Montana Department of Livestock

Here to serve the people of Montana and its livestock industry.

LIVESTOCK BRANDS

 


Starting with the time of the open range to the present, brands have been used as markings to identify livestock and have been a visual means of identification in showing ownership throughout history.  The original open-fire method was practical in the beginning, followed by the electric iron and then advancing to the freeze-branding method.  In Montana, both the hot and freeze brand methods are recognized.  Through the registration of a livestock brand, this means of identity continues to play a special part in the livestock industry and its history.

Currently, there are 47,669 registered Montana Livestock Brands maintained by the Brands Enforcement Division Brand Office.  The information on this page is meant to provide instruction on brand requirements, how to apply for a brand, how to transfer a brand, etc.  The information will be updated as often as necessary to answer your questions thoroughly and completely.

The Brand Office is working to provide most services to the public remotely.  If you have questions or require additional assistance, feel free to contact the Brands Enforcement Division at (406) 444-2045 or by email: brands@mt.gov.  If you would like to be served in the Helena Brand Office, please utilize the phone found in the Lobby of the Scott Hart building and we will assist you.

All correspondence relating to Livestock Brands, applications, brand transfers, name changes, ownership designation, etc. must be mailed to:
     MDOL Brands Enforcement
     Attn: Brand Recorder
     PO Box 202001
     Helena, MT 59620-2001

 

Applying for a Brand

There are several steps in applying for a brand:

  • Decide what you want your livestock brand to look like. What do you want your brand to represent?
  • Research the Department of Livestock Policy for Recording, Transferring, and Rerecording Brands making sure that the brand(s) you are choosing will meet all character, format, and county/state requirements.
  • Complete the Application for Brand Recording.
  • Please allow 6-8 weeks for your Montana Livestock Brand Application to be processed.
    * Once your application has been reviewed you will either receive the Official Brand Certificate from us showing that a Livestock Brand has been registered to you, or you will receive a letter explaining why that brand cannot be registered to you with information on how to proceed further or on how to request a refund.
  • Brand Application Fees
    • Standard Brand Recording fee is: $200.00*.
    • Brand Recording Fee with Cattle Freeze Brand is: $210.00*.
      • *$100 of the application fee is nonrefundable if a brand is not registered/issued.
    • The application includes a maximum of one cattle, one horse, one sheep, and one bison brand.
    • Payment is required at time of application.
    • Applications will be processed in the order in which they are received.

Incomplete Brand Application paperwork will be returned to the applicant.

 

Attention:

  • If your brand was not re-recorded during the 2021 Montana Livestock Brand Re-record year, your brand has become inactive. Once a brand is inactive, you must re-apply for the brand as a new brand.  There is no guarantee a brand will be re-issued.
  • Applications cannot be processed in-person and may not be submitted electronically.

 

Inactive Brands

Due to the high volume of new brands being issued and brand re-record nearing completion, the inactive brand list is currently unavailable.  To ensure the most accurate information is available, the inactive brand list will be updated and posted after the conclusion of brand re-record. 

 

Important Information Regarding Brand Ownership

  • When recording a brand to a company, corporation, partnership, etc., please furnish a list of all officers and people authorized to sign bills of sale when selling livestock. Business names must be registered with the MT Secretary of State's office (www.sos.mt.gov), or proof of registration with another state must be provided.
  • Per Administrative Rule of Montana 32.18.105, multiple names may recorded in the following manner only: "x and y" or "x or y". 
    • The designation "and/or" is not acceptable. 
    • A brand recorded in "x and y" designates tenants in common. 
    • A brand recorded in "x or y" designates joint tenancy.  

 

Designating Ownership

  • Ownership by a Business
    • When recording a brand to a company, corporation, partnership, etc., please furnish a list of all officers and people authorized to sign bills of sale when selling livestock.
    • Business names must be registered with Montana Secretary of State (www.sos.mt.gov), or proof of registration with another state must be provided.
  • Multiple Owners
    • When recording a brand to multiple owners, designate either tenants in common or joint tenancy on the application: 
      • If recorded as tenants in common, all recorded owners must sign each bill of sale for branded livestock;
      • If recorded in joint tenancy, any owner may sign bills of sale for branded livestock on behalf of all recorded owners. 
    • Regardless of the designation, notarized signatures of all recorded brand owners are required to transfer a brand.
 

Ornamental Brands

Ornamental brands are for decorative purposes only; any application of ornamental brands to livestock is strictly prohibited. Ornamental brands otherwise work just like real brands – you must apply for the brand you want. If the brand you request is already recorded, it cannot be issued. When applying for an ornamental brand, you may submit several choices to have a better chance of selecting a brand that is available. A fee of $200 is required with the application. 

Be sure to read and complete the ornamental brand application form in its entirety (i.e., name, mailing address, signature to be notarized). 
Ornamental Brand Application Form 
 

Changes to Brand Owner Name

A legal name change, such as a name change due to marriage or divorce, may be completed with a Name Change Affidavit.  The fee to process a legal name change is $10.
A brand transfer constitutes the following scenarios and requires the completion of the Assignment of Brand Form, which can be found on the back of your original brand certificate:
  • Transfer;
  • Adding a name(s);
  • Removing a name(s);
  • Changes to business/ranch name;
  • Changing the ownership type from tenants in common to joint tenancy or vice versa.

The fee to transfer a brand is $200.

All parties listed as recorded owners on the brand must sign the Assignment of Brand form in order for any change to occur on the brand owner name (except legal name changes done with a name change affidavit).
ALL SIGNATURES MUST BE NOTARIZED
 
Power of Attorney: If a brand owner is unable to sign for medical or other reasons, a person with power of attorney for that brand owner may sign on their behalf. A copy of power of attorney papers must be submitted with the Assignment of Brand form.
Deceased Owner(s): If a brand owner is deceased, see information below or call 406/444-2045.
 

Owner Name Change For Brands With Deceased Owner(s)

A Brand Owner name change involving a deceased owner requires very specific paperwork. Please call our office with any questions at 406/444-2045.
 
The brand is listed in more than one name and is listed in joint ownership: Submit a completed Assignment of Brand form with signatures of all living brand owners and a copy of the death certificate for the deceased brand owner. 
The estate for the deceased owner was probated: Submit a completed Assignment of Brand form with signatures of all living brand owners and the signature of the Personal Representative of the deceased brand owner. A copy of the personal representative papers must be submitted in addition to the Assignment of Brand form.
There was no probate or for the deceased brand owner's estate: Submit a completed Assignment of Brand form with signatures of all living brand owners and all living heirs (spouse or children) of the deceased brand owner. The heirs must each sign an Affidavit of Survivorship and the Assignment of Brand form.
 

Transferring Brands Owned By a Business

  1. Per ARM 32.18.105 "(4) In order to own a Montana brand, a corporation, limited liability company, limited liability partnership, trust, or any other business that is required to be registered with the office of the Montana Secretary of State must be registered with the Secretary of State."
  2. Only individuals listed as principals of the business per secretary of state will be allowed to authorize (sign) the transfer of a brand owned by business.
  3. Signor (principal) must complete assignment of brand form AND "Affidavit of Principal."
  4. Both forms must be complete and notarized.
  5. The Department of Livestock will verify the signor is a principal of the company via the Montana Secretary of State.
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