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If you have recently purchased a vehicle through a dealership or a private seller, you will need to apply for a car registration. All vehicles in your possession must be registered in your name to be driven legally in your state. You cannot typically apply for a new vehicle registration online or by mail. You must visit a DMV office in person to register a car. To make sure that you are fully prepared for the process, download our informative digital guide. Our guide contains everything you need to know to register your vehicle with ease. You will also learn how to replace or renew your car registration, and how to change your name or address.

2. By Mail

Some states allow residents to register cars by mail. However, these applicants must meet certain eligibility requirements, such as temporarily residing out of state or having purchased the vehicle out of state. To obtain your new car registration by mail, you will need to send your completed application and all necessary documents (such as proof of ID, a bill of sale, an insurance card, etc.) to your local DMV office. You will also need to send in a check or money order for the full payment amount. Due to mailing and processing times, delays are common with the mail-in application method. It may take several weeks for you to receive your new car registration.

3. In Person at a DMV Office

In most instances, you will be required to get your car registration in person at a local DMV office. You must submit a filled-out application, proof of your identity, evidence of the car purchase and proof of auto insurance coverage for the vehicle. Additionally, you need to provide payment for all applicable fees, such as registration fees, titling fees and state taxes. Because many car owners are not sure which forms are required or which fees must be paid, application delays are common at the DMV. Additionally, any mistakes on DMV forms will add to your potential wait time for receiving your new registration.


A Montana vehicle registration is required for all vehicle owners living in the state, except for owners of pickup campers. MT car registration documents are processed by the Vehicle Services Bureau (VSB), which is overseen by the state Department of Justice (DOJ). Overall, vehicles cannot be legally driven in the state without being registered with the department. To do so, motorists must meet the state’s eligibility requirements and qualify to receive a registration.

The process to apply for a DMV registration is somewhat different for vehicle owners based on how they acquired the vehicle and their residency status. For instance, MT residents who purchase a new car from a dealership can rely on a dealer to obtain these credentials. Conversely, drivers who have purchased a used vehicle must typically submit the application themselves. Furthermore, military service members in the state also have specific guidelines to follow. Keep reading for more important information about how to register a vehicle in Montana.

Montana Car Registration Requirements

The requirements for registering a car in Montana vary depending on whether the motorist has purchased a new or used vehicle, as well as whether or not the applicant has recently moved into the state. In most cases, owners who have purchased a new car do not need to worry about car registration fees or documentation because auto dealerships typically submit the necessary application request to the VSB. If applying for this credential yourself, be mindful that you will be required to provide the following documentation to register a vehicle:

  • The previous year’s Montana registration receipt or out-of-state certificate of title.
  • A completed Statement of Fact (MV100) form for details about the title transfer, if required.
  • The necessary application fees and security interest/lien filing fees.
  • A completed and signed “Application for Certificate of Title for a Motor Vehicle” document.

Car Insurance Requirements for Registering a Car in Montana

In order to register a car in Montana, vehicles owners must obtain an adequate auto insurance policy that includes liability coverage. Minimum auto insurance coverages that are required for a MT car registration to be issued include:

  • $25,000for bodily injury to or death of one person in an accident
  • $50,000 for bodily injury to or death of two or more persons in an accident
  • $20,000 for injury to or destruction of property of others in an accident

VIN Inspection Requirements in Montana

When assessing how to register a car in Montana, certain motorists must be mindful that their vehicles will need to undergo a vehicle identification number (VIN) inspection to verify the car’s identity and history. The VSB has three different stages of VIN inspections that are required for vehicle owners in different situations. VSB registration requirements and application procedures vary among the three stages as well. The three stages of VIN inspections that may be required for car registration in Montana are:

  • Stage 1: For owners of vehicles with an unclear identity or which have a Canadian registration or bonded application is submitted.
  • Stage 2: For owners of vehicles that are:
    • Five years of age or older with an out-of-state or Montana salvage certificate issued before October 1, 2011
    • Fifteen years of age or older with an out-of-state or Montana salvage certificate issued on or after October 1, 2011
    • Reconstructed vehicles of any age (e.g., changing cab)
  • Stage 3: For Stage III VIN inspections are required on vehicles:
  • Five years of age or under with an out-of-state or Montana salvage certificate issued before October 1, 2011
  • Fifteen years of age or older with an out-of-state or Montana salvage certificate issued on or after October 1, 2011

Registering a Vehicle in Montana

Vehicle owners cannot complete a request for a Montana car registration online like they may be able to do in other states. Instead, all motorists are required to pay car registration fees and submit the necessary paperwork in person at their nearest county tax office. While owners of new cars purchased from a dealer do not need to submit their own registration request, owners of used cars and new residents to the state must complete the application process for an MT title and registration.

How to Register a New Car in Montana

Many drivers wonder “How much is a car registration for new vehicles bought from a dealership?” During the transaction to buy a new car, the dealer should include the car registration cost within the entire purchase price of the vehicle. The dealer should also ask for any specific paperwork that may be required from the new owner in order to successfully submit the registration packet to the county tax office.

Many dealers licensed in Montana are permitted to issue temporary tags to new owners of cars purchased from a dealership to allow the driver to take the car home immediately after purchase while awaiting permanent plates. This temporary permit is created electronically and printed out. It must be placed on the rear of the car where the permanent license plate will go.

Registering a Used Car in Montana

Car registration requirements for owners of recently purchased used cars include the documents mentioned in previous sections, such as the car’s previous title and a statement of fact. In addition, any applicable information concerning bonds or liens on the vehicle should be prepared. Owners of used cars can take the following steps to get a vehicle registration in Montana:

  1. Gather the current title of the vehicle and other applicable information.
  2. Complete and sign the “MT Application for Certificate of Title for a Motor Vehicle” form.
  3. Prepare the appropriate application fee.
  4. Head to your nearest county treasurer’s office. Submit the registration packet to the VSB in person.

How to Register a Car in Montana as a New Resident

All vehicle owners who have recently transferred to Montana must apply for a new car registration from the VSB within sixty days of taking up residency in the state. New residents must follow the same general application process that residents who recently purchased a used car must follow to submit the registration packet in person to the country treasurer’s office.

Vehicle Registration for Military Members in Montana

Car registration services for service members of the military who are stationed in Montana are somewhat different. Overall, these applicants do not need to request an MT registration or title, but can if they desire to do so. Instead, they can use their home state’s registration while enlisted.

Temporary DMV Registration in Montana

Temporary registration permits can be provided by licensed car dealers to owners of newly-purchased vehicles. This temporary permit allows the driver to legally operate the vehicle while waiting for his or her permanent registration and license plate.

Montana License Plates

Once a driver has successfully submitted the car registration form and supporting material, the VSB will usually issue a registration document and state license plate immediately. If the driver is requesting a specialty plate, more time is necessary.

Montana Car Registration Fees

In addition to state sales tax on vehicles, owners must pay car registration fees according to the age of the vehicle and the length of registration desired (one or two years). The current rates for registration in Montana are:

  • Vehicles less than four model years: $217
  • Vehicles between five and ten model years: $87
  • Vehicles more than 11 model years: $28
  • Vehicle registration renewal fee: $87.50
  • Montana Highway Patrol Salary and Retention Fee: $10
  • Insurance verification fee, if existing plates are kept on the vehicle: $5
Last updated on Monday, December 3 2018.

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