Montana Vehicle Registration

Montana Vehicle Registration: Complete Guide

Montana Vehicle RegistrationDo you plan to buy a secondhand vehicle in Montana? Always lookup the VIN to get a history check of any used car. You can confirm any theft incident or accident on a unit by reviewing an associated vehicle history report. In case you do not have the VIN, you may lookup the license plate number as an alternative.

Run a Free Vehicle Report:

If you are planning to drive a car in Montana in the long term, you must register with the Montana Motor Vehicle Division (MVD). For a fee, the car dealer will handle the paperwork for you if you buy from them. But when it comes to a private seller, you have to do it yourself in order to transfer the ownership under your name.

Check out all the information you need here at if you want to:

Montana License Plates

Montana License PlateMost vehicles are issued with two license plates to be displayed at the front and rear end of the vehicle. License plates are used for identification purposes and provide law enforcement a means to locate the vehicle owner through MVD records. License plates must have updated registration sticker in order to show that they are valid and not expired.

If your license plates have been stolen, mutilated, damaged, or lost; it is your responsibility to obtain a replacement. You’ll need to at one of the MVD offices. You may also need to surrender your remaining license plate(s) to an authorized agent.

  • $10.30 replacement plate fee (new number)
  • $15.45 duplicate plate fee (same number and type of plate)
  • $10.30 duplicate permanent tab fee

General Information on Montana Vehicle Registration

Montana vehicle owners acquire a 60-day grace period after becoming resident. Registered drivers who have changed residence have 10 days to update their MVD records.

The following vehicles are required by law to be registered in the state:

  • Motorcycles
  • Quadricycles
  • Travel Trailers
  • Utility Trailers
  • All-terrain Vehicles
  • Passenger Vehicles

Usual Requirements for Montana Vehicle Registration:

  • Title Application Form – MV1
  • Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin (if the vehicle is a brand new car)
  • Current Title (if the vehicle is secondhand)
  • Current Registration (if the vehicle is secondhand)
  • Proof of Valid Insurance
  • Odometer Statement
  • Bill of Sale
  • Payment for Applicable Fees
  • Lien Release (if there are pending liens that must be released)
  • VIN Check Form – MV20 (if the vehicle came from out of state)
  • Customs Entry Documents (if the vehicle came from out of state)

Usual requirements demanded by the MVD to the applicant:

  • Proof of Identity
  • Proof of Montana Residency
  • Proof of Authorized Presence

Non-resident military personnel who are stationed in Montana may keep their registration from their home state. If they do not have out-of-state registration, they may register in the state.

Likewise, other non-residents who are legally employed in the state may use their out-of-state registration. However, it must be presented to the MVD and the associated fees must be paid. Their license plates from both the home state and Montana must be displayed.

Regardless if the owner is an individual or a corporate entity, the owner must provide an identification number during any registration-related transactions.

Types of Vehicle Registration in Montana

Depending on your preference and your vehicle’s condition, you have three options to choose from when applying for vehicle registration. See the listed items below and their corresponding fees:

  1. 12-Month Registration
    • County Option Tax
    • Registration Fees
    • Specialty Plate Fees
  1. 24-Month Registration
    • County Option Tax
    • Registration Fees
    • Specialty Plate Fees
  1. Permanent Registration

This kind of registration only applies to vehicles that are 11 years old and older. As long as the unit did not change owner, its registration does not need to be renewed. You may pay some or all of the listed items with an MVD agent.

    • $87.50 Registration Fee
    • $10 Montana Highway Patrol Salary and Retention Fee
    • County Option Tax
    • $6 Optional State Parks Support
    • Special Plate fees
    • Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) fees
    • $5 Insurance Verification

The following special plates are not eligible for Permanent Registration:

  • National Guard
  • Reserved Armed Forces
  • Amateur Radio
  • Other Organizational Specialty Plates that require yearly donation fee or rectification

Vehicle Registration Fees in Montana

Montana MVD charges multiple when you register your vehicle. Each case is different. These fees will be charged during your car purchase if you buy from a deal/er. You must pay the MVD directly if you purchased your vehicle from a private party. The fees that are required from ALL vehicles include:

Commercial/Heavy Vehicle Applicable Fees:

  • Registration fee – $23.44
  • Montana Highway Patrol Salary and Retention Fee – $10.30

Registration Fees of Passenger Vehicles (based on age)

Age (in years)Amount
4 or less$217
5 – 10 years$87
11 or more$28

An additional $825 is added to the corresponding registration fee for units with these conditions:

  • A manufacturer’s suggested retail price over $150,000
  • 10 years old or less

Passenger Vehicle County Option Tax

The county from which you live in (or where your address is indicated) may impose a county option tax when you register your car.

– 1 Year100%Year 726%
Year 090%Year 821%
Year 180%Year 917%
Year 269%Year 1014%
Year 358%Year 1112%
Year 449%Year 1210%
Year 541%Year 139%
Year 633%Year 14 – 169%

Registration Renewal in Montana

Visit the county treasurer’s office of your residence to renew your registration. If you move to a different county, the registered address must be changed before the unit can be renewed. In case you qualify for an exception, show your proof of eligibility to an authorized MVD agent.

As an alternative to office visitation, you may request online renewal through their website. This will involve electronic payment of associated fees, which can be paid by credit card or electronic check.

When to renew registration?

  • One month before expiration
  • During grace period (30 days after expiration)
  • 30 days after the grace period

Conditions that qualify for a registration renewal in person:

  • Name change
  • Address change
  • Rectifying mistakes in vehicle details
  • Adjusting the gross vehicle weight (GVW) of a car
  • Renewing a specialty plate needing recertification

Details you need to supply when renewing:

  • Title Number
  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
  • Vehicle Number
  • Other ownership/supporting documents that may be demanded

Conditions that may qualify you for a renewal exemption:

  • If the commercial vehicle you are renewing has a taxable gross weight of 55,000 or more
  • If you are a non-resident working in Montana

If you want to confirm if a vehicle is registered in Montana or not, you may go to Montana Vehicle Search Service.

Selling/Buying a Vehicle in Montana

A person is only eligible to sell a car if:

  • They are listed as the owner on the title
  • They are an agent or operator of a Montana licensed dealer

Once you are done with the purchase, you must keep a written copy of the sale. The document must contain these details for the MVD to assess its merits when being registered:

  • Model Year
  • Make
  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
  • Name(s) of Owner(s)
  • Address
  • Driver’s License Number
  • Signature(s) of the Buyer(s)
  • Purchase Price
  • Date of Sale

For your convenience, you may fill out the MV24 Bill of Sale as your proof of purchase.

The license plates used by the previous owner belong to them. Thus, they must be surrendered upon completing the sale.

As a new owner, you must get your own new set of license plates. This can be done when you register and title your vehicle at a county treasurer’s office.

If you want to transfer the license plates of your vehicle to another vehicle you own, you may send your request to the same office.

In the meantime, you may obtain a 40-day temporary registration permit while waiting for your license plates to arrive. You may get one from a licensed dealer or from a state county treasurer’s office.

Vehicle Liens in Montana

While liens are not an impediment in getting a vehicle registered, it is highly discouraged to register a vehicle with an unresolved lien/security interest.

The lienholder could press charges if the remaining loan has not been paid. The vehicle may also be confiscated right after being registered.

Some of the most common lienholders associated with a car loan:

  1. Bank
  2. Lending Institution
  3. Private Party

The identity of the lienholder(s) and their whereabouts can be identified on the title. If the outstanding balance has been fully paid, complete the lien release form (MV37A).

Minimum Vehicle Insurance Coverage in Montana

  • $25,000 bodily injury per person per accident
  • $50,000 bodily injury for all persons per accident
  • $10,000 property damage liability
  • $10,000 property damage liability
  • $25,000/$50,000 uninsured motorist coverage

Get in touch with a licensed insurance agent in Montana when buying a car. All passenger cars must have a valid insurance policy to be eligible to drive in the state.

If you were a seller, you must cancel any active insurance policy upon selling the car. The charges may continue if you fail to deactivate it on time.

Salvage-titled Vehicles in Montana

To operate a salvage vehicle in the state, the owner must present these files to an authorized entity:

  • Title Certificate
  • Salvage Certificate
  • Bill of Sale(s)
  • Other Appropriate Receipts, if there is any
  • Source(s) of Component Parts used to restore the vehicle

The vehicle subject to retitling must be inspected by a competent authority. The agent may either be a department employee or a designated peace officer.

The owner must procure a temporary registration permit to move the vehicle to and from the inspection site.

If the vehicle’s roadworthiness is recognized, a copy of the inspection report will be given to you. The department will issue a new title recognizing the vehicle as a ‘rebuilt salvage’ or equivalent.

Acceptable Documents in Montana MVD

Proof of Identity

  • Primary Documents
    • Montana Driver’s License
    • Identification Card
    • Birth Certificate
    • U.S. Passport
  • Secondary Documents
    • U.S. Social Security Card
    • Canadian Social Insurance Card
    • Marriage Certificate
    • Government-issued License
    • Expired Driver’s License
    • Expired Identification Card

Proof of Montana Residency

  • Automobile Insurance Policy/Statement
  • Life Insurance Policy/Statement
  • Copy of Rental Agreement
  • Rent Payment Receipt, including:
    • Landlord/Rental Agent’s signature
    • Applicant’s Name
    • Applicant’s Residential Address
  • Certificate Copy of School Records

Proof of Authorized Presence

  • Birth Certificate
  • U.S. Passport

Documents Needed for Name Change

  • Marriage Certificate
  • Court Decision for Name Change
  • Divorce Decree Specifying Name Change
  • Dissolution of Marriage Decree Specifying Name Change
  • Certificate of Naturalization