Do you need to know how to get a driver’s license in the Treasure State? You’ve come to the right place. By the time you finish reading this article, you will know how to get a standard driver’s license, commercial license, and motorcycle license in the state of Montana. Let’s begin!

Types of Montana Driver’s Licenses

There are different types of Montana driver’s licenses. Here’s what you need to know about each type of MT license.

  • Class D – the Class D Montana driver’s license is the state’s standard license that is required to operate non-commercial vehicles, such as passenger cars and trucks that weigh less than 26,000 lbs.
  • Commercial Driver’s License – these licenses are for commercial use only and include three classes of vehicles, such as Class A, Class B, and Class C.

o   Class A – allows an individual to operate any combination of vehicles that do not exceed a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) that is towing a trailer that exceeds 10,000 lbs. Individuals that obtain a Class A CDL can also operate vehicles that fall into Classes B and C.

o   Class B – allows an individual to operate a vehicle that exceeds 26,000 GVWR that is towing a trailer that does NOT exceed 10,000 lbs. Individuals who have a Class B CDL can also operate vehicles that fall into the Class C CDL category.

o   Class C – allows individuals to operate a single vehicle that does NOT exceed 26,001 lbs. and transports a vehicle that hauls hazardous materials in an amount that is sufficient to require placarding a school bus, or any other vehicle that hauls 16 or more passengers,  including the driver.

  • Motorcycle License/Endorsement – allows individuals to operate a motorcycle or any vehicle with 2 or 3 wheels. This endorsement appears on your MT Class D driver’s license.

Montana Driver’s License Requirements

To apply for a new Class D non-commercial driver’s license in the state of Montana, you must not have been deemed by a court to be any of the following:

  • Mentally incompetent
  • An alcoholic
  • A habitual user of illegal drugs

If you are younger than 18 years old, the Montana Department of Justice (MT DOJ) requires you to satisfy every requirement of its Graduated Driver’s License (GDL) program. The Montana Motor Vehicle Division (MT MVD) will NOT issue you an MT driver’s license if you have received a suspension or revocation in any other state.

You are required to obtain a Montana driver’s license if any of the following apply:

  • You are currently a Montana resident who’s never been licensed
  • You are new to Montana and want to apply for an MY driver’s license or transfer your out-of-state driver’s license
  • You plan on operating any of the commercial vehicles listed above
  • You have a legal presence in the state of Montana and the U.S. (you are NOT required to have a California driver’s license if you possess a diplomatic driver’s license that has been issued by the U.S. Department of State)

You are NOT required to have a Montana driver’s license if:

  • You’re at least 18 years old and visiting Montana with a valid out-of-state driver’s license
  • You are an active military member or dependent who is stationed in Montana, as long as you obtain a valid out-of-state driver’s license, and you have NOT established residency in MT
  • You operate farm vehicles off public highways
  • You ONLY operate registered off-highway vehicles and snowmobiles without accessing public roads (other than crossing the roads)

Applying for Your Montana Driver’s License

To legally operate a motor vehicle in Montana, you must attain a valid driver’s license. Whether you are a new resident, a first-time driver, or a non-U.S. citizen, the Montana MVD of the Montana DOJ requires you to complete different steps before you can obtain your MT driver’s license.

New Residents of Montana

Welcome to the Treasure State! As a new resident of Montana, you’ll have to make yourself at home and transfer your out-of-state driver’s license to Montana by applying for a new MT driver’s license within 60 days of establishing residency in this state. Be advised that your out-of-state driver’s license can’t be suspended or revoked.

To apply for a new MT driver’s license, you need to visit your local MT MVD office and:

  • Surrender your out-of-state driver’s license
  • Provide proof of your:
    • Identity
    • MT residency
    • Legal presence in the U.S.
  • Pass the written permit test and driving test (your examiner may waive these tests if you have your valid out-of-state driver’s license with you)
  • Pass the vision test
  • Have your photo taken
  • Pay the MT driver’s license fee (this fee depends on your age)

You will follow the steps listed above to obtain an MT driver’s license as a current resident of this state.

Acceptable Identification Documents in Montana

In Montana, different types of documents are acceptable for obtaining your MT driver’s license. First, you need to prove your identity using any of the following documents:

  • Birth certificate
  • Foreign passport with a valid I-94 (the expiration date of the I-94 must be more than 2 months from the date you visit the office)
  • Passport
  • Certificate of Naturalization
  • Permanent Resident Card
  • Armed Forces ID Card

Examples of true full-name verification documents include the following:

  • Certification of registration documents that verify the formation of a domestic partnership
  • Adoption documents that contain your legal name as a result of the adoption
  • A dissolution of marriage document that contains your legal name as a result of the court order
  • Marriage certificate
  • Name change documents containing your legal name both before and after

Examples of acceptable residency documents include:

  • Resident utility bills (this can include cell phone bills)
  • A record of a financial institution
  • Montana vehicle or vessel title or registration
  • Insurance documents

In this instance, a legal guardian, parent, or child can use a birth certificate. A spouse or domestic partner can use a marriage license or domestic partner registration certificate to trace their relationship to the individual to whom the acceptable residency documentation was addressed.

Obtaining a Montana Driver’s License Under the Age of 18

As a teenage driver in the state of Montana, you must satisfy the Graduated Driver’s License (GDL) requirements of the MT DOJ and the MT MVD. The MT GDL helps you develop your skills as a new driver and pass the driving exam.

New Residents of Montana

As a new resident of Montana, you are required to transfer your out-of-state driver’s license within 60 days of establishing residency. You must visit your local MT MVD branch and:

  • Provide proof of your:
    • Identity
    • MT residency
    • U.S. legal presence
  • Pass the written knowledge and road test (if required)
  • Pass the vision test

Montana GDL Program Stages

If you are younger than 18 years old, you must complete the following GDL phases:

  • Learner’s permit
  • Restricted/Provisional driver’s license
  • Unrestricted driver’s license

Before you apply for your MT driver’s license, it’s a good idea to review the Montana Driver’s License Manual found here. This manual provides you with the rules and regulations that you need to know to pass the written and skills exams.

Montana Age Requirements

The minimum ages to begin each step of the Montana GDL program are as follows:

  • Learner’s permit
    • When you are enrolled in an approved traffic education course: 14 ½ years old
    • Without Driver’s Education (Driver’s Ed)” 16 years old
  • Provisional License: After holding a learner’s permit for at least 6 months
  • Full Driver’s License: After holding a provisional driver’s license for 1 year or when you turn     18 years old (whichever comes first)

How to Get a Montana Learner’s Permit

The first step in the GDL program is to apply for your learner’s license. You are eligible when you are at least 14 ½ years old and enrolled in a state-approved Driver’s Ed course. Online courses are NOT accepted, or you can be 16 years old.

To apply, you must visit your local MT MVD branch with your parent or legal guardian and:

  • Pass the DMV written test
  • Meet the Montana medical/vision requirements
  • Provide proof of your:
    • Identity
    • Residency
    • Legal presence

Be prepared to pay the driver’s licensing fee of $5 per year.

Montana Learner’s Permit Restrictions and Next Steps

With your learner’s permit, you can ONLY drive when you are supervised by a licensed parent, legal guardian, or a licensed adult who is at least 18 years of age and is authorized by your parent or guardian.

Before moving on to the next steps in the Montana MVD GDL program, you must do the following:

  • Complete at least 50 hours of supervised driving, which includes 10 hours of night driving
  • Have NO traffic violations or alcohol/drug-related offenses for 6 months before you can apply for your provisional driver’s license
  • Attain your learner’s permit for at least 6 months

How to Get a Montana Provisional Driver’s License

You are eligible for your first-year restricted license/provisional license once you:

  • Have attained your learner’s permit for at least 6 months
  • Have had no traffic violations or alcohol or drug offenses in the past 6 months
  • Have completed at least 50 hours of supervised driving experience, with 10 hours completed at night

To apply for your MT provisional driver’s license, you need to visit your local MT MVD office and:

  • Have your parent or legal guardian complete a Graduated Driver’s Licensing Parent/Legal Guardian Certification (Form 21-1600).
  • Pass the MT road test
  • Provide proof of your:
    • Identity
    • Legal U.S. presence
    • MT residency
    • Pay the $5 per year driver’s license fee

Montana Provisional License Restrictions and Next Steps

While you attain your provisional driver’s license, you can ONLY:

  • Drive unsupervised between 5 AM and 11 PM ONLY, unless you are driving for:
    • Work
    • Emergencies
    • Church
    • Parent-authorized reasons
  • Have ONLY 1 passenger (non-family member) who is younger than 18 years of age for the first 6 months unless you are supervised by a licensed driver who is at least 18 years old.
  • Have up to 3 passengers (non-family member) who is younger than 18 years old for the next 6 months unless you are supervised by a licensed adult who is at least 18 years of age.

Your MT provisional driver’s license will automatically convert to a full, unrestricted driver’s license when you are at least 18 years of age, or once you have attained your provisional license for at least 1 year.

How to Get a Montana Unrestricted Driver’s License

Your provisional driver’s license restrictions will be lifted after you have attained your provisional driver’s license for at least 1 year or you are at least 18 years of age. With your unrestricted driver’s license, you will be able to apply the safe and defensive habits you’ve developed during each phase of the Montana DMV GDL program.

The Montana Written Exam and Road Test

Taking the Montana Written Exam

The Montana written exam has a total of 33 questions, 27 of which you must answer correctly to pass with a minimum passing score of 82%. The minimum age to apply to take the MT written exam is 14 ½.

Taking the Montana Road Test

The MT road exam is used to determine your ability to perform standard driving maneuvers safely. You will be tested on your ability to follow the MT traffic laws and signs, stop, reverse, parallel park, and more.

Married, Divorced, or Name Change?

If you’ve changed your name because of a marriage, divorce, or some other reason, you will be required to provide name change documentation. If the name on your identification document differs from the name you provided on your application, you must submit documentation that proves your true full name. True-full name documentation can include the following:

  • A name change document that contains the legal name of both before and after the name change
  • Adoption documents that contain the legal names as a result of the adoption
  • A dissolution of marriage or domestic partnership document that contains the legal name as a result of the court action
  • A marriage certificate
  • A certificate, declaration, or registration document that verifies the formation of a domestic partnership

Does the REAL ID Act Impact Residents of Montana?

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) granted Montana full compliance status. Currently, all standard Montana driver’s licenses and ID cards will be accepted as identification for domestic, and commercial flights and as identification to access federal facilities until May 7, 2025.

If you have a military ID, U.S. passport, passport card, or another form of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) approved identification, these documents will continue to be accepted to board an airplane.

Is Obtaining a REAL ID Mandatory in Montana?

Obtaining a Montana REAL ID is OPTIONAL. If you have any of the TSA-approved documents that are listed above, you can use them to pass TSA checkpoints at airport terminals worldwide and visit a secure federal building or military installation at any time.

If you don’t plan on boarding a domestic flight or vising a secure federal facility or military base, you are NOT required to obtain a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or identification card. You are also not required to obtain a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or ID card to perform any of the following:

  • Drive
  • Visit a hospital or receive life-saving services
  • Vote
  • Enter a federal facility that does NOT require ID (such as a post office)
  • Apply for or receive federal benefits (such as Social Security Administration (SSA), Veteran’s Affairs, etc.)

How Do You Prepare to Apply for a REAL ID in Montana?

Although obtaining a REAL ID in Montana is optional, it’s good to have in many situations. To apply for a REAL ID card, you need to provide the following:

  • Proof of identity (such as your certified birth certificate or passport)
  • 2 documents that prove your Montana residency
  • Proof of your social security number (SSN)

Applying for Your Commercial Driver’s License in Montana

If you picture yourself barreling down the highway in a heavy 18-wheeler or other commercial vehicles, you will need to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL).

Who Can Get a Montana CDL?

To be eligible for an MT CDL, you must be at least 18 years old to operate commercial vehicles within the state of Montana, also known as intrastate driving, or 21 years of age to drive commercially outside of Montana, known as interstate driving.

You will be able to apply for a CDL whether you currently have an MT driver’s license, but you will need to provide a different type of identification to the MT MVD. If you are a driver with a non-commercial MT driver’s license, you will need to provide the following:

  • Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Proof of authorized presence in the U.S., such as your:
    • Original birth certificate
    • Valid U.S. passport
    • Valid permanent residency card

If you are a driver without a standard MT driver’s license, you must provide the following:

  • Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Proof of your:
    • Legal presence in the U.S.
    • Identity (2 documents are required, which can be your out-of-state driver’s license or military ID card)
    • MT residency, which can be your:
      • MT voter registration card
      • Rental or mortgage agreement

You can find a guide for acceptable identification documents in the state of Montana here.

Montana Commercial Learner’s Permit

Before you can obtain your CDL, you must first receive your commercial learner’s permit (CLP). To make things a little easier on this journey, you may want to consider completing a CDL education course first. Although this step is not required by the FMCSA or the Montana MVD, it can be beneficial to helping you pass your exam on the first try.

When you’re ready, you need to schedule an appointment with your local MVD office, and be prepared to:

  • Bring the proper forms of Identification
  • Have your medical paperwork with you
  • Consent to a driving record check (if you have been licensed anywhere else in the last 10 years, you must disclose which states you obtained a license)
  • Pass the vision test
  • Pay the applicable testing fees (call ahead to inquire about exam fees)

You will also be required to complete written exams for the CDL classification you want and for any endorsements you want to add to your CDL. Once you’ve completed the steps above, you’ll be issued your CLP. Congratulations!

CLP Restrictions in Montana

Obtaining your CLP is an essential step toward receiving your CDL, but while you have your CLP, you must adhere to the following rules:

  • You must attain your CLP for at least 14 days before you’re eligible to complete your behind-the-wheel skills exam
  • You can practice driving on public roads ONLY
  • While practicing, you must always be accompanied by a full CDL holder who is licensed to operate the same class of vehicle

If after 14 days you’re not ready to take your skills test. It’s okay. Your permit is valid for 180 days and you can renew it once before it expires.

Obtaining Your Montana CDL

When at least 14 days have passed and you’re ready to continue, you need to complete the Montana skills exam. You must arrange to complete the test in the same type of vehicle you want to operate with your CDL. Since you’re still technically a CLP holder, you must also be accompanied by a full CDL holder.

You must schedule another appointment with your local MT CDL testing office, and make sure to bring the following:

  • Your commercial learner’s permit (CLP)
  • Your standard, non-CDL MT license
  • Information for the vehicle you’ll be taking the test in, such as its:
    • Registration card
    • Proof of auto insurance
    • Registration card for the trailer (if applicable)

The Montana Motor Vehicle Division recommends you arrive early for your appointment. When everything is ready, the test is administered in different parts, including the:

  • Pre-trip inspection
  • Basic vehicle control skills test
  • On-road driving exam

If you fail any part of the test, you must reschedule and start from the beginning. If you can’t make it to your appointment, but neglect to call and cancel it, you may be charged an additional fee. Once you pass the exam, you must pay the appropriate fees, and then you’ll officially be a CDL holder! You did it!

Montana CDL Fees

CDL fees are issued by the MT MVD and are based on the following:

  • Your age
  • The type of license you’re obtaining

Fees for applicants between 21 and 70 years old are the following:

  • Intrastate CDL (only driving in Montana): $35.54
  • Interstate CDL (driving anywhere in the country): $41.72

There may also be additional fees for obtaining your CLP. Make sure to check with your local MT MVD office for any other costs they may charge.

CDL Medical Requirements

Individuals who are applying for a CDL in Montana must first be deemed physically fit for the job. Make sure you have your medical paperwork in order BEFORE scheduling your initial MT MVD appointment. You need to have them with you when you apply for your CLP.

You will also be required to fill out the following documentation:

  • CDL Self-Certification Classification and Medical Documentation (Form 21-1201DG). This form must be completed by an FMCSA-approved physician
  • Medical Examiner’s Certificate (Form MCSA-5876)

If you have any questions or concerns regarding self-certification, you can click here to learn more about the information process provided by the MT MVD.

Montana CDL Military Testing Waivers

The FMCSA and the MT MVD created a program that makes it easier for veterans and current military members to obtain a CDL by waiving the skills test portion of the process.

To qualify for this waiver, you need to be currently enrolled in the military or have left the service within 12 months of applying AND have experience operating commercial vehicles or the military equivalent while in the service.

To apply for this program, you and your commanding officer must fill out the Application for Military Skills Test Waiver form (CDL Military Even Exchange) found here. You need to bring this form with you during your initial MT MVD visit. Be advised that eligible candidates are still required to pass all written tests and pay all applicable fees.

Federal Self-Certification Requirements

You must self-certify the type of vehicle you’re operating with the MT MVD, which means you are required to self-certify one of the following driving categories:

  • Non-excepted interstate
  • Excepted interstate
  • Non-excepted intrastate
  • Excepted intrastate

Applying for a Montana Motorcycle License

Have you ever felt the need to hit the open road on your motorcycle? The roads of Montana are ready when you are, but first, you need to obtain an MT motorcycle endorsement on your license. You’ll need to visit a Montana MVD, which is a subset of the Department of Justice (DOJ).

New Residents of Montana

As a new resident of Montana, you have 60 days after you establish residency in this state to transfer your out-of-state license to the state of Montana, which includes licenses or endorsements.

To transfer your out-of-state license or motorcycle endorsement, You need to visit your local MT MVD branch and:

  • Provide proof of your:
    • Identity
    • MT residency
    • Legal presence in the U.S.
  • Pass the vision test

Additional fees may be required. You can ask the staff at the MVD office for more information. Retaking your written or behind-the-wheel tests is NOT required. It is left to the discretion of the MVD office. You should prepare to complete these tests just in case the MVD asks you to retake these tests. If you are not required to complete these tests, you will be issued your MT license and motorcycle endorsement!

How to Obtain a Montana Motorcycle Endorsement

To earn your Montana motorcycle endorsement, you need to:

  • Be at least 16 years old (you can apply at 15 years old if you pass a DOJ-approved Driver’s Education (Driver’s Ed) course
  • Have an MT driver’s license
  • Pass the motorcycle written test
  • Complete the on-road motorcycle test (this test can be waived by passing an approved education course
  • Pay the appropriate motorcycle licensing fees

Montana Motorcycle Permits

To earn your MT motorcycle permit, you need to schedule an appointment at your local MT MVD office and:

  • Pass the vision test
  • Bring your MT driver’s license
  •  Pass the written exam (this exam is mandatory and somewhat difficult to lower the number of Montana motorcycle fatalities).
  •  Pay the appropriate motorcycle endorsement fee(s)

After you complete the above-listed steps, you will receive your MT motorcycle permit. Congratulations!

Montana Motorcycle Permit Limitations

Montana motorcycle learner license holders must always practice with a licensed driver who has a motorcycle endorsement and is in immediate supervision of the practice. Your Montana motorcycle permit will be valid for 1 year. If it expires before you complete the motorcycle road test, you must forfeit your permit fee. You will also need to obtain a new permit, retake the written test, and repay all applicable fees.

Obtaining Your Montana Motorcycle License

Once you practice with your motorcycle permit and feel comfortable proceeding, you can continue the process of obtaining your MT motorcycle license. The only step left in this process is to pass the MVD motorcycle road test. You can skip this exam by passing a Montana education course.

If you decide to complete the course with the MT MVD, you must schedule an appointment. The MVD does NOT test in inclement weather. No motorcycle or equipment is provided for the test. The MVD has a list of requirements that the motorcycle you’re using must meet. You can find the requirements in the Montana Motorcycle Manual found here.

Once you pass the test, you will be eligible for your official Montana motorcycle endorsement. You can inquire with your local MT MVD office for specific details about your Montana motorcycle license.

Montana Motorcycle Education Courses

The MT MVD allows you to waive your road test if you pass an approved motorcycle education course. These courses are conducted through the Montana Motorcycle Riders Safety (MT MSF). You can find more specific information on the rider’s safety website found here or by calling (406) 444-7301.

After successfully passing the motorcycle education course, you will receive a Certificate of Completion. You need to take this certificate with you to the MT MVD. Once you complete these steps, you will have your motorcycle endorsement. Congratulations!

Motorcycle License Fees in Montana

The Montana MVD bases its license fees on your age and the number of years your license is valid. In general, Montana licenses are $5 every year they are valid and can be valid for a maximum of 8 years. A motorcycle endorsement costs an additional $.0.52 per year.

Montana Motor Vehicle Division Locations

There are multiple MVD locations in Montana where you can receive your MT driver’s license, commercial driver’s license, or motorcycle endorsement. We created a list for you to help you on your driver’s license journey! Check out the list and see if you can find an MVD near you.

Montana Motor Vehicle Division – Bozeman Branch

311 W Main
Ste 104
Bozeman, MT 59715
(405) 582-3080
Monday – Friday (8 AM – 5 PM)
Saturday and Sunday (Closed)

Montana Motor Vehicle Division – Kalispell Branch
935 1st Avenue WestSuite TKalispell, MT 59901
(406) 758-5690
Monday – Friday (8 AM – 4:30 PM)
Saturday and Sunday (Closed)

Montana Motor Vehicle Division – Helena Branch
2100 11th Ave
Helena, MT 59601
(406) 444-1772
Monday (9 AM – 4:30 PM)
Tuesday – Friday (8 AM – 4:30 PM)
Saturday and Sunday (Closed)

Montana Motor Vehicle Division – Butte Branch
3615 Wynne Ave
Butte, MT 59701
(406) 533-6630
Monday (9 AM – 4:30 PM)
Tuesday – Friday (8 AM – 4:30 PM)
Saturday and Sunday (Closed)

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