Do You Need A Montana Registered Agent?
When starting a new business in Montana, an important detail to have on your checklist is choosing a registered agent. Under Montana law, a registered agent is a person or company that receives legal documents and notices of lawsuits.
Montana requires every corporation, Limited Liability Company (LLC), Limited Liability Partnership (LLP), or Limited Partnership (LP), to have a registered agent. Sole proprietorships and general partnerships do not need a registered agent.
Learn more about the registered agent, their job duties, the requirements to be one, and more.
Montana Registered Agent Overview
A registered agent (also referred to as a resident agent or statutory agent in some states) is a person or company that is designated to be the official point of contact between the government and your Montana corporation, LLC, LLP, and LP.
The primary responsibility of a registered agent in Montana is to accept important legal notices and tax documents and then forward them to the appropriate person in the business.
The requirements for an entity to have a registered agent are formed under Montana state law § 35-7-114, which mandates that registered entities will have and continuously maintain a registered agent and registered office within the state. The agent must also be available during normal business hours to forward any service of process, notice, or demand pertaining to the entity to the appropriate individuals.
What happens if you don’t have a registered agent?
Not only is a registered agent required when forming a Montana LLC or corporation, but you must maintain a registered agent to keep the entity in compliance. Besides the requirement of designating a registered agent at the time of business formation, there are other reasons to have one:
- Not Receiving Legal Notices – If the listed registered agent cannot receive legal notices, this lawsuit will still proceed. If a process server is unsuccessful in reaching the company’s registered agent, the court can proceed with the case. This could result in a judgment being placed against the business without the owners knowing.
- Entity Closure – In Montana, if the business doesn’t have a registered agent, the state can dissolve the entity.
- Penalties and Fees – By not maintaining a current registered agent, penalties and state fees can be levied against the entity and, in some cases, the owners too. Once an entity is no longer in good standing with the state, the owners may lose their liability protection and are at risk personally.
How is a registered agent appointed in Montana?
A registered agent in Montana is appointed when filing the initial formation paperwork (Articles of Organization (LLC) or Articles of Incorporation (corporation)) or by filing the Statement of Change of Registered Agent Form to the Montana Secretary of State.
What are the requirements for a Montana registered agent?
A registered agent in Montana can be any resident of the state who is 18 years or older, a registered Montana domestic business entity, or a foreign business entity authorized to do business in the state. An entity may not be its own agent.
The registered agent needs to have a physical street address (often referred to as a registered office or principal office) in the state of Montana. This can be your home address, the address of a family member, an accountant or attorney, the address of the business, or a professional registered agent service. Any physical address in the state may be used, but PO Boxes and mail drop services are not acceptable since someone has to be available to sign for documents.
The agent will also need to be available to receive Service of Process on behalf of the business during normal business hours. Service of process refers to the delivery of legal documents, often a summons, subpoena, or lawsuit filed against a business entity.
Who can be your registered agent in Montana?
Any individual, business owner, LLC member, officer, director, etc., of a business entity that meets the state of Montana’s registered agent requirements can be a registered agent.
Should you be your own Montana registered agent?
Provided one of the members or officers lives in Montana, it is less expensive to act as your own agent rather than hiring a service. While this is the route many businesses take, there are a few reasons to consider hiring a commercial registered agent service.
Privacy – The address of the registered agent becomes public record and is available for anybody to see. This can be especially concerning if someone is doing business on the side and they don’t want their employer to know about the business. Also, if the business is sued, the notice will be delivered to the address on file. This could mean employees, customers, or even neighbors witnessing the event. There is also the remote possibility of a vindictive litigant or upset customer showing up at your house.
Due Date Reminders – Registered agent services provide annual report reminders and updates on any state requirements.
Availability – Montana requires the registered agent to be available at the principal address during regular business hours. The biggest issue with availability, especially if a home address is used, is if the agent goes on vacation or is otherwise away for some period of time and can’t be reached.
If the Business Expands to Additional Locations – If the business has a physical presence in multiple states (offices, warehouses, employees, etc.), a foreign entity registration will often need to be filed with those states. A registered agent will need to be appointed with a physical address in each state.
How much does a Montana registered agent service cost?
Depending on the services provided, a commercial registered agent service typically costs between $100-$150 per year. Northwest Registered Agent is a popular service that charges $125 per year and offers several extras such as document scanning and mail forwarding and Harbor Compliance has a basic service starting at $99.
Some entity formation companies, like IncFile, includes registered agent service at no cost for the first year when you register your corporation or LLC with them.
Can a registered agent be changed in Montana?
If the registered agent changes, the entity is required to file a change of registered agent.
A registered agent can be changed by submitting the Statement of Change of Registered Agent Form along with the filing fee to the Secretary of State.