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Montana Vehicle Registration

Before you start driving in your dream car, you must legally register it with the Montana government. Chapter 3 of Title 61 on the Montana Code Annotated states the processes involved for vehicle registration. 

In this article, we will take a quick look at the registration process for your new vehicle and define the steps you need to take. You can take the help of an agency for your registration purposes or commit to the process yourself. 

Where You Need to Go

In Montana, the Department of Justice Motor Vehicle Division (often referred to as the MVD) is responsible for issuing your registration, ownership title, and driver’s license. Each county has its own local office where you can reach out about registration.

You could call them at (406) 444-3933, email them, or visit their website to get answers to your queries about your vehicle registration. It is critical to remember that You must renew your registration once a year or every two years. 

What You Need to Know

Under the law of Montana, any vehicle operating in the state must be legally registered. If you’re a new resident in Montana, you will need to register your vehicle within 60 days of establishing residency. 

If you’re a non-resident employed in Montana, you will still need to follow the same processes. The paperwork applicable for the average Montana resident applies to you as well. 

What You Need to Do 

If you purchase your vehicle from Montana, chances are your dealership will file the paperwork for you and send the registration papers to your local County Treasurer’s office. As a Montana resident, you will need to do the following things. 

  1. Send over a completed vehicle registration paper

  2. Provide proof of your car insurance

  3. Show your car (or vehicle) title 

  4. Pay the appropriate fees considering the age, length, and type of your car

Now, let us briefly discuss the fees attached to different vehicles. Keep in mind every kind of vehicle has a unique registration process. 

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). 

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. 


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

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

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

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

Heavy Vehicle Registration

Montana offers an annual registration process for heavy vehicles. After the registration expires, you will have to renew your registration by the end of the following month. So if your registration expires on March 30th, you will need to renew your registration papers by April 30th. 


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 

Do note that all payments will have an added 3% administrative charge. 

Light Vehicle Registration 

As the owner of a light vehicle (i.e., sedan, passenger car, sports car), you can choose 

different registration types – 12 months, 24 months, or permanent registration. You will need to pay all registration fees, taxes, and license plate fees to complete your registration.


As mentioned in Chapter 3 of the Montana Code Annotated, registration fees combine the county option tax on light vehicles. Registration fees will not cover special plate fees that might be required for personalized or specialty plates. 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. These fees include a 3% administrative fee when the transaction is conducted.

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

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

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

Motorcycle Registration 

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


The fees are structured as follows: 

Street-legal motorcycle one-time fees: 



Flat fee for making bike street-legal


Flat fee for off-highway and street legal use


Motorbike safety fee


Montana Highway Patrol Salary and Retention Fee


Plate Manufacturing Fee


Off-highway motorbike one-time fees:

The 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 proceed with 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 provided that it is 11 years old or even older. It is important to keep in mind that the permanent registration of a motorhome 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. 


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 need to pay the gross vehicle weight fee. The registration fee schedule that underlines your core registration fee is as follows: 

Vehicle Age


Less than 2 years


2 years and over yet less than 5


5 years and over yet less than 8


8 years and over


11 years and over – permanent registration 


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

Registering Your Vehicle Using An Agency

The most convenient way to register your new vehicle is through an agency, like $49 Montana Registered Agent. Agencies allow you to register your vehicle by making an LLC for you. This can apply even if you’re not residing in Montana, as your LLC is still based in the state.

By registering the vehicle through an LLC, it will be considered an asset of the new company. And since you would be the owner of that LLC, you would have legal authority over the vehicle.

Now let’s start talking about how you can get your LLC ready. First, you need to select a unique business name. No two companies in Montana can have the same name. So please search the Montana Business Database to ensure your business name is unique and has not been replicated by another company. 

Once the first step is complete, you will have to find an agency. There are many agencies in Montana, and all of them offer similar services at different price ranges. $49 Montana Registered Agent is a reliable agency with competitive rates for its services. 

Once you select an agency, you will have to upload the required files and paperwork to finalize your LLC application. The articles will have to be submitted through the Montana Secretary of State web portal. Your agency will help you through this process.

Benefits of Using An Agency

In Montana, it is perfectly legal for you to create your LLC and register your vehicle. This can serve the following benefits for you:

  1. It is more affordable. Most states in the US impose a sales tax on your vehicle, which can cost you a lot. So if you’re a resident of California buying a new car for $50,000 where the state sales tax rate is 7.25%, you will save up to $2,776 in terms of your registration fees if you choose to work with an agency.

  2. It offers liability protection. If an accident caused injury or property damage, your business would have liability protection to safeguard you from risky lawsuits.

  3. You receive privacy. So if your personal information is important to you, you can choose to file your LLC’s information instead of yours when making your purchase. As a result, your name will not have to be attached to your vehicle title, registration, or other related documents. 


You have the freedom to complete the paperwork for your vehicle registration by yourself. If you are short on time, you can always take the help of an agency and let their experienced professionals guide you through the process. 

Hopefully, this article has given you insights into the process to make your registration journey easier.