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A Motor Vehicle Registration — or more simply, a car registration — connects a car to its owner for identification purposes, and is proof that the car owner has paid the required taxes and obtained the minimum auto insurance coverage required in their state. Each state requires you, by law, to register your car with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or transportation agency.
The vehicle registration process involves providing some personal information and details on your car and paying a registration fee. If you fail to register your car or renew your registration, you could face penalty fees, a ticket and possibly impoundment.
The most common scenarios wherein you’d need to register a car are:
The Montana Department of Justice (DOJ) oversees vehicle registration in the state. Find out more about car registration on the Montana DOJ page here.
In Montana, you must register any cars or motor vehicles you own or operate with the Montana Department of Justice (DOJ).
The first time you register your car in Montana, you’ll receive a license plate for your vehicle and a registration card. Additionally, you will receive a registration sticker that needs to be attached to your vehicle’s license plate.
When you renew your registration, you’ll receive a new registration card. In Montana, drivers are required to keep the registration card with them when operating a vehicle.
To register a car in Montana, you must:
Find out more about the requirements to register a vehicle and the personal information requirements in Montana here.
The main difference between a car title (or pink slip) and a car registration is that while the first proves your legal ownership of a vehicle, the second allows your vehicle to be driven on public roads. Both documents are mandatory in all 50 U.S. states.
Unlike the car title, which does not need to be renewed, the car registration has to be renewed every one or two years, depending on the state. In Montana, registrations have to be renewed every one to two years.
Residents have the option of registering their vehicles for two years at a time. The Montana DOJ also provides residents lifetime registration options for vehicles that meet certain criteria.
The car title only needs to be changed when the vehicle is sold and the owner changes, or if you have finished paying the car loan and the vehicle is now officially yours. In these cases, you must complete a transfer of ownership by transferring the title.
Learn more about your car title in Montana here.
If you purchase a new or used vehicle at a car dealership in Montana, the dealership will handle the vehicle registration on your behalf but will charge the applicable registration fees.
If you purchased a used car from a private seller or are a new resident of the state, you will need to obtain a car registration yourself.
To register your car in Montana, complete the following three steps:
Learn what documents and information you need here.
In Montana, you must register your car in person. Click here to find your nearest Montana Treasurer’s Office location.
The cost to register a vehicle in Montana will depend on the age of the vehicle, the length of your registration, and your county of residence. Acceptable payment methods may vary by county office.
If you have questions about the car registration process or require assistance, contact the Montana Department of Justice Motor Vehicle Division by phone at (406) 444-3933.
To renew your car registration in Montana, complete the following three steps:
Learn about the documents needed to renew your registration here.
To renew your registration online, click here to access the online Vehicle Registration Renewal Service.
To renew your registration in person, click here to find your nearest County Treasurer’s Office.
To renew your registration by mail, you must have received a renewal notice in the mail from the Montana DOJ. Fill out the renewal notice with the required information and mail it to the address shown on the notice.
In addition to standard fees, you will need to pay an online service charge if you choose to renew your registration online.
If you have further questions about the vehicle registration renewal process or require assistance, contact the Montana Department of Justice Motor Vehicle Division by phone at (406) 444-3933.
If you applied for a new vehicle registration or requested a vehicle registration renewal for your car, check the status of your application or request by calling a local County Treasurer’s Office for further assistance. Find your nearest local County Treasurer’s Office location and contact information in Montana here.
Any missing or stolen vehicle title or registration must be replaced and reported to the local authorities immediately. This includes license plates. You can replace lost or stolen title and registration documents in person.
To replace documentation in person, click here to find your nearest County Treasurer’s Office.
If you move to a new address within the state, you will need to update the address on your vehicle registration within 10 days of relocation.
To change your address on your car registration, you must visit a local County Treasurer’s Office in person. Find your nearest office location and contact information here.
If you need to update your name on your registration, you must change your name with the Social Security Administration (SSA) first. Learn more about how to change your name with the SSA here.
After changing your name with the SSA, you must visit a County Treasurer’s Office in person. Find your nearest office location and contact information here. You will need documents that confirm the legal name change, such as a marriage or divorce certificate or a court order.
If you have recently moved to Montana, you will need to register and title your car with the Montana DOJ within 60 days of moving to the state. Follow the same car registration steps outlined above to complete the process.
If you have not yet obtained a Montana-issued driver’s license or ID card, you will need to provide your Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number with your legal name and address to submit your car registration application.
Learn more about what to expect as a new Montana resident here.
If you move out of Montana, you will need to register your vehicle in your new state. Your new state may have different requirements for vehicle services. Click here to access your new state’s official DMV website for more information.
The total cost to register or renew your vehicle depends on:
If you own a passenger vehicle that is 11 years or old, you may also choose to permanently register your vehicle. The fees for permanent registration include:
For help with the car registration process, or for any further questions about your car registration, call the Montana Department of Justice Motor Vehicle Division by phone at (406) 444-3933.
Or, visit or call a local County Treasurer’s Office for further assistance. Find your nearest office location and contact information here.
While we are not affiliated with the government in any way, our private company engaged writers to research the car registration process and compiled a guide and the following answers to frequently asked questions. Our goal is to help you get familiar with the process by providing useful information.
Our free Car Registration Guide is filled with helpful information about how to apply, eligibility and how to get in touch with local offices. You can view or download our free guide here.