How to Start an LLC in Montana

Written by: Kevelyn Rodriguez

Last updated:

Montana LLC is one of the most simple, cost-effective, and quick business structures to form. Even so, navigating the formation process can seem daunting without clear guidance and an actionable plan.

In this How to Start an LLC in Montana guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know to form your LLC, from the steps you’ll need to take to get started to maintaining your structure.

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Montana LLC

In order to form an LLC in Montana, you’ll need to complete the following steps:

  1. Name Your Montana LLC
  2. Pick a Montana Registered Agent
  3. Submit Your LLC’s Articles of Organization
  4. Create a Montana LLC Operating Agreement
  5. Get an EIN
  6. File Your BOI Report

In the sections below, we’ve broken down each of these steps in more detail.

Step 1: Name Your Montana LLC

The first thing you’ll need to do before getting started is picking the right name for your LLC. This is important because your business’s name will need to represent your brand accurately, as well as be as memorable as possible.

In Montana, all LLC names need to abide by the following statutory guidelines in order to be accepted by the Secretary of State:

  • Inclusion of LLC Designation: Your LLC’s name must clearly indicate that it is a limited liability company, which can be done by incorporating the phrases “limited liability company” or “limited company” into the name. Alternatively, you can use abbreviations such as “L.L.C.”, “L.C.”, “LLC”, or “LC”
  • Prohibition of Misleading Terms: Your name should not include terms that could confuse your LLC with other types of business entities or suggest that it is a different type of business
  • Uniqueness: Your chosen name must be distinct and not easily confused with other business names already on record with the Montana Secretary of State. This includes names of other business corporations, non-profit corporations, limited partnerships, foreign entities registered in Montana, and any reserved or registered assumed business names, trademarks, or service marks
    • Post-Dissolution Name Restrictions: If you want to use a name that belonged to a recently dissolved Montana corporation for your LLC, you will need to wait at least 120 days after the corporation has dissolved.

As soon as you find the right name for your LLC, we suggest conducting a name search using the Montana Secretary of State’s Business Entity Search Tool in order to confirm its availability.

Keep in mind that even though picking an LLC name in itself has no cost, there are certain fees that can be associated with the overall process.

Reserve an LLC Name

If you’re not yet ready to launch your business and still need a little more time, you can choose to reserve your desired LLC name for later by submitting a Reservation of Name form through the Online Business Services platform ($10 fee). This will keep anyone from being able to take the name you plan to use for 120 days.

If you need any longer than this, you’ll have up to 60 days before the reservation expires to submit a renewal; you will have to pay an additional $10 fee.

Register a DBA Name

Another potential cost associated with naming your LLC is a “doing business as” (or DBA) name. This is essentially a nickname that you can choose to register for your business to operate under — particularly if you’re not content with your LLC’s legal name.

Registering a DBA name can be done through the Secretary of State’s Online Business Services; this registration requires a processing fee of $20.

Note: When your DBA registration is processed and completed, you will receive a Certificate of Registration that secures your LLC’s DBA name for five years.

Buy a Domain Name

Finally, you’ll want to focus on securing a good domain name (which is your website’s URL address) for your business. For this, try to focus on choosing one that’s easy for customers to remember, relevant to your business, and accurately reflects your brand.

After confirming the domain name you want to use is actually available, you can purchase it through a trusted registrar.

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Step 2: Pick a Registered Agent

The next step you’ll need to take toward forming your LLC is to pick a registered agent.

This is an individual or business entity that accepts legal correspondence on behalf of your business, such as service of process, notice of lawsuits, and official government communications; you’re required to continuously maintain one as long as your LLC is active.

Your registered agent can be an individual or business entity, but will need to satisfy the following requirements:

  • The agent must have a physical address in Montana where they can receive documents during normal business hours (a P.O. Box is not acceptable).
  • The registered agent must be available at the registered office during regular business hours to accept service of process and other legal or government documents.
  • If the registered agent is an individual, they must be a resident of Montana. If the agent is a business entity, it must be authorized to do business in Montana.

Keep in mind that your LLC’s registered agent must consent to serve in this capacity before being designated in your formation documents (step 3).

Keep in mind that you can choose to act as your own registered agent if you’re looking to save money, though we don’t typically recommend this as you’re much more likely to suffer fines and penalties due to non-compliance than if you just hire a professional service.

On top of this, you’ll lose any anonymity your LLC would have given you since your name, address, and contact information will be publicly available.

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If you’re ready to get started, you can form your LLC with Northwest Registered Agent and get a free registered agent service for your first year (normally costs $125).

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Note: To have a look at some of our other top recommendations, you can also check out our Best Registered Agent Service of 2024 guide.

Step 3: Submit Your LLC’s Articles of Organization

In Montana, the Articles of Organization is the filing document that you’ll need to submit with the Secretary of State in order to officially register your LLC.

To submit your LLC’s Articles of Organization, you will need to include the following information:

  • LLC Name: You will need to specify the name of your LLC, adhering to the naming rules set forth in the previous section
  • Principal Office Address: You will need to include the complete business mailing address of the LLC’s principal office, regardless of its location
  • Management Structure: You will need to state clearly whether the LLC will be managed by its managers or by its members and provide the names and business addresses of the initial managers or members as applicable
  • Member Liability: You will need to specify if any members will be liable for the LLC’s debts and obligations
  • Professional Services: You will need to declare if your LLC is a professional limited liability company and specify the types of professional services it will offer
  • Additional Provisions: You can choose to include any other additional provisions (as long as they are consistent with Montana state law). This can include clauses which limit the authority of certain LLC members
  • Hierarchy of Documents: You will need to specify the precedence between the Articles of Organization and the operating agreement, especially in matters where inconsistency might arise

You can submit your LLC’s Articles of Organization online using the Montana Secretary of State’s filing portal; this filing incurs a $35 fee.

Step 4: Create a Montana LLC Operating Agreement

Once this is completed, the next step you’ll need to take is to create an operating agreement.

This is an internal document that clearly outlines the ownership and management structure of your company in order to reduce potential future conflict.

While this document isn’t legally mandated in Montana, all LLCs are recommended to have one as it can help maintain both: smooth operations and your LLC’s corporate veil.

A number of companies provide drafting services for operating agreements online, typically for a fee of around a few hundred dollars. However, it’s quite easy to sort this out by yourself if you want to save money, and you can even find a number of free templates online to help with this.

Step 5: Get an EIN

Even though it’s not a legal requirement (unless your LLC has employees or multiple members), all Montana LLCs should apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number.

This is a free, nine-digit number used by the IRS to identify your business and keep track of its tax reporting — much like a Social Security Number (SSN) for individuals.

You’ll need an EIN to be able to:

  • Hire employees
  • Open a business bank account
  • Apply for some business licenses/permits
  • Establish a line of credit

On top of this, using an EIN instead of a Social Security Number (SSN) helps to protect your personal information and safeguard your anonymity as the business owner of your LLC.

You can quickly apply for an EIN for your LLC online through the IRS website. You’re also able to submit a paper application using Form SS-4 either via fax to (855) 641-6935, or by mailing it to the following address:

Internal Revenue Service
Attn: EIN Operation
Cincinnati, OH 45999

Note: Don’t worry if you don’t already have an SSN, it’s not necessary to have one in order to apply for an EIN — instead, you can just leave Section 7b of the application blank and call the IRS on (267) 941-1099.

Step 6: File a BOI Report

Starting January 2024, the vast majority of LLC owners will be required to file a Beneficial Ownership Information (BOI) Report with the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

This is part of an initiative by the U.S. government to stop individuals and entities engaging in illegal or unethical activities from being able to conceal this using “opaque ownership structures”, like shell companies, to hide their true identities.

Existing LLCs will be able to file this report anytime between January 1, 2024, and January 1, 2025, while new LLCs will have up to 90 days after the date they were initially formed to do so (30 days for LLCs formed after the start of 2025).

Keep in mind that failure to file your LLC’s BOI report on time can result in exorbitantly high fines (i.e., $591 per day) or even jail time (up to two years).

Note: Not every LLC owner is required to file a BOI report. For example, companies with more than 20 full-time employees, accounting firms, and banks are exempt. For a full list of filing exemptions, you can have a look at FinCEN’s website.

How to Maintain Your Montana LLC

In order to keep operating legally in the state of Montana , your LLC will need to keep up with its annual obligations — which we’ve discussed in greater detail below.

File an Annual Report

All LLCs in the state of Montana must file an annual report with the Secretary of State in order to maintain their active status.

This mandatory report updates the state on your business’s current information, including your mailing address, registered agent, and key personnel. It’s important to understand that this report is not a financial statement but rather a way to keep your business’s registration details current.

Depending on whether there have been changes to your LLC’s information, you may either file a “no change” annual report or update your details through a more comprehensive submission process.

You can file your annual report by completing the following nine steps:

  1. Visit the Montana Secretary of State’s Online Business Services portal.
  2. Click “Login” and sign in with your username and password.
  3. If you don’t have an account, select “Login” and then “Create An Account”.
  4. Use the “Search” function to find your business.
  5. Click on your business name in the search results.
  6. On the right-side panel, select the “File Annual Report” button.
  7. Review the information in the report to ensure it’s accurate.
  8. Ensure that all fields marked with a red asterisk are filled in. You may need to scroll to view all applicable fields.
  9. Click “File Online” to finalize your submission.

It should be noted that the cost of filing an annual report in Montana is $0 for submissions completed before April 15; annual reports filed after this date will be privy to a $35 processing fee.

Montana vs Other States

Montana stands out as a favorable location for LLCs due to its business-friendly policies.

Unlike many other states, Montana simplifies LLC compliance with low annual fees and an easy online registration system. This streamlined approach helps entrepreneurs cut through red tape and reduce formation costs.

Having said that, you should keep in mind that — generally speaking — the best state to form your LLC in will almost always be the state that you will be operating in; this is because otherwise you’ll likely be required to register as a foreign LLC in your home state, meaning that you’ll need to pay registration and maintenance fees twice.

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Montana Secretary of State Contact Information

Mailing Address:

Business Services
Montana Secretary of State
Montana Capitol Building
P.O. Box 202801
Helena MT 59620-2801

Physical Address:

State Capitol, Room 260
1301 6th Avenue
Helena, MT 59620

Contact Information:

Phone: (406) 444-3665

How to Start an LLC in Montana FAQ

How much does it cost to set up an LLC in Montana?

To set up your LLC in Montana, you will need to pay a $35 filing fee when you submit your Articles of Organization through the Secretary of State’s online portal.

Keep in mind that you may need to also pay for a professional registered agent service if you choose not to serve as your own agent.

For more information on this topic, you can check out our guide on How to Start an LLC in Montana.

Why do people form an LLC in Montana?

People choose to form an LLC in Montana due to its straightforward and cost-effective regulatory environment.

The state offers low annual fees, a simple online registration process, and beneficial tax conditions, making it an attractive option for business owners seeking both ease and affordability.

How do I set up a Montana LLC?

To set up an LLC in Montana, you will need to find a unique name for your LLC, appoint a registered agent, and file your LLC’s Articles of Organization with the Montana Secretary of State.

While not a legal requirement, you should also create an operating agreement in order to outline the structure and rules of your business, as well as obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) in order to open a business bank account.

How long does it take to get an LLC in Montana?

Establishing an LLC in Montana typically takes around 5 business days, although this can vary depending on the number of requests the Secretary of State’s office is currently processing.

For more information, you can have a look at our How to Start an LLC guide.

What are some effective strategies for managing business debts?

To effectively manage business debts for your existing business, you can begin by conducting a thorough review of all outstanding obligations.

You should then prioritize payments based on interest rates, paying off the higher-interest debts of your Montana business first in order to reduce your overall costs.

For a more detailed breakdown, you can check out our Montana LLC Cost guide.

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