A Montana business license gives your Limited Liability Company (LLC) permission to operate in a certain location or within a specific industry.
While we can’t walk you through any applicable license applications step-by-step, we do provide helpful resources like:
- information about state licensing rules
- instructions for researching municipal licenses
And if you want to just hire a company to do the research for you, we have a recommendation below.
Montana Business License Requirements
After you form a Montana LLC, you may need to obtain a business license or permit.
Your requirements are determined by the industry you are in and where your Montana Limited Liability Company is located.
Because of the large number of industries and all of the municipalities in Montana, it’s not possible for us to explain them all. However, you can use the search tools below, call your local municipality, or hire a company for help.
Need to save time? We recommend hiring MyCompanyWorks (for $99) to handle the business license research for you.
How to get a Business License in Montana
You can obtain a business license in Montana by applying with the relevant licensing or regulatory agency. The agency you apply with will depend on where your business is located and what business activities it engages in.
The business license application typically requires basic information, such as your LLC name, EIN Number, business address, and contact information. Many also include a questionnaire that asks about your business activity.
There are three main licensing jurisdictions:
- State licensing
- Local licensing, such as county, city, township, etc.
- Federal licensing
Does Montana Require a Business License?
That depends on where your business is located, and what it does.
There are two types of state-level business licenses:
- a general business license
- and an occupational license
Montana General Business License
Some states have a general license requirement, which means all businesses operating in those states must have the license, regardless of what they do.
But good news: Montana doesn’t require a general license to do business in the state.
Meaning, your Montana LLC doesn’t need a general state business license. But depending on what type of business you run, your LLC might need an occupational license.
Montana Occupational License
Most states have occupational business license requirements. This means a license or permit may be required depending on what your business does or what your occupation is. For example, if you sell used cars, or run a hair salon, you may need an occupational business license. But a license may not be required for other types of businesses.
The Montana Department of Commerce Small Business Licensing Information page provides a great overview of occupation- or industry-specific license requirements in the state.
Note: Montana business licenses are not issued by the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State is responsible for business entity administration, for example Limited Liability Company formation.
Montana Department of Revenue
The Montana Department of Revenue has a License List to help you determine whether your LLC needs a business license. Each license is a link to the specific page about that license type, including contact information for the agency that issues the license.
The eStop Business License Program helps you obtain licenses from certain industries. If your LLC will sell food, tobacco, lottery products, alcoholic beverages, or has to do with nurseries (growing plants), you’ll use the eStop Business License Application.
You can also contact the Department of Revenue with questions.
Montana Department of Labor and Industry
Depending on what your LLC does, you might need a license from the Montana Department of Labor and Industry (the Professional Boards & Licensing Division).
On the Professional Boards & Licensing homepage, click “View Professional Boards” to find the occupation that applies to your business.
This will open a popup window with clickable links for all the different professions that are licensed by the Department of Labor & Industry. The links will take you to the page about the license process, and with contact information for the relevant licensing board.
The Professional Boards & Licensing Division also has an online application process. And you can contact the Department of Labor & Industry at 406-444-2840.
Note: The Professional Boards & Licensing Division used to be called “Professional and Occupational Licensing Division”. And before that, they were called the “Business and Occupational Licensing Bureau”. These all refer to the same part of the Department of Labor & Industry.
Other Montana Licensing Agencies
You can also use the Montana Department of Commerce Business Checklist tool. This requires you to create an MT.gov login (if you haven’t already), but is an interactive guide to license requirements.
If your LLC will be doing any kind of building or construction work: Montana has a specific Construction Contractor Registration process.
How much is a Montana Business License?
Montana doesn’t have a general business license at the state level, so there are no fees there.
However, your business may need a state-level occupational license or municipal-level license or permit to operate. The filing fee for these licenses will vary depending on where you’re doing business and what industry you’re in. To be honest, we can’t predict your specific Montana business license cost.
For example, licenses issued by a county that contains a large city are usually more expensive than licenses in less populated, rural counties. And licenses for regulated industries, like child care facilities, are usually more expensive than generic business licenses.
But your LLC might not need a license or permit at all. So your Montana business license cost could be $0.
See LLC Cost in Montana to learn about all the possible LLC fees.
Municipal Business License
Municipal business licenses can be issued by the city, town, county, parish, township, borough, etc. We refer to all of these as a “municipality” to keep things simple.
There are two types of municipal business licenses:
- general business license
- industry-specific license
For example, if a municipality has a general business license requirement, all businesses operating in that municipality must have the license, regardless of what they do.
And if a municipality has industry-specific business licenses, a license or permit may be required depending on what your business does. For example, if you operate a food truck, or run a daycare, you may need an industry-specific municipal business license. Or if you’re purchasing or leasing real estate, you may need a zoning permit.
But a license may not be required for other types of businesses, like making wedding invitation templates or offering marketing consulting.
You can contact your municipality to check on their local licensing requirements:
- Montana Association of Counties: County Websites
- Montana Association of Counties: List of Communities to help you figure out which county your LLC is located in
- Montana League of Cities and Towns: Municipal Directory
Montana Sales Tax License
Unlike most other states, Montana doesn’t have a general sales tax.
That means your LLC won’t need to register for a Montana Sales Tax License or file a sales tax return with the Montana Department of Revenue.
Read more about these rules here: Montana General Use Sales Tax.
Montana Tax Registrations
The Department of Revenue does require businesses to register for certain other types of taxes. Some of these relate to items your LLC might sell (like alcoholic beverages) or other types of business activities.
So make sure you look at the Miscellaneous Taxes and Fees section of the Department of Revenue: Taxes page. Your LLC might need to register for other tax permits or tax licenses, depending on what your business does.
Tip: Save time by hiring an expert. We recommend using TaxJar. They'll help you register for, collect, and pay sales tax.
Do I need any federal business licenses?
Most businesses in Montana don’t need a federal business license. However, certain industries do need federal licenses:
|If your business…||Contact this agency about business licenses|
|Transports animals, plants or biotechnology over state lines||Department of Agriculture|
|Imports or exports animal products, wildlife, or products derived from wildlife (including fish)||Fish and Wildlife Service|
|Fishes commercially||Fish and Wildlife Service|
|Broadcasts on radio or TV||Federal Communications Commission|
|Makes alcohol and sells it at a retail store||Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau|
|Makes or sells firearms, ammunition or explosives||Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives|
|Transports cargo by sea||Federal Maritime Commission|
|Transports goods or people by air||Federal Aviation Administration|
Check out the Small Business Administration’s Licenses and Permits page for a full list of industries with federal license requirements.
If your business isn’t one of these special cases, then the only federal requirements are that your LLC get a Montana EIN Number (aka Federal Employer Identification Number) and that you file taxes.
Montana Business License FAQs
How much does a business license cost in Montana?
Montana doesn’t have a general business license for LLCs, so there are no fees there.
If your business has to get an occupational license or municipal (city or county) permit, the fees are hard to predict. Depending on your LLC’s location, and what type of business or industry you’re in, the fee varies.
And you might not need a business license at all!
Unfortunately, we can’t say what your LLC’s business license costs would be, because it depends on several factors and the cost of Montana licenses varies.
Is an LLC considered a business license?
No, an LLC is not a business license. They are two completely different things.
An LLC is a type of business structure created by filing a document with the state government.
And a business license is a document that gives a person, or a company, the right to transact business. It doesn’t create an LLC.
Does a Sole Proprietor need a business license in Montana?
Sometimes a new business owner chooses to operate as a Sole Proprietorship in Montana instead of an LLC.
Even if you’re just trying out a business idea as a Sole Proprietorship, you may still be subject to license requirements at the state and municipal levels. It just depends on what you will be doing, and where you will be operating your business.
Does the Montana Secretary of State provide a business license?
No, the Montana Secretary of State doesn’t handle licensing requirements. Instead, they manage business entity formation and registration. For example, depending on business entity type, business owners file different paperwork with the Secretary of State to create their business entity.
For more information, or to determine if there is a Montana business license cost for your business, we recommend contacting the Montana Department of Revenue or the Department of Labor’s Professional Boards, and/or your local government agency. For example, your local county or city government will have information about any local licenses.
How to start an LLC in Montana
Here are the steps to starting an LLC in Montana:
- Select a business name for your Montana LLC
- Choose your Registered Agent
- File the LLC Articles of Organization with the state
- Complete and sign an LLC Operating Agreement
- Get a Tax ID Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
- Open an LLC bank account
- Check whether you need a business license or tax permits in Montana
SBDC Montana: Licensing 101
Montana Department of Revenue: License List
SBDC Montana: Small Business Licensing Information
Montana Department of Revenue: eStop Business License Program
Montana Department of Labor & Industry: Professional Boards & Licensing