Montana Board of Outfitters


  • No, there is no instant reciprocity granted for licensure as an outfitter. An applicant may be able to obtain credit towards the experience requirement for Montana only if the documentation coming from the state in which the applicant is licensed is of sufficient detail to determine that Montana requirements are met. ARM 24.171.502 requires a minimum of three years and 120 days of verified experience as a licensed outfitter in another state guiding clients and using methods for pursuing fish, subject to approval by the board, reduced by no more than 50 experience days for any waiver or combination of waivers. For all other applicants, 100 days of verified experience in another state guiding clients in pursuing the types of game and using the methods for which licensure is sought by the applicant, subject to approval by the board, reduced by no more than 80 experience days for any combination of waivers. Assessments will be only be made of the applicants experience in another state as a licensed outfitter, a licensed guide, or equivalent experience as determined by the board. All experience in this subsection is subject to board approval.
  • If I have performed guide services under a license outfitter in another state, can that experience count in meeting the guide days experience in Montana?

    You may submit application and supporting documents subject to approval by the board and subject to all rules regarding experience requirements.

  • The Montana Board of Outfitters (MBO), sets experience, qualification, and testing requirements for licensing outfitters.  Guides are licensed via experience, education, or qualifiaction and must initially be sponsored by a licensed outfitter. All applicants must be 18 years of age, possess a Montana FWP Conservation License, and a valid hands on first aid certification from a board approved course for initial licensure.
  • No.

    Board Rule requires logs to include;
    (a) the outfitter's name and license number;
    (b) each client's name and automated licensing system number;
    (c) dates of service to clients;
    (d) big game animals taken by clients, specifying the species and sex of each big game animal and stating for each big game animal whether it was taken on public or private land within the outfitter's operations plan;
    (e) districts hunted and water bodies, including section of a river or stream, fished by clients;
    (f) category of NCHU applicable for each client; and
    (g) the name of the outfitter assistant or the name and license number of the guide who accompanied the client.

    Statistics sheets are not required for hunting or fishing activity.

  • Am I required to send in all of my supporting documents, e.g. proof of first aid, insurance certificate, L1s, etc., with my operations plan update?

    Outfitters are not required to send in all supporting documents for Land Use. Outfitters are required to have on file with the board an updated Operations Plan that includes a summarization of land use. The summarization will include a listing of all public lands and necessary requirements for all private lands by outfitting type fishing or hunting. The most effective method to complete this requirement is for outfitters to update their operation plan online via the amendment record accessed through the departments Ebiz portal.

    Outfitters are required to send copies of certificates of insurance and first aid.

    Outfitters shall maintain current, true, complete, and accurate records, submit the records to the board as required by administrative rule, and make the records available at all times at the outfitter's main base camp or business office:

    Proof of First Aid and Certificate of Insurance is required for renewal. Changes in law and rule have streamlined many other reporting requirements.

    Outfitter records shall be maintained on forms prescribed by the department and shall contain information as required by the board in addition to information for operations plans under ARM 24.171.520

    24.171.520 OPERATIONS PLANS AND AMENDMENTS (1) An operations plan is prepared by the outfitter and submitted to the board and consists of the following:
    (a) an affidavit by the outfitter to the board that the amount and kind of equipment that is owned, leased, or contracted for by the applicant is sufficient and satisfactory for the services advertised or contemplated to be performed by the applicant;
    (b) for fishing outfitters, a summarization of the boundaries of the outfitter's operation, provided in the following terms, except as otherwise provided in ARM 24.171.505:
    (i) the name of each water body, including the section of each river or stream, that may be utilized by the applicant while providing services;
    (ii) a description of private land, by name of ranch and county where located, over which access is allowed; and
    (iii) an affidavit by the outfitter to the board that the outfitter is in possession of any public land permits or licenses properly executed for federal or state public property where the outfitter is authorized to operate;
    (c) for hunting outfitters a summarization of the locations and boundaries of the outfitter's operation, which is where the outfitter is authorized to operate, provided in the following terms:
    (i) the name of each public land agency or owner of private property;
    (ii) contact information for the owner or the agent of each private property where the outfitter is authorized to operate, including, but not limited to, the owner's or agent's phone number and address;
    (iii) total acreage on a per-owner basis of the private land where the outfitter is authorized to operate for any duration of time and for any species of game; and
    (iv) the legal description of the private acreage where the outfitter is authorized to operate, either by geo-code number assigned by the Montana Department of Revenue, or by aliquot parts. If less than the entire section or parcel is reported, then the boundary shall be described down to the quarter-quarter section or the government lot number;
    (d) the number of NCHU per category; and
    (e) an affidavit by the outfitter to the board that the outfitter possesses public land permits or licenses properly executed for federal or state public property where the outfitter is authorized to operate.
    (2) An outfitter may amend the operations plan on record by adding or subtracting any additional or replacement information and submitting the updated plan to the board, except that when adding a service identified in (5), the outfitter must apply for an amendment to the outfitter's operations plan by stating in writing the proposed changes and submitting it to the board, along with the fee required in ARM 24.171.401.

    (3) As part of renewal, each outfitter shall attest that all lands information required as part of the outfitter's operations plan on file with the board is current and accurate.
    (4) Whenever the outfitter gains permission to use additional private or public property, the outfitter shall update the operations plan the earlier of:
    (a) the end of the license year during which the outfitter first became authorized to use it, and
    (b) before actually using it.
    (5) All amendments will be considered by the board using the same criteria as new applicants, including being required to take those parts of the outfitter examination that apply to the proposed amendment, if an outfitter is applying to add the following to the operations plan:
    (a) hunting;
    (b) fishing;
    (c) watercraft used for fishing or hunting;
    (d) upland game bird;
    (e) waterfowl; or
    (f) saddle or pack animal use.

  • No. The Board no longer has the legal authority to issue more NCHU. The only manner that an outfitter can acquire initial or additional NCHU is by purchasing from an existing NCHU holder. A substantially streamlined method has been developed and is available online to allow a transfer of NCHU from one licensee to another. The Board will be the Official record keeper of which licensed outfitters own NCHU, under which categories and specific amounts. No authorization by the Board for transfer is required other than the person receiving NCHU must be a licensed outfitter.
  • No. While it is true that only licensed outfitters can legally provide hunting and or fishing services for remuneration, the rule is not intended to imply that they are the only individuals that can take payment on behalf of their organization. The Board recognizes that many outfitters hire agents, guides, employee, reservationists, etc., to assist in the conduct of the business, and the collection of client receipts on behalf of the outfitter’s business is not considered a violation of board rule.
  • No. While ARM 24.171.2301 does require that the outfitter “set all contract terms and conditions with clients”, it does not specifically indicate that the contract be in writing. Under common law, contracts can be and often are verbal.
  • I am an independent contractor guide and have been able to acquire loyal clients over the years. If I want t o grow my business, can I advertise to acquire more clients?

    Not to customers directly, but a guide can advertise to potential endorsing outfitters in order to solicit more opportunities to obtain guide days. It is important for guides to recognize that under Montana Outfitter statutes and rules, only outfitters are deemed to “have” clients. While you may have serviced specific customers over several years, they are deemed clients of the outfitter that reports their service on his or her respective client logs and therefore are not the guide’s clients. If a guide desires to actual “have” their own clients, they would need to become a licensed outfitter.

  • Montana law defines an independent contractor as: "an individual who renders service in the course of an occupation and: (a) has been and will continue to be free from control or direction over the performance of the services, both under a contract and in fact, and (b) is engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, profession, or business."
  • Use this Independent contractor exemption certificate application to apply as a sole proprietor or contact the Independent Contractor Central Unit, (406) 444-9029, for an application. NOTE: For a corporate officer or manager of a manager managed corporation, check the FAQ "What is the 'Limited Liability Corporation' exemption from Workers' Compensation? The application is in three parts: An 'application' form (a questionnaire that you MUST sign in front of a Notary Public - usually at your bank or credit union) outlining your business structure (most guides are Sole Proprietors), your 'profession or trade' (fishing guide), and other information. NOTE: Line 3 of the 'application' says "I am providing documentation . . . etc. The new IC system requires you to submit proof that you operate an independent business and uses a point system to gauge whether you meet legal requirements. The simplest way to make sure you have the minimum number of points (15) is to send three items along with your application:

    A copy of your guide or outfitter license (3 points)
    A copy of your liability insurance (6 points)
    A list of your equipment (boat(s), trailer, oars, life vests, etc.) with approximate dollar value (6 points)
    A waiver form of workers' compensation benefits that must be initialed at each paragraph, then signed in front of a notary.
    Gather all the parts and documentation required, then send the whole bundle with the $125 fee to:

    MT Dept. Labor & Industry, Employment Relations Division Independent Contractor
    Central Unit P.O. Box 8011 Helena MT 59604-8011

    NOTE: It typically takes the IC Unit less than a week to issue an ICEC; in most cases, they mail out the ICEC within 2 to 3 days of receiving an application.
  • Issuance of Independent Contractor Exemption Certificate (ICEC) to independent contractors in their own independently established businesses that have elected to not cover themselves under a Montana workers​’ compensation insurance policy.

    Contact 406-444-9029

  • Work Comp laws at 39-71-417 MCA state:

    A person who regularly and customarily performs services at a location other than the person's own fixed business location shall apply to the department for an independent contractor exemption certificate unless the person has elected to be bound personally and individually by the provisions of compensation plan No. 1, 2, or 3. Since most guides and outfitters work away from their 'place of business', they are covered by this section of law. However, the law goes on to say:

    An officer or manager who is exempt may apply, but is not required to apply, to the department for an independent contractor exemption certificate.

    An officer of a quasi-public or a private corporation or a manager of a manager-managed limited liability company who qualifies under one or more of the following provisions:

    The officer or manager is not engaged in the ordinary duties of a worker for the corporation or the limited liability company and does not receive any pay from the corporation or the limited liability company for performance of the duties; The officer or manager is engaged primarily in household employment for the corporation or the limited liability company; the officer or manager either:

    Owns 20% or more of the number of shares of stock in the corporation or owns 20% or more of the limited liability company; or Owns less than 20% of the number of shares of stock in the corporation or limited liability company if the officer's or manager's shares when aggregated with the shares owned by a person or persons listed in subsection (2)(r)(iv) total 20% or more of the number of shares in the corporation or limited liability company; or The officer or manager is the spouse, child, adopted child, stepchild, mother, father, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, nephew, niece, brother, or sister of a corporate officer who meets the requirements of subsection.

    For more information Montana Secretary of State (406) 444.2034

    Download copies of the Limited Liability Corporation Articles of Organization
  • I am going to purchase an existing outfitting business, are there legal means by which I can accelerate meeting the experience requirements specified in Board Rule?

    Yes. Under current Administrative Rules, candidates can seek to have days of experience waived under two methods: 1. Completion of an approved guide school program yielding 3 days of waived experience for every day of completed program to a maximum of 30 days, and up to 50 days waived of experience based on the submittal and approval of a 12 month Supervision Plan between a buyer and seller of an outfitting business, and the subsequent approved completion of the plan. These options are specifically described at ARM 24.171.502. Please note that for applicants seeking a fishing endorsement, days of experience cannot be reduced by more than 50 experience days for any waiver or combination of waivers. For all other applicants, up to 80 days of experience may be waived using the combination of waivers.

  • If the routine license application was submitted within the 15 day period without deficiency in required information, then the outfitter assistant can continue to provide services until the Board has issued the respective guide license.
  • Click here to view FAQ regarding the Department of Labor and Industry administrative suspension process adopted by the board.
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