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When starting a new company, choosing a business entity is the most important decision that the founders must make. For most businesses with more than one founding member, forming an LLC is often the best option.

An LLC is an uncomplicated business structure that affords business owners legal protection by separating personal assets from business debts. 

Nevertheless, the process of forming an LLC can get complicated depending on where you are based due to filing fees and legal obligations differing from state to state.

To avoid a misstep in the filing process, follow these steps to start an LLC in Montana, and refer to the checklist at the bottom of the post to familiarize yourself with the legal and financial requirements for LLCs in the state.

Starting an LLC in Montana step-by-step

1. Select a name for your Montana LLC

Follow naming requirements

There are two major guidelines to follow when naming your LLC in the state of Montana:

  1. An LLC’s name must be distinguishable from the names of existing businesses on file with the Montana Secretary of State.
  2. An LLC’s name must contain one of the following phrases or abbreviations: “Limited Liability Company”, “Limited Company”, “L.L.C.”,  “LLC”, “L.C.”, or “LC.”

Need help coming up with a business name? Check out our free business name generator.

Check the availability of your LLC Name

In order to confirm that your chosen name is available for use in Montana, check the Montana Business Search provided by the Montana Secretary of State.

Reserve your LLC name with the Secretary of State

If your LLC name is available in Montana, you can reserve it with the Montana Secretary of State for up to 120 days to prevent another business from using it before you are ready to file your Articles of Organization.

You can reserve the name online (an ePass Montana account is required) and the filing fee is $10.

Read more: How to perform a Montana business name search

2. Designate a registered agent

As in every U.S. state, forming an LLC in Montana requires the appointment of a registered agent service to handle state and federal legal documents and service of process on the business’s behalf.

The registered agent must either be a state resident or business entity with a street address in Montana OR if the individual or business is based out-of-state, they must have a business office in Montana.

Our picks of the best registered agent services

  • ZenBusiness: There’s no need to stress about filing paperwork when you work with ZenBusiness. This company offers a great variety of LLC services, the focus of which is to ensure your business is set up correctly with the proper paperwork filled out and delivered to the right branch of your state government. Of course, ZenBusiness does charge for their services, but customers say they get the most bang for their buck.
  • Northwest Registered Agent: Starting a business requires a lot of state-mandated paperwork, which can be confusing for new business owners. Northwest offers business services that can help entrepreneurs find the right documentation, fill it out, and file it on time with the right government agency. In addition to helping you set up an LLC, Northwest has a host of additional services, like registered agent services, that new owners will find useful too.
  • Bizee: Bizee offers a great library of material to help first-time business owners figure out what kind of business they should set up. From there, Bizee will aid with documentation and filing procedures and demystify terms like registered agent, articles of organization, and EIN. The company has a strong reputation and great reviews online, too.

Read more:  How to Find the Best Registered Agent in Montana

3. File Articles of Organization

When ready, file Articles of Organization with the Montana Secretary of State to officially create your LLC in Montana. The articles must be filed online (requires an ePass Montana account) as there is no mail filing option. The filing fee is $35 which can be paid by credit card.

Montana Articles of Organization must provide the following information:

  • LLC name and mailing address
  • LLC type (regular, professional, Series, or Professional Series LLC)
  • Registered agent’s name
  • LLC’s purpose
  • Whether the LLC is a tribal business
  • LLC’s duration (perpetual or temporary for a specific period)
  • A statement declaring whether the LLC is member-managed or manager-managed
  • The name and address of one member or manager
  • A list of members liable for LLC debts and financial obligations (if applicable), along with written consents
  • The signature of the applicant

4. Draft an operating agreement

Although not a legally mandated step for forming an LLC in Montana, drafting a comprehensive LLC operating agreement is strongly recommended for all nascent limited liability companies.

The operating agreement should do the following:

  1. Describe the LLC’s business structure
  2. Establish the individual responsibilities and obligations of LLC members
  3. Detail how the LLC will be run

Without an operating agreement clarifying the specific duties of its members, an LLC may face significant legal and operational difficulties.

5. Obtain an IRS Employer Identification Number (EIN)

All newly formed LLCs in the United States must acquire an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (with the exception of single-member LLCs).

The nine-digit EIN is like a social security number for a business and is necessary to pay income tax, file tax returns, open business bank accounts, and perform many other important functions.

You can apply for an EIN online on the IRS website without paying a filing fee.

6. Fulfill additional legal obligations

Once an LLC is registered, its members must devote attention to fulfilling legal requirements that apply for the duration of the company’s existence.

File Annual Reports

All LLCs active in Montana must file an annual report with the Secretary of State to preserve good standing status. Reports are due every year by April 15th along with a $20 filing fee.

Late filing will result in a $35 fine, and not filing by a certain date results in serious consequences: LLCs that were formed in Montana that do not file a report by December 1 will be dissolved, and foreign LLCs doing business in the state that fail to file by November 1 will lose the right to do business in the state and must re-file a Certificate of Authority.

An LLC must file its annual report online.

Read more: What is an annual report?

Register with the Montana Department of Revenue

Certain LLCs active in Montana must register with the Montana Department of Revenue in order to fulfill a variety of state tax obligations, including LLCs that collect sales tax on retail goods and LLCs that have employees. LLCs formed in Montana as well as foreign LLCs doing business in the state must fulfill this requirement.

You can register with the Montana Department of Revenue online using the department’s TransAction Portal.

Obtain business licenses and permits

A Montana LLC might be required to acquire one or more state or local business licenses, permits, or certifications depending on the nature of its business and its location. The Montana Governor’s Office of Economic Development Business Checklist (ePass required) provides extensive information on obtaining state business licenses and permits.

To learn about local license requirements in your area, contact a city clerk or local government representative in the municipality where your LLC’s principal office is located.

Read more: How to Get a Business License

7. File a BOI Report

Effective January 1, 2024, the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA) mandates that most corporations, LLCs, and similar entities in the U.S. report their beneficial owners’ information to FinCEN. In Kansas, a beneficial owner is identified as someone with significant control or at least 25% ownership of the entity. Required information includes the owner’s name, birth date, address, and ID number from an approved document, along with its image.

Entities established or registered before the 2024 cutoff must file their initial reports by January 1, 2025.

For businesses formed in 2024, there is a 90-day window after confirmation of formation to file, while those established afterward have 30 days from their creation or registration date to comply. Filings are processed electronically via FinCEN’s BOI reporting portal.

Learn more about BOI Reporting.


Montana LLC checklist

Naming requirements

A Montana LLC’s name must obey the following guidelines:

  1. Must be distinguishable from the names of existing businesses on file with the Montana Secretary of State.
  2. Must contain one of the following phrases or abbreviations: “Limited Liability Company”, “Limited Company”, “L.L.C.”,  “LLC”, “L.C.”, or “LC.”

Registration procedure

An LLC is formed in Montana by filing Articles of Organization with the Montana Secretary of State.

Formational documents and filing fees

Additional legal obligations

  • File Annual Reports – Required for all Montana LLCs
  • Register with the Montana Department of Revenue – Required for certain types of LLCs
  • Obtain state and local business licenses – Required for certain types of LLCs

Foreign LLCs in Montana

An LLC formed outside of Montana that wishes to do business in the state must register with the Secretary of State.

Follow these steps to do business in Montana as a foreign LLC:

  1. Comply with Montana LLC naming guidelines and make sure that your LLC’s name is open for use in the state with the Montana Business Search. If unavailable, you must register an assumed name online to do business in Montana. The filing fee is $20.
  2. Appoint a Montana registered agent.
  3. File a Certificate of Authority of Foreign Limited Liability Corporation with the Montana Secretary of State. The certificate must be filed online and the filing fee is $70.
    • The application must be accompanied by either a Certificate of Good Standing or a Certificate of Existence from the state where the LLC was formed.