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  • Applying for a New License (Drivers 18+) in Michigan

    SUMMARY: How to Apply for a Michigan Driver's License

    You will need to apply in person for a temporary instruction permit before you can obtain a full driver’s license. After holding your permit for 30 days, you can take your driving test. After passing this test, you will be issued your driver’s license. You can apply for an enhanced driver’s license for an additional fee.

    Continue reading this page to learn how to obtain your driver’s license from the Michigan Secretary of State (SOS).

    NOTE: If you are younger than 18 years old, you will need to complete the graduated driver licensing (GDL) program. Please follow the application instructions on our Applying for a New Teen License page.

    New to Michigan?

    You must obtain a Michigan driver’s license once you become a resident of the state. Please follow the instructions below.

    If your out-of-state driver’s license is valid or has been expired for 4 years or less, your driving and written tests may be waived and you may be able to simply transfer your license over.

    Contact the Michigan SOS at (888) 767-6424 for more information.

    You will also be able to transfer your out-of-state driver’s license for an enhanced MI license as long as you’re a U.S. citizen and meet all eligibility requirements. See below for application instructions.

    Non-U.S. Citizens

    If you are not a U.S. citizen, your MI driver’s license will be valid for as long as you are legally allowed to stay in the country (up to 4 years at a time).

    You will not be eligible for an enhanced driver’s license.

    Types of MI Driver’s Licenses

    The Michigan SOS offers various different types of licenses and endorsements depending on various factors, such as age and vehicle type:

    Eligibility Requirements

    To be eligible for a driver’s license in Michigan, you must be:

    • A resident of Michigan.
    • A legal resident of the U.S.
      • You must be a U.S. citizen if you want an enhanced driver’s license.
    • Legally allowed to operate a motor vehicle (the MI SOS will check your driving record for any violations, suspensions, revocations, etc.).

    Apply for a Michigan Driver’s License

    Temporary Instruction Permit

    Before you can obtain your Michigan driver’s license (standard or enhanced), you will need to first obtain a temporary instruction permit (TIP) so you can practice driving. Visit your local SOS office and:

    • Provide proof of your Social Security number (SSN) or ineligibility, such as your:
      • Social Security card.
      • W-2 form.
      • Letter of ineligibility from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
    • Provide proof of your U.S. citizenship (for enhanced cards) or legal presence in the U.S., such as your:
      • U.S. birth certificate.
      • U.S. passport.
      • Employment authorization card.
    • Provide proof of your identity, such as your:
      • Government-issued photo ID card.
      • U.S. marriage certificate.
      • Passport.
    • Provide proof that you live in Michigan, such as your:
      • Recent credit card bill.
      • Pay stub.
      • Car insurance policy.
    • Pass the DMV tests:
      • Vision.
      • Road signs.
      • Written knowledge.
    • Pay the $25 fee.

    NOTE: The MI SOS website has a list of accepted and required documents for a standard driver's license and enhanced driver's license.

    Your TIP will be issued and allows you to practice driving while supervised by a licensed adult.

    Standard Driver's License

    Once you’ve held your TIP for 30 days you can take your driving test at a third-party testing provider. Once you’ve passed your exam, visit the MI SOS again with:

    • Proof of your identity, such as your:
      • Birth certificate.
      • Marriage license.
      • Passport.
    • Your temporary instruction permit.
    • Your certificate showing you passed the road skills test.
    • Payment for the $20 fee, if you’re applying for an enhanced license.
      • You will not be charged a fee for a standard driver’s license.

    Upgrade to an Enhanced Driver’s License

    An enhanced driver’s license can be used as identification (in place of a passport) to cross borders to Mexico, Canada, Bermuda, and the Caribbean, either by land or sea. This card has been made available as part of the federal REAL ID Act.

    If you already have a driver’s license, whether it be from Michigan or another U.S. state, you can upgrade it to an enhanced driver’s license.

    NOTE: Before applying, make sure you are eligible.

    Upgrade by visiting your local MI SOS office. You will need:

    • To bring documents proving your:
      • Social Security number (SSN).
      • U.S. citizenship.
      • Identity.
      • Michigan residency.
      NOTE: A complete list of required documents can be found on the Michigan SOS website.
    • To have your photo taken.
    • To pay the $45 fee.

    The Michigan Secretary of State (SOS) will issue you a temporary license to drive with until your enhanced driver’s license arrives in the mail within 3 weeks.

    NOTE: You cannot use the temporary license as identification for travel to any other country.

    DMV Driver’s License Tests

    In order to obtain your driver’s license in Michigan, you will need to pass both a knowledge test and road skills test.

    Knowledge Exam

    You will need to pass a knowledge exam in order to obtain your temporary instruction permit. Study the MI Driver’s Manual before taking the exam, in particular the sections about traffic laws, safe driving, and basic skills.

    You should also complete a few practice tests beforehand to make sure you’re ready to take the test.

    Driving Skills Test

    Your driving skills test can be taken at any approved third-party tester location. Fees may vary depending on which organization you take your test at.

    Before taking exam, have a look at the Driving Skills Test Study Guide and make sure you’re ready. If you fail your test, you will need to wait 1 day before you can try again.

    You need to successfully perform various maneuvers (e.g. parallel parking, backing on a curved path, stopping and starting) and show you can operate the vehicle safely.

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