Cooperative Association

North Dakota law defines a cooperative as "an association..." incorporated by five or more adults, one of which must be a North Dakota resident. A cooperative is a business like any other business, but in some ways very unique. A cooperative belongs to the people with a common purpose who use it; people who have organized to provide themselves with goods or services they need. It operates for the benefit of its members or its stockholders.

The members or stockholders:

  • Share equally in the control of the cooperative
  • Meet at regular intervals
  • Review detailed reports; and
  • Elect directors from among themselves. The directors elect their officers and hire management to manage the day-to-day affairs in a manner that serves the members' or stockholders' interests.

A cooperative may be formed for any business purpose except banking and insurance (insurer backing claims). Some of the most common business purposes pursued by existing cooperatives include:

  • Utilities and cable T.V. services
  • Marketing of agricultural and other products
  • Equipment, hardware and farm supplies
  • Child care
  • Credit and personal financial services; and
  • Employment.

Domestic Cooperative

A domestic cooperative is one that has filed articles of incorporation with North Dakota's Secretary of State according to North Dakota's Cooperative Associations Act (NDCC, Chapter 10-15). Cooperative existence commences when the articles of incorporation are filed, or at a later date specified in the articles of incorporation.

Trade Name

A cooperative using a trade name in the transaction of business must file a Trade Name Registration with the Secretary of State. A trade name is a name other than the cooperative name.

The Trade Name Registration:

  • Affords exclusive right to that name in the State of North Dakota. No other business may file a name with the Secretary of State that is the same as, or deceptively similar, to any registered name.
  • Establishes a public record from which the name of the cooperative association using the name can be identified.

Foreign Cooperative Association

A foreign cooperative association is one that has filed articles of incorporation under laws other than the laws of North Dakota. "Foreign" refers to cooperatives incorporated in jurisdictions out-of-state as well as out-of-country.

A foreign cooperative association must obtain a certificate of authority from the Secretary of State to transact business in North Dakota. A foreign cooperative association may obtain a certificate of authority to transact any business purpose except banking and insurance (insurer backing claims).

A foreign cooperative association using a name other than its cooperative association name must comply with the Trade Name Registration requirement as described above.