Each owner of a motor vehicle operated or driven on the public highways of the state must apply in the office of the county treasurer in the county where the owner permanently resides at the time of making the application for registration or re-registration.
The application must contain: (1) the name and address of the owner, giving the county, school district, and town or city within whose corporate limits the motor vehicle is taxable, if taxable, or within whose corporate limits the owner’s residence is located if the motor vehicle is not taxable; (2) the name and address of any lienholder; (3) a description of the motor vehicle; and (4) the declared weight of all trailers operating intrastate.
The applicant must pay at the time of making the application to the county treasurer the registration fee and the motor vehicle fees in lieu of tax or registration fees imposed against the vehicle for the current year of registration and the immediately previous year.
Mobile homes, motor homes, trucks exceeding a 1-ton capacity, trailers, buses, some commercial vehicles, government vehicles, and fleet vehicles are subject to staggered registration.
Vehicles subject to staggered registration that exceed a 1-ton capacity must be re-registered annually in the month in which they were first registered.
Owners of vehicles subject to staggered registration with a capacity of 1 ton or less may register the vehicle for a period not to exceed 24 months.
Owners of vehicles subject to staggered registration that are 11 years old or older may permanently register the vehicle.
Owners of vehicles subject to staggered registration have a grace period for registration that exists between the 1st and end of the month. Motor vehicles must be registered not later than the last day of the month corresponding to the anniversary registration period.
The owner of a new or transferred vehicle has a grace period of 20 calendar days from the date of purchase to make application and pay the registration fees, fees in lieu of taxes and other fees, and local option taxes, if applicable, as if the vehicle were being registered for the first time in the registration year.
If the vehicle was not purchased from a licensed motor vehicle dealer, the purchaser may operate the vehicle on public streets and highways without a certificate of registration for 20 calendar days, provided that at all times during that period, a vehicle purchase sticker obtained from the county treasurer or a law enforcement officer, showing the date of purchase, is clearly displayed in the rear window.
Failure to apply for a certificate of registration within 20 days subjects the purchaser of a motor vehicle to a penalty of $10.
Registration fees and new number plate fees do not apply when number plates are transferred to a replacement vehicle.
Montana residents on active military duty stationed outside Montana are not subject to registration fees and fees in lieu of taxes if they file the appropriate application for the exemption with the MVD.
All registrations of motor homes expire annually on April 30. Application for registration must be made by June 15. The owner of a motor home is entitled to operate the vehicle between May 1 and June 15 without displaying a registration certificate for the current registration year, if the owner displays the plates, or plate assigned for the previous year.
The owner of a light vehicle 11 years old or older may permanently register their vehicle upon payment of a $50 fee in lieu of tax, the applicable registration and license fees, a $2 surcharge, and an amount equal to 5 times the applicable fees imposed for: (1) junk vehicle disposal; (2) weed control; (3) former county motor vehicle computer; (4) local option vehicle tax or flat fee; (5) license plates; and (6) senior and disabled persons transportation services. The permanent registration may not be transferred.