What Business Licenses & Permits are Needed in Montana?
Starting a business in Montana will mean potentially registering with a number of federal, state, and local agencies. Let’s take a look at common licenses and permits a business will register for in Montana.
Before applying for any licenses, the legal structure of the business will need to be established. Learn more about the differences between the sole proprietorship, general partnership, corporation, and Limited Liability Company (LLC).
Related: Comparison of Business Entities
General Business License
There is no general state of Montana business license, however, there are city and county licenses some businesses will need to register for. Rules for business registration vary depending on location and what the business does. Below are a few cities that have licensing requirements.
Billings – Anyone conducting business within Billings’ city limits, a business license is required from the City of Billings Finance Department.
The cost of a business license in Billings varies by the amount of gross revenue, number of employees, and what the business does.
Missoula – Most businesses operating in the City of Missoula will need to obtain a General Business License. Businesses that fall into certain categories (contractors, mobile vendors, businesses that sell alcoholic beverages, or medical marijuana) will need to get a special business license.
Any business that physically goes onto residential property will need to have a background check. Home-based businesses will have to submit the Home Occupation Additional Info form with their business license application.
Great Falls – Several types of businesses operating in the City of Great Falls will need to obtain licensing from the Planning and Community Development Department. Some of these businesses include electricians, plumbers, daycares, and home-based businesses.
All businesses operating out of a physical location will need to obtain a Safety Inspection Certificate from the Fire Department.
Bozeman – All businesses operating within city limits will need to have a business license from the Bozeman Department of Community Development before starting their business. Licenses are renewable each year and are also required for some home-based businesses.
Building & Zoning Permits
Zoning – Depending on the location of the business, it’s important to verify whether the business needs an occupancy permit or has specific zoning regulations to follow. Depending on city requirements, home-based businesses may need to apply for a home occupation permit.
Building Permit – A building permit may be needed from the city or county building and planning department if there is any construction or renovations to a facility.
Signage Permit – Some municipalities require a permit before adding signage.
A variety of professions in the state are regulated and need to be registered before offering certain services. A few common occupations that require licensing in Montana include; barbers, cosmetologists, massage therapists, landscape architects, and many more. Additional information, fees, and licensing requirements for professions are available from the Montana Department of Labor & Industry.
All incorporated construction contractors and construction contractors with employees must register with the Montana Department of Labor & Industry. A separate license is required for independent contractors.
Employer Identification Number (EIN)
Many businesses will register with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for an EIN (also referred to as a FEIN, Federal Employer Identification Number, or Federal Tax ID Number). The EIN is the business equivalent of a Social Security Number for an individual. Corporations, Limited Liability Companies, Partnerships, and Sole Proprietorships with employees will all need to register for one. Sole Proprietorships without employees can use the owner’s Social Security Number.
There is no cost for an EIN, and it only takes a few minutes to get.
Assumed Business Name Registration
While not a business license, it’s common for Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships operating under a name that is different from the full name of the owner(s) to register for an Assumed Name (also known as a Doing Business As or DBA) with the Montana Secretary of State.
These are just some of the most common business licenses a new business will need to register before starting. Before starting your business, be sure to check with City Hall, County Clerk, Chamber of Commerce, and/or Economic Developer in your area to get more information regarding business licensing.