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Montana Motorcycle and ATV Registration

If you own a motorcycle or an ATV, you should get it registered as soon as possible. Besides being required by law, registration allows you to drive your vehicle legally, whether on the highway, off-highway, or both.

If you’re a Montana resident, you can get your motorcycle registered without paying a sales tax. As a result, you’ll be saving a lot of money. 

But what if you’re not a Montana resident? Can you still be able to enjoy an exemption from sales tax?

The short answer is yes. Many individuals register their vehicles in Montana despite not being a resident.

This article will guide you on how you can register your motorcycle in Montana without paying any sales tax, the required fees, the benefits of registration, how long it can take, and the question of whether all of this is legal or not. Don’t worry; it is completely legal.

Why Register Your Motorcycle/ATV in Montana?

You’d want to register here because Montana residents do not have to pay sales tax on their motor vehicles. This includes bikes, cars, boats, and even RVs.

All the states in the US have varying policies when it comes to taxation. There have been a lot of cases regarding Montana’s stance on no sales tax, and it looks like they won’t change it anytime soon.

If you buy a 2022 Harley Davidson Iron 883 in Florida, it’ll cost you $12,000. The sales tax is 6%, so you’d have to pay an additional $720. If you buy one in Montana, you can save money and register it here.

Montana law recognizes LLCs as residents, so they don’t have to pay sales tax. Non-residents can enjoy the tax exemption by forming a Montana LLC and using it to register their motorcycles. 

How to Register Your Motorcycle/ATV in Montana?

This section contains a detailed guide on how to get your motorcycle/ATV registered in Montana. All the necessary documents have been included in the Registration Requirements subsection below.

Montana Residents Registration

After establishing residency in Montana, new residents must register their motorcycle/ATV within 60 days.

As titling is also required, you can do it simultaneously with the registration. If you’ve purchased your motorcycle from a Montana dealership, they will send all the necessary documents to the county treasurer’s office.

Non-Residents Registration

If you don’t live in Montana, you’re considered a non-resident. People employed in Montana are considered temporary residents. In either case, you must complete the registration and display both the license plates from your permanent state of residence and Montana.

You can register from the county treasurer’s office directly, but you’ll have to register your motorcycle/ATV under your Montana LLC if you want the sales tax exemption. Here’s how you can do it.

LLCs

Limited Liability Companies, or LLCs for short, are business entities that combine aspects of other business entities such as sole-proprietorships, partnerships, and corporations. Montana considers their LLCs as residents and grants them the same privileges and rights. Forming a Montana LLC is not very expensive. It will cost you around $70 for the initial filing fees and $20 for the annual maintenance cost.

The first step in starting your own LLC is to develop a unique business name. No other business with the same name can exist. You can cross-check the name with the Montana Business Database to ensure the name is not repeated.

After selecting the name, you need to have a Montana Registered Agent. It can be an individual or an organization that can accept legal documents on behalf of the LLC. Next, you have to file the Articles of Organization.

You must file these documents for a business to establish its corporation in the state. It includes the LLC’s name, mailing addresses, age, registered agent’s information, managers and members, management structure, and the signature and title of the individual who is filing the Articles.

You can also submit them online through the Montana Secretary of State.

After forming the LLC, your agent will give you the necessary documents to start the registration. Then, you can purchase your motorcycle under the LLC. The dealership will send your title work to your registered agent, and they will file the registration.

Registration Requirements

Montana residents can visit their local county treasurer’s office with these documents:

  • Current out-of-state title and registration
  • Inspection for motorcycles and ATVs, also known as Form MV70. This is proof that your motorcycle is safe and in working order
  • Application for Title Certificate, also known as Form MV1
  • Bill of Sale, or Form MV24 if you’re not purchasing from a dealership
  • Montana motorcycle insurance proof
  • Proof of payment of fees

Fees

Section 61-3-321 of the MCA (Montana Code Annotated) requires all street-legal motorcycles and quadricycles to be permanently registered. In Montana, motorcycle registration consists of getting only permanent plates. This means that you have to register your vehicle one time only, without being bothered with annual registrations.

You can register your motorcycle for highway and off-highway by paying the appropriate fees. The fees listed below will include a 3% Administrative Fee during the transaction.

The permanent decal for off-highway vehicles is white and includes the abbreviation “PERM.”

Description Amount ($)
Flat Fee, Street Legal Only 53.25
Flat Fee, Off-Highway Only 61.25
Flat Fee, Street Legal and Off-Highway 114.50
Motorcycle or Quadricycle Safety Fee 16.00
Montana Highway Patrol Salary and Retention Fee 10.00
Plate Manufacturing Fee 10

Benefits of Registering Your Motorcycle/ATV in Montana

For starters, Montana is one of the few states that do not charge a property or sales tax. This helps you save money in both the short and long term.

Next, you get permanent plates, so you don’t have to renew your registration annually. This saves you money, time, and the hassle of constantly going to the County Treasurer’s Office.

Owning your motorcycle/ATV under your LLC also prevents you from getting your personal information (name, address, contact info) on the public record.

If your motorcycle/ATV is lost, having it registered will help you find it. It legally acknowledges you as the vehicle owner. As a result, you can resell your vehicle in the future if you want.

How Long Does Registration Take?

The duration depends on the method of registration. If you’re using an agent, it can take about a week after you’ve formed your LLC. 

If you’re registering on your own, it can take around three weeks or more. If you want custom plates then it will take a bit longer.

Is It Legal?

The court has expressed concern about creating LLCs solely for tax exemption, but it is perfectly legal. 

The case of Thomas v. Bridges, 2013-C-1855 (Sup. Ct. LA May 7, 2014) illustrates that Robert L. Thomas, a Louisiana resident, had purchased his RV through his LLC in Montana. He hadn’t paid the exempted sales tax, and when the Louisiana Department of Revenue found out about it, Mr. Thomas was charged with owing the state money.

The case did not hold in court as he formed the LLC legally, and its rights were extended to the owner. So, Mr. Thomas did not owe the state any money.

Conclusion

Purchasing a motorcycle is an expensive investment. Maintenance, the cost of petrol, and taxes can further increase the cost, which takes out some of the delights of owning one in the first place. Thankfully, there are legal loopholes that allow you to save upon at least one of them.

Alaska, Delaware, New Hampshire, and Oregon are some other states alongside Montana that have sales tax exemptions, although they have different rates for other taxes. Montana has become very famous for its generous tax rules. Owners of all vehicles thus prefer getting registered in Montana.

Montana residents have very few reasons not to get registered as soon as possible. While you can do it independently, finding an agent will speed up the process. It won’t be difficult as there are tons of them, but you’d want to consider spending some time finding an agent you can trust.