Montana boater registrations are managed by the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department (FWP) through a network of offices located in each of six state regions. All vessels aside from the ones listed in the exemptions section below must be registered and numbered to operate legally on Montana’s waters.

Watercraft bearing valid registration numbers help sheriff marine deputies to identify vessels and their owners when the need arises, such as following an accident or theft. Continue reading to learn about MT boat registration procedures, including what is required for registration and how to renew or replace missing registration documents and decals.

Requirements for Boater Registration in Montana

Requirements to register a boat in Montana begin with knowing which vessels must be registered by law. Sailboats 12’ long and longer, all motorboats and personal watercraft must follow Montana registration regulations to be properly registered and numbered.

Complete a Montana boat registration form (MV1A), Application for Vessel Certificate of Title. You may obtain this when you visit your local county treasurer’s office to complete the registration or download it and complete it ahead of time. To meet all requirements, you will also need to have a hull identification number (HIN) inspection performed by an MT law enforcement officer or an employee of the Department of Justice.

Note: If your vessel lacks a HIN, you must visit your nearest FWP office and obtain one.

In addition to your MT boat registration form, HIN inspection certificate and payment for registration fees, you will need to show one acceptable proof of ownership. This can be a manufacturer’s certificate of origin (MCO), a properly assigned title with bill of sale attached, or the vessel’s current out-of-state title or registration card. After submitting your documents following MT boat registration instructions, you may get your validation decals from the FWP office or order them free online.

Exemptions from Boat Registration and Titling in Montana

Common boat registration exemptions in Montana include non-motorized sailboats less than 12’ long and manually-propelled boats of any length. Other conditions in which boats are exempt from registration in Montana include ships’ lifeboats and government-owned vessels. If you own a vessel that is properly registered in another state, it may also be exempted as long as you only use it in MT 90 consecutive days or less.

Montana Boat Insurance

Boat insurance rates in MT vary, but discounts are often given to those who take a boating safety class. If you have a lien on your boat, the lending company might require you to obtain boat insurance quotes in Montana and purchase coverage necessary to cover their financial investment in your vessel. Insurance plans for boast are designed to cover theft-related loss, vessel damages or personal injuries.

In MT, the boat’s owner is responsible for all property damage or injury that results from negligent operation. Numerous insurance providers offer boat insurance policies, although the state does not require anyone to carry insurance.

Montana Boat Registration Fees

The only boat registration fees in Montana are the initial ones, because you can renew your validation decals for free every three years. Boat registration costs in MT are as follows:

  • Certificate of ownership or title: $10
  • Motorboats, personal watercraft and motorized pontoons less than 16’ in length: $65.50
  • Sailboats 12’ and up to 16’ in length: $65.50
  • Motorboats, motorized pontoons and sailboats 16’ and up to 19’ in length: $125
  • Personal watercraft 16’ or longer: $125.50
  • Motorboats, motorized pontoons and sailboats 19’ and longer: $295
  • HIN for homemade vessels: $5

Renewing Your Montana Boat Registration

Boat registration renewal in Montana is a simple process. If you are wondering when to renew a boat registration in MT, it should happen every three years.

You may renew your registration online by ordering a set of free validation decals through the online portal. If you prefer to obtain your decals for boat registration renewal in Montana in person, simply visit your nearest FWP office.

Replacing Your Montana Boat Registration

If you need to replace a boat registration in Montana, you must contact your local county treasurer’s office for directions on doing so. Unfortunately, you cannot replace your registration online at this time, but you can order replacement validation tabs online, as described above.

If you are not wondering how to replace your boat registration in MT, but rather, need a new copy of your Montana title, complete Form MV7, Application for Replacement of Certificate of Title. You may then mail it along with the applicable fee to:

Title and Registration Bureau
P.O. Box 201431
302 N. Roberts
Helena, MT 59620

Boater Safety Courses in Montana

A boater safety course in Montana is required for youth aged 13 or 14 who wish to operate a motorized watercraft with an engine of 10 horsepower or greater. One of the easiest ways to take a Montana boating safety course is to sign up for an online course . If you wish to take an official safety course in person, contact the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department for information about local classes.

Montana Boater License

Often, boaters use the terms “Montana boating license” and “Montana boater education card” interchangeably. No matter what you call it, the card serves as proof that an individual has taken a boater safety course in MT and learned the state’s safe boating rules and regulations.

Last updated on Monday, March 9 2020.