Register Car in Montana
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Once you register your vehicle in the state of Montana, you simply need to renew it annually. Get all the details in our section on registration renewals.
The Montana Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) requires you to register a vehicle in your name if you have recently:
- Purchased a new or used vehicle
- Moved to the state
- Received a vehicle as a gift or inheritance
As a new Montana resident, you have 60 days to register and title your vehicle in the state. If you just bought a car or received one as a gift, there is no grace period for registration and titling. You must do it immediately to drive the vehicle legally on Montana roads.
The state requires all drivers to carry a minimum amount of liability coverage on their vehicle. You don't need to show proof of insurance at the time of registration, but you must keep proof in your car at all times. If you haven't found an auto insurance policy that fits your needs and your budget, check out a wide selection of companies and get free quotes online at our Insurance Center.
In Montana, you will simultaneously transfer the title and register the vehicle in your name for the first time. If you bought a car at a dealership, the dealer should handle the title and registration paperwork for you. If your vehicle purchase was from an individual, the paperwork becomes your immediate responsibility.
To register a car after you've purchased it from an individual or received it as a gift, or you are a new resident of Montana, you'll need the following paperwork:
- Properly signed title. The signatures on the title must be notarized if a sale or change of ownership has taken place. New residents can present their existing out-of-state title without signatures. If you don't have the title for any reason, you must apply for a new title.
- Bill of sale.
- A completed Application for Certificate of Title for a Motor Vehicle.
Although it's never required for registration or titling, a vehicle history report can help you ensure that you're not paying too much for the vehicle you're interested in. Knowing the past repair and maintenance history of the car can eliminate any nasty surprises after you've signed on the dotted line.
Fees for titling and registering your car in Montana vary widely based on many criteria, but typically include the following:
- Registration fees, which vary by vehicle type and age.
- County option tax, if charged by your county of residence.
- Montana Highway Patrol Salary and Retention fee of $5.
- Title fee of $12 for light passenger vehicles.
- Gross Vehicle Weight fee, if you are registering a light truck.
- Optional state park fee of $6.
- License plate fees, if you want personalized or specialty plates.
Although the state MVD oversees all vehicle titling and registration, you'll actually transact your business at your local county treasurer's office.
When you title and register your car, you'll have the option of receiving standard license plates for no extra charge, or purchasing specialty plates. You can also personalize standard or specialty plates, which also requires an extra fee. The state of Montana currently has a rich selection of sponsored and collegiate plates, as well as plates that show military service and other affiliations. You can also apply for disabled plates or placards if you need them. Find out everything you need to know in our section on license plates.
Even if you don't choose to personalize your plates, you can still show your true colors by ordering a license plate frame online. You'll find a frame for practically any hobby, organization, or interest.
You'll receive your annual decals at the time of registration. The decals should be placed on the rear license plate according to the instructions you'll be given at the time.
The IRS offers a tax deduction for personal property taxes or fees paid, if the fees were calculated as a percentage of the value of the property. Because your vehicle is considered personal property, you might be eligible for a tax deduction if you paid a county option tax on your vehicle. The county option tax isn't based solely on value, however, so consult a tax attorney in your area to see what, if anything, you're eligible to deduct.
Although titling and registering your car makes it legal to drive on Montana roads, vehicle and driving safety requires more than that. Preparation for the unexpected can help keep you protected on the road.
It's wise to enroll in a roadside assistance program so you're covered when you have a flat tire, lock your keys out of the car, or need a tow after a breakdown. You can also ease any emergency situation by carrying a car emergency kit in the vehicle at all times. It's nice to have first aid supplies, nonperishable snacks, and other necessary items on hand when you need them.
Even if you're well-prepared on the road, at some point you'll probably still need a reputable auto mechanic. Find one in your area that you trust before you need him. You can also keep repair bills lower by investing in an after-market auto warranty that either extends your existing warranty, or expands your coverage.
Other Topics in This Section
- Register Car
- Registration Renewal
- Registration & Insurance
- Replacing a Lost Registration
- RV & Motorhome Registration
- Custom Built Car Registration
- Boat Registration and Licenses
- Title Transfers
- Replacing a Lost Title
- Salvaged Vehicles
- Special Vehicles
- Drivers with Disabilities
- License Plates & Placards
- Smog & Emission Checks
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