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Montana Business License

If you have incorporated a business in Montana or planning to form a small business in the state then it’s time to apply for a business license. In order to operate your business in the state, permits, business licenses, and other professional licenses have to be obtained. The absence of license or permit to operate a specific business can lead to heavy penalties and in some cases, closure of the business.

It is important to note that not all business entities require a business license in Montana. Most information pertaining to the types of business that require permits or license is available with the Montana Small Business Development Center. There are specific permits or licenses that are not issued by the state and hence businesses will be required to apply with the city and county offices for same.

How to Get a Business License in Montana

What are the requirements for obtaining a business license in Montana? Are permits required for my business entity? Does the business entity require a single license or multiple permits or licenses? Who is the issuing authority for these licenses or permits? The only way to answer these questions is by understanding the process of business licensing.

Here is a step-by-step approach towards acquiring a business license in the state of Montana.

Step#1: The Industry or Business Type

How would you know what type of business or professional license is required to operate in Montana? The type of industry or the activities of a business entity helps in identifying the type of business license required.

Business license is issued by state departments for some of the following industries or business sectors:

  • Agriculture
  • Banking and Financial Institutions
  • Gambling
  • Insurance Companies
  • Hard Rock Mining
  • Liquor Beer & Wine
  • Manufactured Dairy Products
  • Pools and Spas
  • Day Care Facility
  • Retail Food Service Establishments

It is important to note that some businesses may require multiple Montana company license or permits.

Step#2: Licenses issued by City/County

If your business or industry type doesn’t fall under a statewide license then you will have to check with the local city or county office. A business license in Montana can also be issued by local counties or cities in which the business is located.

If your business entity is based in Hamilton, MT then you will have to apply for a license with the Public Works Department. The business license applications will have to be approved by various county or city inspectors depending on the nature or type of business. Once approved, the City Finance Office will collect the license fee as mentioned in the Business License Registration Form and issue a license accordingly. The license fee varies according to the type of business and the location of the business i.e., businesses situated within city limits or outside city limits.

Step#3: Issuance of a Business License

How is a Montana company license issued? Once you have identified the type of business and whether it will be issued by the state or the county, you need to download the proper application and submit it along with the required fee.

Let us look at an example to understand this:

If you were to start a “Retail Food Establishment” in Montana then the license would be issued by the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services, Food & Consumer Safety Section. The type of food establishment businesses covered under this license includes:

  • Food Service Establishment
  • Produce (Onsite Retail Only)
  • Water Hauler
  • Food Service/Delicatessen (Onsite Retail)
  • Tavern or Bar
  • Meat Market (Onsite Retail Only)
  • Perishable Food Dealer (Retail only)
  • Bakery (Onsite Retail Only)
  • Food Service/Catering (Retail)
  • School Cafeteria
  • Food Manufacture (Onsite Retail Only)
  • Mobile Establishment

The license fee is $85 if the establishment has 2 or fewer employees and $115 for more than 2 employees. There will be separate business license fee for liquor or wine and they will be issued by the Montana Department of Revenue. The licenses are valid for a period of one year and will have to be renewed annually.

The bottom line is that it is important to identify the type of business, industry, and location of business in order to apply for the right business license.

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