License Plates & Placards in Montana

SUMMARY: Montana License Plates

Applying for a license plate simply requires you to register your car. Renewing your license plate can be done online. If you get a new car, you can transfer your plate so that you keep the same license plate number. If you need replacement tags, you must apply in person at a MVD office.

Keep reading for more information about standard license plates and tags in Montana.

NOTE: Looking for information about disabled parking tags? See our Disability Placards & Plates page for details.

Types of Montana License Plates

Cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other vehicles driven on Montana roads must have license plates issued by the Montana Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) attached to the back of the vehicle.

Your license plate must have valid registration decal in the upper right-hand corner.

The MT MVD changes the standard license plate design every 5 years. The most recent plate has a blue background, a white state outline, and white letters and numbers.

Several past plate designs are also available. You can choose your design when you register your vehicle.

Other License Plates

The Montana MVD offers vanity and specialty license plates for an additional charge. Several types of plates are available.

You can apply for disability license plates if you have a qualifying permanent disability. See our Disability Placards & Plates page for more details.

Temporary Tags

When you buy a car from a Montana dealer, you will most likely be issued a temporary registration permit.

The tag is valid for 40 days so that you can drive your vehicle while waiting for permanent license plates.

If you buy a car in private sale, you and the seller will transfer ownership in person at a county treasurer’s office, where you can get temporary tags if you need them.

Apply for a License Plate in MT

To apply for a license plate in Montana, you must register your vehicle in person at your county treasurer’s office.

The MT MVD requires that you register your vehicle no more than 60 days after becoming a resident.

Visit our vehicle registration page for more information, including forms and fees.

Renew Your Montana License Plates

To renew your plates, you'll simply need to renew your vehicle registration, which can be done either:

  • Every 12 months.
  • Every 24 months.

The MT MVD also offers permanent registration if:

  • Your vehicle is at least 11 years old.
  • Your license plate DOES NOT require re-certification of your qualifications OR additional annual fees.

You will get a new expiration decal for your license plate, which you should attach over the previous decal.

To learn more about renewing your tags, see our Registration Renewal page.

Replace a Lost, Stolen, or Damaged Plate

If your license plate or expiration sticker is lost, stolen, or damaged, you can get a replacement from the MT MVD by going in person to your local county treasurer’s office.

You will need to submit a sworn statement and pay a replacement fee:

  • $10 for a replacement plate with a new number.
  • $15 for a duplicate plate with your current number.
  • $10 for a replacement decal for a permanently registered plate.
  • $1 for a replacement decal for standard renewable plates.

Transfer or Surrender Montana Tags

When you buy a new car, you can transfer your license plates only to another car that you own. License plates CANNOT be transferred to the buyer of your old car.

If you request a new license plate design, a personalized plate, or a special plate, you will have to surrender your old plate when you get the new one.

Fees for Montana License Plates

The MT MVD charges fees for new and replacement license plates:

  • New standard license plate: $10.
  • Replacement:
    • License plate with a new number: $10.
    • License plate with your current number: $15.
    • Decal for permanently registered plates: $10.
    • Decal for renewable plates: $1.

NOTE: The license plate fees above DO NOT include registration fees, which vary by your vehicle's age and your county of residence.

Search for a License Plate

The Montana MVD does NOT offer a free license plate search or a search for personalized plate number options.

However, depending on the type of license plate or vehicle information you need, you can:

  • Contact the police to report an abandoned vehicle or other violation. The police can run the license plate and contact the owner.
  • Order a vehicle history report for information about a car you'd like to buy.

Special License Plates in Montana

The Montana MVD offers other types of license plate designs, if you'd like to add a personalized touch.

Antique Plates

Better known as "Vintage" and "Pioneer" plates, these are available only for vehicles more than 30 years old that are exclusively used as collectors' items. To apply, you must submit to the Title and Registration Bureau a completed application form along with the appropriate fees.

Original Montana Plates

Original plates aren't "nostalgically" remanufactured by the state. They are pre-existing and are intended to match the same year a motor vehicle rolled off the assembly line. For example, a 1966 Ford Mustang would sport Montana plates as they looked in 1966. To display these plates your car must be more than 25 years old and be used for everyday travel. If you meet these qualifications, you then must complete the lower section of the Application to Display Original Montana License Plates (Form MV97) and have a law enforcement official fill the top half.

Once you complete the application, you then must register the vehicle in your name, pay a license fee, and submit everything to the Title and Registration Bureau. Bear in mind that you must have both existing plates in order to use. You cannot drive with only plate.

Military Plates

To qualify for military plates, you must be a veteran or an active member of the military, or the surviving spouse of an eligible veteran who has not remarried. There are differently labeled plates (Army Reserve, National Guard, Coast Guard Veteran).

If you're a disabled veteran, you can qualify for special disabled parking plates if you have been awarded the Purple Heart and have been rated as 50% or more disabled because of a service-related injury. Or, you may qualify if you are currently listed as 100% disabled or are paid at the 100% disabled rate for a service-connected disability.

To apply for military license plates, you must obtain an official certificate from your unit commander verifying your eligibility and granting the department permission to issue the plates. In addition, you must also submit to your county treasurer's office all applicable fees and, depending on your military standing a reenlistment document, a document proving an other-than-dishonorable discharge, or Department of Defense Form 214.

Sponsored Plates

There is a wide range of sponsored plates for a wide range of different groups in a range of colors and designs. The list of groups includes:

  • Agriculture and Forestry.
  • Arts and Culture.
  • Collegiate.
  • Education.
  • Government.
  • Museums and History.
  • Parks and Environment.
  • Service Organizations and Associations.
  • Sports.
  • Wildlife and Other Animals.
  • Youth Groups.

To qualify for sponsored plates, you must register your vehicle annually. A portion of each year's renewal fee gets donated to your sponsoring organization.

Amateur Radio Operator Plates

You're eligible for this plate if you hold a valid, unexpired amateur radio station license and an operator's license. To apply you must visit your county treasurer's office, fill out an application form, present proof of your amateur radio status, and pay all applicable fees.

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