Starting a Business


The City of Billings welcomes you to its business community. Starting a business can be exciting and challenging. We wish you success in your new venture!

There are many things you should consider when starting a business. This web page attempts to help the new business owner understand the Business License requirements for the City of Billings. Included are answers to the questions most frequently asked regarding requirements for starting a business.

Who is required to have a license?

Any person who conducts business in the City or is based in the City must obtain a business license on or before the date the business commences. Conducting business in the City without a license can result in penalties, violation notices, citations, and finally, court action.

How do I get a license?

You can download a Business Tax Determination application form and return it us at:
City Hall
210 North 27th St.
Billings MT 59101
(406) 657-8364

We will need your signed application form along with payment in order to process the business license.

What is a business license?

A business license is license showing that you have paid your annual tax for doing business within the incorporated area of the City of Billings (City). Billings Municipal Code requires that you obtain a license when you conduct any business activity within the City even if your business is located outside the city limits or you have a business license from another city. The business tax receipt is evidence only that your tax has been paid. Other permits may be required to open your business.

Can I view or track a business license on-line?

Yes! Visit this site and click on "Comdev" and then "licenses". Searches are available by Application Number, Address, Business Name and DBA.

Do I need a license if I work out of my home?

Yes. Businesses operated from the home require a business license and must comply with the City's zoning ordinance. Types of home-based businesses and the manner in which they may operate are regulated by the zoning ordinance.

What if I have more than one business or more than one location?

If you own more than one business, a separate business license is required for each type of business and for each location.

I conduct business in several cities. Can I get just one license to do business in ALL of them?

Unfortunately no. Each city has its own business license requirements. It is important to know that most Montana cities have a business license tax ordinance. However, each city has its own tax rate, structure and requirements. Check with the appropriate City or County for their rules and regulations.

I just purchased this business. Can I use the business license from the previous owner?

No. A business license must be transferred or assigned. As a new owner, you need to apply for a business license in your name.

Can I apply over the Internet?

Not at this time, but you can download a Business Tax Determination application form and return it us at:
City Hall
210 North 27th St.
Billings MT 59101

We will need your signed application form along with payment in order to process the business license.

How Long Will it Take to Get My Business License?

The actual process to obtain the business license takes only a few minutes. When the application is complete and payment is received we issue a receipt for a temporary business license. The permanent business license will be mailed in two to four weeks.

How long is this license good for?

The business license is valid for one year from the month it is obtained. It must be renewed annually.

Will the City notify me when it is time to renew my license?

Yes. However, it is your responsibility to renew the business license on time even if the courtesy reminder notice is not received. Penalties are assessed for delinquent accounts, regardless of whether or not you receive a renewal notice. If you do not receive a notice three weeks prior to the expiration date, contact the city staff immediately.

What if I move the location of the business?

Any time that the location of a business changes, the new information must be supplied to the city of Billings.

What if I close or sell the business?

Business licenses are not automatically canceled. We need to hear from you. You may send written notification, call or come in. Please be prepared to provide the date the business closed or sold and the name of the new owner, if applicable.

Do I need a D.B.A. or Fictitious Business Name?

If your business name is anything other than your surname, your business is required to be registered with the state. Should you accidentally infringe upon another business name you may face legal action. Registering is done through the Montana Secretary of State.