Driver Licenses & ID Cards

Cost & Length of License | ID Cards | Identity Confirmation | Military Personnel | Motorcycle Endorsement | New Drivers: Under 18 Graduated Driver Licensing | New Residents | Renewals | Replacement Licenses | Veteran Designation

You may apply for a Montana driver license at any driver exam station, regardless of where in Montana you live. The state laws governing driver licensing are found in the Driver Licenses chapter of the Montana Code Annotated. Please be prepared to pay for your license with cash or check (U.S. funds only), since credit cards are not accepted.

Information on commercial driver licenses, including endorsements and renewals, is available on the Commercial Driver Licensing page.

You can schedule most of your driver licensing appointments from the convenience of your own computer. Scheduling online also helps you avoid waiting on the phone when our lines are busy. The Motor Vehicle Division has implemented online appointment scheduling for some driver licensing stations.

Drivers need to be familiar with the Montana Driver Manual. The Office of Public Instruction makes an adapted/illustrated version of the Montana Driver’s Manual available.

Identity Confirmation for Driver Licenses and ID Cards

Your identity is important. Identity theft is now the top-reported form of crime in the United States. The name and birth date on your application for a driver license or ID card must match the primary document you provide and will be checked with the Social Security Administration. This is to help protect you against fraud. It’s important to fix discrepancies now to avoid problems in the future for you and your family. Please make sure the full legal name and date of birth you’re going to use on your application for a driver license or ID card matches what is on file with the Social Security Administration.

Organ, Eye and Tissue Donation Program

Each day in the United States, 18 people die waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. Thousands more await the cornea and tissue transplants that help blind people see and burn victims recover.

You can help. If you are 15 years or older, you can choose to register your wish to become an organ and tissue donor on your driver license or ID card. When you renew, tell the driver license station representative that you want to be a donor. You are already registered if your license says DONOR on the front.

If you haven’t yet recorded your wish to be a donor, you don’t have to wait until you renew your license. Visit the donor registry online at www.DonateLifeToday.com. For questions about organ, eye and tissue donation, please contact Donate Life Today toll-free at (877) 275-5269 or e-mail info@DonateLifeToday.com.

New Drivers

Individuals wishing to obtain a Montana driver license must:

Learner License (All Classes)

A learner license:

  • allows an individual to operate a vehicle when accompanied by a driver who has a valid license of the same class and type as that of the vehicle being driven
  • valid for up to one year from the date of issuance
  • must be used for six consecutive months by any new driver under 18 years old

A Traffic Education Learner’s License (TELL) allows minors to operate a motor vehicle when their licensed parent or legal guardian is in the seat beside them.

Individuals with a learner license from another state can drive in Montana for 60 days with a licensed driver.

Graduated Driver Licensing

Montana’s graduated driver licensing law creates a three-step program that allows new drivers under the age of 18 years to safely develop and improve their driving skills. Each step progressively increases the privileges and responsibilities of a new driver in an effort to reduce the number of motor vehicle crashes involving minors.

Step 1: Permit Period
  • Age and Permit Requirements
    • Teenagers may obtain a Traffic Education Learner’s License (TELL) as early as age 14½ years old only if they are in a state-approved traffic education program (online courses are not approved).
    • Teenagers may get a Learner License from a driver exam station if they meet all of the following criteria:
      • are 16 years old -OR- are 15 years old and successfully complete a state-approved traffic education program (online courses are not approved)
      • pass the required driver license tests
      • turn in any other driver licenses
      • do not have a license suspended, revoked, or denied in any other state or jurisdiction
      • pass the medical requirements for the type of driver license desired
      • have not been found by a court to be mentally incompetent, alcoholic, and/or a habitual user of illegal drugs
    • A teenager under 18 must hold a Learner License for a minimum of six consecutive months before applying for a First-Year Restricted License.
    • The Learner License is valid for up to one year.
  • Conditions During Permit Stage
    • Teen drivers must acquire at least 50 hours of supervised driving experience, including 10 hours at night.
    • A driver with a TELL permit must be supervised by a licensed parent or guardian.
    • A driver with a Learner License must be supervised by a licensed parent or guardian, or a licensed driver age 18 years or older who is authorized by the parent or guardian.
    • Everyone in the vehicle must wear a seatbelt.
    • The teen driver must not receive any traffic violations or alcohol/drug offenses in the six-month period before advancing to GDL Step 2 (First-Year Restricted License).
    • The teen driver must hold the Learner License for a minimum of six consecutive months before advancing to GDL Step 2 (First-Year Restricted License).
Step 2: First-Year Restricted License

When teens have satisfied all Step 1 requirements, they may apply for a First-Year Restricted License at a driver exam station. They must:

Initially, the driver license will show a restriction code on the front and back. This restriction remains in effect for one year. During this period, the following restrictions apply:

  • Everyone in the vehicle must wear a seatbelt.
  • Teenage drivers may not drive between 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., with some exceptions.
    • These exceptions including emergencies, farm-related activities, travel to and from school, church or work, and specific parent-authorized purposes.
    • Law enforcement officials may contact the parent or guardian of a teen driver to verify the purpose for which the teen is authorized to drive between 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.
  • For the first six months, unless supervised by a licensed driver age 18 or older, a teenage driver may have only one unrelated passenger under age 18 in the vehicle.
  • For the second six months, unless supervised by a licensed driver age 18 or older, a teenage driver may have three unrelated passengers under age 18 in the vehicle.

Penalties for violating the Step 2 license restrictions are:

  • First Offense – between 20 and 60 hours of community service
  • Second Offense – suspension of the teen’s driver license for six months
Step 3: Full Privilege Driver License

First-Year Restricted License restrictions automatically end on the date indicated on the back of the driver license, or when the individual turns 18, whichever occurs first. Once the teenager reaches Step 3, the driver license confers full privileges.

For more information on graduated driver licensing, go to the Graduated Driver License Law page on the Office of Public Instruction website.

New Residents

Individuals with out-of-state licenses who wish to obtain a Montana driver license must:

  • apply for a Montana driver license within 60 days of moving to the state if seeking a non-commercial driver license and within 30 days if they need a commercial license
  • provide the required documents
    • proof of identity
    • proof of Montana residency
    • proof of authorized presence

They also may be required to pass written and driving tests, in addition to a vision test. However, driver examiners may, at their discretion, waive the written and driving tests for individuals who have in their possession a valid license issued by another state.

Military Personnel

  • Military personnel on active duty in Montana who have a valid license issued by another state and who are not employed in Montana, except as a member of the armed forces, do not need a Montana driver license.
  • If the spouse of member of the armed forces stationed in Montana gets a job here, the spouse must get a Montana driver license within 90 days of becoming employed.
  • Military personnel who have a valid Montana driver license when they enter the armed forces may use their Montana license until 30 days after an honorable discharge.
  • To obtain a military exemption or to renew your Montana driver license, contact the Motor Vehicle Division Customer Service Center at (866) 450-8034 or, if you are out of state, e-mail the Motor Vehicle Division at mvd@mt.gov.

Cost and Length of Regular License

The cost of a regular, non-commercial (Class D) license is $40 for an eight-year license ($5 per year), plus the 50-cent fee for mailing the license renewal reminder. The term or length of your Montana driver license depends on your age at the time the license is issued or renewed.

Customer Age (years) Driver Licensing Fee Total Fee with a Motorcycle Endorsement Length of Driver License (years)
14 $35.50 N/A 7
15 $30.50 $33.50 6
16 $25.50 $28.00 5
17 $20.50 $22.50 4
18 $15.50 $17.00 3
19 $10.50 $11.50 2
20 $5.50 $6.00 1
21-67 $40.50 $44.50 8
68 $35.50 $39.00 7
69 $30.50 $33.50 6
70 $25.50 $28.00 5
71 $20.50 $22.50 4
72 $15.50 $17.00 3
73 $10.50 $11.50 2
74 $5.50 $6.00 1
75 & older $20.50 $22.50 4

Motorcycle Endorsements

Other Resources:

A motorcycle endorsement is required to operate motorcycles, motor scooters, three-wheel motorcycles, etc. Written and driving tests are required. Depending on where you plan to take your test, you can schedule the test through the online Appointment Scheduling Service or, at exam stations that don’t offer online scheduling, you can walk in to take the written test. You must pass the written test before you can make an appointment for the driving test. Note that motorcycle driving tests are not given on wet roads.

Drivers applying for a motorcycle endorsement should be familiar with the Montana Motorcycle Supplement.

Type of Driver Licensing Service Driver Licensing Fee Number of years valid
Add a motorcycle endorsement $4 or less (50 cents per year) Same as expiration on existing MT driver license

Renewals

To keep your Montana driving privilege valid, the renewal may be completed six months before your license expires (usually on your birthday). The license can still be renewed three months after its expiration, but your driving privilege expires at midnight on the expiration date and is not valid until the renewal is processed.

Type of Exam Station Renewal Options
Full-service driver exam station You must renew in person.
Rural, limited-service driver exam station You must renew in person by first paying for your license at the county treasurer’s office and getting a pre-paid receipt, which you present to the driver examiner.
If you are a Montana resident who is temporarily outside the state and will not return before the expiration of your Montana driver license. You may renew by mail. However, after renewing by mail, your next renewal must be completed in person at a driver exam station.
If you live in a county that does not provide driver license services (Carter, Garfield, Golden Valley, Jefferson, Judith Basin, Madison, Petroleum, Prairie, Treasure and Wibaux) You may:

  • renew in person at a full-service driver exam station; or
  • renew at a rural station by first paying for your license at the county treasurer’s office and getting a pre-paid receipt, which you present to the driver examiner; or
  • renew by mail. However, after renewing by mail, your next renewal must be completed in person at a driver exam station.

Renewing in Person
  1. If you do not have your expiring Montana driver license with you, you must provide proof of identity and, if your name has changed, documentation of name change.
  2. Be prepared to pay the $40.50 fee for an eight-year regular, non-commercial (Class D) license with cash or check (U.S. funds only). Credit cards are not accepted.
    OR
    In rural locations with limited driver license services, you must bring your pre-paid receipt from the county treasurer’s office.
  3. You will be given a temporary license and receive your new license in the mail within approximately two to four weeks.

Renewing by Mail

To be eligible to renew your Montana driver license by mail, you must either:

  • Be a Montana resident who is temporarily outside the state and will not return prior to the expiration of your Montana driver license OR
  • Live in a county that does not provide driver license services—Carter, Garfield, Golden Valley, Jefferson, Judith Basin, Madison, Petroleum, Prairie, Treasure and Wibaux.

Renewals completed by mail are valid for eight years. After renewing by mail, your next renewal must be completed at a driver exam station.

How to Renew a Non-Commercial License by Mail
  1. For a regular Class D license, complete and sign all three mail renewal application forms:
    Form 1, Class D Driver License Mail Renewal Application #21-1900A
    Form 2, Medical Evaluation for Driver License Mail Renewal Application #20-1900B, completed by a physician
    Form 3, Report of Eye Examination Application #22-1801, completed by an optometrist
  2. If your name has changed, you must also enclose documentation of name change.
  3. Enclose a money order or a photocopy of your pre-paid county receipt (which may be purchased at a county treasurer’s office or a driver exam station):
    $40.50 for a regular eight-year license
    an additional $4 if you have a motorcycle endorsement and would like to retain it
  4. Enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope if you want the temporary license mailed back to you. Your new driver license will be mailed in two to four weeks.
  5. Mail the completed packet to: Motor Vehicle Division
    Montana Department of Justice
    303 N. Roberts
    P.O. Box 201430
    Helena, MT 59620-1430

Replacement Licenses

If you lose or misplace your Montana driver license, you may obtain a replacement license from any driver exam station. If you are temporarily out of state, you may download Form 21-2000 online, or you may call (406) 444-4590 or email your current out-of-state address or fax number to the Motor Vehicle Division at mvd@mt.gov to have the appropriate paperwork mailed to you. You can receive a replacement license by mail only if you are currently out of state, the license must be mailed to you, and the process could take two to four weeks.
If your lost license is within six months of its expiration date, you may be eligible to apply for a renewal instead of a replacement.

Type of Driver Licensing Service Driver Licensing Fee Number of years valid Required Documents
Replacement Montana driver license $10.00
  • Same as expiration on existing Montana driver license

ID Cards

The Motor Vehicle Division issues identification cards only to Montana residents. Montana ID cards can be obtained at your local driver exam station. Appointments for this service are required at exam stations that offer scheduling.

Type of Driver Licensing Service Driver Licensing Fee Number of years valid Required Documents
Montana Identification (ID) Card
(for residents 21 years old and older)
$16.00 8
Montana Identification (ID) Card
(for residents under 21 years old)
$8.00 4

*If you already have a Montana driver license, the name and address you use must match that on the ID card.

Veteran Designation on Your Driver License or ID Card

Montana law lets a qualified veteran add the word VETERAN to the front of their driver license or identification (ID) card. This designation not only recognizes your service; it may also help you qualify for veteran discounts offered by some businesses.

To apply for this designation, complete and submit form 21-3000 Application to Add Veteran Designation to Driver License or ID Card. This application explains the two steps needed to have VETERAN printed on your license or ID card.

You can also visit the Montana Veterans Affairs Division.

When purchasing license plates, registering your vehicle, or renewing vehicle registration:
The veteran designation on a driver license or ID card is not proof of eligibility to receive veteran license plates or exemption from vehicle registration fees under Montana law. Veterans must continue to provide official documentation confirming eligibility to display veteran license plates or receive exemption from vehicle registration fees.