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    Michigan Vehicle Registration

    If you’ve recently taken up residence in Michigan or purchased a new car, you must register your vehicle(s) with Michigan’s Secretary of State (SOS). Below you’ll find all of the information needed on how to obtain a Michigan vehicle registration certificate and license plate.

    If you already have a registered vehicle in Michigan and you need to renew your registration, please visit our page on Registration Renewals.

    New to Michigan?

    After establishing residency in the Great Lakes state, you must immediately register your vehicle with Michigan’s Secretary of State (SOS).

    Vehicle registration and titling generally occur simultaneously. To learn more about titles, visit our page on Title Transfers.

    To obtain a Michigan vehicle registration certificate, visit your local SOS office with:

    • Proof of Michigan no-fault car insurance (your former out-of-state auto insurance coverage cannot be used).
    • Current out-of-state vehicle title.
      • All owners must be present. If an owner listed on the title is unable to appear, they must:
    • Out-of-state vehicle registration, if your title is being held by a lienholder (certificate can be current or recently expired).
    • A completed Application for Michigan Vehicle Title (TR-11L).
    • Proof of identification (out-of-state driver’s license, photo ID card, birth certificate).
    • Payment to cover registration and titling fees (see “Vehicle Registration Fees” below).

    Your Michigan car registration certificate expires on owner's birthday.

    Registering a Vehicle in Michigan

    The process for vehicle registration differs based on whether your vehicle was purchased from a dealer, bought from a private individual, or transferred/gifted to you from a family member.

    Vehicles Purchased from a Dealership

    If you purchase from a dealership, the dealer will submit your title and car registration documents for you.

    Hold onto copies of these documents until your title, registration certificate, and Michigan license plate all arrive in the mail. These will serve as temporary proofs of ownership.

    Vehicles Purchased from a Private Party

    If you purchase from an individual, the responsibility falls on you to handle the titling and vehicle registration, which go hand-in-hand. The Secretary of State recommends that you and the seller visit an SOS office together for this process.

    You have 15 days from the date of purchase to title and register your vehicle. You may drive without plates for the first 3 days in order to register your vehicle. Your assigned title will serve as proof if stopped.

    To register, visit your local Secretary of State office with:

    • The signed-over title.
      • All new owners must appear in person. If an owner is unable to appear, they must provide an Appointment of Agent/Power of Attorney form (TR-128), along with a photocopy of their identification.
      • The title should include the following:
        • Odometer reading.
        • The buyer’s and seller’s signatures.
        • The signature of the lienholder, if applicable.
        • The vehicle identification number (VIN).
    • Proof of identification (driver’s license, U.S. passport, photo ID card).
    • Proof of Michigan no-fault auto insurance.
    • Payment for all applicable fees and taxes (see “Vehicle Registration Fees” below).

    Vehicles Gifted/Transferred from a Family Member

    The process for vehicle registrations when purchasing or transferring between family members is the same as those mentioned above for purchases from a private individual.

    However, you are exempt from paying use tax on the vehicle if you are buying/receiving it from any of the following immediate family members:

    • Parents (including adoptive or step-parents).
    • Siblings (including half- and step-siblings).
    • Children (including adopted children).
    • Grandparents and grandchildren.
    • Legal guardians or wards.

    You will not need to bring proof of your relationship to the SOS in order to qualify for the tax exemption. However, the Department of Treasury may contact you to ask for proof.

    NOTE: For the purposes of assessing taxes and exemptions, all “step” relationships end in the event of a divorce.

    Transferring a Michigan Vehicle Registration

    You can transfer your existing license plates to a newly-purchased vehicle, provided the SOS has it in its files as being under your name.

    To complete the vehicle registration transfer, visit any SOS branch office with:

    • Your current Michigan vehicle registration certificate.
      • If the SOS can verify your license plate number in their database, that will suffice.
    • The title of the new vehicle.
      • If the title is being processed, the SOS will accept a copy of the title application.
    • Proof of MI no-fault car insurance, only if you changed insurance carriers since last registration renewal.
    • Payment for the $8 transfer fee.

    Note that if you also apply for a new title at this time, additional fees will apply.

    Temporary Michigan Vehicle Registration Permits

    If you don’t plan on driving your vehicle for an extended period of time (if, for example, you are in the military and out of the country frequently), the state does offer temporary vehicle registration permits valid for 30 days and 60 days.

    The permit will cost you a certain portion of what your full registration fee would be:

    • 30 days permit: Either a portion of the annual registration rate, or $20 (whichever is higher).
    • 60 days permit: Either a portion of the annual registration rate or $40 (whichever is higher).

    In addition, both permits come with a $10 service fee.

    Apply by visiting any SOS office with:

    • Proof of Michigan no-fault car insurance.
    • The vehicle’s MI title.
    • Payment for the $10 temporary permit fee.

    Military & Non-Resident Michigan Vehicle Registration

    Military Members

    MI Military Stationed In State

    The state does not offer any vehicle registration exemptions or waivers for Michigan military personnel living in the state. Simply follow the processes listed above based on your specific vehicle purchase.

    MI Military Stationed Out of State

    To register a vehicle while deployed outside of the state, submit:

    • A completed Application for Michigan Vehicle Title (TR-11L).
      • If you need the title/registration mailed to an address other than the one specified on your application, submit a Special Mailing of Title Request (TR-114) with your application.
    • A copy of the title.
    • Proof of Michigan no-fault car insurance.
    • Payment for registration and title fees and taxes (see “Vehicle Registration Fees” below).
      • Make check or money order made payable to “State of Michigan.”

    Mail documents and payment to:

    Michigan Department of State
    Out of State Resident Services Unit
    7064 Crowner Drive
    Lansing, Michigan 48918

    NOTE: Vehicle registration renewal late fees are waived for all Michigan military members stationed outside of the state on active duty.

    Jump over to our Drivers in the Military page for additional information.

    Non-Resident Military in Michigan

    Out-of-state military personnel stationed in Michigan are allowed to drive with their out-of-state plates. Make sure you keep your registration current in your home state.

    If you choose to make Michigan your residence, you may register your out-of-state vehicle using the methods described in “New to Michigan?” above.

    Michigan Vehicle Registration for Non-Residents

    If you’re an out-of-state student attending college in Michigan, in most situations you do not have to register with the SOS. However, if you take a part-time or full-time job, your exemption is negated, requiring Michigan license plates for your vehicle.

    If you’re a non-resident living or working in the state, you must register your vehicle with Michigan’s SOS if you establish residency in any of the following ways:

    • Register to vote in Michigan.
    • File a Michigan income tax statement.
    • Open a Michigan business.
    • Obtain a Michigan driver’s license.
    • Pay in-state college tuition.

    Michigan Vehicle Registration Fees

    How your registration fees are calculated is based upon your vehicle’s age:

    • Model year 1984 and newer: Fees are based on the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP).
    • Model year 1983 and older: Fees are based on the vehicle’s weight.

    Other base fees that may apply:

    • Title fee: $15.
    • Vehicle registration late fee: $10.
    • Vehicle title late fee: $15.
    • Vehicle registration transfer fee: $8.
    • Use tax: 6%.
    • License plate fee: $5 (standard plate).

    Custom-Built Cars

    If you have a custom-built car, you'll need to have it titled first before you can register it. To title your vehicle, follow these steps:

    • Have your vehicle inspected by a police officer. You will be given an inspection form.
    • Take the following documents to your local MI DMV office:
      • Bills of sale for all major components of your vehicle.
      • Certificate of titles for the chassis/frame.
      • Release forms from a law enforcement agency for the engine, frame, transmission, and other body parts (if required).
      • A summary of how the vehicle was built, who built it, where and when it was built, and any other related information.
      • Inspection form.
    • Pay the $10 fee to have a vehicle identification number (VIN) assigned.
    • Pay the $15 titling fee.

    Once you have the certificate of title, register your car by following the steps above in "Registering a Vehicle in Michigan" above.

    Obtain a Duplicate Michigan Vehicle Registration

    If your MI registration certificate is damaged or goes missing, the onus is on you to replace it immediately.

    Fortunately, the state makes it easy to apply with an online replacement form.

    To apply, you’ll need to provide your:

    • Social Security number.
    • MI driver’s license number.
    • Eye color.
    • Date of birth.

    A MI duplicate registration certificate is free. For more information, visit our Replacing a Lost Registration page.

    Registering a Non-Operational Vehicle

    If you take your vehicle off the road and allow the registration to expire, you will need to renew the plates before driving it again. To learn more, visit our Registration Renewal page.

    If you plan to drive your vehicle only for a short period of time, consider applying for a temporary permit. Check out “Temporary MI Registration Permits” above for ordering information.

    Michigan License Plates

    When it comes time to obtain a MI vehicle registration certificate, you’ll also be given a choice of license plates. You can opt for a standard plate, or one of the state’s many specialized plates. Our License Plates & Placards page gives the full scoop on your choices.

    Replace Your MI License Plate

    If your license plate has been lost, stolen, or damaged, visit any Michigan Secretary of State office with:

    • Proof of identification.
    • Either the car’s registration certificate or the license plate number.
    • Payment for the $5 plate replacement fee.
      • Expect to pay additional fees for specialized plates.

    Notify your local law enforcement agency immediately if you suspect the license plate was stolen.