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The Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a smart entity choice for many start-up businesses. The LLC provides personal liability protection and has the potential to save money on taxes. With a little research, you can learn how to form an LLC in Montana without an attorney.
Unlike a sole proprietorship or partnership where the small business owner can be held personally liable for lawsuits against the business, the LLC is a separate legal structure, protecting for the business owner’s personal assets.
Besides the liability protection, the Limited Liability Company provides several other benefits over the sole proprietorship, partnership, and corporation because of the multiple tax options, ease of administration and management flexibility.
Forming an LLC in Montana can be both affordable and is simple enough for most people to start on their own. That said, it’s not a bad idea to have a legal professional like While the filing is pretty straightforward, it’s nice to have some support if you have questions, alerts when the annual report is due, forms like operating agreements, banking resolutions and more. There are companies like IncFile or ZenBusiness and others that do all of this for as little as $49.
To form a Limited Liability Company in Montana, file the Articles of Organization with the Montana Secretary of State. The LLC filing fee is $70 and approval typically takes less than 2 weeks. If expedited processing is desired, an additional $20 gets 24-hour priority handling and an additional $100 gets 1-hour processing.
If you have questions, contact the Montana Secretary of State.
HOW TO FILE THE ARTICLES OF ORGANIZATION AND FORM A MONTANA LLC
Begin by creating a login with ePass Montana. ePass Montana allows you to access authorized government services using a single username and password.
Next visit the Montana Secretary of State’s website and login with ePass.
Next, select form a Domestic Limited Liability Company
Section 1: General Details
Standard processing is 7-10 business days and costs $70.
24-hour priority handling is $90
1-hour expedited handling is $170
Select your preferred handling option.
Delayed Effective Date
If you want the LLC to start on today’s date don’t enter a date in the box, otherwise, enter a date less than 90 days in the future to start.
Some will delay the LLC start date if they aren’t ready to go but want the filing out of the way or if they are close to the end of a calendar year and want to delay until the following year so they won’t have to file business taxes.
Type of Limited Liability Company
If forming a regular LLC (that’s what most businesses will choose) select “Limited Liability Company”
If the business activities require a professional license from the state, you will want to select “Professional Limited Liability Company”. Common professional licenses are for accountants, attorneys, veterinarians. See Step 5 – Licenses & Permits in Montana for more information on what businesses need professional licensing.
A “Series Limited Liability Company” provides liability protection across multiple asset groups or businesses, each of which would be protected from liabilities from the other series. The Series LLC is not a common choice and most common with real estate investment companies. Click on the box if you want to form a Series LLC.
A “Professional Series Limited Liability Company” is a Series LLC that provides services that are licensed by the state.
Name of Business Entity
Enter the name you want for the LLC. The name of the LLC also has to differ from other entity names registered with the Secretary of State. You can check on available Montana LLC names before filing to be sure the one you want is available, or just enter the name you prefer and click “Validate Name”.
Additionally, the name of the LLC must include one of the following designators at the end of the business name:
- Limited Liability Company
- Limited Liability Co.
- Ltd. Liability Company
- Ltd. Liability Co.
- Limited Company
A comma may be used after the business name and before the designator. “Cowboy Cleaners LLC” and “Cowboy Cleaners, LLC” are both acceptable.
Enter the proposed name and click “Validate Name”. A message will show up at the top of the screen indicated whether the name is available.
Section 2: Registered Agent
A Montana Registered Agent must be identified when forming the LLC. The Registered Agent can either be a resident of Montana (Select “New Agent”)or a registered Resident Agent service (Select “Existing Agent”). The Registered Agent must have a physical address in the state (PO Boxes are not allowed) and act as a point of contact to receive legal documents, tax notices, summons, subpoenas, etc on behalf of the LLC.
Even though the business owner can be the registered agent, their name and address become public record and with that comes a loss of privacy. This is more important for some entrepreneurs, especially when they are doing business from home.
Should you want a different mailing address for the registered agent, enter that address under mailing address.
After the Registered Agent consent to being an agent for the LLC, click on the box for the statement “The appointment of the registered agent listed above is an affirmation by the represented entity that the agent has consented to serve as a registered agent.”
Section 3: Business Mailing Address of Principal Office
Postal Address – In this section, enter the mailing address of the principal office This address can be the physical address of the business, an address where the business records are kept such as your home address or even a PO Box.
Physical Address – If you would like to add a physical address, open up the area for a physical address and enter it there.
Term – In this section, you can indicate how long it will remain in existence. Most LLCs will choose a “Perpetual” duration as there is no predetermined close date. Some businesses (usually investment related) will have a specific closure date.
Purpose – Unless this filing is for a Professsional LLC this box is optional. Here you provide some basic information about what the business does. You can also use “engage in any lawful business activity for which a Limited Liability Company may be organized in Montana” in addition to the original purpose statement to keep the purpose open-ended.
Tribal Designation – Another optional section, select your tribal designation from the drop-down menu.
Section 4 – Managers/Members
This section asks if the LLC is managed by Members or Managers.
A Member-Managed LLCs have an active involvement in the day-to-day operations of the business. Most LLCs are Member-Managed.
A Manager-Managed LLCs are hired by the members to run the LLC, similar to a CEO of a corporation.
Click the “Add” button to add the names and contact information for members and managers. Selections include “Individual” which is most commonly used. Other options include “Registered Business Entity” and “Non-registered Organization”.
Section 5: Documents
Upload any additional documents that some LLCs will file including:
Member’s Liability Statement – If one or more members of the company are liable for the LLC’s debts and obligations.
LLC Operating Agreement – While not required, an Operating Agreement is recommended in many cases. An Operating Agreement is a legal document outlining the roles and responsibilities for the members of the LLC. Read more about when an LLC needs an Operating Agreement.
Supporting Documents – Any additional documents regarding the operations of the LLC.
This is an optional section as none of these documents are required.
Section 6: Signature(s)
Read and click on the two terms and conditions boxes if you agree to them. Then have at least one of the organizers sign the Articles. Enter this person’s name, title, date.
Add a daytime contact number and email so if the Secretary of State has any questions regarding the application they can contact you to quickly solve any issues.
Section 7: Review
Review that all of the information is correct. If there are no corrections, click “Save and Exit”
Section 8: Pay and File
Pay and file the Articles of Organization.
In approximately 7-10 business days, the LLC will be approved.
That concludes the basics of forming an LLC in Montana. Remember, even though you can do it yourself, there is more to an LLC than just the filing. If you have questions, work with an attorney or a specialized entity formation company such as IncFile or ZenBusiness to make sure everything is done correctly.
After filing the LLC, be sure to register for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The EIN is basically a social security number for a business and will be needed before opening a business bank account. There is no cost to apply and it takes about 5 minutes to get. See how to apply for an EIN.
Last, before starting a business in Montana, you may still need to apply for business licenses, sales tax permits, self-employment taxes and more in Montana. See the Guide to Starting a Business in Montana for more information.