Frequently Asked Questions

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Who is exempt from licensing?

Individuals who are employees of a federal, state, tribal, local government, or housing finance agency acting as a loan originator only pursuant to the individual's official duties as an employee of the federal, state, tribal, local government, or housing finance agency are exempt from licensure, as well as employees who perform only clerical or administrative tasks. Bona Fide Not-for-Profit companies and their employees can obtain an exemption by submitting a paper application directly to the Division and receiving certification.

Is a license needed for commercial lending?

No.  The Montana Mortgage Act only applies to loans on residential real estate.

Do Money Service Businesses Require a License?

There is currently no legislation from the Montana Division of Banking regulating Money Service Businesses (MSBs). MSBs do not have to be licensed with the Division. However, they do need to be registered as a business with the Montana Secretary of State.

Can I receive an exemption to do one loan in Montana?

A person may make up to five residential mortgage loans in a calendar year in Montana with their personal funds without a license.

What is the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS)?

The Division participates in the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS), as contemplated by the Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act of 2008 (“SAFE”) (H.R. 3221).  Title V requires that each state enact minimum standards regarding the supervision of mortgage entities.

The NMLS is a multi-state licensing system that allows companies and individuals to apply for and manage their licenses with the Department and other participating states through a secure website. The NMLS was developed by and for state regulators to streamline the licensing process for regulators and the industry allowing all mortgage businesses to be licensed in Montana and other participating states with a minimum amount of paperwork.

Please note that the  NMLSR federal registration process must be utilized if you are an employee of a bank, bank subsidiary or a credit union.  As required under federal law, residential mortgage loan originators employed by banks, savings associations, credit unions, or Farm Credit System institutions must register with the registry, obtain a unique identifier from the registry, and maintain their registrations.  Further information regarding the registry and the registration process is available at the registry's website: http://fedregistry.nationwidelicensingsystem.org/Pages/default.aspx.

Who needs to register with the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System?

Every mortgage company, mortgage loan originator, and other person in this state that conducts mortgage loan origination activities for residential mortgage loans, unless specifically exempt, shall register with the NMLS.  Upon registration, a person creates a record with the NMLS and obtains a unique identifier.

Some persons are only required to register with the NMLS, and do not need to obtain a license under the Montana Mortgage Act, even if they conduct mortgage loan origination activities.  These persons do not require a Montana license because they are already adequately regulated under another law and therefore do not require further regulation by means of licensure.  These persons are either “exempt registered mortgage loan originators” or “exempt registered mortgage loan originator companies”.

What fees are charged by your Department for licensing?

The initial licensing fees are as follows:

  • Montana Mortgage Broker License - $500
  • Montana Mortgage Lender License - $750
  • Montana Mortgage Servicer License - $750
  • Montana Mortgage Broker, Lender, or Servicer Branch License: $250
  • Mortgage Loan Originator License: $400
  • Montana Consumer Loan License or branch - $500 
  • Montana Escrow License - $350
  • Montana Sales Finance License or branch - $100

A mortgage broker entity owned by a Montana-licensed loan originator shall receive a $400 refund by mailed check after both licenses have been approved.

All application fees must be paid through the NMLS and are not refundable. Montana does not charge fees for amendments.

Where does an applicant pay fees? Online through the NMLS or directly to the Division?

All licensing fees are paid through the NMLS.

How long will it take the Division to review my license application?

The Division makes a licensing decision on most complete applications within one week. The presence of adverse credit or a criminal record can extend the timeline. The Division will communicate application deficiencies through NMLS. 

My license has been approved. Will the Division provide a paper license?

No, the Division does not issue paper licenses. All proof of licensure is electronic on NMLS and NMLS Consumer Access. There is no requirement to display your license.

What period will the state license cover and when is the renewal period?

All Montana licenses expire on December 31st of each year. The renewal period is from November 1st – December 1st of each year, with licenses being renewed for the following calendar year.

I already have a mortgage license. What will happen when it is time to renew my license?

Renewals are submitted through the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS). Applications must be filed NO LATER than December 1st of each year. There is a substantial fine for late filing of a renewal application, and renewal of a license will not occur until all outstanding fines are paid. Applicants complete the application and pay all outstanding fees and fines, and in order to avoid being fined for late renewal, licensees must complete their application and payment by the December 1st deadline.  Licenses expire annually on December 31st.

How do we make an amendment to our licensing record?

Amendments to the Licensee’s NMLS record are requested through NMLS. The Division does not require advance notice for any change.

We no longer want/need our Montana mortgage license, what do we do?

Please request to surrender the license through NMLS and submit the Montana surrender checklist.

What laws and regulations do I need to be familiar with in order to meet the licensing requirements and properly operate in Montana as a mortgage licensee or registrant?

  • Montana Mortgage Act
  • Federal Regulations
    • Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act
    • Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) – Regulation B
    • Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) – Regulation V
    • Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act – Regulation P
    • Home Mortgage Disclosure Act – Regulation C
    • Mortgage Acts and Practices – Regulation N
    • Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) – Regulation X
    • Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act of 2008 – Regulation H
    • Truth in Lending Act (TILA) – Regulation Z

Does Montana have a distance requirement? Can employees work from home?

Montana requires that MLOs physically work from a licensed location. In order to enforce this, the Division requires that MLOs within a reasonable commuting distance from their office, which is typically within 60 miles. The Division does allow the licensing of home offices, provided the individual meets the requirements to be a branch manager. 

Who can I contact for help regarding state licensing or other mortgage/consumer financing-related questions?

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Mortgage Loan Originator FAQs

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Who is an Mortgage Loan Originator (MLO)?

MLO (Mortgage Loan Originator) is defined within 32-9-103(32), MCA, means an individual who for compensation or gain or in the expectation of compensation or gain:

(1) Takes a residential mortgage loan application; or

(2) Offers or negotiates terms of a residential mortgage loan.

This includes an individual who represents to the public that the individual can or will perform the services described in (1) or (2) above.

What is a mortgage loan application?

An application is defined as “a request, in any form, for an offer of residential mortgage loan terms or a response to a solicitation of an offer of residential mortgage loan terms and includes the information about the borrower that is customary or necessary in a decision on whether to make such an offer.”

Do loan origination activities for manufactured homes trigger the need to be licensed as an MLO?

Yes.  Montana Statute requires that persons who take, offer, or negotiate terms of a residential mortgage loan be licensed.  A residential mortgage loan is defined as a loan primarily for personal, family, or household use secured by a mortgage, deed of trust, or other equivalent consensual security interest on a dwelling or on residential real estate located in Montana.  

Regulation Z, which implements the Truth in Lending Act, defines “dwelling” to mean “a residential structure that contains one to four units, whether or not that structure is attached to real property.  The term includes an individual condominium unit, cooperative unit, mobile home, and trailer, if it is used as a residence.”  The Department of Housing and Urban Development has interpreted “mobile home” to include a manufactured home, as defined in the National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974 (42 U.S.C. § 5402(6)).

As an individual, conducting my own mortgage broker business, what types of licenses do I need?

An individual who plans to work as an MLO for his or her own mortgage broker business must obtain the Montana Mortgage Broker License and the Montana Mortgage Loan Originator License.  This is required because under the NMLS program, every individual MLO must be linked to, or “sponsored” by a company.  This requires that an individual obtain both licenses.  For purposes of NMLS, Forms MU1, MU2, and MU4 will be required. Montana has a provision in Statute that grants some relief to the licensing fees in this situation. A mortgage broker entity owned by a Montana-licensed loan originator shall receive a $400 refund by mailed check after both licenses have been approved.

In order to license your own broker company, you must have three years of experience as a mortgage loan originator.

Can an MLO be sponsored by more than one mortgage broker or lender?

No, an MLO can only transact business for only one employing mortgage broker or lender pursuant to 32-9-116(1), MCA.

What happens when a sponsorship withdrawal is requested?

When a sponsorship is removed in NMLS, the Division will change the license status of the individual to approved-inactive. The MLO may not originate with an inactive license. When the MLO finds another sponsor and requests sponsorship in Montana, the Division will review the request, approve the sponsorship, and change the license status to approved.

I am applying for an MLO license. Do I have to get my own bond?

A licensed or registered broker or lender must cover its MLO employees under the company’s surety bond.

Can I be the real estate agent and the mortgage Loan originator on the same transaction?

Montana law does not prohibit it, but the Division of Banking and Financial Institutions has always strongly discouraged a person serving in both capacities as a real estate agent and mortgage loan originator on the same transaction. The Division believes that conflicts of interest may arise and that a separation of those duties is in the best interest of Montana consumers.  If a person did serve in both capacities on the same transaction the Division would expect the mortgage loan originator to provide a written disclosure (e.g. affiliated business disclosure) to ensure that the borrower was aware of the multiple hats that the individual was wearing on the transaction.

I was licensed in MT, but then left the mortgage industry. How do I get re-licensed?

If you left your state license to go work somewhere that requires federal registration, such as a bank or credit union, you can simply reapply for a state license (you may need to take CE from the last year you were licensed if you haven’t already). If you completely left the mortgage industry and it has been less than three (3) years since your license was terminated, you will need to complete late CE from the last year you were licensed and then reapply for a license. If it has been over three (3) years, you will need to retake the 20 hours of PE. If it has been over five (5) years, you will need to retake PE and the test which is pursuant to the NMLS Test Expiration Policy.

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Professional Standards

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How much pre-licensing education (PE) is required?

20 hours per 32-9-107, MCA.  This must include 3 hours of federal law and regulations; 3 hours of ethics, which shall include instruction on fraud, consumer protection, and fair lending issues; and 2 hours of training related to lending standards for the nontraditional mortgage product marketplace.  The applicant must also take two (2) hours of Montana-specific prelicensure education.  These two hours may be part of the required 20-hour PE requirement.  Pre-licensing education courses must be approved by the NMLS. 

When and how do I take the written test?

The national and state components of the written test are administered at testing centers throughout the United States.  An individual will first need to create his/her record in NMLS and then request information relating to test dates and locations.  Scheduling to take a test must be done through the NMLS website.

Am I required to take Continuing Education (CE)?

In order to renew your MLO license, pursuant to 32-9-118, MCA, all MLOs must take eight (8) hours of continuing education every year. Continuing education must be taken through an NMLS-approved education provider.

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Financial Responsibility, Character, and General Fitness

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I have bad credit. Will my application be approved?

Pursuant to 32-9-120(1)(c), MCA, the Division will review each MLO license application to see if the applicant demonstrated “financial responsibility, character, and general fitness to command the confidence of the community and to warrant a determination that the mortgage broker, mortgage lender, mortgage servicer, or mortgage loan originator will operate honestly, fairly, and efficiently within the purposes of this section.” Additionally, the Division has adopted rules that define its standards and procedures for determining financial responsibility and also has a rule which addresses reviewing applicants adverse credit history.  The Division often considers using a conditional license status if the applicant is cooperative in providing documentation and working towards improving their credit.

The Division often considers using a conditional license status if the applicant is cooperative in providing documentation and working towards improving their credit.

What is a conditional license?

A conditional license is the status assigned when the regulator has reviewed the license and decided to issue a license through NMLS provided certain conditions imposed by the regulator are met.  This status may also be used if a licensee is subject to conditions set by an administrative order that do not otherwise restrict their ability to conduct lawful activities under the license.

How does The Division determine whether an applicant is “financially responsible”?

Financial responsibility may be determined by several factors.  

I have a criminal background. Will my license be approved?

A criminal background increases the difficulty of making a favorable finding on an application.  While minor traffic offenses will not affect your chances for a license, pursuant to 32-9-120(1)(b), MCA, anyone who has received a felony conviction in the last seven (7) years or a felony conviction at any time involving an act of fraud, dishonesty, a breach of trust, or money laundering will not be licensed.  The Department verifies the criminal background of each applicant for a mortgage license.  Omissions regarding arrests are deemed to be a serious misrepresentation to the Department and can be the basis of a denial regardless of the nature or outcome of the arrest.

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Temporary Authority to Operate (TAO)

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Mortgage Company and Branch FAQs

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I want to become a mortgage licensee. What license(s) do I need?

  • Montana Mortgage Broker License - This license is required of any company or sole proprietorship that obtains, attempts to obtain, or assists in obtaining a mortgage loan for a borrower from a lender in return for, or in anticipation of, consideration.
  • Montana Mortgage Lender License - This license is required for any company or sole proprietorship that closes a residential mortgage loan, advances funds, offers to advance funds, or commits to advance funds for a mortgage loan.
  • Montana Mortgage Servicer License - This license is required for any entity that engages, for compensation or gain from another or on its own behalf, in the business of receiving any scheduled periodic payment from a borrower pursuant to the terms of a residential mortgage loan, residential mortgage servicing documents, or a residential mortgage servicing contract; or meets the definition of servicer in 12 U.S.C. 2605(i)(2).
  • Montana Independent Contractor Entity License - This license is required of any company or sole proprietorship that offers or engages in clerical or support duties as an independent contractor for another person. This license is a subset of the Montana Mortgage Broker License.

No license covers the activities of another. A company that is engaging in lending, brokering, and servicing in Montana requires all three licenses.

Does the Montana Mortgage Act require a licensee to have a physical office location in Montana?

No, Montana is not a brick and mortar state. You are not required to be physically present to do business here. Mortgage licensees must be in the United States or a U.S. Territory.

Is our company Qualified Individual/Branch Manager required to have a license?

Yes, the qualified individual/branch manager is required to hold an approved Montana Mortgage Loan Originator license and have three years of experience as an MLO.

Will company owners need to have their credit and background checked?

Yes.  Every control person, executive officer, director, general partner, and managing member of an organization must be “financially responsible” for the company applicant to obtain a license. They also must pass the same criminal background check requirements as an MLO.

For purposes of the NMLS, control persons include “any person that (i) is a general partner or executive officer, including Chief Executive, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operations Officer, Chief Legal Officer, Chief Credit Officer, Chief Compliance Officer, Director, and individuals occupying similar positions or performing similar functions; (ii) directly or indirectly has the right to vote 10% or more of a class of a voting security or has the power to sell or direct the sale of 10% or more of a class of voting securities; or (iii) in the case of a partnership, has the right to receive upon dissolution, or has contributed, 10% or more of the capital . . .”

I am a mortgage licensee. What reports must I file with the Department each year?

Licensed mortgage companies are required to file the Mortgage Call Report quarterly in NMLS.

Licensed servicers who file the Standard MCR are required to also file the Quarterly Statement of Mortgage Servicing Activity directly to the Division. This can be found of the forms page of our website

 

 

I am a mortgage licensee. What is a Mortgage Call Report and how do I file it?

Under the requirements of the Federal SAFE Act, all state mortgage licensees must submit a report of condition as required by NMLS. The NMLS Mortgage Call Report (MCR) was developed by state regulators to meet this requirement.

The MCR is required to be completed by (1) all state licensed companies and (ii) companies employing state licensed mortgage loan originators (MLOs).  Companies must submit at least their application and origination activity information on a quarterly basis.

If you held a state license or employed state licensed MLOs during a reporting period, you must complete the NMLS Mortgage Call Report, even if you had no origination activity during the period. 

How long should a licensee/registrant retain its records?

Pursuant to 32-9-121, MCA, records must be kept for a minimum of 5 years from the date of the last activity pertaining to the file.

Is there a list of specific items that must be maintained by mortgage broker, lenders, and servicers?

Does Montana have any state-specific loan disclosures?

2.59.1737, ARM requires Mortgage Brokers to disclosure a similar form as described in the rule. 

Are electronic signatures permissible on loan documents?

Yes. However, please make sure you are in compliance with the Electronic Signature in Global and National Commerce Act (E-Sign Act).

Are mortgage companies required to have a bond?

Yes, a separate bond is required for the mortgage broker, lender, and servicer licenses.  The amount of the required surety bond must be calculated by combining the annual loan production amounts for all persons originating residential mortgage loans and for all business locations of the mortgage broker or mortgage lender and must be in the following amount:

  • $25,000 for a combined annual loan production that does not exceed $50 million a year;
  • $50,000 for annual loan production of $50 million but not exceeding $100 million a year; or
  • $100,000 for annual loan production of more than $100 million a year.
The amount of the required surety bond for a mortgage servicer must be calculated on the servicer's total unpaid principal balance (UPB) of residential mortgage loans as of December 31. The amount of the surety bond must be in the following amount:
  • $75,000 for a UPB that does not exceed $25 million a year
  • $150,000 for a UPB of more than $25 million but not exceeding $100 million a year
  • $250,000 for a UPB of more than $100 million but not exceeding $500 million a year
  • $350,000 for a UPB of more than $500  million a year
All bonds must be electronic through NMLS. Please do not mail us anything related to a bond.

Does your Department ever fine its licensees?

Yes. Fines are imposed to ensure that licensees operate as specified by the Montana Mortgage Act (MMA) and the rules promulgated by the Department (the Act and Regulations). Fines provide the Department an option other than license REVOCATION OR SUSPENSION in order to ensure compliance with MMA. Those licensees who operate in a professional manner and strictly observe the provisions of the Act will probably never be fined. Those who violate the provisions of the Act or who commit prohibited acts will likely pay thousands in fines.

I hold a mortgage license. How often can I expect to have my operations examined by your Department?

The Department has the discretion to conduct examinations as often as it deems necessary and for reasons it deems necessary to determine if our licensees are conducting their operations in accordance with Montana law and Department Rules. Examinations result from any number of reasons, but are often scheduled as a result of information provided to the Department from a consumer complaint, an industry insider reporting questionable operations, to determine if serious problems from a previous examination have been corrected, or other factors such as a company never having been examined before. This results in the Department prioritizing examinations to monitor our licensees to ensure that your operations are conducted in a manner that protects the contractual and property rights of the citizens of Montana. The Department aims to do a limited scope exam of a licensee within its first 18 months of licensure and then at least every 3-5 years, provided that the licensee is engaged in business in Montana.

What laws regulate advertising of mortgage loans?

My company has a mortgage servicer license in Montana. Can we modify loans?

The Montana Mortgage Servicer license allows the holder to modify loans in their own portfolio as long as they are not charging the borrower for it. A servicer may not modify loans they subservice without a mortgage lender license.

If I am a loan processor or underwriter, working as an independent contractor, do I need to obtain a license?

Yes.  You would be required to hold the Montana Independent Contractor License or the Montana Mortgage Broker License. You would also be required to have one individual who holds the Montana Mortgage Loan Originator license and meets the requirements of a Responsible Individual or Qualified Individual, depending on the license.

If I am a loan processor or underwriter, and I am an employee, do I need to obtain an MLO license?

No, if you are an “individual who performs clerical or support duties” as an employee at the direction of and subject to the supervision and instruction of an MLO, or a person who is exempt from licensing as an MLO under the Montana Mortgage Act 

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Consumer Loan Company FAQs

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What is a consumer loan?

"Consumer loan" means credit offered or extended to an individual primarily for personal, family, or household purposes, including loans for personal, family, or household purposes that are not primarily secured by a mortgage, deed of trust, trust indenture, or other security interest in real estate.

Consumer loans do not include deferred deposit loans as defined in 31-1-703(5), MCA,  or residential mortgage loans as defined in 32-9-103(40), MCA.

Who is required to have a Montana Consumer Loan License?

Any entity that engages in the business of making or servicing consumer loans in Montana in any amount and contract for, charge, or receive directly or indirectly on or in connection with any loan any compensation, whether for interest, fees, other consideration, or expense.

The following are exempt from licensure:

  • A bank, building and loan association, savings and loan association, trust company, or credit union.
  • A person who makes fewer than four consumer loans a year with the person's own funds, does not represent that the person is a licensee, and complies with the provisions of Title 31, chapter 1, part 1.

What is considered servicing of consumer loans”?

It is the opinion of the Division that the provisions of the Montana Consumer Loan Act (Act) continue to apply to an entity that acts as a servicer by receiving or accepting payments due pursuant to a Montana Consumer Loan and either keeping those payments or directing them to another entity(s). It is the opinion of the Division that a servicer of Montana Consumer Loans must be licensed under the Act. The Act does not apply to utility providers, service providers (doctors, dentists, hospitals, chiropractors, etc.), estates, or loans originated by depository institutions.

Please read the Memorandum dated February 23, 2016 regarding servicing of Montana consumer loans.

How much is a Montana Consumer Loan license?

  • Initial Montana Consumer Loan license: $500
  • Montana Consumer Loan branch license: $500
  • Company and branch license renewal: $500 per license

When is a Montana Consumer Loan Branch license required?

A branch license is required for any other locations that make or service consumer loans.

I have a consumer loan license. Are any of my employees required to hold a license?

No, the Division only issues license to business entities and their branches.

Does Montana have a rate cap?

Yes, interest rates are capped at 36% per year pursuant to 32-5-301, MCA.

What laws and regulations do I need to be familiar with in order to meet the licensing requirements and properly operate in Montana as a consumer lender or servicer?

Does the Montana Consumer Loan Act require a licensee to have an actual physical office location in Montana?

No, Montana is not a brick and mortar state. You are not required to be physically present to do business here.

Is my company required to have a bond?

No, there is no bond required for a Montana Consumer Loan License.

I am a consumer loan licensee. What reports must I file with the Department each year?

Licensed consumer loan companies are required to submit the Annual Report to the Division every year by Feb. 15. This can be found on the forms page of our website.

A document sample/fee disclosure is required at application and every year at renewal per ARM 2.59.302.  Please upload this in NMLS under the document type “Document Samples”.

I hold a consumer loan license. How often can I expect to have my operations examined by your Department?

The Division has the discretion to conduct examinations as often as it deems necessary and for reasons it deems necessary to determine if our licensees are conducting their operations in accordance with Montana statute and corresponding administrative rules. The Division does conduct routine examinations.  Examinations may also result from consumer complaints or to determine if violations noted from a previous examination have been corrected.

Are there any exemptions for Consumer loans if the debt was incurred in another country?

Yes, if the transaction was entered outside the country and the person later moved to Montana, the Montana Consumer Loan Act does not apply. 

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The answers provided are not meant to be a substitute for legal advice.