Montana License Plates: A Step By Step Guide to Register One In 2023
Even if you don’t live in the Big Sky state, it’s a good idea to know how to register your car in Montana in 2022. To make this easier, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to obtain a Montana license plate:
Why a Montana License Plate Is a Good Idea
You’re walking around a car show in your neighborhood. You notice a Montana license plate and think, “Wow, they came a long way for this show!” Then you notice another, and another. Are all exotic car owners based in Montana?
Or did one Montanan bring down a whole fleet of cars, maybe even rent a huge multi-car trailer to do so? Or maybe the car owners live in the same neighborhood you do, and simply registered in Montana.
But what makes Montana different from any other state, especially the one you live in? Why not just register your car close to home? The answer here is the answer to countless questions like it: money. Montana is a special place because it has no sales tax …
On big ticket items, this means that buying something in Montana versus a state like Ohio or California can save you thousands of dollars. For example, buying and registering a $250,000 Lamborghini in California, where there’s a 7.250% state sales tax plus a local sales tax, you may end up paying nearly $27,000 in sales tax!
And what does this have to do with Montana car registration, as opposed to just buying a car from Montana and registering it in your home state? As it turns out, sales tax is not paid to the dealership or the private seller — it’s paid at the DMV when you register your car.
When you register your car you also receive a license plate from the state you’re registering in. So that’s why you want a Montana license plate — it means you’re not paying sales tax at the DMV.
If you’re buying a high ticket or exotic car, registering in Montana will be worth it because you can save tens of thousands of dollars. Now you have the “why.” Fortunately for you, Montana car registration is not very complicated. Without further ado, here is a guide on how to register your car in Montana.
First, You’ll Need to Get Organized
Never try to accomplish an important task without a plan. Make sure to get organized so that you can register your car in Montana with few to no hiccups. You’ll need to collect the correct documents and have them in hand when you go to the DMV.
If this is not your thing, there are companies that will go to the DMV for you. This way you can register in Montana without ever leaving your home state.
Something you’ll need to keep in mind is that you can’t get Montana license plates without either living in Montana or having an LLC in Montana. Establishing an LLC is a much simpler route to go, especially if you’re not looking to move across the country just to make one big purchase.
Luckily, the same companies that go to the DMV for you have bundles in which you can hire them to create a Montana LLC for you as well. This way you can legally purchase and register your car in Montana without leaving your town.
Complete a Vehicle Registration Application
The first form you’ll need is the Certificate of Title for a Motor Vehicle.
This is available under “DOJ Forms” on the Montana DMV website. It asks you things like your name and contact information, the VIN, the color, fuel type, and weight of your vehicle, and the odometer reading. Pretty straightforward. Once you have this completed, you can move on to insurance.
Be Prepared to Show Proof of Insurance
The next step you’ll need to complete is getting your vehicle insured. Many insurance companies prefer that the vehicle be operated in the state it’s insured in, but insurers of exotic cars are familiar with Montana license plates and will be able to get you the coverage you need.
To get the best rate on your insurance, get quotes from and compare several different companies’ policies. To get the quotes, you’ll need much of the same information as you used on your vehicle registration application — VIN, car color, body type, year, make, model, and current odometer reading.
Once you have your car insured, the insurance company will either send you insurance cards in the mail or have you download their app. If you don’t have an app to show your insurance policy information, make sure to keep the insurance card(s) in your vehicle.
Present Your Vehicle’s Title
Next, you’ll need to be ready to present the vehicle’s title. If you’ve already paid for your vehicle in full, you’ll have the title from the dealership or the private seller already. If you took out a loan to pay for the vehicle, your lender becomes the lienholder.
Pick the right lender (i.e. the one that will give you the best deal) by being a responsible loan-shopper. Sometime dealerships will offer you a payment plan. Tell them you would like to see the details but don’t agree right away! Go to a few banks or credit unions and see what they can offer you. You want a payment that you can make comfortably on a monthly basis, but that doesn’t stick you with high interest rates.
The lienholder you choose will hold the vehicle title until you finish paying off the loan. If this is the situation you find yourself in, don’t worry, you can still get your vehicle registered. Just bring proof of purchase to the DMV in place of the title.
Pay (All) Fees
First, you’ll need to pay a vehicle registration fee. For cars under four years old, this can be as much as $217. The fee goes down in increments depending on how old the vehicle is. 5 Star Registration includes all these fees in our service.
For vehicles over 11 years old, the fee is only $28. Next, you may or may not need to pay a county option tax. This is based on the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), the type of vehicle, and the depreciation value of the vehicle.
However, not all counties in Montana have this tax. If you can, establish your LLC in a county with no county option tax. This way, your car purchase can truly remain sales tax-free.
Lastly, you’ll need to pay license plates fees. This costs between $10 and $15.
Don’t Forget About the LLC
In all the forms, insurance, and fees, it’s easy to forget a very important piece to the Montana car registration puzzle–the LLC. Remember that you can’t register your car in Montana unless you have residence there or an LLC there.
It’s best to pay one relatively small fee to one company which will provide you with the service of creating your LLC and getting all the paperwork through the DMV for you. Don’t try to do this on your own, it’s not something you want to do wrong. For this reason, it’s best to leave it up to the professionals.
Then, enjoy driving your new “company car.”
This Is a (Very) Good Thing …
We all have dreams. Some are bigger than others. Some are concerning a perfect house, a fulfilling job, or, in your case, a badass car. You’ve worked hard for the means to buy something beautiful, extravagant, and fast.
Don’t spend thousands more than you need to when you get to the DMV. Skip that sales tax. Register in Montana. More specifically, register in a Montana county with no local sales tax, so that you don’t spend a dollar more than it took to buy the wheels, engine, and sleek body of your new car.
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