Montana Permit Requirements

When applying for a Montana driver permit with the Motor Vehicle Division, new drivers should be familiar with the permit requirements.  Make sure you have the met the MVD conditions and that you have the appropriate documents ready to present.

Getting your first driver's license is exciting, and it also comes with a healthy dose of responsibility. You will be able to navigate the licensing process smoothly by understanding the process of becoming a licensed driver.

Like many states, Montana has a graduated licensing system for teen drivers. This program allows drivers to develop their skills and gain confidence while they are still under supervision. Studies have shown that graduated licensing programs reduce the risk of accidents and fatalities for teen drivers.

The first step of getting your license in Montana is known as the permit period. There are actually several types of learner permits in Montana:

  • The Traffic Education Permit (TEP) allows the driver to operate a vehicle only with a certified driving instructor, as part of an approved traffic education course.
  • The Traffic Education Learner's License (TELL) is available to students at the minimum age of 14 and 6 months who are enrolled in a state-approved traffic education class. Online courses do not meet this requirement.  With a TELL license, you can only operate a vehicle when your parent or legal guardian is riding in the front seat beside you.
  • A regular Learner's License allows the student to drive with any licensed adult, and can be obtained at the age of 15 if you have completed a state-approved traffic education course. Again, online courses do not meet this requirement. 16-year-olds are eligible for a Learner’s License without a traffic education course. You must hold your Learner's License for at least six months before you can apply for your driver's license.

Montana Permit Required Documents

To be eligible to receive any of these permits, the applicant must visit an MVD office and present the proper documentation.  The following items are required to apply for your license:

  • Proof of identity with an original birth certificate with a raised seal, or a valid US passport
  • Social Security card, or a school transcript or ID
  • Proof of Montana residency in the form of official mail showing the address of the parent you live with.
  • Parent or guardian signature (in person)

The fee for the permit is $25.50 for 16 year olds, which is good until the driver turns 21.  Add $5 for 15 year olds, and $10 for 14 year olds.  Cash or check is the preferred method of payment.  No debit or credit cards are accepted.

Montana Permit Testing Requirements

In order to obtain your Learner's License, you must first pass a written knowledge exam. There are 33 multiple choice questions on the test, and you must get at least 27 questions correct to pass. Test questions cover road signs, traffic signals, driving etiquette and other matters of importance to road safety. Students are limited to taking the test three times within a 12-month period.  Applicants must also pass a basic vision test.

Driving with a Permit in Montana

Once the paperwork and testing are completed, the applicant will be issued the appropriate driving permit.  TELL drivers can only operate a vehicle when accompanied by a parent or legal guardian in the front seat.  Learner's License holders may drive with any approved, licensed driver over the age of 18. 

With the permit, drivers must log at least 50 hours of practice experience behind the wheel, with at least 10 hours of practice to be completed at night.  The driver must not accumulate any traffic violations or drug/alcohol violations.

Montana First-Year Restricted License

Upon completing these requirements, you can apply for the first level of the restricted license after at least six months of driving with the Learner's License.  In addition to the above forms of identification, you will need to submit a completed Graduated Driver Licensing Parent Certification Form https://doj.mt.gov/wp-content/uploads/21-1600.pdf that proves you have met the practice driving requirements.  

Once you present all of these documents, you can take the driving test. Upon successful completion, you will be issued a First-Year Restricted License. During your first year as a licensed driver, you will need to follow certain restrictions:  You may not drive between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., except to and from work, school or church functions.  You may have only one non-family passenger under age 18 in your vehicle for the first 6 months.  You may carry up to three unrelated passengers in your vehicle for the second 6 months.  These passenger restrictions are lifted if you are accompanied by a licensed driver over age 18.  Lastly you must ensure that everyone in the vehicle is wearing a seat belt.

Montana Full-Privilege Driver License

After you have held your First-Year license for a full year, or turned 18 in the process, you will receive a Full-Privilege License, and all restrictions will be lifted.  At that point you should have all the tools and experience you need to be a safe and responsible driver.