How to Start an LLC in Montana (2024 Guide)
To get started, you'll need to pick a suitable business name, choose a registered agent, and file your Articles of Organization with the Montana Secretary of State ($35 processing fee).
You can do this independently, consult with a business attorney for specialized legal guidance, or join the other 65% of our readers and hire a specialized Montana LLC formation service (recommended).
Northwest ($29 + State Fees)
LegalZoom ($249 + State Fees)
How to Form an LLC in Montana in 6 Steps
In order to form your LLC in Montana, there are certain steps you’ll need to complete:
- Name Your Montana LLC
- Choose a Registered Agent
- File the Articles of Organization
- Create an Operating Agreement
- Get an EIN
- File a Beneficial Ownership Information Report
Step 1: Name Your Montana LLC
Before you get started, you will need to pick a suitable name for your Montana LLC.
This will need to comply with all applicable naming requirements under Montana law and be both succinct and memorable, as this will make it easily searchable by your potential clients.
1. Important Naming Guidelines for Montana LLCs:
- Your name must contain the words “limited liability company,” “limited company,” or one of the following abbreviations: LLC, L.L.C., LC, L.C. Keep in mind that the word “limited” can be abbreviated into “Ltd.”, and the word “company” can be abbreviated into “Co.”
- Your name must be distinguishable on the records of the Montana Secretary of State from the name of any business that is registered in or authorized to transact business in the state.
- Your name cannot contain any language that implies that it is affiliated with a government body (e.g., Department, Treasury, etc.).
For a full list of naming guidelines in Montana, see Section 35-8-103 of the Montana Limited Liability Company Act.
2. Is the name available in Montana?
To check whether your desired name has already been taken by another business entity in Montana, you can perform a name search on the Montana Secretary of State website.
If you’re not going to start your LLC right away, it might be a good idea to consider reserving your name for up to 120 days (costs $10).
For more information, you can have a look at our Montana LLC Name Search guide.
3. Is the URL available?
You should check online to see if your business name is available as a web domain. Even if you don’t plan to make a business website right away, this is an extremely important step as it will prevent others from acquiring it, potentially saving you both time and money in the long term.
Find a Domain Now
Once you have verified your name is available, you may now select a professional service to complete the LLC formation process for you.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel
We reviewed and ranked the best LLC services. Find out which is best for you.
FAQ: Naming a Montana LLC
You must follow the Montana LLC naming guidelines when choosing a name for your LLC:
- Include the phrase "limited liability company" or one of its abbreviations (LLC or L.L.C.).
- Do not use words that could confuse your business with a government agency (FBI, State Department, CIA, etc.).
- Receive the proper licensing when using the words such as lawyer or doctor.
If you are having trouble coming up with a name for your LLC use our LLC Name Generator. That will not only find a unique name for your business but an available URL to match.
Most LLCs do not need a DBA or assumed business name (ABN). The name of the LLC can serve as your company’s brand name and you can accept checks and other payments under that name as well. However, you may wish to register a DBA if you would like to conduct business under another name.
To learn more about DBAs in your state, read our How to File a DBA guide.
A professional limited liability company (PLLC) is a type of LLC available to business owners in Montana. At least one member of a PLLC must be an individual who is approved by the state to perform professional services such as law or medicine.
Step 2: Choose a Registered Agent in Montana
After you find the right name for your LLC, you will need to nominate a Montana registered agent. This is a necessary step in your Articles of Organization (i.e., the document used to file and register your LLC with the Secretary of State).
What is a registered agent? A registered agent is an individual or business entity responsible for receiving important legal documents on behalf of your business. You can think of your registered agent as your business’s primary point of contact with the state.
Who can be a registered agent? A registered agent must be a resident of Montana or a corporation, such as a registered agent service, authorized to transact business in the state of Montana. You can choose to elect an individual within the company (e.g., yourself, etc.) or use a business attorney.
FAQ: Nominating a Registered Agent
Yes. You can choose to act as your own registered agent, appoint a member of your LLC, work with a business attorney, or hire a professional registered agent service (recommended).
Read more about being your own registered agent.
Using a professional registered agent service is an affordable way to manage government filings for your LLC. For most businesses, the advantages of using a professional service significantly outweigh the annual costs.
For more information, read our article on Montana registered agents.
Step 3: File the Montana LLC Articles of Organization
To register your Montana LLC, you will need to file the Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State. You can do this online.
Before filing, make sure you have completed your Montana Articles of Organization correctly. You will need to have the following information on hand to get started:
- Your LLC’s name and principal office address
- The information of your registered agent (i.e., name, street address, etc.)
- The management structure of your LLC (e.g., member-managed, etc.)
File the Articles of Organization
File Online With the Montana Secretary of StateFile Online
Fee: $35, payable to the Secretary of State (Nonrefundable)
Instructions: Select "Articles of Organization for Domestic Limited Liability Company," log in or create an ePass account, and fill out the required fields.
Note: There is an additional $50 fee for each series member named in a series LLC.
For help with completing the form, visit our Montana Articles of Organization guide.
Note: If you're expanding your existing business to the state of Montana, you'll need to register as a foreign limited liability company (LLC).
FAQ: Filing Montana LLC Documents
According to the Montana Secretary of State, the processing time for your Articles of Organization is generally between three and five business days.
Keep in mind that this can be longer during busy periods.
An LLC is referred to as a "domestic LLC" when it conducts business in the state where it was formed. A foreign LLC must be formed when an existing LLC wishes to expand its business to another state.
Read our What Is a Foreign LLC article to learn more.
The minimum cost to start a Montana LLC is $35, which is the processing fee for filing the Articles of Organization.
Having said that, the total cost could be higher depending on whether you choose to file independently, through a registered agent service, or by hiring a business attorney.
To learn more, read our guide on the cost to form a Montana LLC.
Step 4: Create a Montana LLC Operating Agreement
An operating agreement is not required in Montana, but it's a good practice to have one.
What is an operating agreement? An operating agreement is a legal document outlining the ownership and operating procedures of an LLC.
Why are operating agreements important? A comprehensive operating agreement ensures that all LLC owners are on the same page and reduces the risk of future conflict.
For more information on operating agreements, read our Montana LLC operating agreement guide.
FAQ: Creating a Montana LLC Operating Agreement
No. The operating agreement is an internal document that you should keep on file for future reference. However, many other states do legally require LLCs to have an operating agreement in place.
Step 5: Get an EIN for Your Montana LLC
You can get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS for free. It is used to identify a business entity and keep track of a business’s tax reporting. It is essentially a Social Security number (SSN) for the company.
Why do I need an EIN? An EIN number is required for the following:
- To open a business bank account for the company
- For federal and state tax purposes
- To hire employees for the company
Where do I get an EIN? An EIN is obtained from the IRS (free of charge) by the business owner after forming the company. This can be done online or by mail.
FOR INTERNATIONAL APPLICANTS: You do not need an SSN to get an EIN. Learn more here.
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
FAQ: Getting an EIN
An SSN is not required to get an EIN. You can simply fill out IRS Form SS-4 and leave section 7b blank. Then call the IRS at (267) 941-1099 to complete your application. Learn more here about applying as an international applicant.
All LLCs with employees, or any LLC with more than one member, must have an EIN. This is required by the IRS.
Learn why we recommend always getting an EIN and how to get one for free in our Do I Need an EIN for an LLC guide.
When you get an EIN, you will be informed of the different tax classification options that are available. Most LLCs elect the default tax status.
However, some LLCs can reduce their federal tax obligation by choosing the S corporation (S corp) status. To learn more, read our LLC vs. S Corp guide.
Step 6: File a Beneficial Ownership Information Report
Beginning January 2024, LLC owners will need to file a Beneficial Ownership Information (BOI) Report with the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). Existing LLCs can file their report any time between January 1, 2024, and January 1, 2025, while new LLCs must file their report within 90 days of formation.
This contains similar information to that of your Articles of Organization, such as your LLC name and member information, and can be filed online for free. Failure to file an accurate report on time can result in a $500 per day fine.
Note: There are certain filing exemptions, such as for large companies (i.e., more than 20 full-time employees), tax-exempt entities, and publicly traded companies.
Considering Using an LLC Formation Service?
We reviewed and ranked the top LLC formation services. Find out which is best for you.BEST LLC SERVICES
Maintain Your Montana LLC
After you’ve successfully formed your LLC, there are a couple of steps you’ll need to periodically take in order to maintain it, including:
- Filing an annual report
- Sorting out your taxes
We’ve broken down how to complete each of these steps in greater detail below.
File the Annual Report
The Annual Report for Business Entities is a form that all LLCs based in Montana must file by April 15 each year. The form is used to provide the Secretary of State with updated information about the LLC, such as its name, address, officers, and the names of its members, managers, or officers.
The annual report can be filed online through the Montana Secretary of State website alongside its $20 submission fee. If your LLC misses the April 15 deadline, it may be subject to a $15 penalty for filing late.
Note: The state may dissolve LLCs at any time after December 1 of each year for failure to file an annual report.
Sort Out Your Taxes
Regardless of where your LLC is registered, you will be required to pay certain federal taxes. This includes corporation and employer taxes (for LLCs filing as a C corporation) and federal income tax and self-employment taxes (for LLCs taxed as pass-through entities).
In addition, there are a number of different taxes you’ll be required to pay at a local and state level, which can vary depending on the nature of your business.
Below are some of the most common taxes in Montana:
There are three key state-level income taxes for LLC owners to be aware of in addition to their federal obligations, which we’ve explored in more depth below:
- Individual Income Tax: If your LLC operates under a default tax structure, its members will be subject to Montana personal income tax rate that varies between 4.70% and 5.90%, depending on the size of their distribution of the business’s earnings.
- Corporate Income Tax: If your LLC is taxed as a C corporation, it will instead need to comply with Montana corporate income tax requirements. This tax is levied at a flat rate of 6.75% on the net income of these LLCs, with a minimum payment of $50 needing to be paid.
- Alternative Gross Sales Tax: Instead of corporate income tax, LLCs taxed as corporations can qualify for an alternative tax rate of 0.5% on their gross sales if:
- Their only business activity in Montana is sales-related
- They don’t rent or own property (real estate or tangible personal property)
- They have less than $100,000 in annual Montana gross sales
Note: Income tax returns must be filed by May 15 of each year, which can be done online using the Montana Department of Revenue's online filing system, TransAction Portal (TAP).
There are a number of taxes levied in Montana that cover certain specific industries, services, and locations. Below, we’ve explored some of the most common you might face as an LLC based in this state:
- Lodging Taxes: The state of Montana imposes a 4% sales tax and a 4% lodging use tax that is collected from customers and remitted to the Department of Revenue.
- Vehicle Rental Taxes: Montana LLCs involved in the vehicle rental industry are subject to a 4% sales tax. This tax is levied on all rental businesses, including those operating through third-party platforms and peer-to-peer services like Uber and Lyft.
- Cannabis Tax: Businesses selling cannabis products in the state of Montana are required to pay specific taxes: a 4% state tax on medical marijuana and a 20% tax rate on adult-use cannabis.
You can find a more detailed breakdown of each of these industry-specific taxes present in Montana under the “Miscellaneous Taxes and Fees” section of the Department of Revenue website.
Steps After LLC Formation
After forming your LLC, you will need to get a business bank account and website, sort all required business licensing, and get business insurance, among other things.
Visit our After Forming an LLC guide to learn more.