How to Start an LLC in Montana: Cost and Registration Steps

24 Min Read
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Last updated November 24, 2022
Written by Dmytro Kondratiev
Editor, lawyer
Disclosure: We earn a commission from some partner links. Commissions do not affect our editors' opinions or evaluations.

When you create a new business, the most important thing is the idea and the concept. But founding a company isn't all about creative flow and genius ideas. Also, you can't avoid paperwork and a lot of formalities. But only by following this path, you can come to the company of your dreams and implementation of all your ideas.

how to start an LLC in Montana

If you have already developed the vision and concept of the company, it's time to move on to the next step: registering the company. If you're considering the state of Montana for an LLC formation, you'll encounter many unique features of the area.

Many rank Montana as one of the best places for LLC formation and further running a business. More than half of the companies registered in the state pass the 5-year survival threshold. This greatly increases your chances of success.

So, if you want to know how to form an LLC in Montana, we are ready to tell you all the ins and outs of the process. In this article, we will give you step-by-step instructions for starting an LLC in Montana, and we won't forget about the tips and tricks that will surely be useful to you. Moreover, we have created many examples of hypothetical situations so that you can study the issue more clearly. Let's get to the point!

How to Form an LLC in Montana: Step by Step

The state of Montana is a jewel of the United States. Young business people are not at all frightened by the cold winters in the state and the huge flow of tourists. That's all because the breathtaking views and nature, reasonable prices for real estate and living, plenty of opportunities to hire employees, and no sales tax attract them much more. Moreover, Montana is minimally prone to natural disasters.

Step-by-step instructions are the best way to present the information and structure the text in this case. This way, you can go back to the desired section of the article if you want to refresh the information in your memory.

Once you start an LLC in Montana, you also have a few more tasks to do. It will make it easier for you to run your business and meet the requirements of the state in the future. We'll be sure to cover them as well. Let's move on to step one.

Step 1: Name your LLC in Montana

You may think that choosing a name for your LLC in Montana is a mere trifle and a very basic point. But we'll tell you that you're very wrong! This is not an easy task and will require a lot of effort from you. That's all because the state has many requirements related to it. In order for your LLC formation application not to be rejected by the Secretary of State, you have to meet them all. Now, let's talk about the requirements in more detail.

Important Aspects of Choosing a Name for an LLC in Montana

  • Since you are registering a private firm, avoid alluding to a connection between your company and the government in the name of your LLC. For example, you have decided to start a law firm and playfully call it "FBI Citizen Advocacy, llc." Your LLC registration application, in that case, would be immediately rejected. That's because you have broken the law and have no real ties to the FBI government entity;
  • Indicate your affiliation with the chosen business structure. As you have already noticed in the previous paragraph, in the example, we supplemented the company name with the abbreviation "llc". This is a prerequisite for the Secretary of State to approve your application. You may also choose any other variation: LC, LLC, ltd, etc. The main thing is that everyone can immediately understand which business structure your firm belongs to. Accordingly, if you are registering an LLC, you may not use the words "Corp", "Inc", etc.;
  • Do not insult minorities, genders, or religious beliefs. We don't think you intended to do that, but we can't avoid mentioning this rule. In general, you shouldn't resort to this method of attracting attention to the brand at any stage of the business operation in Montana (for example, when setting up marketing campaigns). But it's worth starting with the choice of a name. For example, the name "Girls Only, LLC" for a cosmetics brand may be ambiguously received by the public. For this reason, the Secretary of State is likely to disapprove of such a name;
  • Uniqueness is paramount. There are thousands of companies registered in the state of Montana. It's likely that the name you choose is already taken. If so, you will definitely be denied registration under that name. Before applying, double-check with the Montana Secretary of State's website to see if your name is free. Use Business Name Search for that. By doing this right away, you won't have to reapply and waste your time;
  • Check not only the name you choose but also similar options. If your desired company name is treacherously similar to a name already registered with the state, and they can easily be confused, the Secretary of State may reject your application. For example, if you decide to provide hair stylist services and name the company "HairDay, llc", and the state already has "Hair Day, llc", these names are too similar to exist in the same state;
  • Get a license first. Get a proper license if you want to use the words "bank", "attorney", "education", "doctor", etc. Even if your company is not related to the specialties that need a license, and you just want to play around with one of those words in the name, you may also have a problem. For example, if you have decided to create an essential oils brand and call it "Dr. Nature, LLC", you may run into trouble.

Reserve the Name for your LLC in Montana

If you have decided on your company name but are not yet ready to move on to the next steps, we advise you to reserve your business name in MT. It is very easy to do.

You can quickly reserve your business name online at the Secretary of State's website in just a few clicks. But if that option doesn't work for you, mail the completed form to PO Box 202801 Helena, MT 59620-2801. Either way, you will need to pay a $10 fee for regular application processing or $20 for expedited processing. 

In the form, you will have to provide the following information:

  • Your chosen name for LLC in Montana;
  • Your name and contacts;
  • Your/company's mailing address;
  • The company's activity;
  • Reservation period;
  • Your signature. 

Buy a Domain Name for Your LLC in Montana

This is the last step in choosing a name. Many first-time business owners skip it and then have trouble. We recommend checking right away to see if your company name is available as a URL. Even if the name meets all state requirements, there is a chance that the appropriate domain name is already taken. 

Virtually every company in the 21st century has a website, and you'll probably want to create one for your LLC in Montana as well. Even if you don't make sales with a website, it has a significant impact on your rating in the eyes of your customers and generates more trust. Moreover, it's easier for customers to find your LLC's website if its URL matches the name.

If the chosen domain name is available, reserve it for the future when you start building and promoting an online resource. This is necessary to prevent it from being hijacked by someone else while you're doing the paperwork. 

Step 2: Appoint a Registered Agent for your LLC in Montana

Appointing a resident agent for an LLC is a mandatory requirement that needs to be followed in any state of the country, including Montana. If you ask the experts on how to start an LLC in Montana, they will tell you about the importance of choosing a registered agent responsibly. Why does it matter so much? Let's discuss it in more detail. 

Who Is a Registered Agent?

This is a person or company that assists you with the receipt of business papers. In fact, this person does this on behalf of your LLC in Montana and is the liaison between your LLC and the state. This person always gets all the important correspondence on time, so you don't miss anything.

Why Is It Important to Appoint a Statutory Agent?

In case your firm misses notice of a lawsuit against it (which can happen to anyone even if you run a fully transparent operation), you could lose the case. That's because you won't be able to provide a legal defense, and the prosecution will appear superior in the background. 

If you ignore the complaint from the client, then you are at risk of experiencing reputation loss. And if you miss official notices from the authorities, you could lose the company.

Who Can Become a Registered Agent for an LLC in Montana?

Any adult U.S. citizen can be a resident or registered agent in Montana. This person does not need to have any special education or take any relevant courses. You have several options when choosing a registered agent:

  • Assign one of your company's employees to this job in addition to the main activity. Then, the employee will need to be distracted by extra work. Moreover, being busy with his/her own activities, this person may miss an important notice; 
  • Hire a separate person to perform these tasks. This way, you can be sure that the employee will receive all the paperwork on time and notify you of important papers. Moreover, the specialist will be able to deflect spam and not bother you about receiving it;
  • Request the services of Montana LLC formation companies that offer registered agent's assistance. This service will cost you an average of $70-$150 per year. It is especially convenient for those who are planning to expand their company and do business in several states. Large LLC formation services offer their help to businesses all over the country and have representatives and agents in every corner of it. What's more, such companies often offer discounts if you order their services in bulk for several locations;
  • Executing the tasks of a statutory agent on your own. This solution has one major advantage and a lot of disadvantages. Among the pros, we should highlight the savings of money. If the company's budget is minimal, it makes sense to cut costs and not pay third parties to perform the tasks of a registered agent.

Why Shouldn't You Be an Agent for Your LLC in Montana?

As we've mentioned before, there are many drawbacks to the decision of becoming a statutory agent for your LLC in Montana. And now, we're going to take a look at each of them.

  • Forget about days off and vacations with your family. A registered agent should always be available during regular business hours 5 days a week (except on public holidays). Yes, this means you can no longer take a day off in the middle of the week or go on vacation for a week. Moreover, in case of an emergency, you won't even be able to take a sick leave because you risk missing important notifications or documentation during that period;
  • You lose your privacy. The data of a registered agent is placed in the public domain. That way, anyone interested in your business can easily have your contacts to conduct business correspondence. But you lose your privacy in doing so. What are the drawbacks? Any disgruntled client/bailiffs (to serve you with a notice of the lawsuit in person) can show up on your doorstep at any time they want. At that time, you may be communicating with clients or partners, and the bailiffs will catch you at a very inopportune moment. This can be just an unpleasant situation, or it can cause serious reputation damage. Consider how willing are you to take that risk? 
  • You may make a mistake. Since you are the company founder, you will probably have a core list of tasks that you are required to perform as the owner of an LLC in MT. As a busy person, you may easily miss an important notice. It may happen given the flood of spam emails that you'll have to constantly filter (since the agent's data is in the public domain). 

As you can see, all the aspects described above are very significant and serious. Are you ready to carry such a burden?

What Do We Recommend?

If your budget allows, we would advise turning to statutory agent service providers. There are a lot of such companies on the market, and you can surely choose the best contractor for you based on your level of confidence in them and their pricing policies. 

For as little as $70 to $150 per year, you will be able to outsource the agent's tasks to specialists. They, in turn, will keep your privacy by placing their contact details in the public domain. What's more, the professionals will be able to qualitatively screen out spam and notify you only of important letters. 

This way, you'll be able to keep your hand on the pulse while still enjoying the ability to take days off, go on vacation, and devote more time to tasks that can't be delegated. 

Step 3: File your LLC Articles of Organization

Now, we are getting to the most important part of your business journey: filing your registration documents. If you ask how to form an LLC in Montana, submitting this document is the first thing we think about.

The Articles of Organization is the very first and most important document of your firm. Once the Secretary of State reviews and approves it, you can consider yourself the lucky founder of an LLC in Montana. Of course, your list of tasks on your way to a successful business won't end there. But legally, your firm will be registered with the state. This means that you will already be able to legally conduct business in Montana.

This document is easy enough to fill out. If you've completed all of the previous steps, it won't cause you any difficulty and won't take much time.

So, let's find out more about how to start an LLC in Montana and file Articles of Organization.

Get Articles of Organization Forms

To get the forms, you need to visit the Secretary of State's website and business services online section. Previously, you had to use an ePass to access the service. But now, you have to create a new password to log in. If you have used this service before, reset the password and create a new account. If this is your first time on this page, log in by entering all the information requested by the site.

Once you are logged into your account, you can easily find the "Forms" section there.

Fill Out Your Articles of Organization for an LLC in Montana

We want to give you the most integrative information regarding how to form an LLC in Montana. That's why we're going to detail how to fill out the Articles of Organization form to minimize the chance of you making a mistake.

So, the Articles of Organization form is a pretty concise document. Below, we'll give you a list of the information you need to put in it.

  • The desired name for your LLC in Montana;
  • The type of business structure;
  • Contact information of the registered agent (for this, you'll need to get an agent's consent);
  • Company's business activity (can only be legal);
  • Company lifetime (your company may operate indefinitely or temporarily);
  • The management structure of the company (the company can be run by managers or members).

File your Articles of Organization in Montana

You can file Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State online quickly and easily. To do this, fill out all the fields on the form and submit it.

You can also file Articles of Organization for LLC in Montana by mail. Download the form in PDF format, fill in all necessary information, print it out, and mail it to the Secretary of State. Along with the form, send a check for the registration fee.

The registration fee in Montana is $70. You need to pay it regardless of which filing option you choose. Also, the amount does not change depending on whether you mail the form or fill it out online.

Who Can Help You With Filling Out the Articles of Organization?

If you're worried that you might make a mistake filling out the form and need help, you have several options for getting assistance.

  • You can contact a specialist. Contact a professional attorney, and he/she will help you with everything. Usually, local attorneys have a lot of experience in submitting such documents and will be able to help you at any stage of LLC formation in Montana. So, the professionals are well versed in the state's requirements and ensure you are correct in filling out the legal forms. At the same time, you will have to pay richly for their help. On average, the assistance of a lawyer costs hundreds or even thousands of dollars. If the budget of your company allows, you can take advantage of this option; 
  • Contact the specialists and save money. The help of professionals can be obtained at a lower cost. Consider working with one of the LLC formation services. Their assistance will cost you considerably less than going to a professional attorney: $0 to $300. For this amount, you can get no less qualified support. So, such companies will help you sort out all the details and take care of most of the work, allowing you to save a lot of money.

Step 4: Draft an Operating Agreement for Your LLC in Montana

You can skip this step, as it is not required by the state. But you run the risk of regretting it. The Operating Agreement includes the rules under which the LLC in Montana will operate.

Do you want to know how to get an LLC in Montana and save it from troubles in the future? Draw up an Operating Agreement! You can put the following information into this document:

  • The tasks of the members/managers;
  • Terms of purchase/sale of company stock;
  • Payout of interests to the participants;
  • Spheres of influence distribution among LLC members;
  • Terms and procedure for dissolution of the LLC;
  • Any other information important to you.

You will find many examples of Operating Agreement drafting on the Internet. Since it is an internal company document, you have a lot of freedom in creating it. Also, you can include any information/rules in this paper.

If you need help, you can get a lawyer to guide you through the Operating Agreement drafting process. He/she will be able to foresee any problems that might occur in the future and advise you on how to deal with them. Also, an attorney can help you create it using juridical language and terms and legally certify the document. It is a good idea to distribute copies of the Operating Agreement to everyone in your company.

Why is it necessary? If any disputes arise in the future within the management team/participants of the LLC, thanks to this document, you will be able to resolve them easily. Since the Operating Agreement contains the rules of the company, you will simply follow the procedure described in it for resolving conflicts. This document, though internal, is legally binding as long as you have it witnessed by a lawyer.

Step 5: Get an EIN for Your Montana LLC Registration

So, we finally figured out how to form an LLC in Montana. Once the Secretary of State has reviewed your Articles of Organization, your company already has the legal right to exist in the state. But you also need to do one more important step: get an EIN for your company.

While starting an LLC in Montana, you need to get an Employer Identification Number. To know for sure if you need one, ask yourself two questions:

  1. Will my company have employees? 
  2. Does my company have more than one owner? 

If you answered affirmatively to at least one of them, you should get an EIN to open an LLC in Montana. 

What is an EIN? It's a 9-character code that the IRS gives you. This is how the IRS identifies your company to work with you for tax purposes. Even if you already have an EIN for a sole proprietorship, you will definitely need to register another one for your LLC.

Why do I need an EIN? You need this identification number:

  • For hiring employees;
  • For getting loans and opening a bank account for an LLC;
  • For paying taxes.

Basically, it's a required procedure that won't take you more than 10 minutes (when applying online). Many LLC formation companies offer to fill out the EIN application for you for an additional fee. Feel free to decline this offer, as you can easily do it yourself faster than drinking your morning cup of coffee. What's more, the IRS doesn't charge you a dime for it!

So, to get an EIN, you'll either need to apply online or submit it by mail or fax. 

If you want to mail it, use this address:

Internal Revenue Service

Attn: EIN Operation

Cincinnati, OH 45999

If you choose to fax the application, here is the contact: 

(855) 641-6935

If you decide to take the quickest and easiest way and apply for an EIN online, then visit the IRS website.

LLC Cost: How Much Is an LLC in MT

Of course, in addition to the time expenditure, you will have to make an investment to set up an LLC in Montana. There is often a fee for reviewing state documents. Let's calculate how much an LLC costs in Montana.

Mandatory Expenses

Your major expense when forming an LLC is the fee for reviewing your Articles of Organization. In Montana, you have to pay $70 for this. This is a reasonable price, as in some other states, it can be double that.

Additional Expenses

Additional expenses include:

  • Company name reservation: $10 - $20;
  • Services of LLC formation companies: $0 - $500 or professional lawyer services from $500 and above;
  • Purchase of domain name from $5 and above;
  • Registered agent services (may be included in LLC formation services);
  • Obtaining licenses. 

First Tasks after Creating an LLC in Montana

So, all the basic steps involved in creating an LLC in Montana are behind you, and you can call yourself the owner of the company. But the journey is just beginning, and there is a lot of work to be done. Let's talk more about what you need to do after forming an LLC in Montana.

Open a Bank Account for Your LLC in Montana

Many experienced businessmen regret that at the beginning of their careers, they did not consider opening a separate bank account for their company and put it off until later. In the aftermath, they faced the confusion of personal and company assets. Moreover, this decision led them to pierce the corporate veil.

What is a corporate veil? It is simply the protection of limited liability that the foundation of a business structure like an LLC gives us. By maintaining the corporate veil, your assets will not suffer in the event of a lawsuit against your business.

It's important to separate your assets right away and open a separate bank account for the company.

Moreover, your accountant will definitely thank you for making his/her job easier this way.

Get Business Insurance

We never know when disasters may await us. Contact your insurance agent and tell him/her about your business. They will be able to advise you on the types of insurance that are needed for your company based on its operations.

Create a Website

Don't delay creating a website for your LLC in Montana. This way, you can attract customers and grow your business faster. In the year 2022, it's impossible to ignore the benefits that the global web gives businesses.

Keep Your Company Compliant

We've already told you how to form an LLC in Montana. It's time to discuss how to keep your company in good standing after that.

Get all the Licenses Needed

The choice of licenses to legally operate in the state is always individual and depends on what you want to be involved in. If you are planning to start an LLC that is a medical, educational, or construction business, then you definitely need to get the proper licenses. For example, if you open an LLC that will deliver healthy food meals, then you need to get permits from the health department. 

Licensing can be done at different levels: state, federal, etc. Contact the licensing authorities to find out which permits you need to get for your LLC.

Tax Return Filing

Some states do not charge business owners a sales tax. There are only five such states in the country, and Montana is one of them. 

But you still have to pay taxes as an employer. These are income tax and unemployment insurance tax. 

Also, the IRS will require you to report your income annually on Forms 1065 (for multiple members LLC) or 1040 (for a single member LLC).

File Annual Reports

Not all states require business people to file annual reports. But in Montana, it is a mandatory requirement. Every year, you are required to file your report by April 15. If you do it later, you will have to pay a fine or even lose your company (after December 1). 

The easiest way to file your annual report is by visiting the Secretary of State's website. Also, don't forget to pay the $200 fee for reviewing the report.

Conclusion

As you can see, the process of registering an LLC in Montana is not very complicated, but it will require some effort on your part.

Follow the steps outlined in the article, and you will easily start an LLC in Montana. If you don't want to do it yourself, get help from an attorney or LLC formation companies. 

Start an LLC

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