1. What Is a Montana Business Entity Search?
2. Montana LLC Registered Agent
3. Forming a Montana LLC – Articles of Organization Instructions

A Montana business entity search for your preferred LLC name must be performed to make sure it's available for your use. The name for your Montana LLC must be unique and has to follow the state requirements listed in 35-8-103 of the Montana LLC Act. 

For example, the name of the LLC has to be easily distinguished from existing entities or organizations that are found when doing a search of the database. In other words, it can't be too similar to names that are already found in the database. An LLC name must end with the abbreviations L.L.C. or LLC or the words "Limited Liability Company, so adding these letters to the business name will not distinguish your name from an existing name. The same goes for grammatical differences, possessives, plurals, and, a, an, or the use of the ampersand for "and". The same goes for numbers either numerical or spelled out, and capitalization is irrelevant. 

The best way to determine if your LLC name is unique is to do a partial name search in order to find names that are similar to yours. If the name you want is unavailable because it's already in use or it's too similar to a name that already exists, you have the option to get creative and come up with a variation of your original LLC name. Make sure that your LLC name is easy to spell so people can find you more easily. 

Searching the Montana LLC database will return businesses with various statuses which help you determine the availability of your LLC's name. They include:

  • Active
  • Cancelled
  • Consolidated
  • Dissolved
  • Forfeited
  • Incorporated
  • Inactive
  • Merged
  • Old Name
  • Revived

If the name you want shows up with any of these statuses, you should select a different name to avoid any conflicts.  The desired name also cannot imply that it's a corporation, and any variation of corporation or incorporated are disallowed for use in the name of your LLC.

Montana LLC Registered Agent

Once you are certain your name is unique or distinguishable from others, you can move forward with the process. Your first step is to determine who is to be the registered agent for your Montana LLC. The Registered Agent and Registered Office are necessary for your LLC formation paperwork. The Registered Office has to be a street office located in the state your LLC is formed. The Registered Agent is a person or company who agrees to accept important documents and legal mail on behalf of your LLC. The Registered Agent is located at the Registered Office and should be available during accepted business hours. The Registered Agent can be anyone who agrees to accept legal mail and important paperwork sent from a law firm or the State for your LLC. 

If want to be the Registered Agent, you can appoint yourself and sign where indicated on the formation documents. In the event you have someone else become the agent, they will need to sign. Your LLC formation documents cannot be submitted until you have the signature of your Registered Agent. 

Forming a Montana LLC – Articles of Organization Instructions

You can file your LLC entirely online without traveling to an office of the Secretary of State. There is a one-time filing fee of $70 which is payable by debit or credit card. Your LLC will be approved in seven to ten business days, but you can expedite the process by paying an extra $20 at the time of filing, or you can pay an extra $100 to get the paperwork processed in one hour. 

Once your LLC has been approved and you are in operation, you have to file an Annual Report and pay $20 to keep your LLC in compliance and in good standing with the state. The deadline is April 15th and you will be charged a $15 late fee if you don't file on time. If you don't file by September 1st, the state will mail you a warning that the LLC is about to be dissolved. If you fail to heed the warning and do not file your Annual Report by December 1st, the state will automatically dissolve your LLC.

If you need help with forming an LLC in Montana, you can post your legal need (or post your job) on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.