Standard Plates | Antique Plates | Military Plates | Veterans | Sponsored Plates | Other including physical disability & parking placards | Collect Sample Plates | Temporary Registration Permits | Specialty License Plate Donations list
The Title and Registration Bureau regulates the issuance of vehicle license plates. Once you have titled and registered your vehicle and paid all taxes and fees, the county treasurer’s office gives you your plates. If the plates you want are not on hand, the county treasurer gives you a 40-day temporary permit.
Montana drivers can choose from a number of license plates, ranging from the standard plate to designs that reflect their military service or show their support for a Montana college or community organization.
Transferring plates – License plates stay with the owner and may be transferred to another vehicle only when the vehicle is properly registered through the county treasurer.
Personalized plates are available for an additional fee of $25, and then $10 for each transfer and/or renewal of that plate. If you want to personalize a sponsored plate, there are additional sponsor fees. For requirements and additional information, see the Application for Personalized License Plates (MV8).
License plate decals, which indicate that an owner has paid all the taxes and fees on a vehicle, generally are issued for a one-year period by the county treasurer in the county where the vehicle is subject to tax or fee. The decal must be placed on the rear plate.
Standard plates are issued to all vehicle owners unless they request other plates. Montana law requires the issuance of new plates every five years.
The Montana plate pictured above was issued beginning in January 2010. Each design element echoes Montana’s classic license plates. The white Montana outline on a solid blue background harkens back to the plates of the ’70s, and the “Treasure State” slogan along the top was used through the ’50s. The clear-cut, white lettering for the state name and plate number is also a classic look, and makes it easier to read the plate from a distance. The “10” after Montana is for the issue year of the design, a feature that was used through the ’80s. The “dot” between the county prefix and the plate number is the familiar silhouette of a bison skull.
Plate Choice and Permanent Registration – Vehicle owners who have permanently registered a light vehicle or trailer may continue to use the plates issued to them at the time they registered their vehicle. Vehicle owners who wish to use the 2010-issue plate may request the new plates upon surrender of their old plates displaying the permanent tab and payment of one or more of the following:
The following standard-issue plates from 1989, 1991, 2000, and 2006 are available as an alternative to the blue 2010 plate. The same standard-issue plate fees, options, and conditions apply to the 1991, 2000, and 2006 plates, but the 1989 design is numbered like a sponsored plate and is not available in military or amateur radio options.
|Alternate Standard Plates|
A Montana title must be issued in the applicant’s name before Vintage or Pioneer plates can be issued.
Original Montana license plates were issued during the same year a motor vehicle was manufactured. For example, the owner of a 1976 Dodge may want to use a set of plates issued in 1976. Original Montana license plates are not re-manufactured by the state – the applicant must obtain existing plates. A Montana title must be issued in the applicant’s name before Original plates can be registered.
To display Original license plates on a vehicle used for general transportation, the vehicle must be 25 years old or older. The applicant must have a set of two Original Montana license plates and:
To display Original license plates on a vehicle used solely as a collector’s item, not for general transportation, the vehicle must be 30 years old or older. The applicant must have a set of two Original Montana license plates and:
Montana residents who are active members of the regular armed forces, National Guard or reserve armed forces may be issued special license plates according to their branch of service. However, they must surrender the plates to the department when they are no longer eligible.
Veterans may be issued special license plates displaying the letters “DV”, which entitle them to disabled parking privileges, if they:
Unlike other military license plates, DV plates cannot be transferred to a surviving spouse.
U.S. military family members who are eligible for a Gold Star Lapel Button may be issued special Gold Star Family license plates upon application and after paying all applicable motor vehicle, trailer, semitrailer, or pole trailer registration fees and special license plate fees.
If you cannot find the Department of Veterans Affairs’ letter verifying your or your deceased spouse’s disability rating, payment status or death due to service-connected injury or disability, contact the Veterans Service Office of the Montana Department of Veterans Affairs at (406) 495-2080.
When purchasing license plates, registering your vehicle, or renewing vehicle registration, the veteran designation on a driver license or ID card is not proof of eligibility to receive veteran license plates or exemption from vehicle registration fees under Montana law. Veterans must continue to provide official documentation confirming eligibility to display veteran license plates or receive exemption from vehicle registration fees.
Motor vehicle registration fees and, in some cases, the veterans cemetery fee, may be waived for individuals who purchase military or veteran license plates and who provide a letter from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs verifying that they:
Provided a surviving spouse of a military service member has not remarried, the spouse is entitled to the fee waiver(s) if the deceased spouse meets any one of the following criteria:
Note: When purchasing license plates, registering your vehicle, or renewing vehicle registration, the veteran designation on a driver license or ID card will not be accepted as proof of eligibility to receive veteran license plates or exemption from vehicle registration fees. Veterans must continue to provide official documentation confirming eligibility to display veteran license plates or receive exemption from vehicle registration fees.
License plates sponsored by qualified organizations, colleges or governmental bodies are designed with distinctive backgrounds, colors or phrases that identify the sponsoring organization. Sponsored plates are authorized under MCA Title 61, Chapter 3, Part 4.
You must register your vehicle annually to have sponsored plates, with these exceptions – by paying a one-time contribution, light vehicles 11 years and older that are eligible for permanent registration, and trailers that must be permanently registered, may have sponsored plates. The cost of the plates and renewing them each year includes a donation that goes directly to the sponsoring organization. By purchasing these plates, people show their support for an organization and make a financial contribution to its work. The Specialty License Plate Donations list shows the quarterly total of donations collected for each sponsoring organization.
How to Purchase and Renew Sponsored Plates with No Eligibility Requirements
How to Purchase and Renew Sponsored Plates with Eligibility Requirements
Eligibility – A few organizations restrict their plates to people who meet certain eligibility requirements. For example, the Montana State Fire Chiefs’ Association plate is available only to active and retired firefighters and members of fire boards. To apply for and renew plates with specific eligibility requirements:
How to Sponsor a License Plate
Amateur Radio Operator plates are available to a vehicle owner who holds an unrevoked and unexpired official amateur radio station license and operator’s license. The plates display the owner’s amateur radio call letters assigned by the federal communications commission.
How to Apply for and Renew an Amateur Radio Plate
Physical disability plates feature a wheelchair symbol and are available for people with permanent disabilities, in accordance with MCA 49-4-301. Parking permit placards are also available for people with permanent or temporary disabilities.
How to Apply for or Renew Physical Disability Plates
Recertification of a permanent disability is not required to renew physical disability plates.
How to Apply for or Renew a Physical Disability Parking Permit Placard
Under MCA 61-3-431, special mobile decals are available to people who own, lease or rent special mobile equipment that must occasionally be moved on the highways, such as a fertilizer spreader or ditch-digging equipment.
How to Apply for and Renew a Special Mobile Equipment Decal
For individuals who collect license plates, current Montana plates are available from the Title and Registration Bureau by completing the Order Form for Sample License Plates (Form MV6) and paying the applicable fee. Some sponsoring organizations also sell sample license plates to collectors. Contact the organization of your choice.
When you purchase a vehicle or choose a license plate that is not immediately available, the vehicle dealer or your county treasurer’s office issues a temporary registration permit (TRP). This permit allows you to drive the vehicle until you receive your new registration and plates. The temporary permits are generated electronically, with a unique number and a detachable proof of temporary vehicle registration.
Using the Permits