Montana Driver's License: A Step-by-Step 2018 Guide

Learn what to expect and how to get behind the wheel faster.
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On this page: Types of licenses How to apply Knowledge test Road test Replace or renew New residents

How Does It Work?

Wide-open spaces of Montana would be impossible to cover without the ability to drive. This is your full step-by-step guide to get, renew or transfer your driver license easily and without hassle in Big Sky Country.

Get an instruction permit

Allows you to practice driving under supervision.

Get a restricted license

Allows you to drive unsupervised with restrictions.

Get a Full (Adult) License

Allows you to drive with no restrictions.

Types of Driver Licenses in Montana

For each license type there's a corresponding type of instruction permit
Montana Class D Driver's License
Class D
It is the basic driver license that allows you to drive common cars and any non-commercial vehicle under 26,000 pounds gross vehicle weight. Read the MT Driver Manual or take a free MT practice test.
Montana Class A/B/C Driver's License
Class A/B/C
These are commercial licenses that allow you to operate any combination of vehicles with gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more provided the GVRW of the vehicle towed is more than 10,000 pounds (Class A); any vehicle with GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more or towing a vehicle with GVWR not in excess of 10,000 pounds (Class B); any single vehicle or combination of vehicles that transports 16 or more passengers (including the driver) or is placarded for transportation of hazardous materials (Class C). Read the MT CDL Manual or take a free MT CDL practice test.
Montana Motorcycle Driver's License
Motorcycle Endorsement
It allows you to ride a motorcycle or any motorized two-wheel or three-wheel vehicle, classified as a motorcycle on public roadways. Read the MT Motorcycle Supplement or take a free MT Motorcycle practice test.

How to Apply for Your Class D Driver License

To get your basic driver license in Montana, you will have to pass written, vision and road tests as well as provide the documents required. This is your full step-by-step plan of action depending on your age.

How to Apply for Your Instruction Permit (Learner License) in Montana

For drivers under 18, the instruction permit or learner license is the first stage of Montana Graduated Driver License Program. It allows you to practice driving, supervised by a licensed parent/guardian or adult driver authorized by your parent/guardian. Your learner license will be valid for one year.

1COMPLETE OR SUCCESSFULLY PARTICIPATE IN STATE APPROVED TRAFFIC EDUCATION PROGRAM (OPTIONAL)

You may start a program at the age of 14 ½. Search here to learn about the programs available in your school district. Your school district should put you on a student list to pass to the driver exam office. Online courses are not acceptable. If you choose to skip driver education, you may start your application process at the age of 16. If you choose to apply at a rural limited-service driver license exam station, you must first pay for your license at the county treasurer's office and present the prepaid receipt to the driver examiner.

2SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT

You can schedule your appointment online or by calling (866)450-8034 during regular business hours. To find a driver licensing station near you, use this map. You may apply at any Montana driver license station.

3BRING DOCUMENTATION REQUIRED

You are required to provide

  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of Montana residency
  • Proof of Authorized presence

Check here how to choose acceptable documents.

4BRING YOUR PARENT/GUARDIAN

They are required to give their consent for licensure and accept financial responsibility.

5PAY THE FEE

$5.00 per year + 3% administrative fee paid by card, check or cash.

6PASS THE VISION TEST

You should have the uncorrected vision of 20/40 or better in each eye or both eyes together.

7PASS THE WRITTEN TEST

You will have to answer 33 questions about Montana traffic rules. Check frequently asked questions about the test and take free practice tests before you go. If you fail the test, you can retake it as early as the next business day. If you fail the test 3 times, you will be required to reapply for the license. You don't have to take the test if you've already completed it through your school district.
Your learner license will be valid for one year. The minimum time of holding your learner license is 6 months for applicants younger than 18 years of age.

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How to Apply for Your First-Year Restricted License in Montana

First-Year Restricted License is the second step of Montana Graduated Driver License Program. It allows you to drive on your own but with some restrictions:

  • No unsupervised driving between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. except for an emergency, farm-related activities, driving to and from school, church or work, and parent-authorized purposes. Law enforcement officials may contact the parent to verify the purpose of driving.
  • No more than one non-family passenger under age 18 for the first 6 months.
  • No more than three non-family passengers under age 18.
  1. HOLD LEARNER LICENSE FOR AT LEAST 6 MONTHS

    During this time you will be supervised by a licensed parent/guardian, or a driver age 18 years or older authorized by your parent/guardian.

  2. GET REQUIRED SUPERVISED DRIVING EXPERIENCE

    You must get at least 50 hours of supervised driving, including 10 hours at night. Download Teen Driving Log and Graduated Driver Licensing Parent/Legal Guardian Certification here. Your parents must complete them. Choose from Under 18 Driver License Forms.

  3. SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT

    You can schedule your appointment online or by calling (866)450-8034 during regular business hours. To find a driver licensing station near you, use this map. You may apply at any Montana driver license station. If you choose to apply at a rural limited-service driver license exam station, you must first pay for your license at the county treasurer's office and present the prepaid receipt to the driver examiner.

  4. BRING DOCUMENTATION REQUIRED

    You are required to provide proof of the following:

    • Your identity
    • Montana residency
    • Authorized presence in the U.S.

    Check here how to choose acceptable documents.

    You must also bring

  5. GET YOUR PARENT/GUARDIAN CERTIFIED CONCENT

    Your parent/guardian is also required to accept financial responsibility if you cause an accident.

  6. PAY THE FEE

    $5.00 per year + a 3% administrative fee. The amount depends on your age as your license will expire on your 21st birthday. You can pay by card, cash or check.

  7. PASS YOUR ROAD TEST

    You should bring a vehicle you are familiar with. If you fail the test 3 times, you will have to re-apply. Read more about the road test procedures.

Your First-Year Restricted License will show a restriction code on the front and back. This restriction will be in effect until you turn 18 or till the date indicated on your license, whichever occurs first.

How to Apply for Your Full Privilege (Adult) Driver License in Montana

You can get a full privilege driver license at the age of 18 if you have never held a driver license. Start with step 1.

If you have a first-year restricted license, your restrictions will end automatically at the age of 18 or on the date indicated on your license, whichever occurs first.

If you hold a learner license, start with step 6.

1SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT AT A MONTANA DRIVER LICENSE STATION

You can schedule your appointment online or by calling (866)450-8034 during regular business hours. To find a driver licensing station near you, use this map. You may apply at any Montana driver license station. If you choose to apply at a rural limited-service driver license exam station, you must first pay for your license at the county treasurer's office and present the prepaid receipt to the driver examiner.

2BRING DOCUMENTATION REQUIRED

You are required to provide proof of the following:

  • Your identity
  • Montana residency
  • Authorized presence in the U.S.

Check here how to choose acceptable documents.

3PAY THE FEE

The fee depends on the number of years your license will be valid for. It costs $5.00 per year + 3% administrative fee paid by card, check or cash. If you are between 21 and 67 years, you most probably get your license for 8 years ($ 41.72).

4PASS THE VISION TEST

You should have the uncorrected vision of 20/40 or better in each eye or both eyes together.

5PASS THE WRITTEN TEST

You will have to answer 33 questions about Montana traffic rules. Check frequently asked questions about the test and take free practice tests before you go. If you fail the test, you can retake it as early as the next business day. If you fail the test 3 times, you will be required to reapply for the license.

6SCHEDULE YOUR ROAD TEST APPOINTMENT

Note that written and road tests require separate appointments. You can schedule your appointment online or by calling (866) 450-8034 during regular business hours. In addition to documents required in step 2, you should also bring:

  • Current registration for the vehicle you are planning to use in the drive test
  • Current proof of your vehicle insurance
  • Your learner's license or any other driver license if you have one

7PASS THE ROAD TEST

You should bring a vehicle you are familiar with. If you fail, you will be issued a learner license which will give you an opportunity to practice driving. If you fail the test 3 times, you will have to re-apply. Read more about the road test procedures.

8HAVE YOUR PICTURE TAKEN

9RECEIVE YOUR TEMPORARY LICENSE

You may drive using your temporary license until your new license arrives in mail within 2 to 4 weeks.
Note that you cannot apply for a Montana driver license if you’ve been suspended or revoked in another state or jurisdiction.

Montana Written Test aka Knowledge Test

Take a free practice test
What does the test consist of?
The test has 33 multiple-choice questions about Montana traffic rules and road signs. You must answer at least 27 questions correctly to pass. Most driver license stations offer computer-based tests.
Where can I take the test?
Make an appointment at a driver license office convenient for you. You can't schedule your road test before you schedule and pass your written test. You may also call the Customer Care Center at (866) 450-8034 during regular business hours. You can shorten your wait time if you call on a Wednesday or Thursday.
How to prepare for the test?
Study Montana Driver Manual as all questions are based on the information provided there. Then prepare with the help of our free practice tests available here. When you feel comfortable with your score, you are ready! You can also download our free DMV Genie app to study on the go. Get it on the App Store or on Google Play.
What common mistakes should I avoid?
The most common mistake comes from not knowing enough information out of the manual. This happens when people study solely with practice tests. Make sure you read the manual first. Another problem is rushing through questions. Take your time and remember what you have studied.
What happens if I fail the test?
You may not retake the test on the same day, but you can try again as early as the next business day. If you fail 3 times, you will have to pay another fee and start a new application.

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Road Test

Step-by-Step Guide
What to expect during MT road test
Road Test FAQ

The road test measures your skill and knowledge of legal and safe driving practices. You will be asked to demonstrate your driving skills in normal traffic conditions. You will drive about a mile which will take between 8 and 12 minutes.

To take the road test, you should make an appointment online or by calling (866) 450-8034 during regular business hours.

Only the driver and the examiner are allowed in the vehicle during the test unless you need an interpreter, or your religious customs require that you should be accompanied by your relative.

Before the test

Make sure that your vehicle is safe to drive, and you bring

  • Its current registration
  • Proof of your vehicle insurance

Your examiner will check if the following car features are in working order:

  • Headlights (bright and dim)
  • Back and front signal lights
  • Tail and brake lights
  • License plate light
  • Tires
  • Muffler
  • Brakes
  • Horn
  • Windshield wipers
  • Steering wheel
During the test

Your job now is to listen to your examiner's instructions and drive safely. The following maneuvers will be graded:

  • Starting from the curb (use mirrors and signal)
  • Leaving the parking spot, angle parking (look back, use mirrors, signal)
  • Right and left turns (choose the correct lane, signal, use appropriate speed)
  • Passing intersections (look both ways, reduce speed appropriately, no unnecessary stops)
  • Stopping at stop signs and lights (stop at the sign, not before or after)
  • Lane changes (check blind spots, use mirrors, signal)
  • Parallel parking (use 2 minutes to park)
  • Keeping adequate distance from other vehicles and objects
  • Giving right-of-way (yield right-of-way when required, take right-of-way when rightfully yielded by others)

You will be disqualified automatically if you commit one of the following critical driving errors:

  • Getting into accident
  • Dangerous action (which causes another car or pedestrian to take defensive action)
  • Driving one or more wheels over curb or onto sidewalk
  • Violation of a traffic law
  • Lack of cooperation or refusal to follow the instructions
  • Too many repeated minor mistakes
At the End of the Test

    At the end of the exam, the examiner will let you know if you pass or fail. If you pass, you will go back to the driver licensing station to have your picture taken and receive your temporary license.

    If you fail, the examiner will explain your errors and issue you a learner license (if you don't have one) so that you could practice supervised driving. You will have to wait at least 7 days before your next try. If you fail the test 3 times, you will have to reapply and pay another fee.

How to Replace or Renew Your Driver License in Montana

  • You may renew your Montana driver license up to 6 months before it expires. If you don't renew before it expires, you lose your driving privileges at midnight on the expiration date. You will be able to drive again after your renewal is processed (no later than 3 months after the license expiration).

    You must renew in person at a driver license exam station if

    1. You are a non-US citizen
    2. You renewed by mail or online during your last renewal
    3. You are younger than 21 or older than 67
    4. You need a name or address change

    If you choose to apply at a rural limited-service driver license exam station, you must first pay for your license at the county treasurer's office and present the prepaid receipt to the driver examiner.

    Plan of Action:

    1. APPLY IN PERSON AT A MONTANA DRIVER LICENSE STATION

      You may schedule your appointment online or by calling (866)450-8034 during regular business hours. You may apply at any driver licensing station, use this map to choose a station near you.

    2. PRESENT YOUR CURRENT MONTANA DRIVER LICENSE

      If you do not have it on you, provide another proof of identity. If your name has changed, you must bring proper documentation to prove the change.

    3. PAY THE FEE

      $41.72 for an 8-year driver license paid by check, cash or credit card.

    4. PASS THE VISION TEST
    5. RECEIVE YOUR TEMPORARY LICENSE

      You may drive using your temporary license until your new license arrives in mail within 2 to 4 weeks.

    If your license has been expired for more than 3 months, you must reapply as a new driver and pass written, vision and road tests.

  • You may renew by mail if you didn't renew by mail or online last time and if you any of the following is true about you:

    1. You are a Montana resident temporarily outside the state and you will not return before the expiration of your license.
    2. You live in a county that does not provide driver license services— Carter, Garfield, Golden Valley, Jefferson, Judith Basin, Madison, Petroleum, Prairie, Treasure and Wibaux.
    3. You are a US citizen.

    Plan of Action:

    1. DOWNLOAD INSTRUCTIONS AND APPLICATION FORM

      You should get the instructions page and Mail-in Renewal Standard License (form 21-1900A).

    2. ENCLOSE A CHECK OR MONEY ORDER

      It should be made payable to MVD. Use the age you will be on the expiration date.

    3. SEND THE PACKET

      Mail it to

      DOJ-MVD
      ATTN: Mail-In DL
      P.O. Box 201430
      Helena, MT 59620-1430

      For express mailing use the physical address in place of the P.O. Box:

      DOJ-MVD
      ATTN: Mail-In DL
      302 North Roberts
      Helena, MT 59620
    4. RECEIVE TEMPORARY LICENSE

      It will be sent within 3-10 days to the address on the application (inside the country only). Your permanent license will be sent within 2-6 weeks.

  • You may renew online if you are

    1. You are a U.S. citizen.
    2. You are between the ages of 21 - 67.
    3. You are eligible for renewal (6 months prior or within 3 months after expiration).
    4. Your license has not been suspended or revoked in any state.
    5. Your prior renewal was not online or by mail.
    6. You don't need a name or address change.

    Plan of Action:

    1. COLLECT DOCUMENTATION
      1. Photocopy of two acceptable forms of identification (e.g. your current driver license and birth certificate)
      2. Eye Evaluation
      3. Medical Evaluation
      4. Online/Mail-in Renewal Standard Driver License
    2. BEGIN RENEWAL

      Click the renewal button and follow the instructions.

New Residents: How to Get the Montana Driver License

If you move to Montana and want to keep driving here, you must apply to convert your valid driver license within 60 days.
Out-of-state license Foreign license
Not sure if you are a resident of Montana?
Are you a Montana resident?
You’re considered resident if you move to Montana and make it your permanent home for the time being.
Residing temporarily?
Are you a visiting California

Good news! You don't have to convert your valid out-of-state license if

  • You are Military personnel on active duty in Montana and don't have any other job.
  • You are a spouse of member of the armed forces and you don't have a job in Montana.
  • You temporarily drive, operate, or move a road machine or farm tractor.

I’ve Got a Valid Out-of-State License

Moving from another US state? Welcome to Montana!
Moving from another state?

If you are moving from another state and have a valid out of state driver license, you won’t have to take written and road tests.

Plan of Action
  1. SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT AT A MONTANA DRIVER LICENSE STATION

    You can schedule your appointment online or by calling (866)450-8034 during regular business hours. To find a driver licensing station near you, use this map. You may apply at any Montana driver license station. If you choose to apply at a rural limited-service driver license exam station, you must first pay for your license at the county treasurer's office and present the prepaid receipt to the driver examiner.

  2. BRING DOCUMENTATION REQUIRED

    You are required to bring your current out of state license and provide proof of the following:

    • Your identity
    • Montana residency
    • Authorized presence in the U.S.

    Check here how to choose acceptable documents.

  3. PAY THE FEE

    The fee depends on the number of years your license will be valid for. It costs $5.00 per year + 3% administrative fee paid by card, check or cash. If you are between 21 and 67 years, you most probably get your license for 8 years ( $ 41.72).

  4. PASS THE VISION TEST

    You should have the uncorrected vision of 20/40 or better in each eye or both eyes together.

  5. RECEIVE YOUR TEMPORARY LICENSE

    You may drive using your temporary license until your new license arrives in mail within 2 to 4 weeks.

driver's license in Montana

Your basic driver license (Class D) will be valid for 4-8 years and will most typically expire on your birthday.

I've Got a Valid Foreign License

Moving from another country? Welcome to Montana!

If you hold a valid driver license from another country, the procedure of transferring it to the Montana driver license will be similar to applying for a license for the first time. It means that you will be required to pass written, vision and road tests. Follow the full step-by-step guide How to Apply for Your Full Privilege (Adult) Driver License in Montana.

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