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Montana Vehicle Registration Renewal

Looking to renew your car registration? This article will help show you what you need to do to register your vehicle again. Once your vehicle registration expires, you will need to renew it again from your local County Treasurer’s office. 


Chapter 3 of Title-61 in the Montana Code Annotated states the rules and regulations for registering your vehicle. You can take help from an agency to renew your vehicle registration or do it yourself by filing the relevant paperwork. 

What You Need to Know

In Montana, the Department of Justice Motor Vehicle Division (often referred to as the MVD) issues your registration, title, and driver’s license. You can call them at (406) 444-3933, email them, or visit their website to answer your existing questions about renewing your vehicle registration. 


An important thing to keep in mind is that your registration needs to be renewed each year or every two years. Moreover, your registration paper mentions the license plate associated with your vehicle. 

Where Do You Need to Go?

You will need to visit your local County Treasurer’s office, i.e., the county where your vehicle has been registered. You may call them before your visit so that you have a better understanding of what you’ll need to prepare. 


Remember that you will need to head back to the specific county where you initially registered your vehicle to renew the papers again. A few counties may permit you to proceed with the renewal through the mail if you live far away. You will need to contact them and see if they are permissive to that. 

Boat and Personalized Watercraft Vehicle Registration 

All boats, motorized watercraft, and pontoons must be permanently registered in Montana. This means you will need to incur a one-time fee for motorboats (i.e., rafts, canoes) and other watercraft vehicles. 


Montana boat owners will need to display the following things to comply with state and federal laws:


  1. A permanent registration decal: Your local county treasurer’s office will issue this. It will need to be white-colored and include “PERM.” It will need to be specifically placed on the left side at the front end of the boat.

  2. Boat validation decal: This expires every three years, but the decal provided will be free. 

Fees

  1. For a watercraft under 16 feet – $65.5 flat fee

  2. For a watercraft within 16-19 feet – $125.5 flat fee

  3. For a watercraft over 19 feet or longer – $295.5 flat fee


Once you register your boat or watercraft, you will have to contact the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks office near your place. There you will find information on how to get the required validation decals. 

Heavy vehicle registration 

The registration made by a commercial or heavy vehicle expires every 12 months. You will have to renew your registration by the end of the following month. So this means if your registration expires on March 30th, you will need to renew your registration papers by April 30th. 

Fees

For heavy vehicles, i.e., trucks, tractors, vans, buses, and so on, the fees vary according to the Manufacturer’s Rated Capacity. Fees are also dependent on the age and rated capacity of the vehicle. So the fees in total are-


  1. Gross Vehicle Weight fees that will vary by vehicle 

  2. Registration fee of $23.44

  3. Montana Highway Patrol Salary and Retention Fee of $10.30 


All fees will have a 3% administrative charge added to them. 

Light Vehicle Registration 

For light vehicles, you only have to get a renewal once the registration period for your car expires. Besides, you can also choose to renew your vehicle if you want to update the information in your documents. 


As a resident of Montana, you will have to renew your vehicle registration as soon as possible. You will need to visit your local county treasurer’s office during this stage.


The documents you will need to renew your vehicle registration are as follows:


  1. Your current license plate number

  2. Your unique vehicle identification number

  3. Your driver’s license

  4. Your payment for renewing your registration 


You can select different periods for registration – with a 12-month, 24 months, or permanent period.  You will need to pay all registration fees, taxes, and license plate fees to complete your registration.

Types of Registration

The rates allocated for each registration are the same. So it is up to you to decide in what time frame you’d wish to register your car based on your convenience. 


12-month registration: The car owner will pay one year of the registration rate, county option tax, other necessary registration fees, and other special plate fees. 


24-month registration: Like annual registrations, the owner will pay for all fees for a two-year period instead of one. This will increase the money spent, yet the rates will stay the same. 


Permanent registration: Montana allows you to permanently register your light vehicle if it is over 11 years. So you will not have to renew your car registration but retain and maintain your registration documents. 


You will only need to replace your registration papers if you lose them. 

Fees

As mentioned in Chapter 3 of the Montana Code Annotated, registration fees combine the county option tax on light vehicles. These fees will not cover special plate fees required for personalized or specialty plates. Moreover, registration fees are due upon renewal. 


The age of your vehicle determines the registration fee rate. The following are the fees you will need to pay. In addition, these fees include a 3% administrative fee when conducting the transaction.


  1. In case your car is 4 years old or younger: $217

  2. In case your car is 5-10 years old: $87

  3. In case your car is more than 11 years old: $28


Also note that some counties in Montana may choose to impose a county option tax that is calculated by the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, which will be depreciated accordingly. 

So, for example, your 2018 automobile registered in 2021 would be the depreciation multiplier set at 3 years. 

Motorcycle Registration 

As per the Montana Code Annotated 2021, all motorbikes must be permanently registered. You can legally use your motorbike for both highways and off-road use by paying the fees for each use case. 

Fees

The fees are structured as follows: 


Street-legal motorcycle one-time fees: 

Fee

Amount

Flat fee for making bike street-legal

$53.25

Flat fee for off-highway and street legal use

$114.5

Motorbike safety fee

$16

Montana Highway Patrol Salary and Retention Fee

$10

Plate Manufacturing Fee

$10


Off-highway motorbike one-time fees:

Flat fee for this is $61.25. An additional $10 will need to be incurred for the Montana Highway Retention Fee.

If your motorbike is meant for off-road use, you will need to have a white decal with the abbreviation “PERM.” This will be a permanent feature on your bike.

Motorhome Registration 

Motorhome owners will need to renew their registration once every 12 months. The owners will need to pay a fee that considers the age of the motorhome. If your registration expires in June of this year, you will have until July of the same year to renew your papers. 


Owners in Montana can choose to permanently register their motorhomes if it is 11 years old or even older. It is important to remember that the permanent registration does not shift to another owner if you decide to sell it. 


So if you buy a permanently registered motorhome, you will still need to register it yourself to retain that status permanently. 

Fees

Motorhome owners will be subject to the following fees: 


  1. The core registration fee

  2. The $10.30 Montana Highway Patrol Salary Fee

  3. A $10.30 new issue plate fee

  4. An insurance fee


If your motorhome is used as a commercial vehicle, you will also need to pay the gross vehicle weight fee. The registration fee schedule that underlines your core registration fee is as follows: 


Vehicle Age

Fee

Less than 2 years

$282.50

2 years and over yet less than 5

$224.25

5 years and over yet less than 8

$132.50

8 years and over

$97.50

11 years and over – permanent registration 

$237.50


All of these fees include a 3% administrative fee with no additional costs. 

Final Words 

Your current registration and plates remain active until your registration expires. Unless you own a permanently registered vehicle, you will need to renew your required registration papers within a month of your existing registration expiring. 


This article should give you a clearer picture of the fees involved and the documents required to renew your vehicle registration. Remember that you may contact your local county office to answer any questions. Hopefully, your experience with the renewal process will now be far more straightforward.