The owner of a light vehicle (passenger cars, pickup trucks one-ton and under, vans, and sport utility vehicles) may choose one of the following renewal period options, § 61-3-311, MCA:

  • 12-month registration – The owner pays one year of the registration rate, county option tax, all other registration fees and any special plate fees.
  • 24-month registration§ 61-3-321(2)(c), MCA – The owner pays the registration rate, county option tax, all other registration fees (except for the license fee for each 12-month period), and any special plate fees for the two-year period.
  • Permanent registration§ 61-3-562, MCA – The owner of a light vehicle 11 years old or older may choose to permanently register the vehicle. This registration does not need to be renewed as long as ownership is unchanged. In addition to the applicable registration fees, the applicant must pay five times the local option motor vehicle tax or flat fee on vehicles under § 61-3-537, MCA.

Note: Light vehicles cannot be permanently registered if they display a license plate that requires recertification or a yearly donation fee. These include: national guard, reserve armed forces, amateur radio, and some organization specialty 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 registration period and the expiration date shown on the license plates for light vehicles are determined when the vehicle is first titled and registered in Montana, § 61-3-314, MCA. Please renew your license plates during the month shown on your license plates at the County Treasurer’s office in the county you reside in.

County Option Tax – Counties may impose a county option tax based on the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, depreciated according to the schedule established in § 61-3-503, MCA. The age of the vehicle is determined by subtracting the model year from the current calendar year. For example, the age of a 2005 model year sport utility vehicle registered in 2004 would be -1 year, resulting in a depreciation multiplier of 100%.

Depreciation Multiplier for Calculating County Option Tax

Age of VehicleAutomobileTruckVanSport Utility Vehicle
-1 year100%100%100%100%
0 years90%96%93%98%
1 year80%91%86%94%
2 years69%86%78%90%
3 years58%80%69%84%
4 years49%73%60%76%
5 years41%66%52%67%
6 years33%57%45%57%
7 years26%49%38%48%
8 years21%43%32%39%
9 years17%37%27%33%
10 years14%31%22%29%
11 years12%26%18%25%
12 years10%22%15%22%
13 years9%18%13%21%
14 years9%15%11%19%
15 years9%13%9%17%
16 years9%12%9%15%