All vehicle services in the state of Montana are handled by the state's Department of Justice under its Motor Vehicles Division (MVD). All vehicles must be properly titled and registered in order to operate legally on state roads. The processes can be completed from the nearest local county treasurer's office.
With VinFreeCheck, you can conduct a personal license plate lookup for Montana-registered vehicles with our free service. You'll be provided with detailed information on the vehicle, including its history report, odometer records, technical specifications, etc. This information is particularly useful if you want a used car.
Given the propensity of shady dealers to sell anyone a defective vehicle masked behind a great deal, you may want to ensure the car you plan on buying is roadworthy. All you need to do is key in the vehicle's license plate number and select the state the vehicle was registered in. In a matter of seconds, the report will be presented to you.
You can find detailed instructions on the titling and registration process at the MVD's website.
Where Is My Montana Plate Number?
Montana requires that license plates be displayed on the front and rear of the vehicle. If you're not currently with your vehicle, you can find the plate number on important documents, such as the vehicle's registration card.
How to Obtain a Montana License Plate
For new residents of Montana, you have 60 days after establishing residency to complete the titling and registration process. If you are working in Montana but stay in another state, you must present your current out-of-state vehicle registration to the local county treasurer’s office. There'll be associated fees you'll need to pay, and you must also display the license plate or decal from both your home state and of Montana's.
For Montana residents moving to another county, you can continue to use your current plates until the annual registration renewal is due.
Make sure you also bring the required documents along with you.
- Completed vehicle registration application form
- Certificate of title
- Valid driver's license
- Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin (MCO)
- Proof of auto insurance
- Proof of residency (for out-of-state applicants moving to Montana)
- Payment of all relevant fees
- Other supporting docs where relevant
If you bought the vehicle from a licensed local dealership, the dealership will help you send the relevant paperwork to the county treasurer's office.
The state's Title and Registration Bureau handles issuance of license plates. Once you've completed the titling and registration process, you'll be given your new plates via the county treasurer's office. If they're not ready, you'll be issued a 40-day temporary permit. When you receive the temporary permit, place it in the plastic sleeve provided and then attach it to the rear of the vehicle.
What Plates Can I Apply For?
Standard: Standard plates are available in four different patterns. All standard plates use a standardized "123456A" format (six numbers and one letter); only the Centennial plate design uses the "ABC123" format that's primarily used on sponsored plates.
State law requires the issuance of new plates every five years. Permanently registered light vehicles or trailers can continue using plates issued to them on the initial registration of their vehicle.
Personalized: These plates come with an additional fee of $25.75, and $10 for each transfer and/or renewal of that plate. Other relevant fees also apply, such as for the use of the plate background of your choice.
You can have up to 7 characters (up to 6 for motorcycles and small trailers) for personalized plates, and you'll need to provide the meaning of the license plate combination you chose. Note that you may be refused certain combinations that are deemed offensive or misleading.
Sponsored: These refer to plates "sponsored by qualified organizations, colleges or governmental bodies are designed with distinctive backgrounds, colors or phrases that identify the sponsoring organization." These require annual registrations, though there are some exceptions.
The cost for applying and renewing sponsored plates includes a donation that goes directly to the sponsoring organization as a contribution to their work. Available sponsored plates include:
- State museums
- State parks
- Conservation groups
- Collegiate plates
- Education foundations/groups/causes
- Youth groups
Disability: Plates issued to persons with disabilities. Applicants only need to pay the standard plate fees.
Military/Veteran: These are eligible to active duty, or former serving, members of any US armed force, as well as recipients of any combat decorations (such as the Medal of Honor).
What Do I Get from the Lookup Report?
A license plate lookup provides you with all the information you need about a vehicle you intend to purchase or have already purchased. Information you will be able to access includes:
Market value: You'll be able to determine the estimate of the car's true worth or market value. This way, you'll know if you're being over- or undercharged for a used car.
Vehicle specifications: You may be interested in knowing the vehicle’s make, model, and technical specs before you purchase the car. This report gives you detailed facts on all of a vehicle's attributes.
Odometer record: Sellers may alter a car's odometer readings, making buyers think that the vehicle has been driven for less than it actually has. This report protects you from odometer fraud by allowing you to spot inconsistencies in odometer records.
Accidents records: This checks if the car has been involved in any prior accidents that have been reported. There could be underlying faults with the car that were not properly addressed, making it unable to be operated optimally.
Junk/salvage title check: In some cases, cars that are wrecked in a major accident can be written off as a ‘total loss’ by an insurance company. With the report, you'll know if a vehicle has been considered junk and is no longer roadworthy or worth repairing to an optimal condition, owing to the exorbitant costs to do so.
Flood records: This informs you of any previous damage to the car caused by floods. Intense weather conditions such as this are capable of destroying a car. Sometimes, these faults may not be visible and you may not even be informed by the vehicle seller. With this license plate lookup, you'll be able to tell if the car was in a flood before.
Lien records: Provides information on whether the car has been used in a lease, as collateral for a debt, as a rental car unit, etc. A car dealership is legally required to clear off existing liens before selling the car to you; otherwise, you'll end up being held responsible to fully settle the lien.
Previous owners: Gives you information on the number of owners the vehicle has had, and the duration of ownership for each owner. This information helps you determine whether the vehicle has been overused, but does not reveal any personal information of these past operators.
Is the Lookup Report Really So Important?
Absolutely. Having the ability to preemptively protect yourself from the possibility of being scammed can do wonders for helping you navigate the difficulties of used car buying. The report is an invaluable resource to help you make wise car-buying decisions and spot potential red flags that may have been deliberately hidden from buyers.
One of the more common scam tactics is odometer fraud, where the odometer readings are changed to make it seem that the car wasn't driven very far in its service life. This is a federal offense, and without checking if the readings are accurate or falsified, you could buy a lemon. This could lead you to sink tens of thousands of dollars trying to keep a problematic car running.
Moreover, the information you receive comes from extensive and verifiable information from reputable (and constantly updating) sources like the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) and the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS). With trustworthy data available at your fingertips, it would be an optimal choice to get your hands on a lookup report before you start looking for a good used car deal.
It's so easy to get your hands on the report these days, and with VinFreeCheck's free lookup service, you'll quickly have peace of mind looking out for a good used car deal and getting the car you've always wanted for a fair price.
What's the Legality of License Plate Lookups?
We will not reveal any private information of vehicle owners, in accordance with the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA)’s restrictions on disclosing private information of any car owner. Moreover, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) grants individuals the right to access information collected by the government.
You can even make use of the lookup report to determine if a vehicle you see may be a stolen car, without revealing any sensitive info on the car's original owner. VinFreeCheck guarantees 100% reliable data is taken from officially registered sources such as NMVTIS. Go ahead and run a free (and fast) check on that vehicle!
State Based Informational Guides
We have compiled a list of state specific guides for you. Feel free to check them out.