Last updated May 30, 2020
Articles of Organization Instructions
How to form an LLC in Montana
This Quick Start Guide is a brief overview of how to form an LLC in Montana.
Montana LLC costs:
LLC formation: $70 (one-time fee)
Annual report: $20 (every year)
★ Check out Northwest vs LegalZoom
In this lesson, we will walk you through filing your Articles of Organization with the Montana Secretary of State. This is the document that officially forms your Montana LLC, and it can only be filed online.
100% digital: As of 2017, the Montana Secretary of State’s office has gone completely digital to make the LLC formation process easier.
Montana LLC filing fee: The Montana LLC filing fee is $70. This is a one-time payment. You can pay with a debit or credit card.
Note: The “LLC filing fee” (the fee to create a Montana LLC) is the same thing as the “Articles of Organization fee”. The Articles of Organization is the document, that once approved by the Secretary of State’s office, creates your Montana LLC.
Montana LLC approval time: Your Montana LLC will be approved in 7-10 business days. Once your LLC is approved, the state will email you back:
– your Articles of Organization (stamped and approved), and
– a Certificate of Filing
Expedited processing: You also have the option to pay for a faster LLC review time. There are two options:
– If you pay an extra $20, the state will process your filing in 24 hours.
– If you pay an extra $100, the state will process your filing in 1 hour.
Northwest ($39 + state fee) or LegalZoom ($149 + state fee)
(check out Northwest vs LegalZoom)
Instructions for Montana LLC Articles of Organization Online
Create a Montana ePass Account
What is ePass? ePass gets you access to all of Montana’s online filing services.
1. Go to the state website: https://app.mt.gov/epass/Authn/selectIDP.html
2. In the “ePass Montana Login” box on the left, click the “Login” button.
3. On the right, click the “Create an Account” button.
4. In the “Personal Information” box, enter your first name, last name, and primary email address. Enter your email address again in the “verify primary email” box.
5. In the “ePass Montana ID Details” box (on the right), create a username and a password, then give yourself a password hint. Make sure to write down these login credentials and keep them in a safe place.
Note: Your username must be at least 6 characters long and your password must be at least 8 characters long. Your password must use both letters and numbers. Your password is case sensitive, but your username is not.
6. In the “Security Info” box, create and answer 3 security questions. Then click the “Save Changes” button (at bottom of page) to proceed.
7. You should then be directed to your Montana ePass Dashboard. It will say “Welcome to the ePass Montana Dashboard” at the top. There is nothing else you need to do on this page and you can close this tab/window.
Next steps in finishing the setup of your online account
1. Visit the Montana Online Business Filing System homepage: https://www.mtsosfilings.gov
2. Look at the “Register/Login” box in the lower-right corner. Click the “Login with ePass” button at the bottom.
3. In the “Login with ePass Montana” box, click the “Login” button. It’s the box on the left.
You shouldn’t need to enter your username and password as the system usually recognizes that you’re already logged in. However, if you do get kicked out, you’ll need to login again.
4. You’ll now be on the “Complete Online Account Details” page.
The first box you should see will say “I also want to create an Organization” checkbox. You can leave this unchecked. This is for companies that do bulk filings (not people who want to form an LLC).
5. Your first and last name should already be filled in. Under “I use the following for navigation”, select the first option, “Standard” (unless you use a screen reader).
Next, confirm your email (by entering it again), and then enter your mailing address below.
You can provide your phone number if you’d like, but you don’t have to (it’s optional).
When you’re finished entering all of your contact information, scroll to the bottom and click the “Continue” button.
You’ll then be redirected in your online account. It will say “Your dashboard” at the top.
You’re now ready to start your Montana LLC online filing!
Under the “Action Items” on the left, click “Form a Domestic Limited Liability Company”. It should be the 6th link from the top.
Start Filing your Montana LLC Articles of Organization Online
In the Handling Option section, choose “Standard Processing” for no additional charge (7-10 business days approval). You’ll also have the option to choose “24 Hour Priority Handling” (for an extra $20), or “1 Hour Expedite Handling” (for an extra $100).
Delayed Effective Date:
In the Delayed Effective Date section, leave this blank if you want your LLC to be effective upon filing. This means your LLC will go into existence on the date it is filed with the Montana Secretary of State.
If you need your LLC to go into existence at a later date, enter that date using the calendar (it can’t be more than 90 days out).
Tip: If you’re forming your LLC in October, November, or December, and you don’t need your business open during those months, forward date your filing to January 1st. This will save you the hassle of filing any taxes for those 1-3 months. For more information, please read LLC effective date.
Type of Limited Liability Company:
If you are forming a regular LLC, check off “Limited Liability Company”. If you are forming a professional LLC (PLLC), check off “Professional Limited Liability Company”.
A Professional LLC is required if your business provides services that require a license from the state. Examples include, but are not limited to, accountants, attorneys, chiropractors, dentists, nurses, optometrists, osteopathic physicians, physicians and surgeons, physician assistants, podiatrists, registered nurses, and veterinarians.
Proposed Name of Business Entity:
Enter your LLC name exactly as you would like it, including your preferred capitalization, as well as the designator “LLC” or “L.L.C.” (the abbreviation “LLC” is the most common). If you are forming a Professional LLC, your designator must be “PLLC” (not “LLC”).
You can use a comma in your Montana LLC name or you can leave it out. Ex: “ABC Widgets, LLC” and “ABC Widgets LLC” are both acceptable.
Next, click the “Validate Name” button to make sure your name is distinguishable and available for use.
If you receive a “Name is available but is subject to review by the Secretary of State” at the top of the page, you are good to proceed.
If you receive a “Warning: The Entity Name must be unique across all business registers. Consent will be required from the appropriate registered entity if you are using a duplicate name” at the top of the page, you are not good to proceed. This means your LLC name is not distinguishable in Montana. You’ll need to come up with a variation or think of a new LLC name. If you need assistance, please refer back to this lesson: Montana LLC Name.
Registered Agent in Montana:
Note: if you’re not sure who can serve as your Montana LLC’s Registered Agent, please refer back to this lesson: Montana Registered Agent.
• If you hired a Commercial Registered Agent, select “Existing Agent” and then begin entering their company name in the “Agent Name” box. As you begin typing the company name, the search results will populate below the box. Once your Commercial Registered Agent appears in the list, click their name once to make that selection.
Enter your Commercial Registered Agent’s email address.
Next, check off the box that says: “The appointment of the registered agent listed above is an affirmation by the represented entity that the agent has consented to serve as a registered agent”.
• If your Registered Agent is an individual person (such as you, a friend, or a family member), select “New Agent”. Next, to the right of “Agent Type”, select “Individual” from the drop down menu. Then enter the Registered Agent’s first and last name.
Then enter their street address (PO Boxes are not allowed). Below, where you have the option to check off “Same as Street Address”, check this off if the address you entered is where the Registered Agent wants to receive mail. If your Registered Agent wants to receive mail at a different address (like a PO Box), leave this unchecked and enter that new address below.
Enter the email address of your Registered Agent in this box. Enter the email address of your Registered Agent in this box. This could be your own email address, or that of a friend or family member.
Then, check off the box that says: “The appointment of the registered agent listed above is an affirmation by the represented entity that the agent has consented to serve as a registered agent”.
Business Mailing Address of Principal Office:
Enter your LLC’s mailing address. This address can be a home address or an office address. It can be located in any state. It can also be a PO Box, if needed.
If you’d like to enter your LLC’s physical address (especially if it’s different than your LLC’s mailing address), then click the “Add Physical Address” link and enter your LLC’s physical address. This section is optional, so you can also leave blank if you’d like.
In this section, you need to let the Montana Secretary of State know about the duration of your LLC (how long it will remain in existence).
If you prefer for your LLC to be “open-ended” with no set closure date, select “Perpetual”.
Most people choose this option as this gives them the freedom to close their LLC at any time in the future (by filing dissolution paperwork).
If you prefer for your LLC to be automatically shut down on a specific date in the future, select “Future Date” or “Number of Years”, and then enter that specific date or number of years in the box provided.
You can leave this section blank if you’d like, as it’s not a requirement. Or, if you prefer, you can list the general purpose of your business. It doesn’t have to be extremely specific and detailed, and you are not going to be forced to do this forever. You can always change the purpose of your business at any time (and you won’t have to update the state).
You can enter just a few words (ex: “pizza shop”, “real estate investing”, “landscaping”, etc.), or if you prefer to keep things open-ended, you can use this default language instead:
“Any lawful business for which a limited liability company may be organized under the laws of the State of Montana.”
Tribal Designation (optional):
If your LLC is part of a tribe, select your tribal designation from the drop down. If not, leave this section blank.
Click the “Next Step: Principals” button to proceed to the next step.
LLC Managed By:
In the drop down menu, select “Managers” (if your LLC is manager-managed) or “Members” (if your LLC is member-managed).
Note: Most LLCs are member-managed, where all the owners run the business and day-to-day operations. An LLC can also be manager-managed, where one, or a few designated people, run the business and day-to-day operations (while the members play more of a passive/investor role). To learn more about member-managed LLCs vs. manager-managed LLCs, read this short article.
Next, click the “Add” button and select “Individual” (unless the member of your LLC is another business). Enter the member/manager’s contact information and then click “Done”. You don’t have to enter the member/manager’s email address (unless you’d like to). It’s optional.
Click the “Add” button again to add additional members/managers (if applicable), or click the “Next Step: Documents” button to proceed.
In this section, you can upload any additional documents your Montana LLC might have including Members’ Liability Statement, LLC Operating Agreement, and Supporting Documents. However, this is optional, and you are not required to upload these documents.
Most filers just click the “Next Step: Signature” button to proceed and do not upload any documents.
Check off the 2 authorization boxes at the top, enter your first and last name (if it’s not already there), select “Organizer” from the “Position” drop down menu, the date should be auto-filled, add your phone number and email address, and then click the “Next Step: Review” button.
You only need to click the blue “Add” button if you have another person (or persons) organizing your LLC. You only need one Organizer though (even if your LLC has multiple members). You’ll declare and list all LLC members in your Operating Agreement, which we’ll discuss in the next lesson.
Review your information for accuracy and check for typos. If you need to make any changes, click the “Edit” button to the right of each section where you need to make changes.
If you see a red warning symbol, it means some information is missing/incorrect and you need to click “Edit” to edit/change it.
If everything looks good, click the “Submit” button (at the bottom) to proceed.
Leave the “Client Reference” box blank.
Select “Credit Card” from the “Payment Method” drop down menu. Then click the “Continue” button to proceed.
A popup message will appear telling you that you will be redirected to the TransFirst Payment System. Click the “Ok” button to proceed.
Note: If you see a “Pop-Up Blocker Detected” message, please follow its instructions and allow popups from this site. If you don’t know how to do this, you can still proceed with your filing as it’s not a big deal.
To the right of “Payment Type”, select “Credit Card” and then a form will appear below.
Enter your billing information on the left and contact information on the right.
Below your contact information, enter the correct security characters.
When finished, click the “Submit” button.
Congratulations, your Montana LLC has been filed for processing!
The system is a little funny as it gives you two different receipts. The first receipt (for the credit card payment) pops up automatically. Click “print” to print it out or save it as a PDF.
Then you’ll see a message that says “Sent for Review”. You can also click “download payment receipt” to download another receipt (the receipt for the online LLC filing).
At this point, your LLC filing has been successfully sent to the Secretary of State for review. Now you just need to patiently wait for approval.
Montana LLC Approval
Your Montana LLC will also approved in 7-10 business days (unless you paid for expedited filing).
Once your LLC is approved, the state will email you back:
– your Articles of Organization (stamped and approved), and
– a Certificate of Filing
Once you file your Montana Articles of Organization, and it’s approved by the state, you can then proceed to the next lesson: Montana LLC Operating Agreement.
Montana Secretary of State Contact Info
If you have any questions, you can contact the Montana Secretary of State at 406-444-3665. Their hours are Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm Mountain Time.