Montana Boat Bill of Sale Form


A Montana boat bill of sale form provides legitimate evidence that one person transferred vessel ownership to another. The Department of Justice, Motor Vehicle Division (MVD), supplies residents with an official form they must complete during the boat sale. It requires the sale price, date of the transfer, the purchaser’s personal information (i.e., name, driver’s license number, address, signature, and printed name), and the vessel details (i.e., year, make, model, style, and hull identification number (HIN)).

What is a Montana Vessel Bill of Sale?

A Montana vessel bill of sale indicates that one (1) or more sellers engaged in a boat transaction with one (1) or more buyers. The document relieves the original owner of rights and responsibilities for the property, meaning that if anything happens to it after the deal, they do not have to pay for it. In addition, the new owner cannot sue the seller or return the boat to them. Both parties further authenticate the listed terms by signing in the presence of an official, also known as a notary public.

Did You Know?

Children thirteen (13) and fourteen (14) years old must have a boating license to operate a boat over ten (10) horsepower. Montana only accepts certifications from NASBLA-approved safety courses, although the document can be issued from any state. Furthermore, if someone eighteen (18) years of age or older is on the vessel with the underage driver, neither party needs a boating license.

Individuals required to obtain the license can take the course online, through home study, or in a classroom. The Montana Fish, Wildlife, & Parks (FWP) provides an information sheet for interested residents to learn more about signing up. Depending on the program, the student may or may not have to pay for the education and license.

How to Register a Boat in Montana (4 Steps)

Owners must register and title their vessel(s) with their County Treasurer. The Montana FWP does not accept forms for a boat’s title and registration, nor do they provide individuals with the officialized documents.

Non-residents with registration from their state can use their boats in Montana waterways for up to ninety (90) consecutive days. After this time, they must obtain an in-state title and registration.

Per local jurisdiction, fishermen and out-of-state boaters must obtain Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Prevention Passes. Individuals bringing their vessel into Montana must have it inspected before launching.

Step 1 – Requirements

Montana law states that motorized vessels, personal watercraft, and sailboats over twelve (12) feet long need registering. The boat must also display the registration number and two (2) valid decals. The decals must stay updated, meaning the owner must renew them every three (3) years.

The boat does not need registering, numbering, or decals under specific circumstances. Sailboats less than twelve (12) feet long without a motor and vessels propelled by manual forces do not qualify for registration or taxation. This exemption also includes a ship’s lifeboat and watercraft owned by the government.

Step 2 – Title + Registration

Montana requires boats to obtain a title and permanent registration. This law means the owner does not need to renew their registration or permanent decal. However, they must reapply for validation decals every three (3) years (§ 61-3-321(10)(a)(i)).

Homemade vessels must obtain a HIN, a twelve (12)-digit identifying number if it does not already have one. Individuals can acquire it through a regional or area Montana FWP office. It costs $5 to apply, and a peace officer must inspect the boat.

The state bases its permanent registration fees on the length and type of boat. Under all circumstances, the title costs $10. Owners of motorized boats less than sixteen (16) feet long and sailboats twelve (12) feet or longer (but less than sixteen (16) feet) must pay $65.50. The set amount for motorized boats, sailboats sixteen (16) feet or longer (but less than nineteen (19) feet), and personal watercraft sixteen (16) feet or longer is $125.50. Motorized vessels and sailboats, nineteen (19) feet and longer, cost $292.50.

The boat owner must bring the required documents and payment to their County Treasurer to obtain a title, registration, and decals. Depending on the office’s rules, the registrar may or may not need to make an appointment. Therefore, the interested party should check with their local office for more information.

Step 3 – Apply Number + Decal

Montana residents have the legal responsibility of displaying identifiers on their boats. This regulation includes the attachment of a boat number, a permanent decal, and two (2) validation decals. In addition to placing the information correctly, the owner must regularly check the number and decals to ensure correct placement and overall quality. If the stickers begin to peel or rip, or the number fades, they must repair immediately. Otherwise, law enforcement can pull over and ticket them.

The person whose name appears on the title and registration must paint the number on both sides of the vessel’s bow. Conversely, they can make a decal of the number and affix it to the appropriate areas. It must read left to right in vertical block-style lettering, standing at least three (3) inches tall. Moreover, it must have even spaces or hyphens between the “MT,” the four (4) digit number sequence, and the two (2) digit letter sequence. The hue must strongly contrast the boat’s color with the display sitting high above the water line for easy viewing.

The permanent decal, which proves the owner paid the County Treasurer, must go on the port (left) bow (front) behind the vessel’s number. This tag remains with the boat until the title holder transfers ownership. Validation decals are free and last for three (3) years. They belong on each side of the boat’s bow (front) behind the number.

Step 4 – Renew Decals

Unlike most other states, Montana residents do not need to renew their vessel registration. Instead, they must obtain new validation decals every three (3) years. Individuals can get them online, from FWP regional offices, or from their County Treasurer (upon registering a new boat).

Boat owners must attach the decals to the front half of the boat behind the registration number. They must ensure they stay in good condition and remain visible upon inspection. If the sticker becomes mutilated or illegible, they need replacing immediately. Furthermore, when the owner receives the updated decals, they must remove the old ones first before placing the new ones.