May 26, 2016

Montana Vehicle Identification Number
Buying a Vehicle in Montana

The state of Montana offers free VIN checks through the official state website of the Montana. Public Users are subjected to the same restrictions that are used under both the Federal Drivers Privacy Protection Act and the Montana Driver Privacy Protection Act. This requires the individual who is searching the records to have a valid, legal reason to perform a vehicle history search. You also have the option of becoming a registered user of the Montana Official State Website which allows for up to ten (10) people in your organization to have individual passwords granting them access to all eGovernment services. Registered must sign the Registered Services Agreement and pay a $100 annual registration to the state of Montana:


100 Neill Ave

Helena, MT 56901

Fax: 406-495-0464

Phone: 409-449-3468

The state of Montana has an online vehicle search which allows users to search the history of vehicles that have been titled in Montana. The Department of Justice and the Attorney General offer some general tips for buying a vehicle on their website:

  • Be informed and ask questions;
  • Buy from a trustworthy seller;
    • You can call the MVD’s Vehicle Services Bureau at (406) 444-3661 option 3 to check and see if a dealer is licensed or unlicensed in the state of Montana; and
    • Be wary of curbstoners – when a person tries to sell you a car which they do not own.
  • Take the car for a test drive and take it to an independent mechanic – one who is not recommended by the car dealer;
  • Check for Liens against the Vehicle – when you purchase a vehicle from another person it is critical that you check to see if there are any liens against the car because if there are then the lien holder could have a legal claim to your vehicle if the loan is not paid. If you look on the front of the title the names and addresses of any lienholders are listed on the title;
    • It is possible that the lien has been paid off without getting a new title. If this is the case then there is a form which they can provide you proving that there is no lien on the vehicle.
  • Check the Vehicle’s History – you can use the website and the search provided by the Montana Motor Vehicle Department or other vehicle history searches available to the public;
    • National Motor Vehicle Title Information System;
    • VINCheck and the National Insurance Crime Bureau;
    • CARFAX™; and
    • AutoCheck.

These are all companies which are recommended by the state of Montana, the Montana Department of Justice, the Attorney General of Montana or the Montana Motor Vehicle Division on their website.

  • Beware of Odometer & VIN Fraud – when a title changes hands the mileage is noted on the title. Check and make sure that the mileages match and that the car looks in the appropriate condition to have the number of miles that is stated on the car and on the title. You should also compare the VIN that is on the title and the one on the vehicle as these should obviously match.
  • Purchase insurance for your new vehicle – the law requires that you have at least liability insurance but, depending on the value of the car and whether there are lienholders, you may need to purchase full coverage insurance. Be sure and do this before you leave with the new car;
  • Leave the License Plates with the Seller – when you buy a used car, the license plates must be removed by the seller;
  • Keep a Written Record of your Purchase – you should keep documentation of the sale which includes the seller’s name and address as your record of the sale. A photocopy of the reassigned title with the name, signature, driver license number, and signature of the person to whom the vehicle is sold. The purchase price and the date of sale must also be included. The state has a form that you can use as well;

If you have any questions you should contact the Department of Justice at (406) 444-3661.

Montana Department of Justice – Motor Vehicle Division – Vehicle Search Service:

Vehicle Search Service

Montana Code Annotated 2017 Title 61. Motor Vehicles:

Montana Code Annotated 2017

Montana Driver Protection Policy Act (Annotated 2015)

Drivers Privacy Protection Act

Registered Services Agreement

Registered Services

Buying a car in Montana

Brochure “Buying and Selling A Vehicle in Montana”

Email for the Montana Department of Justice when buying a car: mvdtitleinfo@mt.gov

Email to check on the licensure of an auto dealer in the state of Montana: dojmvddealerinfo@mt.gov

Information on Curbstoning

“How to Find Out if a Security Interest is Filed on a Vehicle” from the Montana Motor Vehicle Division’s Title and Registration website:

How to Find Out if a Security Interest is Filed on a Vehicle

FORM MV37A – Release of Security Interest or Lien

National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS)




Insurance and Verification

FORM MV24 – Bill of Sale

Should you run additional VIN Checks if you live in Montana?

Yes. Although the state has a free search, it only searches for vehicles which have been titled in the state of Montana. One of the best sources of information on vehicle history on the Internet is the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS.) The NMVTIS is a database of vehicles which have been held in junk yards, salvage yards, and auto recyclers. This list is then used to ensure that vehicles which have been branded as junk or salvage are not re-sold. The vehicles which are destroyed also have VIN number attached to them which are destroyed at the same time as the vehicle is destroyed. It is common for thieves to use VINs from destroyed vehicles because they know that the original vehicle with the VIN will not appear. The information that is reported to the NMVTIS is mandated and makes it much more difficult for thieves to steal VIN numbers.

Auto recyclers, junk yards, and salvage yards must report to the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) the following information on each vehicle they receive each month:

  • The name, address, and contact information for the reporting entity;
  • The VIN;
  • The date the vehicle was obtained;
  • The name of the person or entity from whom the automobile was obtained (this information is for use by law enforcement and government agencies only);
  • A statement of whether the vehicle was crushed or disposed of, sold, or other purposes; and
  • Whether the vehicle is intended to be exported outside of the United States.

An NMVTIS Vehicle History Report is intended to provide information on five factors which are associated with auto fraud and theft. These indicators are:

  • Current state of title and last title date – this information can help you verify the validity of the title and helps to prevent both auto fraud and theft;
  • Brand History – these labels are tied to the Vehicle Identification Number and define cars into groups such as “junk,” “salvage,” and “flood.” These labels help inform consumers of the condition of the vehicle and let them know that the vehicle may not have been properly repaired and may not be able to be fully repaired. If a consumer decides to purchase a vehicle that has been branded then at least they know that the vehicle is probably worth far less than it would be had it not been branded;
  • Odometer reading – odometer fraud is quite common as it allows the seller of the vehicle to get more money for the car than they would if the true mileage were shown. It also means that a consumer may be purchasing a vehicle which is unsafe. By checking the title, which shows the mileage of a car every time it changes owners, and by having a car checked out by an independent mechanic before you purchase it, you may save yourself a lot of time and money;
  • Total Loss History – vehicles that have been declared a total loss have usually been severely damaged. If you know that a vehicle has been declared a total loss than you can avoid purchasing a car which will probably end up costing you quite a bit of money and may be unsafe;
  • Salvage History – vehicles that are branded as salvage vehicles are, like those with total loss, those that have had severe damage. Customers who choose to purchase cars that have been branded as “salvage” are potentially unsafe and could cost you a lot of money in repairs.

Another great source for information on cars is VINCheck, which is recommended by The National Insurance Crime Bureau. This site is particularly useful to check if a car has been reported stolen and not recovered. You don’t want to go to get your new title only to find out that you have purchased a stolen vehicle. The National Highway Transportation Safety Authority (NHTSA) has a website which allows you to input your VIN and search to see if there has been a recall issued on your vehicle.

There are other companies which run vehicle history checks and VIN checks that are easily found with a quick search on the Internet. Ideally you want one which will give you the most information possible for the least amount of money.



NMVTIS Understanding


Vehicle Recalls by VIN

Lemon Laws in Montana

The Montana Lemon Law is in the Montana Code Annotated 2017, Title 61. Motor Vehicles, Chapter 4. Sales and Distribution of Motor Vehicles, Part 5. New Motor Vehicles Warranties – Remedies. A “lemon,” as defined by the Better Business Bureau, is a defect or condition that substantially impairs the use and market value or safety of the motor vehicle to the consumer. This defect can be referred to as a nonconformity.

The Montana Lemon Law covers:

  • Vehicles which were purchased, titled, or leased in the state of Montana which are less than two years old and have 18,000 miles or less on the odometer. This includes motorcycles; and
  • Has a substantial defect or defects that impair the use, market value, or safety of the vehicle.

The New Motor Vehicles Warranty Act does not cover:

  • Vehicles which have been purchased for use by a business or for business purposes;
  • Trucks which have a G.V.W. of over 10,000 pounds;
  • Non-Motorized and Off-Road Vehicles;
  • The part of motor homes that is considered residential; and
  • Defects which are a result of an accident, abuse, neglect, or modifications or alterations by someone other than the manufacturer or an authorized dealer.

In Montana, one of the most important things that you can have is documentation to prove your car is a lemon, including:

  • Sale and/or lease documents;
  • Maintenance records, including receipts for supplies;
  • Repair statements;
  • Copies of any communication between yourself and the manufacturer or dealer; and
  • Any documentation you have which relates to the defect or flaw.

The warranty period ends two (2) years after the date of original delivery to the consumer, or the first 18,000 miles of operation, whichever occurs first. If the defect is reported, in writing, to the dealer or manufacturer, but has not been fixed by the end of the expiration of the two (2) years, then it can be extended for up to one (1) year.

If you believe that you have purchased a lemon vehicle then you should follow these steps:

  1. Notify the manufacturer. If the problem is a substantial defect, a recurring condition, or still exists after the third repair attempt, you should notify the manufacturer by certified mail with return receipt requested. In Montana, notifying the manufacturer is not required under the lemon law, but it does send a clear sign to the manufacturer that you intend to pursue either a refund or a replacement under the lemon law;
  2. If the manufacturer does not correct any defect or condition after you have notified them in writing then they must either refund the full purchase price of the vehicle – plus any reasonable expenses that were directly incurred because of the vehicle’s condition – or provide an identical or similar replacement vehicle. You should know that if the vehicle is repurchased by the manufacturer, they are able to deduct a usage fee based on the reading of the odometer at the time of the repurchase; and
  3. If you believe that you are entitled to either a refund or a replacement and the manufacturer is unwilling to do so, you must first take the case to a state-certified dispute settlement program which has been approved by the Montana Department of Justice.

    Office of Consumer Protection

    555 Fuller Avenue

    Helena, MT 59620

    (406) 444-4500 or (800) 481-6896

Montana Lemon Law

Vehicles And Lemon Law

Better Business Bureau Auto Line

Automotive Lemon Law

Montana Lemon Laws

Email for the State of Montana Office of Consumer Protection: contactocp@mt.gov

Motor Vehicle Division Headquarters
Department of Motor Vehicles
302 N Roberts St
1 406-444-3933

Department of Motor Vehicles
2005 Gilkerson Dr
1 406-587-0461

Drivers License Bureau
Driver’s License Office
1325 U.S. Hwy 2 W
1 406-257-2127

Billings Driver’s License Office
Driver’s License Office
615 S 27th St
1 406-896-4326

Montana Drivers License
Driver’s License Office
302 N Roberts St
1 406-444-3933

Title & Registration Bureau
Department of Motor Vehicles
1003 Buckskin Dr
1 406-444-3661

Jefferson County Motor Vehicle
Department of Motor Vehicles
201 W Centennial Ave
1 406-225-4100

Drivers License
Department of Motor Vehicles
35 W Reserve Dr
1 406-257-2127

Montana Department of Justice Drivers Exam Station
Driver’s License Office
2681 S Palmer St
1 406-329-1355

Yellowstone County Motor Vehicle
Department of Motor Vehicles
115 W 1st St
1 406-628-1232

Stillwater County Treasurer
Department of Motor Vehicles
400 E 3rd Ave N
1 406-322-8020

Ravalli County Motor Vehicles
Department of Motor Vehicles
215 S 4th St
1 406-375-6585

Park County Motor Vehicles
Department of Motor Vehicles
414 E Callender St
1 406-222-4120

Lewis & Clark County Motor Vehicles
Department of Motor Vehicles
316 N Park Ave
1 406-447-8328

Flathead County Motor Vehicle Department
Department of Motor Vehicles
935 1st Ave W
1 406-758-5690

Motor Vehicle Department
Department of Motor Vehicles
106 4th Ave E
1 406-883-7217

Cascade County Motor Vehicle Department
Department of Motor Vehicles
121 4th St N
1 406-454-6860

Drivers License Office
Department of Motor Vehicles
512 E Main St
1 406-873-3625

Yellowstone County Motor Vehicle
Department of Motor Vehicles
217 N 27th St #109
1 406-256-2833

Silver Bow Motor Vehicle
Department of Motor Vehicles
155 W Granite St # 206
1 406-497-6301

Missoula County Motor Vehicles
Department of Motor Vehicles
Missoula County Courthouse
200 W Broadway St
1 406-258-4747

Driver Exam Station
Department of Motor Vehicles
102 Main St
1 406-777-4388

Motor Vehicle Department
County Government Office
512 California Ave
1 406-283-2405

Drivers License
Department of Motor Vehicles
1620 Airport Rd
1 406-538-8725

Madison County Motor Vehicle
Department of Motor Vehicles
100 Wallace St
1 406-843-4210

Sanders County Motor Vehicle
Department of Motor Vehicles
1111 W Main St
1 406-827-6924

Richland County Treasurer’s Office
County Government Office
201 W Main St
1 406-433-1707

Rosebud County Treasurer
Department of Motor Vehicles
1200 Main St
1 406-346-7661

Broadwater County Treasurer
Department of Motor Vehicles
515 Broadway St
1 406-266-3445

Drivers Service
Department of Transportation
3 9th Ave W Suite D
1 406-883-3755

Chouteau County Treasurer
Department of Motor Vehicles
1308 Franklin St
1 406-622-5032

Phillips County Treasurer
Department of Motor Vehicles
314 S 2nd Ave W
1 406-654-1742

Driver Exam Station
Department of Motor Vehicles
201 W Main St
1 406-433-2378

Big Horn County Treasurer
Department of Motor Vehicles
Big Horn County Courthouse
121 3rd St W
1 406-665-9830

Wibaux County Treasurer
Department of Motor Vehicles
203 N Wibaux St
1 406-796-2482

Garfield County Treasurer
Department of Motor Vehicles
352 Leavitt Ave
1 406-557-2233

Drivers License Department
Department of Motor Vehicles
301 N Kendrick Ave
1 406-365-4330

Driver Exam Station
Department of Motor Vehicles
20 4th Ave SW
1 406-271-4058

Wheatland County Treasurer
Department of Motor Vehicles
201 A Ave NW
1 406-632-4892

Montana Department of Justice
Government Office
615 S 27th St
1 406-896-4326

Montana Department of Justice
State Government Office
302 N Roberts St
1 406-444-3625

Treasurer’s Office
Tax Collector’s Office
800 Main St
1 406-563-4051

Motor Vehicle Division
Department of Motor Vehicles
220 3rd Ave #207
1 406-265-3356

Bozeman County Treasurer’s Office
Government Office
311 W Main St
1 406-582-3080

Fergus County Treasurer
County Government Office
712 W Main St
1 406-535-9220

Carbon County Treasurer
County Government Office
17 W 11th St
1 406-446-1221

Drivers Exam Station
Government Office
916 13th Ave S
1 406-454-1251
Permanently closed

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