How To Register a Car In Montana

If you’ve just moved to Montana, you’ll need to head to the local county treasurer’s office to complete your registration.
Written by James Ellaby
Reviewed by Pat Roache
If you’ve just moved to Montana, you have up to 60 days to get in-state
vehicle registration
online or at a local county treasurer’s office. You’ll need proof of insurance and the car’s title if it’s a new purchase or the car’s old registration if it’s from out of state.
Registering a car in Montana—or renewing your vehicle’s registration—is simple compared to many other states. To make things even easier,
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How to register a car in Montana

All you need to register a car in Montana is a registration application, proof of insurance that meets
Montana’s minimum insurance requirements
, your vehicle’s title, and an out-of-state registration receipt if applicable. A car inspection is not required, but you may need to fill out a
Statement of Fact

If you just moved to Montana

Just settled in the Treasure State? You’ve got 60 days to register your vehicle and get your
Montana driver’s license
. This is twice as long a grace period in some other states, but that extra time doesn’t mean you can be complacent about getting it sorted. 
Under Montana state law, all motor vehicles must be registered 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
  • Snowmobiles
You can \ register your vehicle through the
county treasurer’s office
. All you need to take with you are the following: 
  • A completed vehicle registration application
  • Proof of insurance
  • The vehicle’s title
  • The registration certificate from your former state
The Montana Enhanced Registration & Licensing Information Network (MERLIN) system gives every customer a unique account number (usually the driver’s license or state ID card number) and all registration transactions are recorded against this.
Registration fees vary from county to county and by age, weight, and type of vehicle. A standard passenger car that is less than four years old costs $217 to register, dropping to $87 between five and 10 years, and then $28 for a car that’s more than 11 years old. 
Registration is available for one or two years at a time. Standard passenger cars more than 11 years old can be permanently registered for $87.50 plus $10 for Montana Highway Patrol Salary and Retention Fee, county tax, and a $5 insurance verification fee if existing plates are kept on the vehicle.
You must also pay county option tax, all other registration fees, and special plate fees.  The county option tax applies to certain counties only and is based on the manufacturer’s suggested retail price,
depreciated by age
If you have just moved from one county within Montana to another, you must update your address with the Montana Motor Vehicle Division’s (MVD)
Driver Services Bureau
within 10 days of moving. You can continue to use the existing registration plates until you need to renew. 

If you just bought a car

You’ll also need to complete a vehicle registration if you purchase a car as a resident of Montana. You will need to take the following with you: 
  • A completed vehicle registration application
  • Proof of auto insurance
  • The car’s title
If the vehicle was bought from a private party, the title needs to be signed by the previous owner over to the new owner of the vehicle. If the vehicle has recently been purchased, the title transfer and registration take place at the same time.
Don’t forget to check the specific fees for your style and age of vehicle. Here are the registration fees by model age for standard passenger cars:
  • Zero to four years: $217
  • Five to 10 years: $87
  • 11 or more years: $28
  • Permanent registration for 11 or more years: $87.50 plus $10 Montana Highway Patrol Salary and Retention Fee, and $5 insurance verification fee
Key Takeaway Bring your registration application, proof of insurance, and vehicle title to your local county treasurer’s office and check your vehicle’s specific fees to register a car in Montana.

How much insurance coverage do you need in Montana? 

Moving states means that you may need to change your insurance coverage as Montana may have different requirements. You must purchase the correct coverage because you risk breaking state law if you are involved in an accident.
The minimum car insurance required in Montana is: 
Having these in place is essential but it’s good practice to do more than the minimum. Consider adding extra liability,
collision insurance
, and
comprehensive coverage

How to renew your Montana vehicle registration 

Your vehicle registration in Montana must be renewed every year unless you have paid for a 24-month registration or permanent registration. 
You can schedule an appointment to renew in person up to 6 months in advance of the expiration date, or you can do it by mail. The easiest way to renew is online through the Vehicle Registration Renewal Service through
MVD Your Way

How to replace a lost registration sticker or license plate

If you need to replace a lost or damaged registration sticker or license plate, you’ll fill out the
Application for Replacement Certificate of Title
and send it with a $10.30 fee to the
Vehicle Services Bureau

How to save on auto insurance in Montana

Whether you’ve just moved to Montana or are registering a new car, the time is right to sort out your new insurance. And if the thought of even more paperwork is getting you down, don’t worry,
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To register a vehicle in Montana, you’ll need a completed vehicle registration application, proof of insurance, the vehicle’s title, and the registration certificate from your former state if you have moved.
Registration fees vary depending on the car's age, starting at $28 for vehicles over 11 years old and going up to $217 for cars less than four years old.
Costs vary widely for registering trucks depending on their age and weight. It can be as cheap as $10 or as expensive as $375.
Some drivers are not required to register their vehicle in Montana if they are considered non-residents such as active duty military and full-time students attending a Montana college or university. The same applies to ex-prisoners of war, Purple Heart recipients, and more.
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