How to Get a Montana Business License

A contractor with a Montana business license repairs a window.

Did you know that 99.3% of businesses in Montana are owned by small business owners? And that more than half of Montana’s workers are employed by small businesses?

If you’re starting a small business in Montana, you’re in good company. Clearly, there’s a lot of opportunity in the Big Sky Country — whether you’re interested in construction, real estate, healthcare, or another industry.

But, here’s the thing: You need to open your business “the right way,” which typically means getting a state of Montana business license first. Business licenses are designed to help protect your business and the customers you serve.

Feeling confused about how to get a license? Don’t worry. I’m here to help you learn how to get one and understand the potential benefits of a Montana business license.

Ready to get started? Let’s do it!

Signs You May Need a Montana Business License

If you’re opening a small business in Montana, then you most likely need to get a license. For the most part, Montana business licenses are issued by local city and county offices, with the exception of a few industries.

If you plan to open a business that’s in the following industries, you need to get a license or certification with the state:

In addition, there are some professional and occupational licenses that the state also issues. If you’re unsure if your profession requires a license (or where to go), it’s best to contact the Montana Department of Labor and Industry. Here’s their contact information:

Montana Department of Labor and Industry Business and Occupational Licensing Bureau (406)-841-2300

I know it may seem like a hassle to get a Montana business license, but the good news is there are a lot of benefits for doing so. For example, a business license can help:

  • Make your new company appear professional and credible.
  • Support your company’s brand name.
  • Market your business to new customers.
  • And much more.

Fortunately, Montana makes the process relatively easy.

Next, let’s talk about how to get a business license in Montana.

How to Get a Business License in Montana

1. Find out if you need to get a business license through the Montana Department of Labor and Industry (for certain industries only).

As I mentioned, some small business owners may need to get their business licenses through the Montana Department of Labor and Industry. For example, if you’re opening a business that’s related to agriculture, gambling, alcohol, or construction, you likely need to get a state license first.

It’s easy to find out if it’s required for your specific business by visiting their website or calling the office at 406-841-2300.

Everyone else should contact their local city or county municipal office to get their business licenses.

2. Find out if you need a professional or occupational license in addition to a business license.

Some business owners also need to get an occupational license that’s issued by the state of Montana. For example, if you work in finance, lending, insurance, as a bail bondsman, or in another similar profession, this might be you.

Find out if you need a professional or occupational license by visiting the Montana Department of Revenue website or by calling the office at 406-444-6900. Every profession has different requirements for getting an occupational license, but fortunately, the revenue department can likely point you in the right direction.

3. Contact your local city or county municipal department to ask how to get a business license in Montana.

Most business licenses are handled by local government offices. Contact the city, county, or town clerk where your business is primarily located. They can usually tell you if:

  • A license is required for your work
  • You need to get a permit before officially opening
  • You may need to follow certain zoning requirements
  • And much more

Be prepared by bringing background information about your business with you. If all of your paperwork is clearly organized, it’s easier to fill out your application and get the process started.

For example, you may want to consider bringing the following information:

  • Federal Tax ID or EIN
  • Personal address and phone number
  • Business address and phone number
  • Driver’s license number
  • Certificate of Insurance (COI) proving you carry a business insurance policy

Remember, the more organized you are, the faster the process will go.

Montana Business License + Insurance Requirements

Have you heard of a Certificate of Insurance (COI)? It’s a document that shows you carry business insurance, including general liability insurance and professional liability insurance.

If you’re a small business owner (and especially if you have employees), you probably need to show a COI before getting your Montana business license. Fortunately, getting a business insurance policy is always a good idea. It can help protect you financially if there’s an accident, injury, or loss to property at your workplace.

It also can potentially help cover lawyer fees if you’re accused of negligence, copyright infringement, or another similar claim.

I’d like to say that this happens rarely, but unfortunately, it can be fairly common. In fact, many small business owners face workplace accidents and injuries or expensive lawsuits. If you don’t have business insurance, you may have to pay for the damage out of your own pocket.

And sadly, these costs can be expensive. They can be high enough to put your business under and set you back personally as well.

If you’re ready to purchase a business insurance policy now, Simply Business makes it easy. With a free online quote tool, you can compare Montana business insurance policy options in just 10 minutes or less.

Applying for a MT Business License?

You may need to show proof of business insurance to get your license.

That’s where we come in. Compare free insurance quotes for policies as low as $19.58/month.*

How Much Does a State of Montana Business License Cost?

If you’re wondering how much it costs to get a Montana business license, the answer isn’t so simple. It varies, based on the type of license you need, what you do, and the city or county where your business is located.

Overall though, business license fees are fairly reasonably priced. Plus, most likely you’ll be able to recoup the costs when you get up and running.

Paying for a Montana business license fee is much better than paying for a penalty down the line. It’s worth it to follow the correct process and start your business out on the right foot. Not following state and local guidelines can potentially put your business at risk of getting shut down, too. You definitely don’t want that to happen.

Look, becoming official in the eyes of the state is a rite of passage. It signifies a major step in the launch of your business. Once you receive your official business license, you’ll feel proud and more motivated than ever to keep working hard towards your goals. It’s truly the first step toward reaping the reward of small business ownership.

Emily Thompson

I earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin at Madison (go Bucky). After realizing my first job might involve carrying a police scanner at 2 am in pursuit of “newsworthy” crimes, I decided I was better suited for freelance blogging and marketing writing. Since 2010, I’ve owned my freelance writing business, EST Creative. When I’m not penning, doodling ideas, or chatting with clients, you’ll find me hiking with my husband, baby boy, and 2 mischievous mutts.

Emily writes on a number of topics such as entrepreneurship, small business networking, and budgeting.