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North Dakota Nonprofit Service We’re Just Not Annoying®

How to Start a Nonprofit in North Dakota

To incorporate a nonprofit in North Dakota, file nonprofit articles of incorporation with the North Dakota Secretary of State. This filing officially creates your new nonprofit, but it really just one step toward pursuing your organization’s goals. The main steps to starting a North Dakota nonprofit are as follows:

  1. File nonprofit Articles of Incorporation
  2. Get a federal EIN tax ID from the IRS
  3. Register for state tax accounts, licenses, and/or permits
  4. Hold your organizational meeting and adopt bylaws
  5. Apply for federal and/or state tax exemptions
  6. Register as a charity
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North Dakota nonprofit Articles of Incorporation free download. When you’re done filling out the form, submit it to your state.

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How to File North Dakota Nonprofit Articles of Incorporation

To form a North Dakota nonprofit, file Articles of Incorporation in the following steps:
Step 1 Choose a name for your new nonprofit
Step 2 Decide which address you’d like to list publicly
Step 3 Decide if you want to hire a registered agent service to minimize public disclosures
Step 4 Decide if your nonprofit wants an immediate or delayed start date (up to 90 days)
Step 5 Describe your nonprofit’s purpose
Step 6 Decide if your nonprofit will seek 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status from the IRS
Step 7 Appoint at least one incorporator to sign and submit your articles
Step 8 File by fax 701-328-2992 and pay $40 with a credit card, or mail your articles to the Business Registration Unit / Secretary of State / State of North Dakota / 600 E Boulevard Ave Dept 108 / Bismarck, ND 58505-0500 with a check or credit card authorization for $40

How Long Does it Take to Start a North Dakota Nonprofit?



North Dakota only accepts nonprofit articles of incorporation by fax or by mail, and it can take up to twenty-four days or so for the state to process your filing. That’s a big problem if something goes wrong and you have to file again! The safest bet? Hire Northwest, answer some simple questions in your online account, and leave it to our expert Corporate Guides to file your articles correctly the first time.

How Much Does It Cost To Incorporate A North Dakota Nonprofit?

North Dakota charges $40 to file nonprofit articles of incorporation. When you hire Northwest to form your nonprofit, your total cost is $265, which includes a full year of our registered agent service.

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How Much Does A North Dakota Nonprofit Cost Each Year?

Nonprofits pay at least $10 each year to file an annual report with the North Dakota Secretary of State. If your nonprofit is a charity, you’ll also pay $25 to register as a charity with the Secretary of State’s office and $10 each year to renew your registration.

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What Is The North Dakota Annual Report?

North Dakota requires nonprofit corporations to file annual reports by January 31st each year. The purpose is update (or just confirm) the information the state has on record about your nonprofit, including your corporate name, registered agent information, address, and information about your organization’s directors and officers (among other details). You have to file by mail, and you can download the annual report form from the North Dakota Secretary of State’s website. There is a $10 filing fee.

It’s important to file your nonprofit’s annual report on time because the state will charge extra ($15 instead of $10) for reports filed after January 31st and administratively dissolve your nonprofit if you wait too long to file the report. If you’d rather not deal with the hassle at all, you can add our convenient North Dakota Annual Report Service for an additional fee when you hire Northwest.

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Is A North Dakota Registered Agent Required?

Absolutely. North Dakota requires nonprofit corporations to appoint and maintain a registered agent to receive services of process (legal notices) and other legal mail on their behalf. You can do the job yourself, but we recommend hiring a commercial registered agent service like Northwest.

Why? Because the job looks easier than it actually is. Your nonprofit’s articles of incorporation will list your registered agent’s North Dakota street address, and your articles are a public document. If you list your own residential or office address, you can expect to get targeted by data-sellers and salespeople, and you’ll need to get used to a mailbox crammed with junk mail. A registered agent also has to be at that location during normal business hours—not an easy commitment to make when you’re trying to manage and grow a new nonprofit.

Hire Northwest, and these problems simply disappear. Your articles of incorporation can list our North Dakota street address in place of yours, and you can leave it to us to wait around all day for legal notices that may never come. If your organization ever does get sued, we have the infrastructure in place to scan your service of process and send it to you on the day we receive it.

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Will My North Dakota Nonprofit Be Tax-Exempt?

Incorporating as a nonprofit doesn’t grant your organization tax-exempt status. That comes from the IRS, and, like everything having to do with the IRS, it is complicated, expensive, and time-consuming. You’ll need to submit an Application for Recognition of Exemption to the IRS, pay a $275 or $600 filing fee (depending on your nonprofit’s size and nature), and endure the 3-6 month application process while the IRS examines your nonprofit’s articles, bylaws, finances, and history. There are over two dozen types of tax-exempt organizations, but most nonprofits seek 501(c)(3) status for public charities and private foundations. If your organization intends to go this route, make sure your articles of incorporation include a statement of purpose and dissolution of assets clause using the specific tax-exempt language required by the IRS.

If your North Dakota nonprofit manages to obtain 501(c)(3) status, it will be exempt from the state’s corporate income tax, but only certain nonprofits qualify for an exemption from the state’s sales tax. Learn more at Northwest’s guide to North Dakota state tax exemptions.

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Do I Need A Tax ID Number (EIN) For A North Dakota Nonprofit?

Yes, your North Dakota nonprofit will need a federal employer identification number (FEIN or EIN) to open a bank account, establish yourself as a legitimate presence in the ND nonprofit sector, and apply for federal tax-exempt status. After the state approves your articles of incorporation, you can apply for an EIN at the IRS website, by fax, or by phone. Or you can simply add our convenient EIN service for an additional fee when you hire Northwest.

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Does A North Dakota Nonprofit Need A Business License?

North Dakota doesn’t issue a general, statewide business license, but you may need local licenses or permits for some of your nonprofit’s activities. Contact your city clerk’s office to find out which (if any) local ordinances and licenses apply.

Do I Have To Register My Nonprofit As A Charity In North Dakota?

If your nonprofit will solicit or distribute charitable contributions in North Dakota, you’ll likely need to register with the Secretary of State’s office. It costs $25 to submit the initial Charitable Organization Registration Statement (form SFN 11300) and $10 each year to submit the Charitable Annual Report (form SFN 59568).

Don’t mistake the “charitable annual report” for the typical “annual report” required of all nonprofits. They are distinct filings. Learn more at Northwest’s guide to registering a North Dakota charity.

Can I Register An Out Of State Nonprofit In North Dakota?

Yes. If your out-of-state nonprofit wants to expand to North Dakota, you can register as a North Dakota foreign nonprofit with the Office of the Secretary of State.

Does A North Dakota Nonprofit Need Bylaws?

Yes, your board of directors is required to adopt bylaws to govern your nonprofit. This usually happens at the organizational meeting—the first official meeting held after incorporating with the state—at which your organization also elects directors and officers and settles any other business necessary to get things going. If your nonprofit intends to seek 501(c)(3) status from the IRS, make sure to adopt your bylaws before applying. The IRS only wants to deal with a fully-formed nonprofit.

It isn’t easy to write effective, comprehensive bylaws, but Northwest can help. When you hire Northwest, you can use our adaptable template for writing nonprofit bylaws, as well as numerous other free nonprofit forms, to help your organization strong successfully and stay successful.

North Dakota Nonprofit Articles Of Incorporation Requirements

Name of Corporation

Your nonprofit’s name must be distinguishable from the names of other business entities on file with the North Dakota Secretary of State, and the name cannot include words like “bank,” “banker,” “trust,” or “trust company.” You can do a preliminary business name search at the North Dakota Secretary of State’s website.

Principal Executive Office

List the street address of your nonprofit’s principal place of business. When you hire Northwest, you can list the street address of our North Dakota office in place of yours.

Registered Agent

List the name and North Dakota street address of your nonprofit’s registered agent. This can be an individual or an authorized business entity residing in North Dakota. When you hire Northwest, our name and address go here.

Effective Date

You can elect to have your nonprofit’s effective date (its start date) be the day when the Secretary of State files your articles, or you can choose a start date up to 90 days after the date of filing. Some businesses will do this for tax purposes, but most nonprofits choose to “start” on the day the state files their articles of incorporation.


North Dakota requires a statement of purpose, but it doesn’t have to be very detailed (“any lawful nonprofit purpose” would work), but the IRS is a different story. If your nonprofit intends to seek 501(c)(3) federal tax-exempt status, your articles need to include a detailed statement of purpose using the specific tax-exempt language required by the IRS.

Other Provisions (Optional)

You can use this section to add any optional provisions for governing your nonprofit, so long as those provisions are consistent with state law. In general, the form North Dakota provides for its nonprofit articles of incorporation must be expanded if your nonprofit intends to seek 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status from the IRS. Check out Northwest’s guide to 501(c)(3) tax-exempt language to see each provision required by the IRS.


Include the names and addresses of your nonprofit’s incorporators (at least one). An incorporator doesn’t need to be part of your organization. When you hire Northwest to form your nonprofit, we’ll be your incorporator.

Contact Information

Lastly, include a name, daytime telephone number, and email address of a contact person available to discuss your nonprofit’s articles of incorporation (if necessary). The contact information listed won’t appear in the public record.

Corporate Compliance
by Local Corporate Guides®