To start an LLC in Montana, you must file Articles of Organization with the Montana Secretary of State. You can file the document online. The Articles of Organization cost $70 to file. Once filed with the state, this document formally creates your LLC. However, to actually ready the LLC to do business in Montana, you must complete several additional steps.
Everything You Need to Know About Montana LLCs:
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How to Start an LLC in Montana
To start an LLC in Montana, you’ll need to do three things: appoint a registered agent, choose a name for your business, and file Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State. You can file the document online only. The articles cost $70 to file. Once filed with the state, this document formally creates your Montana LLC.
According to Montana Code § 35-7-114, every Montana LLC must appoint a registered agent. You don’t need to hire a registered agent, but if you do, make sure your registered agent will list their address on your articles wherever possible to ensure maximum privacy.
If you’re starting a new business, you probably already know what you want to name your LLC. But you’ll need to know if your preferred name is available. To find out, visit the Montana Business Search and search until you find the perfect name for your LLC.
Once you know who your registered agent will be and what your LLC name is, you’re ready to file your Montana Articles of Organization. Follow along with our filing instructions below:
Filing the Montana LLC Articles of Organization
Learn more about each Articles of Organization requirement below. Note that the information you provide becomes part of the public record—permanently.
Or skip the form entirely and hire us to form your Montana LLC. We provide a free business address to list whenever possible throughout the filing to better keep your personal address private. And the most affordable way to start a business? Pay just $32 out the door with our VIP monthly payment option.
1. Register for an ePass Montana Account
Montana business filings have phased out paper forms and are now done online, so the first step will be setting up a Montana ePass account. To make an account, you’ll need to provide your name and email address and create a password. Once in your account, you’ll need to provide a little more information, including a zip code.
2. Handling Optional
Want expediting? It’s $20 more for 24-hour expediting and $100 more for 1-hour expediting. Or, just keep standard processing, which takes about a week.
3. Effective Date
If you want your business to start immediately, skip this part. If you want to start on a specific date (up to 90 days in the future), you can enter that here.
4. Type of LLC
Montana uses the same online form for both professional and regular LLCs, so you’ll have to select one or the other. While your LLC is probably perfectly professional, that doesn’t mean you’re a professional LLC. Professional LLCs provide state-licensed services (think doctors and lawyers). Most LLCs are not professional LLCs.
5. Company Name
Your name must include “Limited Liability Company,” “Limited Company” or an abbreviation like “LLC.” You’ll have an opportunity to check and see if your desired name is available before you proceed.
6. Registered Agent and Office
For your Montana registered agent, you can list a noncommercial agent (“new agent”) like yourself or a commercial agent like Northwest Registered Agent. If you choose a noncommercial agent, you’ll need to enter the agent’s name, email and Montana street address where your agent will be regularly available to accept legal mail. Rather not list your email and personal home or office address on a public document? Hire a commercial agent like us.
7. Principal Office Address
This is the address the state will use to send non-legal mail. When you hire Northwest, you can use our address here.
Most LLCs want their businesses to keep going indefinitely, so they choose a “perpetual” term. If you’d rather put a self-destruct timer on your LLC though, enter an end date or the length of time your business will exist.
This section is optional, so you’re free to skip it. If you want, you can list a general purpose (something along the lines of “the LLC is organized to conduct any lawful business in the State of Montana”), or you can list your primary business activity, like “art restoration.”
10. Tribal Designation
This section is also optional. If your LLC is associated with a native tribe, you can select your tribe from the list.
11. LLC Management
You’ll have to decide if your LLC will be managed by its members (owners) or by managers. In a member-managed LLC, members share decision-making powers. In a manager-managed LLC, members give those powers to one or more managers.
12. Management Names and Addresses
You’ll enter the names and mailing addresses for the members (if member-managed) or managers (if manager-managed). When you hire us, you can use our address here. Email addresses are optional.
13. Montana LLC Organizer
Your organizer is the person who signs and submits your Montana LLC Articles of Organization. It doesn’t have to be anyone in your LLC. Hire Northwest, and we’ll be your organizer.
Why Have a Registered Agent Form Your Montana LLC?
Professionals in Montana hire registered agent services like Northwest Registered Agent to start an LLC—but why?
Standard filing companies don’t have employees or offices in every state. But as a national registered agent, it’s a requirement for us, which is a benefit for our clients. Our office is located in gorgeous Kalispell, MT. We’re on a first name basis with the people who work in Montana’s Secretary of State. We know all the fastest filing methods, which translates to fast, professional service—without extra fees.
As your registered agent, we list our Kalispell registered office address on your LLC’s formation documents. Why? If you’re starting a business from your apartment in Butte, do you really want your apartment address as your business address? (Hint: the answer is no.) We’ll list our address, so you don’t have to list yours. Plus, we never sell your data. We don’t list your personal information on filings if we don’t have to. It’s all standard and part of our commitment to Privacy by Default®.
Free Mail Forwarding, Business Address and More
At Northwest, we do everything a registered agent should do and more. You can list our address as your business address on your state filings. We include limited digital mail forwarding with registered agent service (up to 5 pieces of regular mail per year; $15 a doc after that).
Plan on accepting credit cards? We also offer a Free Credit Card Processing Consultation. Our specialists work with processors to negotiate low rates and better contracts for our clients.
And now, try our in-house Northwest Phone Service for 60 days, free of charge with our formation service. Get a virtual phone number with your choice of area code, make and receive calls from any device, and more—for just $9 a month.
We know the in’s and out’s of each state—and we use this knowledge to help you when you need it most. Our team of Corporate Guides® has over 200 local business experts. You can call or email us for answers to all your questions about your LLC in Montana. Our Corporate Guides are dedicated solely to helping you with your business—not selling you services or meeting quotas.
What Do I Do After My Montana LLC Is Formed?
After your Montana Articles of Organization are approved, you still have a few more important steps to take, including getting an EIN, drafting an operating agreement, opening a bank account, funding the LLC and learning about state reporting and tax requirements.
Get an EIN
An EIN (“Employer Identification Number”) is a federal tax ID assigned to your business by the IRS. The IRS uses your EIN to easily identify your business on tax filings.
Does a Montana LLC need an EIN?
The short answer is yes. The long answer is you’ll need an EIN from the IRS if you have employees or file certain federal excise taxes, like Alcohol/Tobacco/Firearms returns. You’ll need an EIN for a few other situations as well—opening a business bank account, establishing credit with vendors, and even filing some local tax forms. You may be able to use your personal social security number instead, but that just puts your personal information at risk.
How do I get an EIN for my LLC?
You can apply for an EIN directly from the IRS at no cost. Most businesses are able to apply online, but if you don’t have a social security number, you’ll need to apply with a paper form. Want one less thing to do? Add on EIN service when you hire us, and we’ll get your EIN for you. Or choose our VIP service—an EIN is included.
Write an LLC Operating Agreement
Operating agreements put into writing how your business actually operates—how much each member invested, how profits and losses will be allocated, how voting works, and what happens if there’s a dispute or if the whole business (knock on wood) falls apart.
Do I need an operating agreement for a Montana LLC?
Montana doesn’t legally require an operating agreement. According to MCA §35-8-109, members MAY enter into an operating agreement—but the law doesn’t declare that they must.
That said, an operating agreement isn’t just annoying paperwork. It’s one of your LLC’s most important internal documents, and creating one can help your LLC with everything from opening a bank account to handling major events from mergers to dissolution.
What should be in an operating agreement?
An operating agreement should explain how the business will handle “big picture” situations—everything from allocating profits and losses to dissolving the business. Below is a list of common topics that operating agreements should cover.
Profits, losses, and distributions
Voting rights, decision-making powers, and management
Transfer of membership interest
Dissolving the business
Your operating agreement can cover pretty much anything as long as it isn’t contrary to Montana law. Topics not allowed to be changed in the operating agreement are listed in MCA §35-8-109 (3a – g), unreasonably restrict a right to information or access to records, nor can the agreement eliminate the obligation of good faith and fair dealing.
How do I write an operating agreement?
To write an operating agreement, you need to address how your business will handle money, members, votes, management, and more. Not sure how to get started? At Northwest, we’re here to help your LLC get off on the right foot. When you hire us, we provide your business with a free LLC operating agreement, specific to your management style. We’ve spent years developing these agreements and other free LLC forms—which have been used by over a million LLCs.
Open an LLC Bank Account
Your LLC needs its own bank account. Why? An LLC gets its limited liability from being a distinct entity, separate from its members. If you mix personal and business finances, you could lose your liability protections.
How do I open a bank account for my Montana LLC?
To open a bank account for your Montana LLC, you will need to bring the following with you to the bank:
A copy of the Montana LLC Articles of Organization
The LLC operating agreement
The LLC’s EIN
If there are multiple members in the LLC, you may also want to bring an LLC resolution to open a bank account that states that the person going to the bank is authorized by the members to open the account in the name of the LLC. Northwest can help with this as well—LLC bank resolutions are one of the many free legal forms we provide to ensure you can get your LLC started fast.
Fund the LLC
Time to put some money in that new LLC bank account. What money? For starters, your initial contributions to your LLC’s capital. LLC members are owners, and each owner needs to pay for their membership interest to fund the LLC.
What is membership interest?
Membership interest is your percentage of ownership of the LLC. Membership interest is normally proportionate to your investment. So how does this work?
Imagine your LLC has 5 members. 4 members each invest $1,000 in the business. One member invests $6,000. The total contribution of all members is $10,000. The 4 members each own 10% of the business. The moneybags member who shelled out $6,000 owns 60% of the business.
Typically, this also means that the 4 members would each get 10% of any profits, and moneybags would get 60%. Exactly how profits and losses are allocated, however, can be adjusted in the operating agreement as long as changes are in line with IRS requirements and Montana laws.
File Montana Reports & Taxes
Montana LLCs are required to file a state report each year. This report is basically an information update you file so the state knows who currently runs things and how to contact your business. Montana LLCs are also subject to state tax filing requirements.
How much is the Montana Annual Report fee?
Your Montana Annual Report costs $20 to file with the Secretary of State. The report can only be filed online.
When is the Montana Annual Report due?
Annual reports must be filed online with the Secretary of State prior to April 15 each year beginning the year following the creation of your LLC. Each year the Secretary of State will mail a notice that the Annual Report is due to the LLC’s registered agent. While the fee isn’t excessive at $20 a year, there’s a $15 late fee if you forget to file—and if you don’t file by December, the state will shut down your LLC.
Worried you’ll forget? When you sign up for Northwest, we send you reminders for your annual report due dates. Want one less thing to worry about? With our business renewal service, we can complete and submit your annual report for you for $100 plus the state fee.
What should I know about Montana LLC taxes?
Montana doesn’t throw a ton of taxes at business owners or residents. Property taxes are below the national average, and it is one of the few states that doesn’t have a general sales tax—not even at the local city or county level. There are, however, a handful of taxes targeted on the sale or use of specific items or services, like tobacco and car rentals.
The Montana personal net income tax rates are:
1%: $0 to $3,099
2%: $3,100 to $5,399
3%: $5,400 to $8,199
4%: $8,200 to $11,099
5%: $11,100 to $14,299
6%: $14,300 to $18,399
Do LLCs have to register with the Montana Department Of Revenue?
Even though there is no state-wide sales tax on nearly everything (alcohol, tobacco, and a few services like car rentals), Montana expects that any business in the state that has property, payroll, or employees in state must register with the Department of Revenue. Beyond that, if you plan to expand your business beyond state borders you’ll need various forms from the Department of Revenue to make that happen. So yes, your LLC will likely need to register with Montana’s Department of Revenue.
Montana LLC FAQs
How can I submit the Montana LLC Articles of Organization?
You can file Montana Articles of Organization online at the Montana Secretary of State website, where you’ll need to register a Montana ePass account.
Or save yourself the trouble of navigating online business formation and simply hire us. For $295 all in we can have your Montana LLC up and running in just a few days. You can also add expedited 1-day or 1-hour service if you are in a hurry. We do it all.
How much does it cost to start a Montana LLC?
The filing fee for your Montana LLC Articles of Organization is $70. You can pay $90 for 1-day filing service, or $170 for 1-hour expedited processing.
Hire Northwest for a one-time fee of $295, including state filing fees, a year of registered agent service, limited mail forwarding and loads of useful forms and tools to help get your Montana LLC up and running. Or, pay just $32 out-the-door with our VIP monthly payment option.
How long does it take to start a Montana LLC?
Montana only has online filing (no paper), but there are options to expedite. For speedy 1-day processing, file your Articles of Organization yourself and pay an extra $20 for expediting. If you really need it fast, you can even pay for 1-hour expediting, but you’ll have to fork over an additional $100. Standard processing will save you money, but you’ll wait 5 days on average for approval.
If you hire Northwest to start your LLC, we file online and typically have your expedited Montana LLC formed within 24 hours.
Does a Montana LLC need a business license?
Montana doesn’t have a general, statewide business license. Instead, cities and counties manage all the business licensing in Montana. For example, if you conduct any business in Billings, you’re required to get an annual city business license. To find out what licenses your particular business may need, a good place to start is the city or county office.
Need an EIN or a certified copy of your formation docs for your license applications? Northwest can help. You can easily add on these items to your LLC formation order.
Can a Montana LLC help me live more privately?
A Montana LLC can definitely help you live more privately. For example, you can maintain a significant degree of address privacy by listing our address on public docs instead of your own. When we form an LLC for you, we will list our registered office address as the principal business address and our address for your member or manager addresses. So yes, a Montana LLC can help up live more privately, but only if you take the right steps—like hiring a professional registered agent service like Northwest. Check out our page on living privately with an LLC to learn more.
What is a foreign Montana LLC?
A foreign Montana LLC is any LLC formed outside of Montana but registered to do business in the state. For example, if you formed an LLC in Idaho but wanted to conduct business in Montana as well, you would register as a foreign LLC in Montana. To register a foreign LLC in Montana, you must file a Montana Certificate of Authority of Foreign LLC Application with the Montana Secretary of State. You can submit this document by mail or in person. The Certificate of Authority costs $70 to file. Like domestic LLCs, foreign LLCs in the state have to file annual Montana annual reports. Northwest can register your foreign Montana LLC for you today!
What about Montana mail forwarding?
Our Montana customers already receive limited digital mail forwarding for their regular mail (10 pieces of regular mail a year; $15 per document after that). Plus, Montana customers can list our address as their business address. That means you can have of your all business mail routed through our office.
Does your Montana LLC need a more encompassing mail solution? For just $40 a month, our Montana Mail Forwarding service includes a Montana address with a unique suite number and unlimited mail forwarding.
How can I get a Montana phone number for my LLC?
It’s a conundrum: you need a local number to display on your website and give to customers, but you don’t want to make your personal number quite so…public. We get it. And we’ve got you covered with Northwest Phone Service. We can provide you with a virtual phone number in any state—plus unlimited call forwarding and tons of easy-to-use features. You can try Phone Service free for 60 days when you hire us to form your LLC, and maintaining service is just $9 monthly after that. No contract required.
How to Order LLC Formation Service
Our Montana LLC formation service is designed to be fast and easy—signing up takes just a couple minutes. Here’s how it works:
With Northwest, we give you flexibility on how to pay. You can pay all the fees up front (this includes one full year of registered agent service). Or, pay just $32 out the door with our VIP monthly payment option. With our VIP option, we also include an EIN. Just choose one of the buttons below, answer a few easy questions about your business and submit your payment.
We’ll prepare your Montana Articles of Organization and send them to the Secretary of State, for approval. In the meantime, you’ll have immediate access to your online account, where you can find useful state forms, pre-populated with your business information.
Once the Montana Secretary of State has approved your filing, we notify you that your Montana LLC has been legally formed. You can now take any necessary next steps, like getting an EIN and opening a bank account.