Welcome to the MVD Frequently Asked Questions page! Here, we’ve consolidated the most commonly asked questions from the public. However, for the most comprehensive information, we recommend visiting the appropriate MVD web page (Driver Licensing, Title and Registration, License Plates) or calling (406) 444-3933.
- How do I get a Montana driver license?
- What are the age requirements for obtaining a Montana driver license?
- How much does a driver license cost?
- What documents do I need to bring with me when applying for a driver license?
- What forms of payment are accepted?
- Do I need to schedule an appointment?
- How do I renew my driver license?
- I lost my driver license, what should I do?
- How should I prepare for my driver license exam?
- How do I obtain a certified copy of my birth certificate?
- What is REAL ID?
- Why is Montana not compliant with the REAL ID Act of 2005?
- Does Montana have an extension to REAL ID compliance from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)?
- When will the Department of Homeland Security begin enforcement of the REAL ID Act for Montana?
- When will I need a REAL ID identification to travel by air?
- What are the accepted alternative forms of identification for air travel if Montana does not become REAL ID compliant?
- What do I need to do if I am visiting a federal facility or military base after October 10, 2015?
- What do I need to do if I am visiting a federal facility or military base after Montana’s grace period ends?
- Are there federal facilities that REAL ID does not apply to?
- Can I still use my Montana driver license as a primary form of ID at the Social Security Administration (SSA)?
- Are Montana driver licenses and identification cards secure?
- Will Montana receive another extension?
Light Vehicle Title and Registration
- What is a light vehicle?
- What documents do I need to bring with me to title and register my vehicle?
- What forms of payment are accepted?
- How long is my vehicle registration valid for?
- How much does it cost to register my vehicle?
- When can I permanently register my light vehicle or motorhome?
- How is the fee for permanent registration assessed for light vehicles?
- Can I use specialty plates when I purchase permanent registration for my light vehicle or trailer?
- Can I transfer a permanent registration to another owner after I have sold the vehicle registered?
- When can I permanently register my trailer, street-legal motorcycle, street-legal quadricycle, or snowmobile?
- How do I renew my vehicle registration?
- How do I title a car in my name?
- How do I get a replacement title for my vehicle?
- What license plates can I order for my vehicle?
- Where can I order a license plate?
- How much does a new license plate cost?
- How do I personalize a plate and how much does it cost?
Montana residents who meet the age requirements and who wish to obtain a driver license must pass both a written knowledge test and a road skills test. Both tests can be taken at any Montana driver license exam station. If you’ve recently moved to Montana and have a valid driver license from another state, the driver license examiner may, at their discretion, waive the written and road skills test.
All applicants ages 18 and over may apply for a full privileged driver license. A 16 year may apply for a learner license with the written consent of their parent or guardian. A 15 year old may apply for a learner license upon completion of a state-approved traffic education program and with the written consent of their parent or guardian. After satisfying the requirements of the learner license, a teen may apply for a first-year restricted license.
Along with the flat .50 cent fee for mailing the license renewal reminder, the cost of a class D (non-commercial) license is $5 for every year it is valid for. For example, a license valid for 8 years would be $40.50, a license valid for 7 years would be $35.50, etc. Typically, applicants between the ages of 21 and 67 will receive a license valid for 8 years. More information can be found at cost and length of a regular license.
Cash, check, money order, and credit cards.
Yes. Most transactions require appointment scheduling.
You may renew your license in person at any driver license exam station. If you are temporarily out of state or in a county that does not provide driver license services, you may renew by mail. However if you renew by mail, your next renewal must be done in person.
You may obtain a replacement license from any driver license exam station in person by bringing in two documents as proof of identity and a form of payment. If you are temporarily out of state, you may request a replacement license by mail using Replacement Driver License by Mail (form 21-2000). The cost of a replacement license is $10.
To prepare for the written knowledge test, read through and be familiar with the Montana Driver Manual. Applicants can also practice using the MT.gov Driver Test mobile application, available on iTunes. To prepare for the road skills test, get as much time as you can behind the wheel under the supervision of a licensed driver before testing.
A certified birth certificate can serve as both proof of identity and proof of authorized presence. If you were born in Montana, you may obtain a certified copy of your birth certificate from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Vital Statistics office, or, in some cases, at your County Treasurer’s Office. If you were born in another state, please refer to the CDC’s state directory for your vital records.
In 2005 the United States Congress passed the REAL ID Act based on a recommendation from the 9/11 Commission to establish “standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.”
Concerns over privacy issues and federal overreach have driven Montana’s overwhelming opposition to REAL ID. In 2007 the Montana legislature, by unanimous vote and with support of the governor, determined that Montana would not participate in the implementation of the REAL ID Act of 2005. Specifically, the Montana legislature under MCA 61-5-128 directed the Department of Justice (DOJ), including the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD), to not implement any provisions of the REAL ID Act of 2005.
Montana’s extension from enforcement of the REAL ID Act ended on October 10, 2016. DHS is authorized to grant extensions to states where there is adequate justification for noncompliance.
There is approximately a 90 day grace period from the end of Montana’s extension before the enforcement begins. Enforcement will begin on January 30th, 2017 for all Montana licenses and ID cards. For the current enforcement status and schedule, please visit the DHS website.
Starting January 22, 2018, all passengers boarding commercial flights in the United States must present identification from a state compliant with REAL ID, identification from a state that received an extension, or an acceptable alternative form of identification.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has many types of identification that are acceptable instead of a REAL ID compliant driver license or state issued identification card. You may find a list of these alternative forms of identification at the TSA website.
You may contact your airline for questions regarding specific ID requirements for travelers.
Starting October 10, 2015, a person who is visiting a military base or almost all federal facilities must present identification compliant with REAL ID or identification from a state that received an extension.
Montana’s extension to become compliant with REAL ID ended on October 10, 2016. DHS gives an approximate 90 day grace period before enforcement of the REAL ID Act begins. This means on January 30, 2017, you will need a REAL ID compliant identification or acceptable alternative form of identification to visit a military base or almost all federal facilities.
You should contact the federal facility or military base to determine what identification will be accepted prior to visiting the facility.
There are certain federal facilities that do not require a person to present identification. You may find the types of federal facilities at the DHS website.
Yes. The SSA will still accept your Montana driver license for all services as a primary ID. You can call the SSA customer service line if you have further questions about the SSA’s policy on REAL ID at 1-800-772-1213.
Yes. Montana produces secure credentials that fight fraud and protect the identities of its citizens.
The Governor’s office has not submitted another extension request.
Light Vehicle Title and Registration
A light vehicle is a passenger car, pickup truck weighing 1 ton or less, van, or SUV.
You’ll need to bring a valid Montana driver license, proof of insurance, and a form of payment.
All County Treasurer Offices accept cash and check, though at their discretion and with some additional fees, some counties do accept credit or debit cards.
Standard vehicle registrations are valid for 1 year.
This depends on a variety of things, including the age of your car, the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP), and the county that you live in. Please refer to the Title and Registration web page for details.
If your light vehicle or motorhome is eleven years old or older, you may be eligible for permanent registration. According to Montana Code Annotated (MCA) 61-3-501, “the age of a vehicle is determined by subtracting the manufacturer’s designated model year from the current calendar year.” You can view all registration fees under MCA 61-3-321. You can view all permanent registration fees and considerations under MCA 61-3-562.
Permanent registration starts with a base fee of $87.50 for light vehicles. County option taxes are assessed and added. The $6 optional state parks support, $5 Montana Highway Patrol Salary and Retention Fee, the $5 insurance verification fee (if existing plates are kept on vehicle), and certain special plate fees and gross vehicle weight (GVW) fees (if applicable) are added as well. MCA 61-3-562 explains how fees are assessed for permanent registration, including multiplication of certain fees when permanently registering.
Certain sponsored plates are available when permanently registering your vehicle for a one-time contribution amount. However, plates that require a yearly recertification and plates that require a yearly donation fee are not eligible. These plates include: National Guard, reserved armed forces, amateur radio, and some organizational specialty plates.
No. Remove the permanent plates from any permanently registered vehicle before the new owner takes possession of the vehicle. You are legally and financially liable for those plates. Any damages, traffic tickets, or even criminal activities associated with permanent plates/registration are bound to the original applicant.
All trailers, street-legal motorcycles, street-legal quadricycles, and snowmobiles must be permanently registered.
All titling work should be done at your county treasurer’s office (CTO). If you purchased your car from a dealership, the dealership will have mailed your paperwork to the CTO, where you will need to go to fill it out. If you purchased your car from a private seller, you’ll need to bring the original title to your CTO, signed by the seller.
If you’re the registered owner of a light vehicle, you may select from any of the five standard Montana plates or from most of the non-standard plates. Some restrictions apply to a handful of plates, such as military or antique license plates.
You must order your license plate in person at your County Treasurer’s Office.
The production fee for a standard license plate is $10. Additional fees for non-standard plates vary.
To personalize a plate, you’ll need to submit form MV8 at your County Treasurer’s Office when ordering a license plate. A personalized plate is an additional $25, on top of the $10 production fee, and any non-standard plate fees that may apply.