License Plates

Standard Plates | Antique Plates | Military Plates | Veterans | Sponsored Plates | Other including physical disability & parking placards | Collect Sample Plates | Temporary Registration Permits | Specialty License Plate Donations list

The Title and Registration Bureau regulates the issuance of vehicle license plates. Once you have titled and registered your vehicle and paid all taxes and fees, the county treasurer’s office gives you your plates. If the plates you want are not on hand, the county treasurer gives you a 40-day temporary permit.

Montana drivers can choose from a number of license plates, ranging from the standard plate to designs that reflect their military service or show their support for a Montana college or community organization.

Transferring plates – License plates stay with the owner and may be transferred to another vehicle only when the vehicle is properly registered through the county treasurer.

Personalized plates are available for an additional fee of $25, and then $10 for each transfer and/or renewal of that plate. If you want to personalize a sponsored plate, there are additional sponsor fees. For requirements and additional information, see the Application for Personalized License Plates (MV8).

License plate decals, which indicate that an owner has paid all the taxes and fees on a vehicle, generally are issued for a one-year period by the county treasurer in the county where the vehicle is subject to tax or fee. The decal must be placed on the rear plate.

Standard Plates

Standard issue license plate sample
Click image to enlarge

Standard plates are issued to all vehicle owners unless they request other plates. Montana law requires the issuance of new plates every five years.

The Montana plate pictured above was issued beginning in January 2010. Each design element echoes Montana’s classic license plates. The white Montana outline on a solid blue background harkens back to the plates of the ’70s, and the “Treasure State” slogan along the top was used through the ’50s. The clear-cut, white lettering for the state name and plate number is also a classic look, and makes it easier to read the plate from a distance. The “10″ after Montana is for the issue year of the design, a feature that was used through the ’80s. The “dot” between the county prefix and the plate number is the familiar silhouette of a bison skull.

Plate Choice and Permanent Registration – Vehicle owners who have permanently registered a light vehicle or trailer may continue to use the plates issued to them at the time they registered their vehicle. Vehicle owners who wish to use the 2010-issue plate may request the new plates upon surrender of their old plates displaying the permanent tab and payment of one or more of the following:

  • $10 new issue fee
  • $10 replacement plate fee (new number)
  • $15 duplicate plate fee (same number and type of plate)
  • $10 duplicate permanent tab fee

The following standard-issue plates from 1989, 1991, 2000, and 2006 are available as an alternative to the blue 2010 plate. The same standard-issue plate fees, options, and conditions apply to the 1991, 2000, and 2006 plates, but the 1989 design is numbered like a sponsored plate and is not available in military or amateur radio options.

Alternate Standard Plates


1989


1991


2000


2006

Antique Plates

Vintage and Pioneer Plates

Vintage and Pioneer plates, authorized by 61-3-411 of the Montana Code Annotated, are available for vehicles that are:

  • more than 30 years old
  • used solely as collectors’ items, rather than for general transportation
How to Purchase Vintage and Pioneer Plates

A Montana title must be issued in the applicant’s name before Vintage or Pioneer plates can be issued.

  1. Complete an Application for Registration of a Vintage or Pioneer Vehicle (Form MV3).
  2. Send the completed form to the Title and Registration Bureau, not your county treasurer.
  3. Pay all applicable title fees and any special license plate fees.
Original Montana Plates

Original Montana license plates were issued during the same year a motor vehicle was manufactured. For example, the owner of a 1976 Dodge may want to use a set of plates issued in 1976. Original Montana license plates are not re-manufactured by the state – the applicant must obtain existing plates. A Montana title must be issued in the applicant’s name before Original plates can be registered.

To display Original license plates on a vehicle used for general transportation, the vehicle must be 25 years old or older. The applicant must have a set of two Original Montana license plates and:

  1. complete the top section of the Application to Display Original Montana License Plates (Form MV97) and have law enforcement complete the bottom section
  2. permanently register the vehicle in the applicant’s name through the county treasurer’s office, in accordance with MCA 61-3-562
  3. pay all applicable fees and any special license plate fees

To display Original license plates on a vehicle used solely as a collector’s item, not for general transportation, the vehicle must be 30 years old or older. The applicant must have a set of two Original Montana license plates and:

  1. complete the top section of the Application to Display Original Montana License Plates (Form MV97) and have law enforcement complete the bottom section
  2. register the vehicle in the applicant’s name through the Title and Registration Bureau, in accordance with MCA 61-3-411
  3. pay all applicable fees and any special license plate fees

Military Plates

Eligibility – Under MCA 61-3-458, special military or veteran license plates may be issued to:

  • active military personnel
  • veterans
  • the surviving spouse of an eligible veteran if the spouse has not remarried, as determined by the military
  • those eligible for a Gold Star Label Button because a family member died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces

Montana residents who are active members of the regular armed forces, National Guard or reserve armed forces may be issued special license plates according to their branch of service. However, they must surrender the plates to the department when they are no longer eligible.

Disabled Veterans

Veterans may be issued special license plates displaying the letters “DV”, which entitle them to disabled parking privileges, if they:

  • have been awarded the Purple Heart andhave been rated as 50% or more disabled because of a service-connected injury
    • Necessary documentation – an official letter from the Department of Veterans Affairs stating the disability rating and U.S. Department of Defense form DD-214 verifying receipt of a Purple Heart.

    or

  • are currently rated 100% disabled or are paid at the 100% disabled rate for a service-connected disability
    • Necessary documentation – an official letter from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs stating the disability rating or payment status.

Disabled veterans may be issued up to two sets of disabled veteran license plates for their vehicles. Unlike other military license plates, DV plates cannot be transferred to a surviving spouse.

Gold Star Family

U.S. military family members who are eligible for a Gold Star Lapel Button may be issued special Gold Star Family license plates upon application and after paying all applicable motor vehicle, trailer, semitrailer, or pole trailer registration fees and special license plate fees.

  • Necessary documentation – Complete the State of Montana Application for Gold Star Family License Plate (Form MV57) and provide the supporting documentation listed on the form.

Veterans

Notes on Official Documentation

If you cannot find the Department of Veterans Affairs’ letter verifying your or your deceased spouse’s disability rating, payment status or death due to service-connected injury or disability, contact the Veterans Service Office of the Montana Department of Veterans Affairs at (406) 495-2080.

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.

Fee Waivers for Veterans and Military Service Members

Motor vehicle registration fees and, in some cases, the veterans cemetery fee, may be waived for individuals who purchase military or veteran license plates and who provide a letter from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs verifying that they:

  • have been awarded the Purple Heart and have been rated as 50% or more disabled because of a service-connected injury (the $10 veterans cemetery fee is excluded from the waiver), or
  • are currently rated 100% disabled or are paid at the 100% disabled rate for a service-connected disability, or
  • were a prisoner of war.
Fee Waivers for Surviving Spouses

Provided a surviving spouse of a military service member has not remarried, the spouse is entitled to the fee waiver(s) if the deceased spouse meets any one of the following criteria:

  • was a prisoner of war
  • was a veteran who had a 100% disability rating, or who was paid at the 100% rate
  • was a veteran who had at least a 50% disability rating and was awarded the Purple Heart (this excludes the veterans cemetery fee)
  • was killed while on active duty
  • died of a service-connected injury or disability
    • Necessary documentation – an official letter from the Department of Veterans Affairs, unless the military service member was killed on active duty, in which case the surviving spouse needs a letter from the U.S. Department of Defense.
How to Purchase and Renew Military Plates
  1. Present to the county treasurer’s office an official certificate from your unit commander verifying your eligibility and authorizing the department to issue the plates:
    • Department of Defense form 214 (DD-214) or its successor
    • documents showing an other-than-dishonorable discharge
    • re-enlistment documents
  2. Pay all applicable vehicle registration fees and any special license plate fees.

Sponsored Plates

License plates sponsored by qualified organizations, colleges or governmental bodies are designed with distinctive backgrounds, colors or phrases that identify the sponsoring organization. Sponsored plates are authorized under MCA Title 61, Chapter 3, Part 4.

You must register your vehicle annually to have sponsored plates, with these exceptions – by paying a one-time contribution, light vehicles 11 years and older that are eligible for permanent registration, and trailers that must be permanently registered, may have sponsored plates. The cost of the plates and renewing them each year includes a donation that goes directly to the sponsoring organization. By purchasing these plates, people show their support for an organization and make a financial contribution to its work. The Specialty License Plate Donations list shows the quarterly total of donations collected for each sponsoring organization.

How to Purchase and Renew Sponsored Plates with No Eligibility Requirements

  • An individual or business who owns a passenger car, pickup, van, sport utility vehicle, motor home, large truck or bus that is registered in Montana may choose to display most sponsored plates. Sponsored plates are available for trailers. The Chrome for Kids plate is only available for motorcycles.
  • There is no special process to apply for or renew most sponsored plates. The county treasurer issues or renews the plates when you pay the applicable vehicle registration fees and any special license plate fees.

How to Purchase and Renew Sponsored Plates with Eligibility Requirements

Eligibility – A few organizations restrict their plates to people who meet certain eligibility requirements. For example, the Montana State Fire Chiefs’ Association plate is available only to active and retired firefighters and members of fire boards. To apply for and renew plates with specific eligibility requirements:

  1. Contact the sponsoring organization and request an application form.
  2. Mail the completed application to the sponsoring organization.
  3. Once approved, take or mail the eligibility notification you receive from the sponsoring organization (and your mail renewal notice for renewals) to your county treasurer’s office.
  4. Pay all applicable vehicle registration fees and any special license plate fees.

How to Sponsor a License Plate

  • The Organization’s Application to Sponsor a Specialty License Plate (Form MV115) lists design and sponsorship requirements, including the fee of $4,000 to reimburse Montana Correctional Enterprises for the initial costs of producing the specialty license plate. It may take up to eight weeks to approve an organization’s application. The sponsored license plate is then programmed for manufacture.

Other Plates

Amateur Radio Operator Plates

Amateur Radio Operator plates are available to a vehicle owner who holds an unrevoked and unexpired official amateur radio station license and operator’s license. The plates display the owner’s amateur radio call letters assigned by the federal communications commission.

How to Apply for and Renew an Amateur Radio Plate

  1. Present proof of ownership of your amateur radio station license and operator’s license.
  2. Pay all applicable vehicle registration fees and any special license plate fees.
Physical Disability Plates and Parking Permit Placards

Physical disability plates feature a wheelchair symbol and are available for people with permanent disabilities, in accordance with MCA 49-4-301. Parking permit placards are also available for people with permanent or temporary disabilities.

How to Apply for or Renew Physical Disability Plates

  1. Have a licensed physician, physician’s assistant, chiropractor or advanced practice registered nurse complete the appropriate section of the Disability Permit/License Plate Application (Form MV5).
  2. Complete and sign the remainder of the form.
  3. Mail the completed form to your county treasurer’s office.
  4. Pay all applicable vehicle registration fees.

Recertification of a permanent disability is not required to renew physical disability plates.

How to Apply for or Renew a Physical Disability Parking Permit Placard

  1. Have a licensed physician, physician’s assistant, chiropractor or advanced practice registered nurse complete and sign the appropriate section of the Disability Permit/License Plate Application (Form MV5).
  2. Complete and sign the remainder of the form.
  3. Mail the completed form to the Motor Vehicle Division.
  4. To renew: complete the three steps listed above.
    • A new Disability Permit/License Plate Application (Form MV5) must be completed and signed by a licensed physician, physician’s assistant, chiropractor or advanced practice registered nurse to receive an updated permit. Permits are valid until the last day of the month and year indicated on the permit; submit the new application prior to the expiration date.
Special Mobile Decals

Under MCA 61-3-431, special mobile decals are available to people who own, lease or rent special mobile equipment that must occasionally be moved on the highways, such as a fertilizer spreader or ditch-digging equipment.

How to Apply for and Renew a Special Mobile Equipment Decal

  1. Apply in person through your county treasurer’s office.
  2. Pay all applicable fees.

Collect Sample Plates

For individuals who collect license plates, current Montana plates are available from the Title and Registration Bureau by completing the Order Form for Sample License Plates (Form MV6) and paying the applicable fee. Some sponsoring organizations also sell sample license plates to collectors. Contact the organization of your choice.

Temporary Registration Permits

Temporary Registration Permit sample
Click image to enlarge

When you purchase a vehicle or choose a license plate that is not immediately available, the vehicle dealer or your county treasurer’s office issues a temporary registration permit (TRP). This permit allows you to drive the vehicle until you receive your new registration and plates. The temporary permits are generated electronically, with a unique number and a detachable proof of temporary vehicle registration.

Using the Permits

  • Place the permit in the plastic sleeve provided by the issuer and attach it to the rear of the vehicle, where the license plate normally goes.
  • When you receive your registration and plates, you must remove the temporary registration permit and replace it with your new plates.