Last Updated on September 13, 2020

The Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a popular business entity choice structure for many businesses starting in Montana 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.

Related: How Does an LLC Protect You?

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 is something most people can do on their own, but it’s nice to have some support in case you have questions or get stuck.  IncFile and Inc Authority provide LLC formation guidance for only the cost of the state fees!

Related: Should you use a Formation Service, Hire an Attorney or Do it Yourself?

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 at 406-444-3665

HOW TO FILE THE ARTICLES OF ORGANIZATION AND FORM A MONTANA LLC

Account Registration

Begin by creating a login with ePass Montana.  ePass Montana allows you to access authorized government services using a single username and password. 

Sign up for an ePass Montana Account LLC

Next visit the Montana Secretary of State’s website and login with ePass.

How to form an LLC in Montana

 

Next, select form a Domestic Limited Liability Company

Form a Domestic Limited Liability Company in Montana

Section 1: General Details

Handling Options
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.

Montana LLC 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.

Montana LLC Delayed Effective Date

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 what licenses and permits are needed 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.

Montana LLC Type of Limited Liability Company

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
  • L.L.C.
  • LLC
  • L.C.
  • LC

A comma may be used after the business name and before the designator.  “Cowboy Cleaners LLC” and “Cowboy Cleaners, LLC” are both acceptable. Before finalizing a name, you may also want to see if a domain name is also available to have a matching website address.

Montana LLC Name Registration

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.”

Montana LLC 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.

Read more about answering the business purpose.

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.

Montana LLC Member Managed Manager

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.

Montana LLC Additional Documents

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 LLC organizers sign the Articles.  Enter this person’s name, title, date.

Montana LLC Signatures

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.

Tasks After Forming Your LLC

Once the LLC has been formed, there are a few additional steps to take care of. Below is a list of the most common tasks.

Prepare an Operating Agreement

The operating agreement is a document that governs the framework of an LLC.  This document covers items like ownership rights, member responsibilities, how profits and losses are distributed and more.

Most states do not require an LLC to have an operating agreement but it is still worth considering. Without an operating agreement:

  • The LLC could be subject to generic state rules that may be detrimental in the event of a lawsuit
  • Member’s personal liability protection may be diminished
  • Members may not have a full understanding of their roles and responsibilities which could lead to costly disputes in the future

Related: Montana operating agreement template

Obtain an EIN

The EIN or Employer Identification Number is a unique 9-digit number for a business. Similar to a social security number for an individual, the EIN identifies business entities for tax purposes.  

The EIN will be needed in order to open a bank account, register for business licenses and permits, file tax returns, pay payroll taxes and more. 

Related: How to Apply for an EIN

Open an LLC Bank Account

Opening a bank account for your LLC is important for liability protection as the account separates the business’s funds from the member’s personal funds.

Several documents will be needed to open a business bank account such as:

  • A banking resolution is a document that authorizes the members to open a business bank account on behalf of the LLC.
  • Copies of the original formation paperwork from the state showing the creation of the LLC.
  • Driver’s licenses of the members.
  • Depending on the age of the LLC, a Montana Certificate of Good Standing may be needed to prove the LLC is active and in good standing with the state.

Related: How to Open a Business Bank Account for your LLC 

Apply for Business Licenses and Permits

Depending on what your business does and where it is located, there will likely be a variety of business licenses and permits to register for before starting. Some common registrations include:

  • Business License – Some cities require businesses to obtain licensing before they can start. In some cases, even home-based businesses must have licensing in order to legally operate. 
  • Professional License – Certain services such as barbershops, massage therapists, salons and others must be licensed.

Related: What Business Licenses are Needed in Montana?

File Annual Reports

LLCs are required to file an annual report with the Montana Secretary of State.  The annual report updates ownership information and other details.

Related: How to File a Montana LLC Annual Report