Register a Foreign Business

Welcome to the Montana Foreign Business Startup Tool

Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton wants your business to succeed. This interactive tool will quickly guide you through the process of establishing your business and becoming legally registered with the state.

Use the arrows on the sides or the green bullets below to navigate
through this tool. You may also use the links below to skip ahead.


Register New BusinessSkip to Forms

Register New BusinessSkip to Mailing Address

Register New BusinessRegister a Domestic Entity (formed in Montana)

Step 1: Select a Business Structure

Every business structure has its own advantages and disadvantages. An attorney and/or financial advisor may help you determine which structure best suits your needs.

Hover over the Hover for information for more information.

  • CorporationCorporation
  • Assumed Business NameAssumed Business Name
  • Sole ProprietorshipSole Proprietorship
  • General PartnershipGeneral Partnership
  • Limited PartnershipLimited Partnership
  • Limited Liability PartnershipLimited Liability Partnership
  • Limited Liability PartnershipLimited Liability Limited Partnership
  • Limited Liability CompanyLimited Liability Company
  • Series Limited Liability CompanySeries Limited Liability Company

Step 2: Select a Business Name

Your business name must be sufficiently distinctive from another registered business name so that it does not cause confusion in an absolute or linguistic sense. The following makes a business name distinguishable on our records: (Hover over the Hover for information for more information.)

  • Example of distinguishable namesKey words that are different and do not copy a business name/mark already on record.
  • Example of distinguishable namesKey words are the same, but are in a different order.
  • Example of distinguishable namesThe use of geographic designations.
  • Example of distinguishable namesPhonetic similarities.
  • Example of distinguishable namesAbbreviations.
  • Example of distinguishable namesDifferent spellings of proper names.
  • Example of distinguishable namesUnique or improper spelling.

Have a name in mind, but aren't ready to file?
Reserve a business name for 120 days.
Register a Foreign Business Name through December 31 (Nonprofit, Profit, and LLC only).

Step 2: Select a Business Name

The following conditions will not make a registered business name distinguishable from another registered business name:(Hover over the Hover for information for more information.)

  • Examples of non-distinguishable business namesThe use of punctuation marks.
  • Examples of non-distinguishable business namesThe use of special characters.
  • Examples of non-distinguishable business namesThe use of articles "a," "an," or "the."
  • Examples of non-distinguishable business namesThe use of business name identifiers or their abbreviations.
  • Examples of non-distinguishable business namesThe substitution of an Arabic or Roman numeral for a spelled out number.
  • Examples of non-distinguishable business namesThe substitution of a lower case letter for a capital letter.
  • Examples of non-distinguishable business namesThe use of internet domain suffixes.
  • Examples of non-distinguishable business namesContractions.
  • Examples of non-distinguishable business namesVariations in word endings.
  • Examples of non-distinguishable business namesAdding the letter "s" to make a word, including an alphabetism, plural or possessive.
  • Examples of non-distinguishable business namesDifferent spacing.

Step 2: Check Name Availability

Enter your business name below to see if it is available. If the name you entered does not return any results, you're in luck! Your name must be distinguishable from other active business names, unless prior consent is obtained from the business owner. Name taken?

This search does not guarantee that your business name will be available at the time you register your business. We recommend that you to wait to market your business and/or order certain supplies until your name is registered and accepted by the office.

Step 2: Continued

Foreign Corporation, LLC, or LP: Follow steps below.

All other foreign entities: Return to previous slide and choose another name.

If your business name is already registered in Montana you may operate under an available Assumed Business Name (ABN).

  • Step 1: Complete your Corporation, LLC or LP filing form.
  • Step 2: Complete the ABN filing form (you must identify your organizational structure in your business name - Example: My Service, LLC).
  • Step 3: If you are a Corporation, you are required to attach a Resolution from your Board of Directors, signed by an officer, stating that all business being transacted in Montana must operate under the Assumed Business Name only.
  • Step 4: Return all documents together. Access Forms

Step 3: Fill Out and Return Forms

Choose from the forms below to register your "foreign" entity (formed under the laws of any jurisdiction other than Montana). "Domestic" entities must register here.

The form(s) must be filled out in its entirety. Please read each item on the form and follow the instructions.

If you wish to register a Rural Cooperative Utility, there are no forms available, so drafted articles are required along with a currently dated (within 6 months) certificate of existence/good standing from your state of jurisdiction.

Step 3: Mail Form(s) and Fees

Mail your completed form to our office with the appropriate
fee (fees can be found on the upper right part of each form).

Make payment to: Montana Secretary of State
and mail to:

Secretary of State
PO Box 202801
Helena, MT 59620

If you wish to use priority/over-night mail (Fed Ex, UPS, USPS Priority, etc.) use our physical mailing address of:

Secretary of State
1301 East 6th Ave Room 260
Helena MT 59620

Step 4: Apply for Employer Identification Number (EIN)

The Internal Revenue Service requires federal tax identification numbers for partnerships, corporations and businesses that hire employees.

Do not apply for an EIN until you receive confirmation that your business filing has been approved by the Secretary of State's Office.


Step 5: Apply for Professional Licenses

Montana law requires licensing for some professions. Check with the Montana Department of Labor & Industry to see if you need a business or occupational license.

Do not apply for a professional license until you receive confirmation that your business filing has been approved by the Secretary of State's Office.

Step 6: Apply for Local Licenses

Every city and county in Montana has specific requirements for transacting business within its jurisdiction. Check with your county or city office to learn more about the requirements in your area.


Do not apply for a local license until you receive confirmation that your business filing has been approved by the Secretary of State's Office.

Step 7: Apply for Workers' Compensation

If you plan to hire employees, you are required to provide insurance coverage under Workers' Compensation Laws.


This information is available from the Montana Department of Labor and Industry.


Do not apply for Workers’ Compensation until you receive confirmation that your business filing has been approved by the Secretary of State's Office.

Step 8: File an Annual Report

Corporations and Limited Liability Companies are required by law to file an Annual Report with the Secretary of State. The first Report is due the year after you first register your business.


Annual Reports must be filed with the accompanying fee by April 15th each year.

Other Resources

We wish you the best in your business endeavors!

The Secretary of State's Business Services Division is pleased to answer any questions you may have about registering your business. We encourage you to take full advantage of the tools and resources available on our website.

Back to the Business Tool KitBack to the Business Tool Kit

Business Services Home PageBusiness Services Home Page

Secretary of State Home PageSecretary of State Home Page

Subscribe to our Quarterly Newsletter.

If you have any questions, or wish to leave feedback, please feel free to email us at: sosbusiness@mt.gov.