Boat Registration and Licenses in Montana
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Boat Registration and Licenses in Montana
If you want to use a boat on Montana waters, you may need to register and title it with the Vehicle Services Bureau (TRB) of the Montana Department of Justice (DOJ). All boating laws are enforced by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP).
Continue reading this page for information on titling and registering your boat, as well as the qualifications needed to operate vessels on the waters of Big Sky Country.
Boats You Must Title & Register in MT
In Montana, you're required to title and register the following types of vessels:
- Motorized vessels (including motorized canoes, rubber rafts, and personal watercraft).
- Sailboats 12 ft and longer.
Boats exempt from Montana's titling and registration requirements include:
- All non-motorized:
- Non-motorized sailboats less than12 ft in length.
- Documented vessels.
- Boats owned by an entity of the U.S. government.
- Registered boats from another state or country, not kept in Montana for more than 90 consecutive days.
If you're still not sure if you'll need to title and register your boat, call the Montana FWP at (406) 444-2535.
How to Title & Register Your Boat
If your vessel doesn't have a hull identification number (HIN), PRIOR to submitting a title and registration application you'll need to:
- Head to a Fish, Wildlife and Parks regional office to obtain a valid HIN.
- Schedule an appointment to have your boat's HIN inspected by a Montana peace officer OR an authorized employee of the DOJ.
- The inspector will need to complete a Vehicle/Vessel/OHV Identification Number Inspection Certificate (Form MV20) for you—don't lose the completed certificate!
Then, you can make an application to register and title your boat with the Montana Title and Registration Bureau, by visiting your local county treasurer's office with:
- A completed Application for Vessel Certificate of Title (Form MV1A).
- Your HIN inspection certificate (if applicable).
- An acceptable proof of ownership document, such as:
- The boat's current out-of-state title OR registration (if from a non-titling state).
- The Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin.
- A properly assigned title WITH a bill of sale (when purchasing a used vessel from a private party).
- Payment for the necessary vessel title and registration fees.
To complete the title and registration process, you'll need to obtain your free validation decals:
All Montana boat registrations are permanent; you'll only need to renew your validation decals, which expire every 3 years.
Montana Boat Title & Registration Fees
The fees associated with titling and registering your boat with the MT Title and Registration Bureau are as follows:
- Certificate of Ownership (boat title): $10.
- Per lien added: $8.
- Permanent boat registration (depends on your vessel's length):
- Less than 16 ft: $65.50.
- 16 ft to 19 ft: $125.50.
- 19 ft and longer: $295.50.
- Replacement title: $10.
- Application fee for a hull identification number: $5.
MT Vessel Renewals & Replacements
All boat registrations are permanent in Montana. You must, however, renew your boat's free validation decals every 3 years by:
Replace Lost Title & Registration
If you need a replacement copy of your MT boat title, you'll need:
- A completed Application for Replacement Certificate of Title (Form MV7).
- The applicable fees for a replacement boat title.
Mail the above items to:
- Vehicle Services Bureau
- P.O. Box 201431
- 302 N. Roberts
- Helena, MT 59620
If you need to request a duplicate boat registration, please contact your local county treasurer's office for instructions.
Montana Boater Requirements
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks imposes the following age restrictions when it comes to boating on state waters:
- Children who are 12 years old or under CANNOT drive motorboats or personal watercraft with more than 10 HP UNLESS accompanied by a supervisor who's at least 18 years old.
- Teenagers 13 to 14 years old need a valid Montana motorboat operator's safety certificate OR proof of boater safety course completion to operate boats or personal watercraft with more than 10 horsepower WITHOUT adult supervision.
You can fulfill the FWP's boater education requirement:
- Online with an approved education provider.
- With a home study guide, which you can request:
- In the classroom, with a course sponsored by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.