Registration | Titling | Boats, Personal Watercraft and Motorized Pontoons | Commercial & Heavy Vehicles | Light Vehicles (cars, vans, pickups & SUVs) | Motor Homes | Motorcycles & Quadricycles | Permanent Registration (Light Vehicles) | Snowmobiles | Special Mobile Vehicles | Trailers | Travel Trailers | Security Interests (Liens) | Registration Reinstatement | Reference Guides & Online Services
The Title and Registration Bureau regulates the titling and registration of motor vehicles. A motor vehicle cannot be titled in Montana without also being registered—the two processes occur simultaneously. Pickup campers are an exception—they must be titled, but are not registered.
Under state law, all motor vehicles including motor homes; motorcycles and quadricycles; travel trailers; utility trailers; all-terrain vehicles; sailboats over 12 feet in length; motorboats, jet skis and other motorized vessels; and snowmobiles must be registered with the state.
Customer Identification Numbers – Under the Montana Enhanced Registration & Licensing Information Network (MERLIN) system, all titling and registration transactions are recorded as part of a customer’s unique account:
The Motor Vehicle Division collects customer identification numbers from businesses during titling and registration transactions.
Mobile Homes – To move a mobile home or manufactured home on a public highway, you must meet the requirements set out in Montana Code Annotated 15-24-206. For further information on this process, contact your county treasurer or the Montana Department of Revenue.
Under MCA 61-3-321, registration fees (see lists below) are in addition to the county option tax levied on light vehicles and the fees levied in lieu of taxes on other vehicles. Registration fees do not include special plate fees for personalized plates and specialty plates, or other miscellaneous fees.
Registration fees are due upon renewal or transfer of ownership. No credit is given for taxes or fees paid. Only U.S. funds are accepted.
Organ-Donor and Brain-Injury Awareness – When you register your vehicle, you may make a donation of $1 or more to organ-donor and traumatic brain-injury education and support programs. Just ask your county treasurer.
How to Title a Motor Vehicle
Corrections to a Title – Any erasures or deletions on the title void the document. See the county treasurer to correct any errors.
Bonded Titles – If you purchase a vehicle from someone and no record of the title can be found, you may apply for a bonded title in accordance with MCA 61-3-208.
Permanent registration – Under MCA 61-3-321(10)(a)(i), all boats, personal watercraft and motorized pontoons must be permanently registered.
One-time Fees for Motorboats (including Motorized Canoes and Motorized Rubber Rafts), Personal Watercraft, Motorized Pontoons and Sailboats
|Flat fee||Under 16 feet||$65.50|
|16 feet or longer but under 19 feet||$125.50|
|19 feet or longer||$295.50|
Required Decals – To comply with both state and federal laws, Montana boaters need to display:
If your boat, sailboat or personal watercraft is already permanently registered, contact your local Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks office for information on how to get the required validation decals, or go online to FWP’s Register Boats page.
If you are purchasing a new or used boat, sailboat or personal watercraft, your local county treasurer’s office can issue all of the required validation decals.
Annual registration – Under MCA 61-3-529, fees are imposed on commercial and heavy vehicles in lieu of property taxes.
Beginning January 2006, the registration of a commercial or heavy vehicle expires 12 months from the month in which it was first registered. You must renew your registration by the end of the following month, which is indicated on the registration decal on the rear license plate.
For example, the plates on a truck or truck tractor first registered in Montana on April 15, 2006, will expire on March 30, 2007, with the renewal grace period extending until April 30, 2007.
(Prior to this change, the license plates for trucks, vans and buses over one ton expired at the end of the year and had to be renewed by February 15.)
Fee Schedule – The fees vary according to the Manufacturer’s Rated Capacity—the manufacturer’s rated gross vehicle weight for a bus or heavy truck or the manufacturer’s rated gross combined weight for a truck tractor. Fees for heavy vehicles are based on the age (model year subtracted from the current year) and rated capacity of the vehicle. This fee is in addition to:
Fee Schedule for Buses, Heavy Trucks and Truck Tractors
|Age of Vehicle||Rated Capacity|
|16,999 pounds or less||17,000 – 26,999 pounds||27,000 – 54,999 pounds||55,000 pounds or more|
|1 year or less||$117||$167||$284||$375|
|11 to 12 years||$33||$50||$67||$76|
|13 to 14 years||$28||$37||$52||$61|
|15 to 16 years||$25||$30||$38||$47|
|17 to 18 years||$18||$26||$29||$36|
|19 to 20 years||$13||$19||$22||$26|
|21 years or more||$10||$12||$16||$20|
The owner of a light vehicle (passenger cars, pickup trucks one-ton and under, vans and sport utility vehicles) may choose one of the following renewal period options, MCA 61-3-311:
Note: Light vehicles cannot be permanently registered if they display a license plate that requires recertification or a yearly donation fee. These include: national guard, reserve armed forces, amateur radio, and some organization specialty 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 registration period and the expiration date shown on the license plates for light vehicles are determined when the vehicle is first titled and registered in Montana, MCA 61-3-314. Please renew your license plates during the month shown on your license plates at the county treasurer’s office in the county you reside in.
Registration Rate, MCA 61-3-321(2)(d) – based on the age of the vehicle, determined by subtracting the model year of the vehicle from the calendar year for which the registration fee is due. For example, the age of a 1997 model year Chevrolet passenger car registered in 2004 would be 7 years, resulting in a registration rate of $87.
|Age of Vehicle||Registration Rate|
|0 to 4 years||$217|
|5 to 10 years||$87|
|11 years or more||$28|
County Option Tax – Counties may impose a county option tax based on the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, depreciated according to the schedule established in MCA 61-3-503. The age of the vehicle is determined by subtracting the model year from the current calendar year. For example, the age of a 2005 model year sport utility vehicle registered in 2004 would be -1 year, resulting in a depreciation multiplier of 100%.
Depreciation Multiplier for Calculating County Option Tax
|Age of Vehicle||Automobile||Truck||Van||Sport Utility Vehicle|
Annual registration – Under MCA 61-3-321(7), motor-home owners pay a fee in lieu of taxes, based on the age of the motor home. The age is determined by subtracting the model year from the current year.
The registration of a motor home expires 12 months from the month in which it was first registered. You must renew your registration by the end of the following month, which is indicated on the registration decal on the rear license plate.
Permanent registration – Owners may choose to permanently register motor homes that are 11 years old or older. Permanent registration does not transfer with the motor home when there is a change of ownership.
Motor homes must also pay:
Motor homes that are used as commercial vehicles and are issued truck plates must also pay the gross vehicle weight (GVW) fee, MCA 61-10-201.
Registration Fee Schedule – Additional fees for motor homes are based on the age (model year subtracted from the current year) of the vehicle.
|Age of Vehicle||Fee|
|Less than 2 years||$282.50|
|2 years and over, but less than 5||$224.25|
|5 years and over, but less than 8||$132.50|
|8 years or more||$97.50|
|11 years or more – permanent registration option||$237.50|
Permanent registration – Under MCA 61-3-321, all street-legal motorcycles and quadricycles must be registered permanently. You may register a motorcycle or quadricycle for both highway and off-highway use by paying the fees for both uses.
|Flat fee – street-legal only, or||$53.25|
|Flat fee – street-legal/off-highway combination use||$114.50|
|Motorcycle/Quadricycle Safety Fee||$16.00|
|Montana Highway Patrol Salary and Retention Fee||$5.00|
|Chrome for Kids plate See Service Organizations Plate Designs|
|Plate Manufacturing Fee||$10.00|
|Montana Highway Patrol Salary and Retention Fee||$5.00|
The single permanent decal for off-highway vehicles is white and includes the abbreviation “PERM”.
Permanent registration – Under MCA 61-3-321(11)(a), snowmobiles are permanently registered except for those owned by companies that rent snowmobiles. Snowmobiles that are used exclusively as rentals may be registered annually for the first two years, after which they must be permanently registered.
|Flat fee – Personal use||N/A||$60.50|
|Business rental use||1st||$40.50|
|3rd – permanent registration required||$60.50|
The single permanent decal for snowmobiles is white and includes the abbreviation “PERM”. The decal must be placed in a conspicuous place on the left side of the cowl.
Special mobile vehicles are registered, but not titled. When you pay the ad valorem tax at your county treasurer’s office, they will issue a decal for your vehicle that indicates the tax was paid. For more information, see the License Plates page.
The Montana Department of Transportation’s Motor Carrier Safety Program produced this brochure for owners and operators of special mobile equipment to help the owner or driver understand how safety laws and regulations may apply when operating vehicles stickered as special mobiles on state roadways.
Permanent registration – Under MCA 61-3-321(3)(a-b), all trailers must be permanently registered. The single decal for trailers is the same as the decal for permanently registered light vehicles.
|Flat fee in lieu of tax||Under 6,000 pounds||$61.25|
|6,000 pounds and over||$148.25|
|Highway Patrol Salary and Retention Fee||N/A||$5.00|
|New Issue Plate Fee||N/A||$10.00|
Permanent registration – Under MCA 61-3-321(9)(a), all travel trailers must be permanently registered.
|Flat fee||Under 16 feet||$72.00|
|16 feet and over||$152.00|
|Montana Highway Patrol Salary and Retention Fee||N/A||$5.00|
|New Issue Plate Fee
A security interest is an interest in personal property that secures payment or performance of an obligation. For example, if someone took out a “title loan” on a vehicle and did not meet the specified repayment schedule, the lender could collect its security interest by taking the vehicle. However, a lender cannot collect on a security interest if the owner of the vehicle has not acknowledged the security interest by signing the title or Security Interest Action form (Form MV81B).
Security Interest Filing Fees – $8 for a security interest on all motor vehicles, including boats, trailers and snowmobiles. Security interests on newly purchased vehicles or vehicles new to Montana are filed at the county treasurer’s office.
Collateral Security Interests – A lending institution files a security interest against a vehicle currently titled in your name through the Title and Registration Bureau. Since Montana is not a title holding state, the Montana title is mailed to the registered owner, and the lending institution receives a Notice of Security Interest/Lien Filing/Lien Release/Repossession form with which it can either release a security interest or apply for a repossession title.
Contact the Title and Registration Bureau with the Vehicle Identification Number and the registered owner’s name and address. The bureau will let you know if a security interest is filed on the vehicle.
Out-of-state Lienholders: If an out-of-state secured party is holding the title for your vehicle, it is still possible to transfer the title to Montana.
For information about reinstating registration after a second or subsequent conviction for no insurance, see the Driver License Sanctions page.