How To Start A Montana LLC

When starting a business in the state of Montana (or any US state for that matter), savvy business owners often choose to create a separate entity structure for their business, called a Limited Liability Company (LLC).  An LLC is a legal entity, in the same way that a person is a legal entity.  An entity can have a bank account, buy and sell goods and services, file for bankruptcy, and be taken to court for a lawsuit.  

Anyone can operate a business under their personal name (ie: John Smith).  This structure is known as a sole proprietorship and does not require the formation of a separate legal entity, because the person doing business under their personal name is already a legal entity.  However, there are serious risks of doing business under your personal name as a sole proprietor.  If you get sued as a business owner while conducting business or need to file for bankruptcy, your personal assets are at risk of loss.

So instead of operating a business under your personal name, you can easily form a separate LLC entity to limit your liability and protect your personal assets.  Additionally, with the tax benefits of an LLC, you could potentially save some serious money come tax season.

Forming an LLC will cost approximately $70 USD for filing fees.  The turnaround time is usually 7-10 business days for the state of Montana to process the documents and form  your LLC.  You can, however, expedite the filing process for an additional fee.

3 Simple Steps to Form an LLC in Montana

Forming an LLC in Montana is simple.  Below we break down the process for you in 3 easy steps.

Step 1: Name Your Montana LLC

The first step in forming your Montana LLC is to give it a unique name.  This first step is critical, as your business name must be distinguishable from any other registered business names in Montana.  You can easily conduct a Montana LLC name search to make sure that the name you want is available before registering your LLC.

Your entity designator that goes after the business name must be “Limited Liability Company,” “LLC,” “L.L.C.” or some derivative of this.

You may use a comma between your company name and the entity designator  or you may choose not to.  (ie: “Big Sky Properties LLC” and “Big Sky Properties, LLC” are both correct business names).

While it’s not required, most successful businesses in today’s modern technological world have a business website.  Therefore, before officially registering your LLC with the Montana Secretary of State, it’s not a bad idea to check that your desired LLC name has a matching website domain name available.  If you really want to get ahead in your digital marketing game, you could also make sure that your desired LLC name has matching social media handles available before registering.

Step 2: Find a Montana Registered Agent

In the state of Montana, even if you form an LLC yourself, every LLC is legally required to appoint a licensed Montana Registered Agent to act as a liaison between your business entity and the state of Montana.  A Montana Registered Agent must be a Montana resident (18+) with a physical residential or commercial mailing address in the state.   Be sure to keep a copy of your Montana Registered Agent’s written consent to serve as registered agent for your LLC.

That’s where we come in and bring our professional expertise to the table.  As licensed and experienced Montana Registered Agents, we will communicate with the state of Montana for you, so you don’t have to navigate the complications of state bureaucracy.  We will take care of all the complex details and submit and receive legal documents, subpoenas, tax notices, summons, annual filings, and other important paperwork for your LLC entity so you can focus on what you do best–running your business.

Step 3: File Articles of Organization for your Montana LLC

The final step you must take to form your Montana LLC is to file Articles of Organization.  You can submit your LLC’s completed Articles on the Montana Secretary of State’s website.  The title may sound complicated, but the Articles of Organization is simply a written document that defines how your business is run.   However, if this is your first time forming an LLC, some parts can cause confusion, so we will go into these sections in more detail so you can have a clear understanding of how to define your LLC.

Delayed Effective Date

If you want to form your LLC today, then you don’t need to enter a delayed effective date.  

However, sometimes a business owner may want to delay the start date of forming their LLC if they aren’t ready to operate their business, but want to finish the task of filing.  Another reason some may choose to delay their LLC start date is when the calendar year is almost over and in order to avoid the hassle of filing business taxes that year, they may want to choose a start date at the beginning of the next calendar year. 

If you want to delay the formation of your LLC, enter a start date less than 90 days from today.

 Type of Limited Liability Company 

  • “Limited Liability Company” 

Most businesses choose to form a regular LLC, and can simply select this option. 

  • “Professional Limited Liability Company.”

Some businesses require a professional state license, such as attorneys, accountants, and doctors.

  • “Series Limited Liability Company.”

If you need liability protection across multiple businesses (such as with certain real estate investment companies), you can select this.  This will protect each asset group from liabilities from the other businesses in the series.

  • “Professional Series Limited Liability Company” 

 This designation takes the Series LLC one step further for businesses that require professional state licenses.  

Furthermore, any out of state LLC that wants to conduct business in the state of Montana must file an Application for Certificate of Authority with the Montana S.O.S. to register as a foreign LLC.


How long do you want your LLC to exist?  Most business owners are in it for the long haul and will choose a “perpetual” duration with no end date.  However, some investment related businesses will choose an end date for after the deal is done.


This section is required for a Professional LLC.  However, for any LLC, you can just write a basic summary of what your business does.  

Managers & Members

 Who manages your LLC? 

 –Member-Managed LLCs take an active role in operating their business day to day.  This is the most typical business structure.

 –Manager-Managed LLCs have a hired manager to run the day to day operations of the business for the members. 

What to do after forming a Montana LLC

Once you’ve completed the 3 easy steps above to form your Montana LLC, there are a few additional steps you can take to create a first-rate business entity.

Create an Operating Agreement for your Montana LLC

Although most states do not require an operating agreement, there are benefits to writing one.  The operating agreement is a document that governs how the business will operate.  Especially in the unfortunate case of a lawsuit or dispute, this document will help clarify certain details such as member responsibilities, ownership rights, and distribution of profits and losses.  

Register an EIN for Your LLC

The IRS (Internal Revenue Service) assigns a unique 9 digit tax identification number to each registered business in the country.  An EIN (Employer Identification Number) or sometimes called a FEIN (Federal Employer Identification Number) is needed for many business operations such as to open a business bank account, register for permits and business licenses, file federal and state taxes, and hire employees.  You can register immediately through the IRS website with no added costs.

Choose your LLC’s Federal Tax Structure

When applying for an EIN, you can choose how your LLC will be taxed.   Generally, an LLC may be classified (and taxed) as a Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, C-Corporation, or S-Corporation.  

There are different advantages to each structure depending on your business, so it is advisable to speak with a professional accountant to determine the best course of action for your particular situation.

Open a Business Bank Account for your LLC

Opening a business bank account for your LLC will not only make it easier to track business expenses for tax reporting purposes, but will also be a liability protection.  Keeping your accounts separated protects your personal funds since they will be separate from the business entity’s funds in the case of litigation and accounts being frozen.

Apply for Permits and Business Licenses

Check with your local government what permits and licenses are required for your area and profession.  You may need to apply for a Business License, a Professional License, or a Sales & Use Tax permit. 

Insure Your Business

Even though an LLC offers liability protection, business insurance can be a first line of defense to protect your business from bankruptcy.   Depending on what your business does, you may need General Liability Insurance, Business Property Insurance, Business Vehicle Insurance, or Workers Compensation Insurance.  

File Annual Reports

All LLCs must file an annual report with the Montana S.O.S.  It is due at tax time, and costs $20.  As your Montana Registered Agent, you can also hire us to handle this task for you.