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  • License Plates & Placards in Montana

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    During the last decade, license plates have expanded from being mere identification tags to also being forms of expression. Montana, through the work of the Title and Registration Bureau, has joined this trend and now offers drivers a wealth of license plate options to choose from.

    But before you can make a license plate decision, you first must have your vehicle titled and registered in the state, and you must pay all required fees. If the plates that you requested are not available, your county treasurer will hand you a temporary permit, which is valid for 40 days, until they are ready.

    Standard Plates

    Unless you express otherwise, the State will automatically issue you Montana's new standard license plates that feature mountains, a silhouetted animal skull, and the word "Montana" spelled out in gold letters. If you previously registered your vehicle as permanent, and you now crave the new plates, you can make the switch by turning in your old plates and paying a $10 new issue fee, a $10 replacement plate fee, and a $10 duplicate permanent tab fee.

    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 for Registration of a Vintage or Pioneer Vehicle form along with the appropriate fees.

    Original Montana Plates

    Original plates aren't "nostalgically" remanufactured by the state. They are preexisting 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 wide 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 and fill out an Application for Special License Plates, present proof of your amateur radio status, and pay all applicable fees.

    Physical Disability Plates and Parking Permit Placards

    To apply, you must have a licensed doctor, chiropractor, or an advanced-care nurse jointly complete with you a Special Parking Permit or License Plates for a Physically Disabled Person (Form MV5) application. You then must send this in with all applicable fees to your county treasurer's office. If you're renewing, you do not have to resubmit recertification.

    To apply for a parking permit placard, you must also have a licensed doctor, chiropractor, or an advanced-care nurse jointly complete with you a Special Parking Permit or License Plates for a Physically Disabled Person (Form MV5) application. You then must mail this form to:

    • Motor Vehicle Division
    • P.O. Box 201430
    • Helena, MT 59620

    Surrendering License Plates in Montana

    The state does not require you to return your license plates after relocating to another state.

    If you sell your vehicle, you must keep your license plates. You can contact the Montana MVD to transfer your old plates to another vehicle.