Legally Selling the Vehicle
To legally sell a vehicle, you must be the owner listed on the Certificate of Title. Every owner listed on the title must sign over the title in front of a notary public. EXCEPTION: notarization is not required for companies signing off a Montana title.
It is illegal for you sell a vehicle that is not licensed and registered in your name unless you have a dealer’s license.
It is illegal for you to display or park a for-sale vehicle on property that you do not have a legal interest in, unless written permission from the property owner is displayed in the vehicle.
Resolve Any Liens on the Vehicle
A lien can occur because you took out a loan to buy the vehicle and haven’t fully repaid the bank, lending institution, or private party who loaned the money. Liens can also be placed on a vehicle when you fail to pay child support or for other reasons.
If there is a security interest (lien) listed on the title:
- The names and addresses of any security interests/liens are listed on the front of the title in the section labeled “This vehicle/vessel is subject to the following security interest,” or a similar heading on out-of-state titles.
For more information, go to the MVD’s Vehicle Title and Registration website under How to Find Out if a Security Interest is Filed on a Vehicle.
- It’s critical to have the security interest/lien released before selling the vehicle because the lien holder could have a legal claim to the vehicle if you haven’t paid the loan.
For more information, go to the MVD’s Vehicle Title and Registration website under How to Have a Security Interest Removed from a Title.
- A Security Interest/Lien Release certifies that you paid off the loan; give it to the buyer with the title to certify that the vehicle is clear of any claims. (See Release of Security Interest or Lien (MV37A).
Test Drives & Mechanics
If the buyer is going to test drive the vehicle, make certain they have a valid driver license. It’s a good idea to be present as a passenger and check with your insurance agent to see if they have a specific requirement about drivers not declared on your policy.
Allowing a buyer to have an independent mechanic look the vehicle over is a business decision that should be discussed and agreed upon by both you and the buyer. Make certain you agree on who is paying for the inspection.
Remove License Plates
The plates belong to you, not the vehicle. Don’t let the buyer drive the vehicle home with the promise that they will return the plates. If you do not remove the plates, you may be liable for any parking or traffic violations that happen after the sale.
- You can ask to transfer the plates to another vehicle you own; contact your County Treasurer’s office for more information.
- On a classic car or for personalized plates, if you want to transfer the plates to the buyer you must complete Statement of Fact (MV100) to relinquish all rights to the plates. The registration fees alone will not transfer the plates to the buyer.
Because the vehicle will not have license plates and the buyer will need plates to legally drive the vehicle, the best case scenario is for you to go to the County Treasurer’s office with the title and your buyer. You can then sign off in front of the clerk as owner/seller. Then the buyer can finish the transaction, pay the fees, and get a new set of license plates. You remove your plates from the vehicle and the formal transfer of ownership is complete.
Keep a Written Record of the Sale
Keep documentation of the sale with the buyer’s name and address as your record of the sale. A record of the sale can be either a photocopy of the reassigned title or a form or document that includes the year, make, VIN, name, address, driver license number, purchase price, and date of sale of the vehicle. For your convenience, you can use Bill of Sale (MV24).
Insurance & Registration
Don’t forget to cancel the vehicle’s insurance policy once it’s sold.
When you’ve sold the vehicle, you can ignore its annual registration renewal notice that might still come in the mail. You do not need to notify the County Treasurer’s motor vehicle office that you sold the vehicle.
You may download a PDF of a Seller’s Checklist and Buyer’s Acknowledgement Form as a helpful resource.
Replacing a Missing Title
To sell your vehicle, you must have the title in your possession. If you don’t have the title, you or the owner of record will have to apply for a replacement title from the state where the vehicle was last titled.
If you, the seller, are not the owner of record listed on the title, that person will need to sign the replacement title over to you once it’s received.
EXCEPTION: If the vehicle: 1) was last titled in Montana; 2) is currently registered; and 3) is being sold to a Montana resident, the seller (i.e., titled and registered owner) can give the following documents to the buyer. These forms are available on the Motor Vehicle Division forms website. Any fees and additional requirements are listed on the forms.
- Application for Replacement Certificate of Title (MV7)
The MV7 must be completed and signed by the titled and registered owner. Only one owner’s signature is required.
- Bill of Sale (MV24)
From the currently-titled Montana owner to the buyer. This form includes authorization to transfer ownership using the electronic record transfer.
All owners must sign to transfer ownership of the vehicle to the buyer.
- Application for Certificate of Title for a Motor Vehicle (MV1)
This form must show the same buyers that are listed on the Bill of Sale (MV24).
Tips for Filling Out the Title
- All fields must be completed in blue or black ink only.
- White-out or attempts to erase or scratch out entries void the title.
- The buyer’s name and address must be written on the title, per Montana law.
- Sellers need to complete the odometer (mileage) disclosure. The mileage must be disclosed on any vehicle with a model year of 2011 or newer.
- All owners must sign the title in front of a notary public. Owners can have their signatures notarized without the buyer’s presence. EXCEPTION: notarization is not required for companies signing off a Montana title.
- The buyer must sign the title. The person who signs must be the buyer written on the title.
As the buyer, you have 40 days from the sale date to transfer the ownership of the vehicle to you. This is done by applying for the title to and registering the vehicle at the County Treasurer’s office in your county of residence. A late fee of $10 will be charged if you wait longer than 40 days.
Title Tips for Buying/Selling a Vehicle in Montana
These are general guidelines. When selling or buying a motor vehicle, every situation will be unique. If you have a question about a specific circumstance, email [email protected] or call 406-444-3661.