How to Start a Corporation in Montana
Opening a Montana corporation can be a great idea if you are interested in attracting silent partners.
You can get started by choosing a registered agent, filing the Articles of Incorporation with the Montana Secretary of State, and holding an organizational meeting.
After your formation is complete, you will also likely want to purchase a business website, as well as allocate a monthly advertising budget.
We’ll show you how to start a corporation in Montana yourself.
Or, simply use a professional service:
Northwest ($29 + state fee)
Forming a Corporation in Montana is Easy
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For a look at corporation formation in every state, check out our other How to Start a Corporation guides.
Not sure if a corporation is right for you? Check out our LLC vs. Corporation guide to help you make your decision.
Step 1: Name Your Montana Corporation
Choosing a business name is the first step in starting a corporation.
1. Montana naming guidelines:
- Must contain the word “corporation”, “company”, or “incorporated”. A suitable abbreviation of one of these terms — or words or abbreviations of similar meaning in another language — can be used instead.
- Must be distinguishable from any existing business in your state. This includes Montana reserved names, as well as foreign corporations registered to transact business in Montana.
- Cannot include identifiers (e.g., Limited Partnership, LLC, etc.) that imply the company is anything other than a corporation.
- Cannot imply that the corporation is organized for a non-permitted purpose or one not outlined in its Articles of Incorporation.
- Cannot include language that suggests or implies that the corporation is in some way affiliated with or sponsored by a government agency or any of its political subdivisions.
Read the Montana state statute regarding corporation naming guidelines for more information.
2. Is my corporation name available in Montana?
Your Montana corporation name must be unique and distinguishable from other business names in Montana. Use the Montana Secretary of State’s Business Search Portal to determine if your desired business name is available.
3. Is the URL available?
Before registering your Montana corporation, you’ll need to check if a good URL is available for your business name. It’s important to secure your URL right away.
Find a Domain Now
Step 2: Choose a Montana Registered Agent
You must appoint a Montana registered agent when registering your corporation with the Montana Secretary of State.
Your registered agent can be an individual, business entity, or professional registered agent service. Any member of the corporation or individual can serve as your Montana registered agent as long as the person:
- is 18 years or older
- has a physical address in the state where business activity is conducted
- is available (in person) during normal business hours
Recommended: Northwest offers one year of free registered agent services with their corporation formation package ($29 + State Fees).
Step 3: Hold an Organizational Meeting
Before you officially file the Articles of Incorporation in Step 4, you will need to hold an organizational meeting to complete the following tasks:
- Fill out and execute the Articles of Incorporation
- Create and approve bylaws
- Select your initial director(s)
- Determine your share structure
- Execute an Incorporator’s Statement
Create and Approve Corporate Bylaws
Bylaws are the rules that determine how your organization will be governed and run. For detailed instructions on creating your bylaws, read our corporate bylaws guide.
Appoint Initial Directors
You must appoint at least one director who will oversee your Montana corporation until the first shareholder meeting.
A corporate director is in charge of the adoption, amendment, and repeal of operational bylaws as well as the election, supervision, and removal of officers.
After forming the corporation, the incorporator(s) — or initial director(s), if named on the formation documents — should call an organizational meeting. During this initial meeting, either the incorporator(s) will elect the board of directors or the initial director(s) will appoint the officers.
Choose a Share Structure and Strategy
A share of stock is the unit of ownership of a corporation. Each share of stock represents a percentage of ownership of the company. For example, if a corporation issues one share of stock the shareholder (stock owner) would then own 100% of the corporation.
Shares can be structured into classes. Each class, termed a share class, holds different rights and privileges. You can have multiple classes and each class can hold any number of shares.
Authorized Shares: the number of shares the corporation is allowed to issue.
Issued Shares: the total number of shares actually issued to shareholders.
Share Class: a group of shares that has a unique set of rights and privileges.
In Montana, the online Articles of Incorporation form allows you to indicate if the corporation will issue more than one authorized share class or series. You must indicate whether the share classes are common or preferred.
Common Stock vs. Preferred Stock
Common stock gives its shareholder voting rights whereas preferred stock does not. When it comes to company assets, preferred stockholders are paid before common stockholders.
Create and Execute an Incorporator’s Statement
The incorporator(s) should sign an Incorporator’s Statement with complete names and addresses of each initial director and store it in the corporate records book.
This document names the initial director(s) that will serve until the board of directors is elected during the first shareholder meeting. It should be stored with the rest of your corporate records.
Step 4: File the Montana Articles of Incorporation
You will need to file the Montana Articles of Incorporation to set up a corporation in Montana. You may file it online with the Montana Secretary of State. The filing cost is $35.
This document will cover the basics of your corporation, including:
- Corporate name, type, and address
- Corporate registered agent name and street address
- The number of authorized shares the corporation is allowed to issue
- Corporate directors’ names and addresses
- Incorporator(s) name(s) and address(es)
File the Montana Articles of Incorporation
File Online With the Montana Secretary of StateFile Online
Filing Cost: $35
Instructions: Select "Articles of Incorporation for Domestic Profit Corporation," log in or create an ePass account, and fill out the required fields.
Step 5: Get an EIN for Your Montana Corporation
An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is used by the federal government to identify a business entity. It is essentially a Social Security number for the company. An EIN is needed:
- To open a bank account for the company
- For federal and state tax purposes
- To hire employees
Get an EIN
Option 1: Request an EIN from the IRS
- OR -
Option 2: Apply for an EIN by Mail or Fax
Internal Revenue Service
Attn: EIN Operation
Cincinnati, OH 45999
Fax: (855) 641-6935
Running Your Corporation
It is very important to adhere to the formalities of running a corporation. Read our How to Run a Corporation guide to learn more.
Taxes, Annual Reports, & Licensing
Montana State Corporation Tax Requirements
Depending on the nature of your business, you may be required to register for one or more forms of state tax:
Montana Sales Tax
Montana is one of five states that does not have a sales tax on goods and services.
Montana Employer Taxes
If you hire employees, you will need to register for Montana employer taxes through the Montana Department of Revenue’s website. This includes Employee Withholding Tax, Unemployment Insurance Tax, and Disability Insurance.
Montana Corporation Licenses and Permits
To operate your corporation in Montana, you must comply with federal, state, and local government regulations. For example, restaurants likely need health permits, building permits, signage permits, etc.
Learn more in our Montana Business License guide.
File the Montana Corporate Annual Report
You must file the Montana Corporate Annual Report online each year before April 15. The filing fee is $20 if filed before April 15 and $35 for late filings.
Corporate Dissolution & Montana Good Standing
How to Get a Montana Certificate of Good Standing
A Certificate of Good Standing, known in Montana as a Certificate of Existence, verifies that your Montana corporation was legally formed and has been properly maintained.
To request a Certificate of Existence in Montana, use the state’s online business database to search for your corporation, click on “Request Entity Information,” and then click “Request Business Certificates.” The fee is $5.
Order a Montana Certificate of Existence
Request a Certificate From the Montana Secretary of StateRequest Online
How to Dissolve a Corporation in Montana
If at any point you would like to permanently stop doing business, or close your business, it is important to officially dissolve your corporation. Failure to do so in a timely fashion can result in tax liabilities, penalties, or even legal trouble.
There are six main steps to close your Montana corporation:
- Stop doing business
- Hold a board meeting, vote on dissolution, and record the meeting in the corporation minutes
- File an Application for Tax Certificate (online) with the Montana Department of Revenue
- File the Articles of Dissolution with the Montana Secretary of State
- Close your federal and state business tax accounts with the IRS and Montana Department of Revenue
- Close your business bank accounts
File Dissolution Documents
You may file your Articles of Dissolution online with the Montana Secretary of State. The filing fee is $15.
Is a Corporation Right For You?
An LLC provides limited liability protection without corporate complexity.
Find out if an LLC is the right structure for you.
Steps After Forming a Corporation
After forming a corporation, you’ll want to protect your personal and business assets and build credit.
Taking these steps will set your business up for success:
Montana Corporation FAQ
It will cost you $35 to file the Articles of Incorporation online with the Montana Secretary of State.
You will need a registered agent in order to do this, which can be yourself, a professional registered agent service, another partner, or a business attorney.
There are several differences.
An LLC does not have stock, and cannot distribute dividends. A corporation’s owners are called “shareholders”, while an LLC’s owners are known as “members”.
An LLC is also generally more affordable to start and to run legitimately.
See our LLC vs Corporation article for more information.
This will depend on the time of the year that you file your Articles of Incorporation, as well as on how many filing requests the Montana Secretary of State is working on.
Having said that, there are two expedited filing services that guarantee a fast delivery for an extra fee:
- 24 hour service: $20
- One hour service: $100
For more information on how to set up a corporation, see our How to Start a Corporation in Montana article.
Not necessarily. Starting a corporation in Montana can be done via:
- Choosing a business name
- Appointing a registered agent
- Filing the Articles of Incorporation
- Drafting your corporate bylaws
- Choosing your initial director(s)
Having said that, it is still — generally speaking — more time consuming and expensive than starting other business entities.
Yes. Forming an LLC is significantly more affordable and inexpensive than starting a corporation.
It also requires less upfront knowledge when it comes to running it legitimately on a day-to-day basis.
That being said, starting a corporation can be “worth it” depending on your situation. For example, it is recommended over an LLC if you are looking to attract private investors.
See our Why Investors and Venture Capitalists Like C Corporations article for more information.