If you own a Montana business and would like to use a different name than your legal business name, you will need to register a DBA name with the state. Also called an assumed name, fictitious business name, or trade name, DBA names are typically used when you want to use multiple names for one business, or if you are a sole proprietor wanting to be recognized as something other than your legal name.
This comprehensive guide to Montana DBA names will help you understand the pros of doing business this way and answer important questions, such as “Do I need a DBA in Montana?” and “How do I file a DBA in Montana?”
A company is “doing business as” when it operates under a different name than its legal one. Some states require that DBA name filings be made to protect consumers when conducting business with the company. In different states, a DBA name is also known as a “fictitious name,” “assumed business name,” or “trade name.” (Some states use “fictitious name” specifically to refer to an out-of-state business that can’t use its legal name because that name isn’t available in the state.) In Montana, a DBA name is known as an “assumed name.”
Usually, businesses seeking to use a DBA name fall into one of two buckets:
Montana requires filing for an assumed name at the state level (it’s not required at the county level), done online through the Montana official state ePass system. With a Montana DBA name, you cannot use a name that misrepresents the nature of your business or one that is already used as an assumed or legal name by another business.
It should also be noted that a DBA name is not a business entity type but acts in effect as a legal alias for a business. So, it wouldn’t, in of itself, provide the limited liability protection of an LLC or its tax flexibility.
Some benefits of a Montana DBA include:
When choosing a DBA name, you have to follow Montana law, which states the assumed name should not be “the same as or not distinguishable on the record from an assumed business name already registered or from any corporate name, limited partnership name, limited liability company name, limited liability partnership name, trademark, or service mark registered or reserved with the Secretary of State.”
As well, the applicant may not “use a business name identifier that incorrectly states the type of entity that it is” or incorrectly implies that it is another type of entity.
The Montana assumed name cannot also use a business suffix, such as “LLC” or “Corp.,” unless it is actually an LLC, a corporation, or another type of business allowed to use the suffix. The name should also not contain any terms related to financial institutions, such as “Bank,” “Credit Union,” “Savings and Loans,” and other similar words.
Other than the state guidelines, factors in choosing a good Montana DBA name include:
Registering a DBA name in Montana involves:
For payments, the Montana Secretary of State’s office accepts all major credit cards, including Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover. It also takes debit cards with the Visa or Mastercard logo. Once made, payments will only be refunded:
A refund request form explains all you need to know about asking for a refund.
Every five years, you need to renew your Montana DBA name for a cost of $20. It also costs $20 if you want to make any amendment to your registered assumed name.
In Montana, there is no specific requirement to advertise your new DBA name in the county you are primarily conducting business. It should also be noted that a foreign corporation or foreign limited partnership cannot apply for a Montana DBA name unless they have an effective Certificate of Authority or Certificate of Registration to transact business in the state. It costs a for-profit foreign corporation or limited partnership $70 to apply for this certificate and $20 for a nonprofit.
You can cancel your Montana assumed name online at any time with no cancellation fee. The cancellation request needs to include the complete registered assumed name and the name and business mailing address of the registrant on record.
The content on this page is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.
Montana Business Resources
Fees are subject to change over time. Check the Secretary of State’s website for the most current fee schedule regarding DBA registration and renewal.
While the information on normal processing times isn’t readily available on the Montana Secretary of State website, expedited processing is available. You can pay an additional fee for 24-hour priority handling or a higher fee for one-hour handling.
The state requires that all sole proprietorships, general partnerships, corporations, LLCs, limited partnerships (LPs), limited liability partnerships (LLPs), or out-of-state companies that regularly transact business in Montana under a name different from their legal name file a DBA name with the Montana Secretary of State. While it is not a requirement for businesses to have a DBA name, a Montana assumed name could be an advantage if, say, you are a sole partnership and want to do business under a name other than your personal one or if you want to drop the “LLC” suffix from the name under which you do business.
While in many states, DBA names are not exclusive, in Montana, the Secretary of State won’t allow an assumed name too close to another business’s assumed or corporate name. A DBA name also does not override a trademark, so it is a good idea to get a trademark to protect your brand.
Yes, a business in Montana can have multiple DBA names. One reason to have these is to differentiate lines of business. For example, a cleaning service might have different Montana DBA names for its home and corporate office cleaning divisions.
In different states, a DBA name can also be known as a “fictitious business name” or a “trade name.” In Montana, “assumed name” is officially used, although “fictitious business names” are also sometimes used. However, fictitious names aren’t used specifically for out-of-state businesses, as it is in other parts of the country.
If you use your own name for a sole partnership, you don’t need a DBA name. But if you want to conduct business under another name, a DBA name is legally required in Montana.
While the DBA name will enable you to conduct business in Montana, be careful to remember that it is not a business entity and will not alter how your business is taxed at the local, state, or federal level. If launching a new business, make sure to investigate the business structure that best serves your requirements.
With your DBA registration handled, you will be able to conduct business in Montana using an assumed name that gives you your best chance to connect your brand with its target audience and find big success in Big Sky Country.
Do you need help with other business formation documents in Montana? Contact ZenBusiness today to learn how we can assist you. Our experts can take the stress out of running and growing your Montana small business.
Most Popular States to Get a DBA Name
When it comes to compliance, costs, and other factors, these are popular states for filing a DBA.
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