How to Apply for a Business License in Montana

Montana Missoula | Swyft Filings

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Swyft Filings is committed to providing accurate, reliable information to help you make informed decisions for your business. That's why our content is written and edited by professional editors, writers, and subject matter experts. Learn more about how Swyft Filings works, our editorial team and standards, what our customers think of us, and more on our trust page.

Carlos Serrano
Written by Carlos Serrano
Written byCarlos Serrano
Updated October 19, 2023
Edited by Alexis Konovodoff
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Starting a new business, big or small, should be a time for celebration. But the business must be in good standing with the state to get to that point. This includes getting the right licenses. 

This guide will help determine what business licenses your Montana limited liability company or corporation needs.

Montana Business License: Key Takeaways

  • Business licenses are crucial for ensuring that your business operates legally within the jurisdiction of the state. 

  • Licensing requirements can vary based on the type of business and are required by federal, state, and local government bodies. 

  • To maintain their licenses, businesses must stay current with renewal fees and other obligations.

Navigate Montana Business Licensing with Ease

Ensuring you have the right business licenses and permits is crucial. Let us manage the complexities for you, so you can stay focused on what you do best — running your business.

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What Is a Business License?

Business licenses let people legally do business within a government’s geographical jurisdiction. A dedicated government body issues these licenses to those who meet the established criteria. 

Every new business must meet federal, state, and local licensing requirements. Lacking permits, no matter how small the company is, is illegal and can lead to heavy fines or closure without warning. 

Getting a business license isn’t the same as registering a company. Registration means giving your limited liability company or corporation the legal framework to function within state laws and regulations. This process includes choosing a business name, creating an Operating Agreement, getting a DBA, and more. Meanwhile, obtaining a permit enables you to sell products or provide services within the state.

Get Your Montana Business License in 8 Steps

After registering your company, you’ll need to follow a few steps to get a business license in Montana. The process is relatively straightforward; however, you’ll need to pay close attention to the specifics of your business. Here’s how to make sure you’ve got everything in order:

Step 1: Apply for Montana General Business Licenses

Montana does not require a general business license for all businesses. However, it’s critical to remember that every business will still be subject to some form of licensing. 

Licenses most analogous to a general state license come from the Montana Department of Revenue or the Secretary of State’s office.[1] We will discuss each in more detail in the following steps.

Step 2: Apply for Federal Licenses for Montana Businesses

Certain business types can be more complex if the business requires federal regulations. Part of the reason is that the particular requirements can vary considerably and may need to come from different government bodies.

For example, suppose you plan to do broadcasting, such as running a radio station, television, or even an amateur radio enthusiast club. In that case, you will need a Federal Communications Commission license (FCC) license. This is because broadcasting isn’t exclusively a matter of state.

A small business that involves transporting and selling animals or plants across state lines will need a license from the Department of Agriculture. Even if you do business involving agriculture only within the state borders of Montana, you still must keep an eye on the demands of the Department of Agriculture. 

It’s always best to research what state or federal organizations you must contact if federal regulations apply to your business activities.

The sign for Glacier National Park in the state of Montana | Swyft Filings

Step 3: Search for Montana Permits and Licenses

To understand the full scope of state licensing rules that may apply to the type of business you run, it’s best to check with state agencies. You can also use online resources like the Department of Commerce’s license lookup or the Montana eStop Business Licenses service.[2] 

Review all regulations that apply to your industry so your business can legally operate without disturbances or irregularities. Depending on its services, there may be multiple permits to get for your company. 

For example, if you’re selling alcoholic beverages on-site, you’ll need liquor licenses from the Montana Department of Revenue that prove you can sell alcohol legally. If you’re opening a brewery, you must obtain a special alcohol license, subtype brewery, and a Brewer’s Notice from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), a federal body under the Department of Treasury. 

Other state licenses can come from the Montana Department of Revenue or the Secretary of State. You can apply online for the right license by completing the forms and submitting your administrative documents. Some of the information you must submit includes details about your company’s business structure, ownership, and location.

Step 4: Search for Local County or City Business Licenses

Beyond the state and federal licenses, other licensing requirements and ordinances may depend on your city or county. For instance, Missoula requires businesses within city limits to apply for a general business license.[3] Similarly, Bozeman requires a $50 fee for out-of-city limits-based licenses.

Sales tax permits for retail and building permits for construction contractors are also location-based and extremely significant considerations. 

You should check with your local county clerk’s office to determine your necessary licenses. Contact information is available at the Montana League of Cities and Town website.

Step 5: Search for Montana Professional Licenses

Certain professions call for a special professional license. These professions provide expert services that can have serious implications for the well-being of the clients who need them. Namely, doctors, lawyers, plumbers, electricians, and others will each need a particular professional license.

The Montana Department of Labor & Industry provides information and resources regarding professional licensing. Seek advice from them if you encounter any roadblocks.

Without the proper permit, these professionals may be unable to do their job within the state or be considered illegitimate.

Step 6: Apply for a Montana Home-Based Business License

If you plan to launch a home business in Montana, double-check if you need a home-based business license. In the state of Montana, depending on the work you do, local regulations can demand special licenses. For example, childcare centers or family learning facilitators will require a special home-based license.

To get more details and information about what permits you must have, contact a clerk at the local city or county office or the Montana Secretary of State’s office. They will clear up confusion regarding the paperwork you must complete for your home occupation.

Step 7: Maintain Your Montana Business License

Acquiring a license may be somewhat tedious, but you must also stay current on renewal fees and assessment costs. These will differ depending on the licenses you need and who regulates them.[4]

The consequences for disregarding the necessity of consistent compliance can be severe and may put your company in a tricky legal situation. Offloading this task to a professional filing service can save the day so you can worry less about obtaining and keeping track of your licenses.

Apply for a Montana Business License Online

Getting the paperwork together for a business license application can be intimidating if you aren’t ready. Additionally, licensing requirements can vary significantly between counties, cities, and industries. 

Our business license platform offers personalized guidance throughout every step of the licensing process, among many other legal and administrative services.

Whether it’s determining what kind of licenses and permits your company needs or submitting the documents, we will help you obtain business licenses and keep your business compliant and up to date with the latest licensing regulations. 

Stay Compliant in Montana Without the Hassle
  • Focus on Your Business: Dive into your passion while we handle the intricacies of acquiring the necessary local, state, and federal business licenses and permits.

  • Simplify Your Paperwork: Complete our straightforward questionnaire, and we’ll handle all the required filings for you, accurately and promptly.

  • Stay Compliant: Avoid the risks and severe repercussions of non-compliance. We’re here to ensure your business remains in good standing.

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How do I get a business license in Montana?

You can apply for a business license in Montana by going to the website of the correct relevant authority. You might have to apply for industry, federal, or local licenses, which may differ depending on your business services and specialty.

Does Montana require a general business license?

You don’t need a general business license in Montana, but this doesn’t mean you won’t need other business licenses. Check with a local government office and look up industry-specific licensing requirements, as what you’ll need depends on your business type.

Can you sell things in Montana without a license?

You cannot generally sell things in Montana without the correct business licenses. However, there are exceptions depending on what you sell. For example, you could sell homemade food without a license if you do it on a small scale.

Do I need a special license for an online business in Montana?

There is no specific online business license requirement in Montana. However, your business will likely still need industry, federal, or local licenses if you sell goods or services.

Can I collect sales tax in Montana without a license?

You can’t. You will need to have a sales tax permit to collect sales tax. You can apply for this permit with the Montana Department of Revenue. 

How much does a Montana business license cost?

The cost of a business license in Montana will depend on the type of license and what kind of business you run. Check with your local government offices before applying for a license.

What’s the penalty for not having a business license in Montana?

Running a business without first acquiring the proper licenses in Montana will likely result in penalties.  Penalties range from fines to the forced shutdown of a business. 


  1. Montana Department of Commerce. “Small Business Licensing Information.” Accessed July 25, 2023.

  2. Montana Secretary of State. “Business Services Division.” Accessed July 25, 2023.

  3. City of Missoula. “Business Licensing.” Accessed July 25, 2023.

  4. Montana Department of Revenue. “EStop Business Licenses Program.” Accessed July 25, 2023.

Originally published on October 17, 2023, and last edited on October 19, 2023.
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