How to Register a Business Name in Montana

Updated: October 1, 2023
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You can register your business name in Montana via three methods. You can create a distinct legal entity by forming an LLC or Corporation or choose to file a DBA (known officially as an Assumed Business Name) if you operate as a sole proprietor or general partnership. For increased legal protection and nationwide recognition of your business name consider filing a federal trademark.

You should register your business name before other registrations for Montana businesses, such as:

  • Completing your Montana Department Of Revenue Business Registration, which is used to register for withholding Montana income taxes for employees and other tax registrations
  • Registering as an employer with the Montana Department of Labor and Industry to pay Unemployment Insurance (UI) taxes (required for most employers)
  • Obtaining required Occupational and Professional Licenses from the Employment Standards Division if your business activities are regulated
  • Applying for a Federal Employer ID Number from the IRS
  • Setting up a business bank account

How much does it cost to Register a Business Name in Montana?

The cost to register a Montana business name varies depending on the type of registration:

  • Montana LLC cost: $35
  • Montana Corporation cost: $35
  • Montana DBA cost: $20

1. Check Business Name Availability

As you start the process of registering your business in Montana, checking your name is one of the most important steps. You want to be sure the name you like isn’t already taken or is too similar to other names in use. This is a big deal because it helps you avoid problems like having the same name as another business or denial of your registration. To cover all your bases, make sure to do three specific kinds of searches:

Montana Business Name Search Help

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Start your Montana business name search with the help of professionals.

Trademark Search

Ensuring your business name’s availability starts with a trademark search. Trademarks hold federal-level protection, superseding local and state registrations, so you need to make sure your chosen name isn’t trademarked. If it matches an existing trademark, consider developing a new business name to avoid potential problems.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database can be searched by visiting the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) page. However, understanding TESS results can be challenging for those unfamiliar with the system. For a more accessible experience, you can use the Free Trademark Search by Trademark Engine, which simplifies the results.

Montana Business Name Search

After ensuring that your desired business name wasn’t previously trademarked, the next step is conducting a Montana business name search. Use the Montana Business Entities Search to ensure your name isn’t already registered in the Montana business database.

Do more than just search for an exact match of your chosen name. Try partial name searches and use wildcard characters. If you don’t, your business name registration could be rejected if it’s too similar to an existing business.

Pro Tip: Keep a vigilant eye on whether your intended business name has historical usage, even if it currently appears available. Choosing to use a previously registered name can trigger issues when attempting to secure an EIN.

Using a previously registered name often triggers an error during the EIN application process, leading to the issuance of reference number 101. Such an error arises when your chosen name matches or closely aligns with a name that has already been assigned an EIN. If the IRS system detects historical registration, your application will be returned with reference error 101. For EIN applications that get reference error 101, the only way to get an EIN issued under that name is to contact the IRS and send formation-related documents via fax, which is quite cumbersome.

Website Domain Search

After verifying there’s no trademark or state registration issues with your business name, the last step is making sure your website domain name is available. You may find that someone else already has the .com or ideal version of your domain name, so you’ll need to decide if you’ll be ok with that or if you need to start from the beginning again. If your domain name is available, you should register it even if you don’t plan on making a website anytime soon to prevent anyone else from using it. You’ll need to register your domain if you want email addresses with your business name.

Domain Name and Business Email

You can use Namecheap to verify if your domain name is available. They also offer a business email service that’s free to try for the first 60 days when you purchase a domain.

2. Choose a Business Structure

Before you register your business name in Montana, it’s vital to determine the appropriate business structure. This choice impacts the type of registration you’ll need to complete and has an impact on import aspects of your business, such as personal liability protection, financing opportunities, and tax implications. Consider factors like the number of owners, financial requirements, your tolerance for liability, and tax preferences. Our guide Choosing a Business Structure provides comprehensive information for further insights.

Recommended Business Structure:

Considering an LLC is a solid move for new businesses. You get the best of all worlds – liability protection that sole proprietors and partnerships can’t match, and you steer clear of the double taxation burden faced by corporations. Keep things simple while enjoying these unique perks.

You can use a professional filing service to get help from experts filing your LLC. Check out our list of the best LLC filing services to find the right one for your business.


An LLC is a business entity under Montana law (MT Code § 35-8) that safeguarding owners from personal liability for company obligations, with the added benefits of adaptable management structures and potential tax advantages.

Learn More: What is an LLC

LLC Pros

  • Personal liability protection
  • Legally separate entity
  • Default pass-through taxation (business income taxed once)
  • Unlimited number of owners (members)
  • Flexible management – can be run by members or non-owner managers
  • Option for S-Corp tax status

LLC Cons

  • Upfront filing costs
  • Ongoing cost and filings to stay compliant
  • Unable to go public

Do you need to register to be an LLC in Montana?

Yes, to establishing your business legally as an LLC in Montana you must complete registration with the Montana Secretary of State.

Jump to: Register an LLC Name


A corporation is business type under Montana law (MT Code § 35-14) that is recognized as legally separate from it’s owners. As a result the owners (known as shareholders) have personal liability protection. It’s a good choice for business that plan on raising large amounts of outside capital or going public in the future.

Learn More: What is a Corporation

Corporation Pros

  • Personal liability protection
  • Legally separate entity
  • Unlimited number of owners (shareholders)
  • Easier to raise capital by selling stock
  • Able to go public
  • Option for S-Corp tax status

Corporation Cons

  • Default double taxation
  • Upfront filing costs
  • Ongoing costs and filings to stay compliant
  • Increased record keeping requirements
  • Strict management structures set by law

Do you need to register to be a Corporation in Montana?

Yes, for legal recognition as a Corporation in Montana, you need to be registered with the Montana Secretary of State.

Jump to: Register a Corporation Name

Sole Proprietor

A sole proprietorship is an individual’s business. Launch with ease and fewer forms. There’s no legal separation between the business and owner, which means they have unlimited personal liability.

Learn More: What is a Sole Proprietorship

Sole Proprietor Pros

  • Easy and inexpensive to start
  • Simple taxes (business income taxed once)
  • Easy to maintain
  • Complete control for owner

Sole Proprietor Cons

  • Unlimited Liability Risk
  • Hard to raise money and get loans
  • Not separate from owner
  • Difficult to sell business
  • No other tax status options

Do you need to register your sole proprietor business name in Montana?

As a sole proprietor in Montana, if your business name doesn’t have both your first and last name, you’ll need to complete a registration for a “doing business as” name (DBA), sometimes referred to as an Assumed Business Name. For example, if your name was “Chris Miller” and you ran a landscaping business, you wouldn’t need to register the name “Chris Miller Landscaping” but if you wanted a more branded business name like “Evergreen Landscaping” a DBA name would need to be filed.

Jump to: Register a DBA Name


A partnership is established by 2 or more owners who agree to share responsibilities, assets, profits, and legal liabilities. Profits and losses flow directly to owners, who report their respective portions on personal taxes.

Learn More: What is a Partnership

Partnership Pros

  • Easy and inexpensive to start
  • Pass-through taxation (business income taxed once)
  • Unlimited number of owners (partners)
  • Shared business responsibilities

Partnership Cons

  • Unlimited Liability Risk
  • Responsible for partners’ actions
  • Hard to raise outside capital
  • Not separate from partners
  • Difficult to sell business
  • No other tax status options

Do you need to register your partnership business name in Montana?

In Montana, a partnership is required to register a “doing business as” (DBA) name if their chosen business name doesn’t have the last names of all partners. For instance, if Emily Martinez, Jason Adams, and Rachel Kim decide to start a fitness studio and want to operate as a partnership, they can use the name “Martinez, Adams & Kim Fitness Center” without filing. However, if they opt for a creative business identity like “Elevate Motion Gymworks”, they must file an Assumed Business Name (DBA) to operate legally.

Jump to: Register a DBA Name

3. File your Montana Business Name Registration

Having secured your business name and decided on its structure, it’s time to make things official in Montana. Navigate to the registration process that aligns with your business type. If you’re starting as a sole proprietorship or partnership, you’ll register your business name via a DBA filing.

Register a Montana LLC Name

If you’re planning to register an LLC in Montana, you’ll need to file a document known as Articles of Organization with the Montana Secretary of State. There is filing fee of $35 to create a Montana LLC. You’ll provide key details about your business in your Articles of Organization, such as:

  • LLC Name
  • Information about the LLC members (owners) and managers (if applicable)
  • Business Address (Must be a physical address – PO Boxes not allowed)
  • Name and Address of your Registered Agent

Montana LLC Name Requirements

Montana LLCs must use a name that follows the naming rules outlined in Montana law (MT Code § 35-8-103):

  • Must be distinguishable (unique) from all others businesses registered with the Montana Secretary of State
  • Must clearly denote the business is legally structured as an LLC by including the words “limited liability company” or an abbreviation such as “LLC”
  • Cannot use words or designators associated with Corporations such as “Corporation” “Incorporated” “Corp” or “Inc”
  • Cannot contain words that imply association with a government entity
  • Cannot contain words that are prohibited or require prior approval such as Bank, Banker, Banking

For more in-depth information check out our How to Start an LLC in Montana guide, where we cover all the steps needed to form an LLC in full detail.

Want Help Starting a Montana LLC?

Use a professional filing service like Northwest Registered Agent ($39 +state fees), which can save you $210 vs LegalZoom when forming a Montana LLC.

Register a Montana Corporation Name

To officially establish a Corporation in Montana, you’ll need to file Articles of Incorporation with the Montana Secretary of State, which costs $35. In your Articles of Incorporation submission, you’re required to include specific information, such as:

  • Corporation Name
  • Names and addresses of the board of the directors
  • Number and type of authorized shares
  • Business Address (Must be a physical address – PO Boxes not allowed)
  • Name and Address of your Registered Agent

Montana Corporation Name Requirements

Corporations in Montana are required to use a name that follows the rules detailed under Montana law (MT Code § 35-14-401):

  • Must be distinguishable (unique) from all others businesses registered with the Montana Secretary of State
  • Clearly indicate the business is legally structured as a corporation by including the words “Corporation” or “Incorporated” or use an abbreviation such as “Corp” or “Inc”
  • Cannot use words or designators associated with LLCs such as “limited liability company” or “LLC”
  • Cannot contain words that imply association with a government entity
  • Cannot contain words that are prohibited or require prior approval such as Bank, Banker, Banking

Want to Incorporate in Montana?

If you’re interested in incorporating, you can learn more with the ZenBusiness guide on How to Start a Corporation in Montana, which covers each step you’ll need to complete to start a Montana corporation.

Register a Montana DBA (Assumed Business Name)

A Montana DBA (Assumed Business Name) allows a business to operate using a business name that is different than their legal name. To register a Montana DBA you’ll need to complete a Registration of Assumed Business Name (ABN/DBA) application and submit it to the Montana Secretary of State, along with the filing fee of $20. You’ll need to provide the following information:

  • Name and address of Applicant(s)
  • Business Name (Assumed Business Name)
  • Address where business is transacted

Montana DBA (Assumed Business Name) Requirements

The rules for a Montana Assumed Business Name (DBAs) are not quite as strict as they are for LLCs or Corporations, however there are still restrictions. Mainly, your DBA can’t include designators used for legal entities like “LLC” or “Inc” in the Assumed Business Name. DBAs also can’t contain prohibited words or words that imply association with government entities.

Remember, if you’re running a business using any name other than your legal name in Montana, registering a DBA is necessary. Any person that fails to register an Assumed Business Name in Montana shall have the ability to maintain legal suits or actions in a Montana court under code 30-13-215

Montana DBA Registration Assistance

Get help registering your Montana DBA with Swyft Filings. Packages starting at $99 (plus filing fees).

4. File a Trademark (Optional)

Securing a trademark can provide increased control and protection over your Montana business name. As a federal registration, a trademark can allow you to own your business name nationwide.

Trademark applications can be submitted online, but navigating the entire trademark process can be complex and time-consuming. On average, it takes 7-9 months before a USPTO examining attorney reviews your application. Meticulous preparation of your initial application is crucial to get your application approved as quickly as possible.

Consider seeking guidance from a qualified attorney or specialized filing service to simplify the trademark registration process. Their expertise can save time and simplify application submission and subsequent interactions.

Trademark Filing Assistance

Ensure your trademark is filed properly with the help of the experts at Trademark Engine, who’ve helped file over 120,000 trademarks since 2016. Packages start at $99 (+USPTO fees).

Additional Business Resources in Montana

For more help, check out our How to Start a Business in Montana guide, or use these resources: