Helena Parking

Welcome to the City of Helena's Parking Division. We manage paid parking lots and spaces downtown, residential parking districts, and more. Please review the following information and contact us with questions.

Don't forget - the City has more than 1,000 first-hour free parking spaces that are noted by pink signs around the downtown, and parking is always free on weekends and after 5 p.m. on weekdays.

As of January 1, 2024, all tickets not paid or appealed within 30 days of ticket issued, will be assessed a $5.00 late fee.

Starting June 1, 2024 the Parking division will be implementing a new billing process.  

Invoices will now state: Enclosed is your Helena Parking Permit renewal notice. Please remit payment before the Net 30, 30 days from the invoice date.  Accounts 30 days past due will result in permit suspension until paid in full.

Passport Parking App

The Passport Parking App is available for download!

Pay, extend, and manage your parking session with just a few taps. It's easy! Just park where you see Passport Parking app signs & decals, pay for your parking session from your phone, and be on your way. Please note, a $0.15 fee is applied per session on the app. No fees are associated with the smart meters or kiosks.

How do I pay for parking with the Passport Parking App?

  1. Download the Passport Parking app from the Apple App Store or Google Play store.
  2. Create an account with your mobile phone number or email address.
  3. Park anywhere you see Passport Parking app signs & decals.
  4. Pay for your parking session from your phone.
  5. Extend your time remotely if you'd like to stay longer!

Parking Meter FAQ

When did the parking changes go into effect?

Parking enforcement with the new meter/kiosk program began on Sept. 3, 2019. Helena Parking ran a soft opening program for three months prior to allow for residents to get used to using the machines and working out bugs with the system.

Are there any areas downtown where I can park for free?

Yes! There is one hour of free parking, per day, available in lots 4, 8, 10 and both the 6th Avenue and Getchell garages. Nights, weekends and federal holidays are always free. Enforcement hours are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Click here for parking map(JPG, 1MB)

Can I use the 1-free hour of parking in Lot 4 and then another free hour in the lots or garages that offer free parking?

No. Only 1-free hour is granted per license plate, per day.

What if I have to quickly run into a store to pick something up or drop something off?

Signs indicate where convenient 15 minute quick stop parking is available on each block.

Do I still need to enter my information in the kiosk if I am in a lot that offers 1-free hour of parking, but I will only be parked for one hour or less?

Yes. Entering your license plate information sends an indication to Parking Control Officers that you are using your 1-free hour and a ticket will not be issued.

How can I pay for parking when I go downtown?

All kiosks and smart meters accept debit/credit cards, Helena Parking Goldie tokens, and U.S. $1 coins, quarters, dimes and nickels. The Mobile Passport Parking App is also available for your parking convenience.

Is it safe to use my credit/debit card with the new kiosks and meters?

Tier 1 security is used in all kiosks and smart meter transactions, ensuring your information is safe and confidential.

I work downtown- What are my options for parking during the week?

Staff sell a variety of downtown parking permits. Please contact the Helena Parking Office and a representative will be happy to guide you in the right direction: 406-447-8419.

Do I need to put anything on my dashboard/windshield indicating that I paid to park for the day?

Parking Enforcement Officers use license plate recognition software to identify the vehicles that have paid so paper vouchers on the dashboard are not necessary.

If I pay to park in one area of downtown can I use leftover time in a different part of downtown?

Once you pay at an on-street kiosk you may park anywhere on the streets that house other on-street kiosks, until your time expires. This does not include metered areas or downtown lots. Remaining time does not roll over and cannot be utilized on another day.

What is the difference between a smart meter and a kiosk?

Smart meters manage single-space parking and a vehicle is relegated to that space once payment has been issued. Kiosks manage multiple-space parking and a vehicle is free to move about the streets if parking is paid at an on-street kiosk. If parking is paid in a lot, a vehicle must stay in that lot or purchased parking time is lost.

Is parking in a lot the same price as on the street?

No. Downtown parking lots are $1 per hour. The first 30 minutes is $.50 and every hour after is $1.00. Lots 4, 8, and 10 offer 1-free hour of parking per license plate per day. Please click the link to see the on-street parking fee structure: On-street fee structure(JPG, 56KB)

Downtown Employee Parking Permits

If you park all day downtown more than two days a week, it is often more convenient and less expensive to buy a parking permit. Permits allow you to park all day in designated areas—lots, parking structures, or on-street. The City of Helena Parking does not reserve parking spaces, but we do try to manage parking so that spaces are always available.

Permit Sales Contract(PDF, 120KB) 

Starting June 1, 2024 the Parking division will be implementing a new billing process.  

Invoices will now state: Enclosed is your Helena Parking Permit renewal notice. Please remit payment before the Net 30, 30 days from the invoice date.  Accounts 30 days past due will result in permit suspension until paid in full.

Parklet Program

Click on the following links for more information on the City of Helena's Parklet Program. 

Parklet Application(PDF, 159KB)

Parklet Specifications(PDF, 400KB)

Non-exclusive Right-of-Way Permit Conditions - Parklets(PDF, 161KB)

Parking Ramp Information

The gates operate 24/7. Rates are $1.00/hour with a maximum charge of $8.00 daily. The FIRST HOUR is FREE between 8am and 5pm Monday - Friday. Free parking is available evenings, weekends and federal holidays. The two locations participating are the Getchell Street parking garage and the Sixth Avenue parking garage. The Getchell garage has an additional pay lane installed to assist with heavy traffic events, on the top deck at the Getchell Street exit. Parking ticket stubs must be validated by a Cinemark employee for free movie parking in the Getchell garage.

To address safety and security issues as well as system inefficiencies, City of Helena Parking has installed a security video system.

Don’t forget to have your parking ticket (from the entrance gate) validated by a Cinemark employee for free parking when exiting the parking garage!

Auto pay instructions:

  1. Insert ticket received at entrance gate
  2. Insert payment using cash, coin, credit card or validated merchant ticket
  3. Gate will open once payment is made

Lost ticket button must be used if entrance ticket is unavailable, daily maximum fee will be applied

Select intercom button for assistance!

Parking Ticket Appeal

Residential Parking

If you live in a signed residential parking district, you must get a parking permit from City of Helena Parking.

Bring ID, vehicle registration, and a bill or rental agreement in your name, with the address in the residential parking district to City of Helena Parking office at 225 N. Cruise.

Each permit costs $30 and you may purchase up to two per household.
Also available are up to two guest passes for each household, at a cost of $10 each.

Vehicles parked in residential parking zones without permits may be ticketed.

Residential parking permits must be renewed each year by mid January.

Recent changes to residential parking districts:

In early 2013, the city manager, the parking director, and city staff agreed to try to resolve issues regarding current resident-only parking areas. Discussed among staff and residents were a variety of concerns including the cost to patrol residential areas vs. the income generated by permit purchases and citations. Staff also needed to resolve questions regarding the establishment of new resident-only parking areas. Staff identified the need to clarify the role of the City Commission in the establishment and withdrawal of restricted parking districts and the role of City of Helena Parking in the administration of those districts established by the City Commission.

To view resolution 20071, passed by the city commission in March 2014, which consolidated all residential parking district resolutions, click here(PDF, 148KB) .

On September 15, 2014, the city commission will consider a resolution of intention(PDF, 130KB) to remove certain districts from the consolidated list in Resolution 20071. The resolution of intention lists districts with little to no activity in the purchase of permits, indicating disinterest in continuing the district, and/or districts that would not qualify under the criteria set in the resolution.

To view the letter distributed to residents in August 2014, in areas proposed for removal of residential districts, click here(JPG, 395KB).

To remove a residential parking district, download this form(PDF, 225KB) and follow instructions in completing the petition.

To request the creation of a new residential parking district, download this form(PDF, 396KB) and follow instructions in completing the petition.

Download Residential Permit Sales Contract(PDF, 120KB)



How to Use the Parking Meters & App