Buying and Selling FAQs in Montana

If I cannot find a certification label with my imported vehicle, how do I know if it complies with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) standards?

You should contact the vehicle's manufacturer directly. If you need assistance gathering contact information, call the NHTSA's Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance at (202) 366-5291.

Are there are any restrictions I should know about if I want to buy my car in Canada?

Yes. The vehicle cannot be reconstructed or be deemed as salvage. And you can only bring it over the border if it is for personal use only . Or, in other words, you can't hustle it into Montana with the intent of selling it.

When crossing customs, present a letter from the vehicle's original manufacturer composed on the manufacturer's letterhead, listing the vehicle's identification number, and confirming that it conforms with all applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.

Can I import a vehicle into Montana strictly for show?

Indeed you can, provided you only use the vehicle for show or display. Under this interpretation, you are limited to driving the vehicle 2,500 miles or less per year.

Keep in mind that the NHTSA will investigate your show-vehicle claim. It will veto the vehicle's show status if it determines:

  • More than 500 vehicles of the same model were produced.
  • A similar version of this model was manufactured for sale in the United States and certified as Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) compliant.
  • The vehicle has been deemed eligible for importation based only on its capability to be FMVSS modified.

What can you tell me about Montana's temporary permits?

You'll be issued a temporary permit after buying a vehicle or while waiting for a customized license plate. Temporary permits can only be issued by vehicle dealers and county treasurers. Display the permit on the back of your vehicle until your permanent license plates arrive. A temporary permit is valid for 90 days.

Does Montana have a set registration fee?

No. Fees are based on the age of the vehicle and length of registration (Montana gives you the option of a 12-month, 24-month, or permanent registration (if your vehicle is 11 years old or older). Below are the basic 12-month fees.

Registration Fees

  • 4 years old and under: $217.
  • 5 to 10 years old: $87.
  • 11 years old or more: $28.

Other Vehicle Registration Fees

What is Montana's county option tax?

Not all counties impose this tax, but those that do base it on the manufacturer's suggested retail price and vehicle depreciation. You can view an expansive depreciation chart covering cars, vans, trucks and sport utility vehicles at the website of the Montana Department of Justice (DOJ).

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