How to Get a Business License in Montana

It can be difficult and time-consuming to start a business. Companies must be properly registered with the state government and federal governments. They must also have insurance. Businesses should usually get at least one license, permit, or certification. Finding the right licenses for your business and where they are needed can be difficult. We’ve made it easy by providing all the information you need about getting a Montana business license.

Montana Business Licenses Requirements

Montana does not have a state-issued business license. Businesses are not required to have any type of seller’s license because Montana does not have a sales tax. However, many state specialty licenses are available for certain industries and professions. These licenses are required before you can open a Montana business. A general business license is required in most Montana counties and cities.

What are the requirements for a Montana business license?

Although Montana’s business regulations are less strict than those in other states, nearly all businesses must obtain a business license. Although the state does not have general licensing requirements, hundreds of specialty licenses could apply to your business, depending on what industry or profession you work in.

The state-controlled occupation-specific licenses typically cover business sectors like agriculture, education, healthcare, and accommodation. You may require multiple licenses depending on what type of business you run. For example, a business that offers acupuncture, massage, and chiropractic care would require a separate license.

In addition to state-regulated licenses, the local government may require a general city license or licenses for specific professions. The city in Missoula, for example, requires that every business within its boundaries have a city license. It also requires special licenses for certain types of businesses.

The federal government regulates certain business activities, such as firearms sales and aviation. A federal license may be required if your business is involved in federally-regulated activities.

Steps to Obtaining Your Montana Business License

Step 1.

Before you apply for business licenses, you must complete the business formation process if you intend to create a formal business entity like a corporation or LLC. You can find help starting your business in one of our guides starting a business, setting up an LLC, or, if you prefer, the best LLC service. After establishing your business, ensure you get all your paperwork in order.

  • Name of the business
  • An EIN (Employer Identification Number) or SSN (Single Owner Number) is required if you are a sole proprietor.
  • Type of business entity (LLC, partnership, or corporation)
  • An address for your business and a phone number
  • A business plan which includes expected revenue and expenses
  • Certificate of insurance (COI), for your business insurance policy

Step 2. Apply for your Montana business license

After you have set up your Montana business, it is time to apply for your Montana business license. Although you might need several specialty licenses depending on your industry, most Montana towns and cities will require a general operating license for all businesses. You can find out if you require a general business operator license by visiting the website or the county licensing page. If you are unable to find the information online, you may be able to contact your local clerk or county recorder by phone or email.

Step 3.

After applying for a general operating license for your business, it is important to check with your local government to determine if your profession or industry requires additional licenses. Some cities don’t require specialty licenses. For example, the City of Helena requires only a general business license. However, it also requires a home-based license for businesses that are not commercially owned and a separate liquor license.

The city Missoula also has specialty licensing, including construction contractor licenses.

Step 4.

Although Montana’s state government does not require a general statewide seller’s or business license, it does require several specialized licenses for specific industries and professions. This is a long list, and businesses might need to apply for multiple licenses, from different state agencies or departments.

Montana’s eStop Portal provides the most popular business licenses for the retail food, tobacco, beer, wine, and lottery sales. The Montana Department of Revenue has a more complete list of state-regulated business licenses. You can apply for them through this link.

Step 5.

Most small businesses won’t need any federal permits or licenses. However, if your business is involved in activities that are regulated at the federal level, you might need a federal license. The following are common federal licensing areas for businesses:

  • Agriculture
  • Serving, distribution, or importing alcohol
  • Transport by air, sea or on the ground
  • Explosives, ammunition, and firearms
  • Fish and wildlife, commercial fisheries included.
  • Drilling and mining
  • Nuclear energy
  • Broadcasting on radio and television

Contact the relevant federal department to find out if licensing or permits are required.

What is the Montana Business License Price?

The cost of a Montana business license will depend on which state agency or local government issued it. The fees for Montana cities vary depending on whether the business is commercial or home-based. They also vary depending on how many employees the business has. License fees for a Helena business with 5-10 full-time employees cost $50, while Missoula’s home-based business can have up to 4 employees. Additional specialty licenses can cost more depending on what type of business you are.

Renew your Montana Business License

The renewal of Montana business licenses depends on the agency or government that issued them. While most licenses need to be renewed annually, a few can only be renewed bi-annually. Contact either the municipality or the department that issued them for information on when your Montana business licenses or licenses must be renewed.

Most Frequently Asked Questions

What types of business licenses are available?

Although the term “business license” may be used to describe an operating license, it is also used to refer to a variety of permits. These are the most popular types of business licenses:

  • A business operating license sometimes referred to as a business license
  • A sales tax license allows businesses to sell products and services, and collect sales tax.
  • If your business sells, distributes, or trades in alcohol, you will need a liquor license
  • Licenses for specialties, such as plumbing, accounting, massage therapy or legal counsel, are available.

To sell online, do I need a Montana business license?

Online businesses in Montana might not require a business license because the state does not offer a generic license for business and doesn’t charge sales tax. This will vary by the local municipality. Online business owners in Montana should consult the local government before operating without a license.

What is the difference between an EIN and a business license?

Although an EIN does not replace a business license in Montana, both are required to do business in the state. An EIN is issued by IRS for tax identification purposes. However, local, state or federal business licenses can be issued. They can regulate and certify all types of operations.

What is a sales-tax license?

A seller’s permit or sales tax license is a type of business license that allows businesses to collect sales taxes on the sale or lease of tangible property. Montana does not levy any sales tax, so no sales tax license is required.

What is the cost of a Montana business license?

A Montana business license costs can vary depending on how many employees the company has, whether it is located at a commercial property or home, and the city or county where the business is located. License fees can range from $50 to $500.

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