standing, you’ll need to send your request through with a payment by check, credit card, or money order by the following channels:

Calling 701-328-4284 or 800-352-0867 (Ext. 328-4284)

Fax at 701-328-2992 addressed to the Business Division

Email to [email protected]

Mail addressed to:
Business Services Division
Secretary of State
600 E. Boulevard Ave. Dept. 108
Bismarck ND 58505-0500

Business documents will come in handy when it comes to securing a corporate bank account, bank loan, or obtaining business licenses.

Business name availability

The business name availability search on the Secretary of State’s online database contains information filed with the state. Therefore, you can expect to find database records of all limited liability companies, corporations, limited partnerships, limited liability limited partnerships, and limited liability partnerships, trade names, partnership fictitious names, trademarks, and real estate investment trusts on record.

The database contains active records and those records that were inactivated within the last 12 months, and it is quite useful when it comes to assessing name availability for new business registrations.

In order to conduct the search, it is recommended that you use just the first few words of the business name; alternatively, you can search by the system ID number that is assigned to the business by the Secretary of State.

You can also view names reserved with the Secretary of State. However, it must be noted that the final determination for name availability is only made when you file your business registration documents. Therefore, as advised that you avoid commitments or investments into a company name until the registration process has been completed with the state.

Additionally, if a business name is indeed available, but you’re not ready to initiate the business registration process just yet, you’re welcome to reserve the name with the North Dakota Department of State. Once you confirm that the name is indeed available, you can go ahead and complete the Name Reservation Application form with the Secretary of State. Some of the details to include in this form are:

  • Business entity type
  • Applicant’s name
  • Contact information of applicant
  • Signature of applicant
  • Name to be reserved

Thereafter, go ahead and file the application with the North Dakota SOS at the following address:

Secretary of State State of North Dakota
600 E Boulevard Ave Dept.
108 Bismarck ND 58505-0500

The name reservation application does come with a $10 filing fee which should be made payable to the Secretary of State.

North Dakota names are reserved with the state for 12 months. If you need additional filing time, you can go ahead and extend the reservation for an additional 12 months.

Domain name availability

Domain name registration is quite an important aspect of business registration; however, it’s also one of the most commonly overlooked steps in the filing process. The reality is that domain names are just as important as business names due to the fact that they give your business authority and credibility as well as an established online presence.

Additionally, there is no need to spend money unnecessarily by printing out flyers, catalogs, etc., when you have a web domain. Potential customers can simply enter your website address, log on to your website, and view your products and services online.

That said, it’s important that you choose the right domain name for your business. Choosing a domain name incorrectly could have negative consequences on your business and brand as a whole. Therefore, when choosing a domain name, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Keep your domain name short, sweet, and simple.
  • Don’t use domain names that are very similar to existing domain names, in spite of how popular and enticing they might seem.
  • Avoid the use of double letters and hyphens in your domain name.
  • Ensure that your domain name accurately represents your brand and your business.

One of the best ways to check domain name availability is to use a professional website like The website checking service checks your domain name against 36 platforms and a total of 100 social media networks.

Ultimately, it helps to filter your search results and provides alternative suggestions in the event that your desired domain name is already in use.

Fictitious business name search

Another important aspect of the business registration process is considering a DBA name. A DBA name is also known as a trade name in the state of North Dakota.

“Fictitious” names are only for partnerships, while “trade” names are for other types of business structures.

When completing the Trade Name Registration Form, you’ll need to complete the following information:

  • Type of entity registering the trade name
  • The trade name being registered
  • Description of the business
  • Whether the trade name will be used by a franchisor

Trade names are useful when you plan on conducting business under any other names aside from your legal entity name. By registering the trade name of the state of North Dakota, you’ll be able to legally transact in the state.

However, you should note that trade names do not offer any type of legal protection for your personal assets in the event that someone sues your business.

The trade name will also allow you to open up a corporate bank account under that name, get assistance when it comes to applying for a federal trademark, and also receive checks and payments to that trade name.

To file the Trade Name Application Form, refer to the North Dakota Secretary of State website and file the application online.

Alternatively, you may download the form and have it mailed to the following address along with the $25 filing fee:

Secretary of State
State of North Dakota
600 E Boulevard Avenue Dept 108
Bismarck ND 58505-0500

Additionally, you may choose to renew, change or withdraw your trade name by contacting the North Dakota Secretary of State at this number: (701) 328-2904


What are the criteria for nominating a registered agent?

Anyone can serve as your business’s registered agent, also known as a service of process agent, as long as they are 18 years of age, have a physical street address in the state which is not a PO Box address, and must remain available during normal business hours. Additionally, the registered agent must consent to the appointment.

What is a business entity name?

A business entity name is a legal name under which a business is formed. This is the name that will be used on all business registration or formation documents and official correspondence with the state. The business entity name differs from the trade name, which is purely for branding purposes and not the business’s legal name.

Where should I go to get a business document authenticated?

Only the Secretary of State can have business documents authenticated or apostilled. For authentications of business documents, reach out directly to the Secretary of State and request that the documents be certified. You’ll then receive certified copies containing the seal or endorsement from the Secretary of State.

Is it better to start a limited liability company (LLC) or a limited liability partnership(LLP)?

It all depends on the goals you have. However, both limited liability companies and limited liability partnerships have an equal amount of advantages and disadvantages. Additionally, it could cost a lot of money to change the business’s structure once you’ve made the initial filings. However, if your primary concern is tax liability or limited liability, then an LLC serves as the better option.

What is the primary difference between for-profit corporations and nonprofits?

For-profit corporations have a primary goal of generating income and profit for their owners, employees, leaders, and founders. Nonprofit businesses, on the other hand, are organizations that are mainly focused on offering a charitable benefit to the community or starting an initiative for the greater good of humanity.

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