Register Car in Michigan
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Looking for renewal information? This page only focuses on first-time registration. For the scoop on renewals visit our Registration Renewals page.
There are several scenarios for registering your vehicle in your name for the first time:
- After purchasing a used vehicle
- After relocating to Michigan
- Receiving a vehicle from a family member
- Receiving a vehicle as a gift
- Inheriting a vehicle
Though you must title your vehicle within 15 days of purchase, there is no time limit on registering your car. If, however, you just moved to the state, you must immediately register your vehicle.
Owning insurance is mandatory. You cannot register without proof of Michigan no-fault insurance (the state doesn't recognize out-of-state policies). If you have yet to decide on a provider, save time when you compare rates online at our Insurance Center.
You're spared of paperwork responsibilities if you purchase a new or used car from a dealership. Though this is a given, it's always wise to confirm with the dealer before leaving the showroom. For details on the titling process, visit our page on title transfers.
If you purchased from a private party, or recently moved to the state, you must:
- Have proof of Michigan no-fault insurance (no out-of-state policies).
- Have the title. (You must first replace it if you currently have no idea where it is, or it's impossible to read.)
- Have identification.
The state doesn't require emissions tests, but you can learn more about the ongoing controversy surrounding air quality and emissions tests at Smog & Emission Checks.
The Secretary of State (SOS) office bases registration fees on the original manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) of your vehicle at the time you first titled it. So a new Mercedes will cost more to register than a new Honda.
If you’ve bought anything older than a 1984 model, the SOS bases fees on the vehicle’s weight.
To find out your cost, call the Record Information Unit at (888) 767-6424 or visit a SOS branch office.
Once you have all of your papers in order, visit any SOS branch office to register your vehicle.
You will need to purchase new plates if you've purchased a new car or recently moved to the state. You have the option of ordering standardized plates or from a wide and colorful variety of specialty plates. You can even peruse cool frames for your plates. Our License Plates & Placards page houses all of the details.
After mounting the plates on your vehicle, be sure to affix the registration tabs onto the rear plate. Included instructions will explain placement, but tabs for passenger vehicles generally go in the upper right corner of the plate, like so.
SOS officials recommend contacting your accountant, a tax attorney, or the IRS regarding the possibility of classifying your vehicle's registration fee as a tax deduction.
Once the registration process is completed, consider protecting yourself with some emergency repair precautions.
Subscribing to a roadside assistance package will guarantee repair aid no matter where you drive. An after-market auto warranty will protect you against unexpected garage costs. And taking the time to find a mechanic who is more honest than greedy will make you more open to preventive maintenance suggestions.
You should also consider investing in some of today's latest driving safety options. Start with replacing your cell phone with a hands-free headset or upgrading to one of the latest child safety seats. And it's always a good idea to equip your vehicle with a car emergency kit.
Other Topics in This Section
- Register Car
- Registration Renewal
- Registration & Insurance
- Replacing a Lost Registration
- RV & Motorhome Registration
- Custom Built Car Registration
- Boat Registration and Licenses
- Title Transfers
- Replacing a Lost Title
- Salvaged Vehicles
- Special Vehicles
- Drivers with Disabilities
- License Plates & Placards
- Smog & Emission Checks
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