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Montana License Plate Search: License Plate Lookup in Montana

Montana License Plate Search: License Plate Lookup in Montana
December 7, 2022

In 1891, an act was passed in Montana which put a taxation on all properties in the state. 


Then, in 1913, vehicles were highlighted as property and needed to be taxed. 


So, in 1914, the first ever Montana license plate was issued with the plate number. 

Later, Montana license plates started having the prefix MON representing the state, year of issue, and plate number. 


After the factory at the penitentiary was established, the first license plates were produced in 1928, with the name 'Montana' spelled out in full. Montana license plates do not include the letters I, O, Q, R, or V. 

Montana is also one of just eight states in the United States that uses a numerical code on ordinary license plates to designate the county of origin. 


Currently, license plates in Montana are issued by the Motor Vehicle Division of the Montana Department of Justice.

a license plate that reads new

What is a Montana License Plate?

The Montana license plate is a metal plate tag with a reflective backdrop that displays the registration numbers and characters issued to the vehicle. 


The word "MONTANA" should be printed on the license plate, with the pattern of the state of Montana utilized as a distinct boundary on the standard plate. 


The state phrase "TREASURE STATE" is also placed on the top of a standard plate. 

For light vehicles and trailers, plates issued to them must be 6 inches in width and 12 inches long, whereas motorcycles, quadricycles, and trailers with claimed weights of less than 6000 pounds should have plates that are four inches wide and seven inches in length. 


In addition, the license plate registration number in Montana must always be followed by the license plate county number (01 - 56). 

A bison skull-shaped separation mark separates the county number from the registration number. 


The year of the license plate design is also displayed on the plate. According to the Montana vehicle code, new license plates must be issued every five years. 

a man handing over car keys to another man

Categories of License Plates in Montana

There are numerous categories of License plates in Montana, but the Montana Motor Vehicle code broadly classifies the plates into five major categories. These include:

Standard License Plates


Unless the owner expressly requests otherwise, which might lead to the issuance of a personalized license plate, all cars in Montana are issued standard license plates.

Collegiate License Plates


According to Montana Collegiate License Plate Act, educational institutions such as colleges, universities, and college districts are granted different kinds of license plates bearing different insignia, numbers, letters, and colors compared to standard plates.

Specialty License Plates


These license plates type bear the name, graphics, or distinguishing language of a sponsor (government agency or a business entity)

Fleet License Plates


Vehicles with shared ownership are permitted by law to use the same license plate numbering systems that may differ from regular license plates.

Special license plates


These are issued to active military personnel, veterans, disabled persons, spouses, and families with a gold star.

How to Register for Montana License Plates?

Every individual residing in Montana, including out-of-state employees, must register and title their vehicle, then obtain a license plate for their vehicle. 


The Vehicle Services Bureau (VSB) under the Motor Vehicle Division of Montana is in charge of vehicle registration and titling in the state. 


All vehicle registrations and titling is done in the state are kept in a customer's account, either individual or business.

a sign that reads driver licenses



Here are the steps to register your vehicle and get your Montana license plate:

* Submit an application at the local county treasurer's office in your county
* Provide an out-of-state title (To be provided by the motor dealer if it's newly bought)
* Complete a Statement of Fact (Form MV100)
* Valid means of identification
* Evidence of vehicle insurance
* Payment of the required fees as provided in the Montana Motor Vehicle Code for the different vehicle types
* Then, get your vehicle registered and your license plate issued

If an individual's desired plates are unavailable, a 40-day temporary permit is provided. Any other vehicle title-related issues are addressed at the Motor Vehicle Division's Headquarters:

MVD Headquarters,
302 N Roberts,
Helena, Montana, 59660,
(406) 444-3933

How to Lookup a Montana License Plate?

Using the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), you may look up a vehicle's license plate. 


The VIN and license plate number are connected to Montana's automobile registration database. 


The VIN inspection web page contains information for the state's two VIN lookup stages. 

Looking up a Montana license plate with the VIN can provide specific vehicle information such as airbag kinds, the place of manufacture, engine size, insurance coverages, plant name, and claims.

Alternatively, you can contact the Montana DOJ Motor Vehicle Division to request vehicle records. 


The Montana Department of Public Safety and Department of Transportation are other government agencies keeping a driving license and plate records database. 


They also provide registration, traffic, renewals, and recall records for the requester. 


Montana allows a vehicle owner to transfer a vehicle's license plate to another vehicle registered and belonging to the same individual. 


Unless otherwise authorized by law, the Montana Driver Privacy Protection Act bans sharing highly sensitive personal information from a motor vehicle record.

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