North Dakota Debt Collection Laws 

Joel Boon Brittney Bornemann

Submitted by Joel Boon and Brittney Bornemann, Rodenburg Law Firm

Published by The National List of Attorneys


The Rodenburg Law Firm represents collection agencies, commercial forwarders, lending institutions, auto and consumer finance companies, debt buyers, state colleges, health care organizations, and other creditors in credit matters including consumer and commercial collections in Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. The Rodenburg Law Firm is affiliated with the state bar associations in those states as well as with the Commercial Law League of America (CLLA), ACA International, and the National Association of Retail Collection Attorneys (NARCA).


Joel Boon is a partner and Brittney Bornemann is an associate with the Rodenburg Law Firm. Joel received his B.A. from Dordt College and his J.D. from the University of Iowa College of Law. Brittney received her B.S. and M.B.A. from the University of Mary and her J.D. from the University of North Dakota School of Law.


I. Statutes of Limitations

The statute of limitations for actions on notes and contracts, including credit card debt, is six years. N.D. Cent. Code §§ 28-01-16; 41-03-18. North Dakota does not have separate statutes of limitations for written contracts and open accounts. North Dakota follows the Uniform Commercial Code in providing a four year statute of limitations for actions on contracts for sale (i.e., purchase money security interests) and for actions on leases. N.D. Cent. Code §§ 41-02-104; 41-02.5-54. Partial payments that are voluntary, free from uncertainty as to the identity of the debt, and made and accepted as partial payment of the larger debt under circumstances consistent with an intent to pay the entire debt, toll the statute of limitations for the entire debt. Kadrmas, Lee & Jackson, P.C. v. Bolken, 508 N.W.2d 341 (N.D. 1993). The statute of limitations for actions on domestic judgments is ten years. N.D. Cent. Code § 28-01-15.


II. Suits, Judgments, and Judgment Liens

     a.  Commencement of a Lawsuit

A lawsuit is commenced by service of the summons upon a party, not by filing the action in a court of law. N.D.R.Civ.P. 3; N.D. Cent. Code § 28-01-38. Service may be made personally, by substitute abode service, by publication, or by certified mail with a signed receipt. N.D.R.Civ.P. 4. An action is still timely if the defendant is served after the statute of limitations period expired, provided that the sheriff’s office of the county where the defendant resides (a) receives the summons for service on the defendant prior to the statute of limitations expiring, and (b) serves the defendant within 60 days after receiving the summons. N.D. Cent. Code § 28-01-38. The fees for a sheriff or other private process server to serve documents on another party can range from $20 to upwards of $100, depending on the county, the server, and the distance from the location of the process server to that of the party being served. Process servers typically charge for mileage. The costs for service of process can be awarded to the plaintiff in the judgment. N.D. Cent. Code § 28-26-06.


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