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Montana is an unusual state when it comes to accessing vehicle information. Unlike many other states, Montana has strict rules about who can access this information, and for what purpose they can access it. Before you try to look up a license plate, consider whether you really need the information.

Montana’s stricter rules are part of the Montana Driver Privacy Protection Act, which was conceived to protect individual privacy by providing stricter access laws than current federal regulations do.

How to Complete a Montana License Plate Owner Lookup

To find the registered owner of a vehicle using a reverse license plate lookup, you’ll need to meet certain qualifications. Public access to records is allowed depending on the circumstances. You’ll need to go to the Motor Vehicle Division of the Montana Department of Justice’s website. To access the information, you’ll need to check at least one item that fits your current circumstances. If none of the items fit, you might not be able to look up the license at all.

You’ll also need to pay $5 to complete the search. Unlike other states, Montana has a fee for accessing information. The report you access consists of seven sections:

  • Information about the vehicle
  • Vehicle registration
  • Vehicle owner
  • Title history
  • Vehicle title
  • License information
  • Liens

Montana provides more comprehensive information than states that lack a search fee. If you’re a registered user with the DMV website, the search fee is $2.25 instead of $5. In order to be a registered user, you must pay $100 annually and have your application approved.

If you’re looking up a license plate for a vehicle that you do not own, you’ll need to go to the DMV in person.

It’s possible to use online public databases to look up license information as well. This website offers a free license plate check, which may be the easiest and most ideal method for Montana drivers who can’t spare cash. Some online databases have fees that you’ll need to pay to use their search capabilities.

The only potential drawback of using a third party is that information is not guaranteed to be up-to-date. In most states, because access to information is free, third party places will have all the same records that can be found through official means. But because of Montana’s privacy laws, third party websites aren’t guaranteed to have the most recent information about vehicle owners and vehicle registrations.

It’s up to you whether you decide to go through the Motor Vehicle Division or a third party. Without a verifiable reason for your search, you’ll have to use a third party.