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Montana Buying a Vehicle

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If you purchase a vehicle from a car dealership in Montana, you might not have to obtain the title and registration yourself. Generally speaking, most car dealerships will handle all the paperwork on your behalf, although some may charge a fee for doing so. You should ensure that you receive a receipt from the car dealership showing that the vehicle’s title is now in your name. However, if you bought the vehicle from a private party, you will have to do the paperwork yourself.

Obtaining a Title and Registration For a Vehicle Bought from a Private Party

As previously stated, purchasing a vehicle from a private party means that you have to complete all the paperwork yourself. You’ll bring the properly signed title to the county treasurer’s office. Some offices require appointments. You also may be asked to fill out a Statement of Fact form to clarify facts about the title transfer.

You have 40 days from purchase of the vehicle to title and register the car in your name. If you fail to do so within the 40 days, you’ll pay a $10 late fee.

All titling and registration transactions are recorded as part of your unique customer account based on your driver’s license or identification number.

Filling Out The Title

Your name and address must be written on the title, and you must sign your name the way it is listed on the title and in front of a notary. If you’ve taken out a loan to buy the vehicle, you’ll also need to fill out the lien portion of the form or file a Security Interest form.

Registering the Purchased Vehicle

After you’ve bought the vehicle and obtained a tile, you can then register it. All registrations are handled at the county treasurer’s office. You have a choice between 12-month or 24-month registration. If the vehicle is older than 11 years old, you also have the option of permanent registration.

To register your vehicle, pay the county option tax, any registration fees, and any fees associated with special license plates. The amount of the tax varies depending upon the county but is based upon the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, depreciated according to a table.

Submitting Payment

The registration rate is based on the age of the vehicle plus a 3 percent administration fee. The fee schedule is as follows:

  • Vehicles four years and younger – $217
  • Vehicles five to 10 years -$87
  • Vehicles 11 years and older $28

Fees collected for permanent registrations include:

  • $87.50 registration rate
  • $10 Montana Highway Patrol Salary and Retention Fee
  • County tax, $9 optional state parks support, certain special plate fees, and, for light trucks, the gross vehicle weight (GVW) fees
  • $5 insurance verification fee if existing plates are kept on the vehicle
Last Verified:
Mar 30, 2023