Montana Business Entity Search (Step-by-Step Guide)

Last updated: June 19th, 2024
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Whether you’re considering starting a business or you’d like to look up information on an existing business in the state of Montana, a business entity name search is highly recommended.

Cross-referencing your desired business name with this database will ensure that your preferred name is indeed available. The name search also ensures that you don’t pick a name that’s too similar to a competitor’s name.

The following step-by-step guide will show you how to conduct a Montana business entity search.

Montana search tips

When searching for a Montana-based business, the following tips and hints will help get you the most accurate results:

  • Special characters are ignored during the search, so even if a business name does contain punctuation or special characters, it’s best to omit them.
  • The search is not case sensitive, so whether you use upper or lowercase will not affect your results.
  • To broaden your search results, use just the first one or two words of an entity name, even if the name contains multiple words.
  • To narrow down the results, try to enter the complete business name.

The Montana Secretary of State Business Search page allows you to search via two search types:

  • Business search by name
  • Business search by filing number

Additionally, you’ll find advanced search options when you drop down the menu on the advanced search option.

This option allows you to select organization names that:

“Starts with” or “Contains” the keywords you are entering.

Additionally, the advanced search allows you to further narrow down your search criteria by selecting the:

  • Entity type
  • Entity subtype
  • Status
  • State
  • County

Furthermore, you may search by Registered Agent PID.

Business search by name

Refer to the Montana Secretary of State Business Search page to begin searching for registered businesses in the state.

1
Enter the business name

To begin your Montana business search, simply enter the name of the business you’re looking up.

You may enter just one or two words of the company name, even if the organization name contains multiple words.

For more accurate results, try to enter as many keywords as possible.

After entering the desired name, click on the “Search icon.”

You may also use the “Advanced” menu drop-down box to refine your search further.

2
Review the results

If there are matching records in the business registry, be it partial or exact matches, it will display in a table format. The information you’ll then have access to includes the following:

  • Form info
  • Company status
  • Registration date
  • Agent Name

3
Review additional business information

By clicking on the name of the business, you’ll access even further information on the entity, such as filing number, entity type, subtype, etc.

Business search by filing number

While on the same page, you may search for an entity by filing number.

The filing number should start with an alphabet, followed by 6 digits, and look something like this – A009739.

1
Enter the filing number

Enter the filing number.

Click on the “Search icon.”

2
Review the results

In this case, only one result should be coming up if you entered the correct filing number.

3
Review additional business information

As with the “business search by name,” when you click on the name of the entity, you’ll have access to further details.

Montana search results

The Montana search results return the following information:

  • Filing number
  • Entity type
  • Entity subtype
  • Status
  • Previous entity names
  • Formed in
  • Expiration date
  • Principal address
  • Mailing address
  • Registration date
  • Inactive date

When you click on the icon resembling a clock at the bottom of this age, you’ll access the following information:

  • Expiration notice
  • Pending expiration notice
  • Amendment
  • Initial filing

Copies of documents and certificates

If you’d like to obtain business documents for whatever reasons, you may do so by referring to the Montana Secretary of State’s Business Services website or https://sosmt.gov/business/how-do-i. On the left-hand side, select “Request for business documents and certificates.”

Then follow the instructions on this page to request the necessary business documents you may need.

You may request certified or uncertified copies of business documents. While certified copies are true and correct copies of business documents, uncertified copies are plain copies and do not contain the seal or endorsement of the Montana Department of State.

Certified copies will come in handy in the event you need to acquire a business loan, open a corporate bank account, or apply for a Certificate of Authority.

The most frequently requested certified copies include:

  • Certificate of Authority
  • Articles of Formation
  • Articles of Amendment
  • Dissolution and withdrawals
  • Mergers
  • DBA registration or Fictitious name
  • Annual reports and other annual filings

If you do not want to request the relevant information using the online services portal, you may also use the below information to request copies of business documents:

Montana Secretary of State

Physical address:
State Capitol, Room 260 , 1301 E. 6th Avenue
Helena, MT 59601

Mailing address:
Business Services, PO Box 202801
Helena, MT 59620

Phone: 406-444-5522 Annual Reports or 406-444-3665 Business Entity
Fax: 406-444-3976

Business name availability

You must note that even if the name you searched for does not appear in the search results, the name could still be used by another entity in another state, or it could be trademarked. So it’s a good idea to perform a trademark search to make sure.

The name could be trademarked at the state level. In this case, you’ll need to conduct the search on the Montana SOS website. Simply enter the name into the search bar and click on the search icon. If the name was trademarked at the state level, it would show up in the results.

Alternatively, the name may be trademarked on the federal level. In this case, the name would not show up on the Montana SOS trademark search but will show up when you conduct a search on the USPTO or United States Patent and Trademark Office’s website.

Next, you should consider the possibility that the name could be reserved. So contact the SOS office to get confirmation of whether the name is reserved or available.

If it is available, then this would be a good time to consider a name reservation for yourself.

Simple complete the Name Reservation Form, including the following information:

  • Business type
  • Name you want reserved
  • Applicant’s name
  • Organization’s mailing address
  • Applicant’s signature
  • Contact information
  • The description of your business

Names are reserved for 120 days, and the state of Montana does not offer an option to renew the application. So if you do not complete business registration within this time frame, you risk losing the name altogether.

The name reservation filing fee is $10, and this must be sent along with your application form to the Secretary of State, irrespective of whether you are filing online or via mail.

It’s also equally important to note that Montana, like other states, has naming guidelines, and if your desired name is too similar to another name they have on file, it may not be available for business filing. Additionally, you will lose all money invested in the registration process when this happens.

Whether you’re forming a limited liability company or corporation, you must adhere to the naming requirements laid out by the state.

Some of them are as follows:

  • Your name must be significantly different and distinguishable from other companies registered with the state. Montana reserved names are included.
  • If you’re forming a corporation, then your name must include a designation like corp, Inc, limited, etc.
  • If it’s an LLC that you’re forming, then your name must include LLC, LC, etc.
  • The name must give the public a clear understanding of the purpose of your business and comply with your Articles of Incorporation.

Domain name availability

In the age of the internet, domain names are essential. Think of it as a substitution for your physical address or the long string of letters and numbers people searching for your website will need to type in.

Domain names simplify the process of typing in a business’s online address and browsing through its website.

There are various other benefits of domain names as follows:

  • They give professional credibility
  • They have authority
  • They give you control
  • They provide brand visibility
  • They connect you to the internet
  • It’s a part of modern marketing
  • You get an email address to match your domain name
  • They allow you to get ahead of your competitors
  • They allow you to avoid the costs o printing catalogs, flyers, etc
  • They make you and your business discoverable online

One of the best ways to check whether your desired domain name is available is to use a professional service like Namechk.com.

This professional service checks 36 different domain platforms and over 100 social media websites and online platforms. Some of the social networks that are checked include:

  • Tumblr
  • YouTube
  • Facebook
  • PayPal
  • WordPress
  • Yelp

Namechk.com checks against 36 domains and more than 90 social media platforms. Therefore, by using the service, you can check the availability of either a username or domain name within seconds.

Additionally, Namechk.com also filters your search options and recommends alternatives in the event that your preferred domain name is unavailable.

Fictitious business name search

Fictitious names are also called assumed, trade, DBA, and “doing business as” names in Montana.

This is an option to consider if you plan on conducting business transactions under other names aside from your legal entity name.

Additionally, the DBA name must comply with certain naming requirements as follows:

  • It must not contain a business suffix
  • It must not contain any terms that may confuse your business with a financial institution
  • It must not contain words that imply that your business is formed for an illegal or unlawful purpose

DBAs come with the following benefits:

  • Protection of privacy
  • Enhanced flexibility
  • Easy legal compliance
  • Low cost to set up
  • Helps develop brand awareness

Once you’re ready to file your DBA, go to the SOS ePass website and file online.

There’s a $20 filing fee.

FAQs

What is a Certificate of Good Standing?

A Certificate of Good Standing is issued to businesses that have filed the necessary paperwork and paid all required taxes to the state. The certificate proves that your business is authorized to transact business and has complied with all relevant business laws and requirements.

What is a service of process agent?

A service of process agent is responsible for accepting legal documents and government correspondence from the state on behalf of the company they are representing.

Is it better to form for-profit corporations or nonprofits?

It all depends on what your goals are. For-profits generate and distribute profits to owners, shareholders, and members. Nonprofits put those earnings back into the organization to further the cause, which may be to provide a service to the public or a disadvantaged group in the community.

What is the purpose of the Uniform Commercial Code?

The purpose of a Uniform Commercial Code, also known as UCC, is to regulate business activities and ensure that they are consistent across all states. The UCC applies to contracts for the sale of goods to a merchant and by a merchant.

What are the differences between a limited liability company (LLC) and a limited liability partnership(LLP)?

An LLC is an independent legal entity, and an LLP is owned by a minimum of two people who legally share the business’s responsibilities. Additionally, all owners of LLCs have the same amount of liability protection, while with LLPs, some owners may opt for passive ownership, lower liability, and no management responsibility.

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