How Do I Become a Montana Citizen?

Montana State Capitol, in Helena, on a sunny and hazy afternoon.
••• Ultima_Gaina/iStock/GettyImages

A resident of Montana is a person who has a permanent home or is otherwise domiciled in the state and meets a variety of determining factors. Montana citizens, or residents, enjoy the perks of living in the state that nonresidents do not have, such as getting recreational licenses to hunt, trap or fish. In fact, only three licenses are available to nonresidents through a random drawing each year.

Who Has Montana Residency Status?

Montana defines individuals as residents if they have a permanent home or are otherwise domiciled in the state. Montana has three types of residency: full-time resident, part-year resident and nonresident. When deciding who is domiciled, the state considers each person's circumstances individually. Residency factors include, but are not limited to:

  • Being registered to vote in the state.
  • Having a Montana driver's license or state-issued ID card.
  • Having a resident fishing, hunting or trapping license.
  • Claiming residency in Montana when applying for financial aid or admission to a university or college.
  • Receiving services from the Montana Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Having a Montana permit for a concealed weapon.
  • Claiming residency for tax purposes in the current or previous year.
  • Owning a vehicle registered in Montana.
  • Owning, renting or developing property, including real estate, a mobile home or an RV with sleeping and cooking facilities during the current tax period.
  • Having a regular Montana mailing address.
  • Location of a person's principal profession, occupation or business.
  • Professional licenses issued in Montana and used during the current tax year.
  • Receiving financial, healthcare or professional services regularly in the state, including legal or accounting advice, primary healthcare or dental care.
  • Where a person is a member or attends religious services.
  • Where a person is a member or attends athletic organizations, social or fraternal lodges or clubs.

Part-Year Residents in Montana

A person is a part-year resident if they were a resident in Montana at the beginning of the year, then moved elsewhere to live, or if they were a nonresident at the beginning of the year and established their residence in Montana later in the year. The following individuals are not considered part-time residents:

  • Retirees who reside in Montana, but live elsewhere for part of the year.
  • Individuals who work in Montana seasonally, but have not established residency in the state.
  • Persons living in Montana who attend college out of state and have not established residency elsewhere.

Montana taxes a part-year resident's income tax while they live in the state and any income they receive from state sources when not living there. Part-time residents must file an income tax return using the state's Nonresident/Part-Year Resident Schedule to determine their liability. Nonresidents may also owe state income tax if they received income from Montana.

Recreational Licenses in Montana

Montana residents are eligible to purchase a state fishing, hunting and trapping license if they meet certain requirements:

  • Physically living in the state for at least 180 consecutive days before purchasing a resident license.
  • Owning registered motor vehicles in Montana.
  • Having registered to vote in Montana.
  • Do not have and have not applied for a resident fishing, hunting or trapping license outside of Montana.
  • Filing Montana state income tax returns as a resident.

Those who establish residency, continue to meet all of the above requirements and physically live in the state as as their primary place of abode for at least 180 days per year may qualify for a license.

The state does not consider a person a resident who is eligible for a hunting, fishing or trapping license in Montana if they claim residence in another state or country for any purpose or are an absentee property owner paying tax on a Montana property.

Members of the Armed Forces and Montana Residency

A military member in the regular armed forces of the United States, their spouse or a dependent who lives in their household, or a member of a foreign government's armed forces who is attached to the U.S. armed forces is considered a resident for the purposes of obtaining a hunting, fishing and trapping license if that member was in the state under the residency provisions described above.

A military member who is stationed in, and assigned to, active duty in Montana, has lived in the state for at least 30 days, and shows official assignment orders and proof of completion of a hunter safety course approved by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks or a certificate proving their successful completion of a hunter's safety course in any state is considered a resident.

Montana waives the 30-day residence requirement during wartime.

Effect of Military Reassignment

Reassignment to another state, territory or country terminates state residency for the purpose of having a hunting, fishing and trapping license. However, the reassigned member will still qualify as a Montana resident if their spouse and dependents continue to reside in Montana, and the military member meets the residency criteria described above.

The designation of Montana by a regular armed forces member as a "home of residence" or "home of record" in that member's military record does not determine their residency for hunting, fishing and trapping licenses.

A military member in the U.S. armed forces who is not otherwise considered a state resident does not forfeit their resident status because they possess, have applied for, or received a resident fishing, trapping or hunting license outside of Montana.

Nonresidents and Recreational Licenses

A person is a nonresident of the state of Montana if they are not a resident or a part-year resident of the state. However, Montana offers three hunting packages through a random drawing each year to nonresidents:

  • General deer combination.
  • Elk combination.
  • Big game (deer and elk combination).

The state also offers other combination licenses to nonresidents, including a landowner-sponsored deer license, youth combination license, and license for nonresident student hunters. Combination licenses include an upland bird license and season fishing license. Applicants can apply for only one combination license.

Related Articles