Elections and Government Services Administrative Rules of Montana Business Services Notary and Certification Records and Information Management

SIMS (BE) FAQ - New online business filing system

General Questions

What is SIMS (BE)?

The Secretary of State Information Management System (SIMS) Business Entity (BE) system will allow you to file and maintain all of your business documents online 24/7 from the convenience of your home or office. Save time, money, and get results in minutes instead of weeks.

Find out what's new »

What are the benefits of filing online with SIMS (BE)?

Simplify your business filings with SIMS (BE). SIMS (BE) will make filing business documents more efficient, convenient, and will be accessible 24/7. Save time, money, and get results in minutes instead of weeks!

Where can I find the "Preparing to File Online" webinar presentation materials?

Both the presentation materials and a recording of the webinar are available from our registration instructions page.

How will the Corporate Bulk Download be affected?

For our Corporate Bulk Customers, the SIMS (BE) data incorporated into the extract files and record structures will be different than the files you have previously been receiving. View the updated specification »

Authority Questions

What is authority?

I represent businesses that have requested I file documents on their behalf. How do I obtain authority to support my customers?

Simply request authority from the business owner, so you may file documents on their behalf.

I am a business employee, and I entered the activation code for my business. How do I grant authority to other members of our organization?

  1. Search for your business name.
  2. From the View Business Entity page, select "Grant Authority" from the "Maintain Authority" menu.
  3. Select "Principal" for the Authority Type Requested.
  4. Select the name of the principal you want to grant authority to.
  5. Enter the principal's email address and click "Submit."
  6. An email is sent to the principal with an activation code. The principal must login to ePass, access SIMS BE, and enter the activation code presented in the email.
  7. Repeat these steps for each principal.

Account Registration & Activation Code Questions

For information on activation codes and step-by-step account registration instructions,
view our registration instructions page.

Why do I need an activation code?

Our legacy system will no longer be available after Wednesday, August 17th. The new SIMS (BE) system will be online starting Monday, August 22nd. For the protection of your business, an activation code will be required to activate your account in SIMS (BE).

What do I do with this activation code?

To get started after launch, you will need an activation code to activate your account. This code was recently provided in a mailer from our office to current businesses and agents. Webinars and materials are available to provide step-by-step guidance. Click here to register.

When will the Activation Code mailers arrive?

Activation Codes were sent by US Mail just prior to launch.

If you do not receive an Activation Code mailer by the launch date, please check with your registered agent or service company prior to contacting our office.

Where will the Activation Code notices be mailed to?

For each business entity, Activation Code notices will be mailed to the principal office address on file with our office.

For each registered agent, Activation Code notices will be mailed to the agent’s address on file with our office.

Why did I receive multiple activation codes?

There are several reasons why an entity may receive multiple activation codes. If you own a business and are also a registered agent you will receive two activation codes one for your business and the other as a registered agent for the entities you represent. In addition, depending on how your name is registered with our office or the way the address is displayed may result in you receiving multiple activation codes.

If I have multiple registered agent accounts, how do I combine them?

After launch, you may file a “statement of change by agent” online, at no charge, for each of your businesses. Simply select the agent information you want to retain.

I do NOT have an activation code. What should I do?

If you do not receive an Activation Code mailer by the launch date, please check with your registered agent or service company prior to contacting our office.

If you misplaced the notice you received, please email (sosbusiness@mt.gov), fax (406.444.3976) or mail, on your company letterhead, the following information:
  • Business Name
  • Position/Role You Hold in Regards to the Business (e.g., Officer, Director, Member, Partner, Owner, Registered Agent, etc.)
  • Preferred Return Method for Activation Code: Email Address, Mailing Address or Fax Number
  • Contact Name and Phone Number.
  • Signature of Authorized Individual Making the Request
You must have an ePass account and SIMS (BE) account setup prior to us granting you authority through the new business filing system.

I received an "Invalid Activation Code" error message.

Please double check what type of code that you have.

Because business owners and registered agents have different types of authority, a seperate account registration process is required for each group. Each type of activation code will need to be entered in different locations. For your convenience, the activation codes recently mailed to you have been color-coded, as shown above, to easily differentiate the process.

Please double check within your organization to determine if another person has already used your activation code.

Activation Codes are single-use codes, and will remain valid until used. Once an activation code has been used, it expires.

If you are still receiving this error after checking the above items, please contact our office.

My entity is inactive. Why did I still receive an activation code?

Notices were sent to inactive entities just in case they decide to reinstate. If you do not need to reinstate your entity, please disregard the notice.

What does the cost listed on the mailer represent?

State law requires that all state printing and mailing costs be posted on the mailing. Because our legacy system did not allow for capture of email address information, the most efficient and secure way to ensure that the business community received their appropriate activation code was through mail.

Why don’t the costs listed on the mailer add up?

There was a typo in the costs section of the mailer. We apologize for the mistake.

Does my activation code expire?

Activation Codes are single-use codes, and will remain valid until used. Once an activation code has been used, it expires.

I am a business owner, will my activation code be sent through my registered agent?

As a business owner, you will receive a unique purple ENTITY Activation Code in the mail.

Your registered agent will also receive a unique blue REGISTERED AGENT Activation Code in the mail.

Can individuals, who work for a Registered Agent, create their own individual logins to file on behalf of our customers?

Yes, if they are granted authority over those entities by the business or registered agent.

When creating an online account as a service company to file on behalf of our clients, should we register as an organization or as individual users?

For this situation, we recommend registering as an organization.

Our organization maintains multiple businesses, does each require a separate registration?

Business Owners, each business entity you represent will require a separate registration. Registered Agents, a single activation code provides you access to all the businesses you represent.

If I am a registered agent and own a business, will I receive multiple activation codes?

Yes. As a business owner, you will receive a purple ENTITY Activation Code. And, as a registered agent, you will also receive a blue REGISTERED AGENT Activation Code.

How do I register our State Agency?

Just prior to launch, our office emailed information to each state agency director with special instructions to authorize your state agency account in SIMS (BE). Before individual employees can access the system, each director will first need to establish an administrator account.  If this step does not take place, state agency employees will be inappropriately charged for services they request.**

To setup your State Agency Admin User Account, please contact our office, and we will pre-establish your State Agency Admin User Account for you. Once created, the system will send you an email containing an activation code.

To setup your State Agency Admin User Account:

  1. Login to SIMS (BE).
  2. Select "I have an activation code."
  3. Enter the email activation code.
  4. Update your user information.

Once the State Agency Admin User Account is setup, follow these steps to add employees within your agency:
  1. Select your organizational name located next to "logoff" on the top right hand corner.
  2. On the next screen, click "Add organization user" and complete information for an employee.
  3. The system will send the individual an email containing an activation code.
  4. The individual can enter their activation code using the process above.
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 for each employee you would like to provide access to SIMS (BE).

**If you feel you were incorrectly charged for services, we will issue a refund.
  • Simply fax a written refund request to (406) 444-3976. 
  • Include the following information and we will process your refund:
    • Name of requester
    • Copy of your credit card statement
    • W9 form

ePass Questions

What is ePass Montana?

ePass Montana allows you to access authorized eGovernment services using one username and password.

When I log into ePass Montana I see two options for logging in - ePass Montana and State Employee. What are they?

Depending on the service, mt.gov users can now choose which accounts to log into for access to mt.gov services.
  • ePass Montana is the same account you have been using in the past. ePass provides access to all authorized eGovernment services.
  • State Employee Login is only for those who are state employees conducting state business.

Why do I need two accounts, one for ePass and one for SIMS?

ePass allows you to access SIMS and other state applications using one username and password. SIMS requires an account in order to allow access to your appropriate companies. Both accounts are accessed from one ePass login after they are initially created.

Can I use my existing ePass account?

Yes. If you have an existing ePass account, you can login with that username and password.

I am also a state employee. Should I login to ePass with my state employee account?

No. State employee ePass accounts are reserved for state employees conducting state business.

After logging in to ePass, I was not directed to SIMS, but rather to the ePass home page. How do I get to SIMS?

If after logging in to SIMS (BE) via ePass you are directed to the ePass home page, you will see this page:
redirected to ePass home page
To get to the SIMS (BE) page from this page, simply type the following URL in the top address bar of the same browser window displaying ePass: mtsosfilings.gov

Who do we contact about issues or questions on ePass?

Our Help Center has step-by-step instructions for ePass. You can also contact mt.gov at 406-449-3468 for questions about your specific ePass account.

SIMS (BE) Questions

Will SIMS (BE) allow me to view and maintain existing businesses?

Yes. You can view and maintain entities you have been granted authority to from the "My Items" tab on your "Dashboard."

I already file annual reports online. Will I be able to file my annual reports online through SIMS (BE)? How is it different?

Yes. You will be able to file your annual reports online through SIMS (BE). SIMS (BE) will be replacing the current BEAR (Business Entity Annual Report) system.

To order certificates or copies, do you have to be associated with that entity?

Anyone may order and download certificates and copies for a business.

When filing or ordering online, is the evidence emailed, and will it be filed immediately?

Filings are completed by the date they are received. If express handling (priority/expedite) is requested it moves the filing to the head of the queue.

If paying online, what are the payment methods?

The Montana Secretary of State’s office accepts all major credit cards including Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover. Debit cards with the Visa or MasterCard logo are also accepted.

Will the SIMS system notify you by email when a filing needs to be renewed?

Yes. Simply set up a SIMS BE account and tag your business to be watched through the Watchlist. The Watchlist is a free service for your company. To monitor other companies, the fee is $50.00 per year and is a subscription service.

Are there any documents that must still be filed by paper?

Yes. Some rare documents will still need to be filed by paper. A list of these documents is available on the "What's New? What's Not?" page.


General FAQ

Is a business/mark name available?

You can check business/mark names through the free online Business Entity Search.

Distinguishable Business Names

A registered business/mark name must be sufficiently distinctive from another registered business/mark name so that it does not cause confusion in an absolute or linguistic sense.

The following makes a business/mark name distinguishable on our records:

  • Key words are different and do not copy a business/mark name already on record.  A “key word” is any word other than articles, prepositions, conjunctions, or business name identifiers as defined in 30-13-201, MCA. For example:  “Bill’s Carpentry” is distinguishable from “Bill’s Builders.”
  • Key words are the same, but are in a different order.  For example:  “Yellowstone Hotel” is distinguishable from “Hotel Yellowstone.”
  • The use of geographic designations.  For example:  “Helena Auto Painting: is distinguishable from “Boulder Auto Painting.”
  • Phonetic similarities.  For example:  “Maid in Montana” is distinguishable from “Made in Montana.”
  • Abbreviations.  For example:  "Montana Ave Salon" is distinguishable from "Montana Avenue Salon."
  • Different spellings of proper names.  For example:  "Jayne's Boutique" is distinguishable from "Jane's Boutique."
  • Unique or improper spelling.  For example: "Black Cat Designs" is distinguishable from "Black Kat Designs."

The following conditions will not make a registered business/mark name distinguishable from another registered business/mark name:

  • The use of punctuation marks.  For example: "R/D Construction" and "R D Construction" are not distinguishable.
  • The use of special characters.  Special characters are non-alphabetical and non-numeric characters such as @, #, $, %, &, *, and + that can represent a word.  For example:  “25 % Better, Inc.” and “25 Percent Better, Inc.” are not distinguishable.
  • The use of articles "a," "an," or "the.”  For example: "The Painted Pony" and "Painted Pony" are not distinguishable.
  • The use of business name identifiers or their abbreviations.  For example: "ABC Inc.," ''ABC Co.," and "ABC Corp." are not distinguishable.
  • The substitution of an Arabic or Roman numeral for a spelled out number.  For example: “3 Kings," "III Kings," and “Three Kings," are not distinguishable.
  • The substitution of a lower case letter for a capital letter.  For example: "d" and "D" are not distinguishable.
  • The use of internet domain suffixes.  For example:  “.com,” “.org,” ".gov,” and ".net" are not distinguishable.
  • Contractions.  For example:  "Do Not Stop, Inc." is not distinguishable from "Don't Stop, Inc."
  • Variations in word endings.  For example:  "Betsy's Cleaners" is not distinguishable from "Betsy's Cleaning" and "ABC Transport, Inc." is not distinguishable from "ABC Transportation, Co."
  • Adding the letter "s" to make a word, including an alphabetism, plural or possessive.  For example: "Jay's Market" and "Jays Market" and "RM's Co." and "RMS Co." are not distinguishable.
  • Different spacing.  For example:  “Cross Roads Ranch” and “Crossroads Ranch” are not distinguishable.

What is a registered agent?

A registered agent is:

  • an individual who resides in this state and whose business office is identical to the registered office;
  • a domestic corporation or not-for-profit domestic corporation whose business office is identical to the registered office;
  • a foreign corporation or not-for-profit foreign corporation authorized to transact business in this state whose business office is identical to the registered office.
  • a domestic limited liability company whose business office is identical to the registered office, or;
  • a foreign limited liability company authorized to transact business in this state whose business office is identical to the registered office.

Who is the registered agent listed for my company?

You can verify the name and address of your registered agent and registered office through our online Business Entity Search. There is not a fee charged for this service.

You can also call our office to obtain this information.

The Secretary of State's website also provides a list of individuals and companies that will act as a registered agent for you. Each of the registered agents listed will charge a fee to act as your registered agent.

How do I change the Registered Agent listed for my company?

To change the registered agent for your company, you need to print and complete a Statement of Change form, which is Form #80 on our website. If you wish to receive a copy of the filed statement of change, an extra copy must be included.

Who are the officers and/or directors?

The name(s) and address(es) of officers and/or directors of a corporation, the name(s) and address(es) of the members or managers of a limited liability company, the partners of an assumed business name, limited partnership or limited liability partnership or an applicant of a trademark may be obtained through the online Registered Principals Search. This service requires payment.

What kind of structure should my business have?

View our Business Structures page to learn more about the different business model types.

Why was I sent a dissolution notice?

Montana corporations and LLC's and Foreign corporations and LLC's are required to file an annual report each year with the Secretary of State which is due by April 15 for a filing fee of $20.00.

If the annual report is filed after April 15, the fee goes up to $35.00.

If the annual report is not filed on or before September 1 of each year, the entity receives an intent notice from this office letting them know their entity will be dissolved if the entity is a Montana entity or revoked if a foreign entity.

A foreign entity has until November 1 or their entity will be revoked.

A Montana entity has until December 1 to file the annual report or they are involuntarily dissolved.

How do I reinstate my business?

View the Reinstatement Business Toolkit to learn how.

What is an annual report?

An annual report provides a current listing of officers and directors for a corporation and members/managers for a limited liability company. The name and address of the registered agent and registered office may also be changed when filing the annual report. The annual report is required to be filed by statute for each corporation and limited liability company that is registered with the Secretary of State's office to remain in good standing in the State of Montana.

How do I file an annual report?

The annual report may be filed online and paid for by credit card or personal/business checking account information.  You need to know your Folder ID number to file online. Your Folder ID is a alpha character followed by six numeric characters and should not contain a hyphen or space. That number can be found on your renewal notice as shown below.

Folder ID number on an annual report official notification

You can also obtain your folder id number by listing your company name in the Business Entity Search. If you need a paper annual report click here.

How do I change the principal office for my company?

To change the principal office for your company, you need to print and complete the appropriate form from our website.

Principal Office Address Change

If you wish to receive a copy of the filed change of principal office, an extra copy must be included.

How much are filing fees?

The filing fee for each document is provided on each individual form and on the Business Forms page.

Can I pay my filing fees online or by phone with a credit card?

Filing fees that can be paid by credit card are the Secretary of State's online services:

List of Terms

View the glossary for a list of terms.