You have a big idea, truckloads of ambition, dreams of a thriving Montana LLC, and you’re mentally prepared to make it happen. But the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” and for you, that first step is filing the Articles of Organization.
With such grand plans, the last thing you might want to do is file paperwork, but completing the Articles of Organization is what authenticates your LLC, making it official in Montana. It’s perhaps the most important step in starting your Montana LLC. Following this guide will help take the tedium out of paperwork and get your business started quickly.
But before you dive into the Articles of Organization, you should have a few pieces of information ready to help streamline the process.
Quick Note: If you’d like to have an online service file the Articles of Organization for you or simply need to save time, hire an LLC formation service. Two popular options are LegalZoom and ZenBusiness.
Choosing an LLC Name
Before anything else, you will need to decide on an LLC name. You must include a business name on your Articles of Organization, and if the Secretary of State deems that name unacceptable or unavailable, the document will be rejected, so make sure you nail down a good name right away.
The name you choose must adhere to Montana’s business name requirements. This means it should include a business type designator like “limited liability company” or “limited company” or the abbreviations “l.l.c.”, “l.c.”, “llc”, or “lc,” and avoid using any terms associated with other business types, like “corporation,” “Partnership,” “Inc.,” or “LP.”
Even if you follow those rules, however, your name won’t be acceptable if it’s already in use. Perform a name search to find out if your name is distinguishable in the Secretary of State’s records.
Once you’ve found your perfect name, include it on your Articles of Organization to automatically register it. In the event that you’re not quite ready to file an LLC, you can place a 120-day hold on your name by submitting a name reservation request.
Choosing a Montana Registered Agent
A registered agent is your LLC’s liaison to the state, the mediator who takes care of all your important legal, tax, and compliance documents, keeping your business in good standing. Registered agent information is a mandatory part of the Articles of Organization. Your application will be rejected without it, so have an agent ready before you file.
You can appoint either an individual – who is a Montana resident and has a physical in-state address – or an entity authorized to do business in the state, like a registered agent service.
Quick Note: If your first choice doesn’t work out, don’t worry. You can always change your registered agent in the future.
Preparing to File Your Montana Articles of Organization
Now for the main event: the Articles of Organization. Here’s your opportunity to get your LLC officially on record and authorized to conduct business in Montana.
Considering the Articles of Organization’s immense importance to the LLC formation, the form is surprisingly short and simple. You’ll finish it in no time if you gather all the requisite information beforehand. Here’s what you’ll need:
- The LLC name
- The LLC’s duration (if applicable)
- A principal office address
- The registered agent’s name and address
- Names and addresses for each member or manager
- Professional services to be provided (if any)
- A contact person’s phone number and email address
It would be nice if starting an LLC were free, but unfortunately it’s not. The Articles of Organization costs $70, so have a credit card ready when you file.
Don’t go scouring the Secretary of State’s website for a paper application, because you won’t find one. Montana no longer accepts paper forms and directs all filing processes through its ePass portal. You’ll need to create an account if you haven’t already.
Then, once you’re logged in, go to “Action Items” and click “Form a Domestic Limited Liability Company.” From there, just follow the instructions and you’ll breeze right through.
Standard processing time is 2-5 business days, but if you don’t have that kind of time, the Secretary of State offers two faster options. You can request priority handling (24-hour service) for an extra $20 or expedited handling (one-hour service) for $100.
What About Foreign LLCs?
The process outlined above works for domestic LLCs (those formed in Montana), but what if your business is expanding to Montana from another state? Disregard the Articles of Organization, as it’s not the form for you.
You’ll need to use the ePass filing system to foreign qualify your LLC. This just means registering as a foreign entity and obtaining authority to do business in the state. While it might be tempting to start doing business before you’ve foreign qualified, don’t! This can result in severe penalties and fines.
Once the state has granted your LLC authority, however, you’re free to kick off your business activities in Montana.
Want Help Filing Your Articles of Organization?
Let’s be honest: you’ve got a lot on your plate. Filing paperwork can take time away from your other tasks, ones more focused on setting your budding LLC up for success.
The good news is that you don’t need to file the Articles of Organization yourself. But if an attorney is out of your price range, hiring an LLC creation service is a great option.
There’s no shortage of business incorporation services out there, but not all of them are equal. Each one offers different packages, costs, and processing times, so it’s important to find the right fit for your LLC.
While each service has optional upgrades and perks packages, on the most basic level, they will review your business information, prepare your formation documents, and submit them to the Montana Secretary of State. They will complete everything outlined in this guide and notify you when your Articles of Organization has been filed. You won’t have to lift a finger.
There are other benefits too. Some services will include a year of free registered agent service when you hire them. Other services offer order tracking, notifications on future documents (like Annual Reports), assistance drafting your operating agreement, or coverage of certain LLC formation costs.
Which is the Best LLC Service?
All you need to do now is research every service extensively and make side-by-side comparisons for each option. Easy, right? Just kidding – we did all of that for you.
And from our meticulous research of reviewing and ranking the top LLC services, we’ve drawn the conclusion that IncFile and Northwest are your best overall options.
They might not have the brand recognition of LegalZoom, the industry giant, but both have amazing customer support, affordable prices, and include a year of registered agent service.