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?
- Is Montana going to issue REAL ID compliant credentials?
- When will Montana begin to issue REAL ID compliant credentials?
- When will I need a REAL ID compliant identification to travel domestically by air?
- When will I need a REAL ID compliant identification to access federal facilities?
- Does Montana have an extension on the full implementation of the REAL ID Act?
- When will the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) begin enforcement of the REAL ID Act for Montana?
- What are the accepted alternative forms of identification for air travel?
- Are there federal facilities that REAL ID does not apply to?
- Do I have to get a REAL ID compliant credential?
- Is there an additional fee to get a REAL ID compliant credential?
- Why is there an additional fee to get a REAL ID compliant credential?
- How many REAL ID compliant credentials will the State issue to me
- Will MVD issue me a REAL ID compliant credential and a non-compliant credential
- How can you tell if a credential is REAL ID compliant or not
- Are temporary credentials REAL ID compliant
- Are Montana driver licenses and identification cards secure?
- What are the requirements for getting a REAL ID compliant credential?
- What does MVD do with the documents I submit for a REAL ID compliant credential?
- What is an Enhanced Driver License?
- Will Montana be issuing enhanced driver licenses?
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 .52 cent fee for mailing the license renewal reminder, the cost of a class D (non-commercial) license is $5.15 for every year it is valid for. For example, a license valid for 8 years would be $41.72, a license valid for 7 years would be $37.20, 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. Pre-paid receipts will have a nominal fee variation when paid at a county treasurer’s office.
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 Mail-in Replacement (All Driver Licenses & ID Cards) (form 21-2000). The cost of a replacement license is $10.30. Pre-paid receipts will have a nominal fee variation when paid at a county treasurer’s office.
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.”
Yes. In 2017 the Montana Legislature passed SB 366 authorized Montana to issue REAL ID compliant credentials.
If Montana continues to receive extensions from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), then beginning in January of 2019, Montana will begin issuing REAL ID compliant credentials. If extensions are denied, then Montana will begin issuing REAL ID compliant credentials as soon as possible.
If Montana does not receive another extension, starting January 8, 2019, travelers with a Montana driver license or identification card must have an alternative form of acceptable identification for domestic air travel to board their flight.
Starting October 1, 2020, every air traveler will need a REAL ID compliant license, or another acceptable form of identification, for domestic air travel.
If Montana does not receive another extension from Department of Homeland Security (DHS), starting January 8, 2019, a person with a Montana driver license or identification card who is visiting a military base or almost all federal facilities will be required to have an alternative form of acceptable identification to access the federal facility.
Yes. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) granted Montana a one-year extension for REAL ID implementation until October 10th, 2018. During this time, Montana credentials are still accepted as identification for domestic, commercial flights and as identification to access federal facilities. As long as Montana continues to demonstrate a commitment “to achieving full compliance and making substantial and documented progress” of the REAL ID Act, we believe we will continue to receive extensions until we are capable of issuing REAL ID compliant credentials.
DHS will not give any extension beyond October 1, 2020. On that date, all individuals who want to access certain federal facilities or travel by air in the United States, must have either a REAL ID compliant credential or an acceptable alternative form of identification.
DHS indicated that additional extensions will only be granted if Montana continues to demonstrate a commitment “to achieving full compliance and making substantial and documented progress” of the REAL ID Act.
Montana will continue to request extensions. For the current enforcement status and schedule, please visit the DHS website.
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.
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 under “Limitations.”
No. MVD offers compliant and non-compliant credentials. The decision to get a REAL ID compliant credential is yours.
Yes. The fee varies depending on when your credential expires.
- $25.00 if applying for a REAL ID compliant credential at your regular renewal period
- $50.00 if applying for a REAL ID compliant credential outside of a regular renewal period
REAL ID requires additional equipment, security steps to our processes, employees, and system upgrades to meet federal requirements. The additional fees fund these requirements. The fees collected may only be used to fund the costs associated with providing REAL ID compliant credentials.
Yes. You can hold only one REAL ID compliant credential, either a driver license or an identification card. The chart shows the options for holding a REAL ID compliant credential and a non-compliant credential(s). If you decide to have a REAL ID compliant credential, you may select one of the following options:
Driver License Identification Card REAL ID Compliant Non-compliant REAL ID Compliant Non-compliant One None None As many as you pay for None One One None
A REAL ID compliant credential will have a gold star on the front upper right corner.
A non-compliant credential will have words stating “Not for Federal Identification Purposes.”
No. Temporary credentials are made on special paper, but do not have the security features of a regular plastic credential and are not REAL ID compliant. A learner permit, commercial learner permit, restricted driver license, or temporary credential while you wait for your plastic credential are not REAL ID compliant.
Once REAL ID is fully implemented, you cannot use a temporary credential to fly domestically or to access most federal facilities.
Yes. Montana produces secure credentials that deter fraud and protect the identities of its citizens.
When Montana is closer to issuing a REAL ID compliant credential, the Motor Vehicle website will be updated with the acceptable documents. The documents are similar to what MVD already requires to be issued a new credential with a few differences.
An individual applying for a REAL ID compliant credential must bring:
- Documents to prove their identity.
- Documents to prove authorized presence.
- Documents to prove Montana residency.
MVD will scan the documents. These documents will be securely stored along with all your information that MVD currently maintains on your driving record.
State-issued enhanced driver licenses (EDLs) provide proof of identity and U.S. citizenship, and are issued in a secure process providing for an alternative for entering the United States from Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean, through a land or sea port of entry. EDLs comply with the travel rules under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI). An EDL is a chipped credential that can access an individual’s biographic and biometric data.
No. The Montana Legislature has not authorized the Motor Vehicle Division to issue enhanced driver licenses. The requirements to issue an EDL are more stringent than for issuing a REAL ID compliant credential.
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 $90.13 for light vehicles. County option taxes are assessed and added. The $6.18 optional state parks support, $10.30 Montana Highway Patrol Salary and Retention Fee, the $5.15 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 $10.30. 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 $25.75, on top of the $10.30 production fee, and any non-standard plate fees that may apply.