License Plates & Placards in Michigan

SUMMARY: Michigan License Plates

Apply for license plates in Michigan by registering your vehicle in person at a MI SOS office. You'll renew your tags by renewing your vehicle registration either online, by mail, or in person. If you sell or trade your vehicle for a new one, you'll usually be able to transfer your plates. If your plates are missing or damaged, you can order replacements.

Do you need a disability parking license plate? Our Disability Placards and Plates page has more information, including how to apply.

Applying for a personalized plate or a special tag? See our Special Plates Application page, or see our Types of Michigan Special Plates page for design options.

Read below for information about standard license plates and tags in Michigan.

Types of Michigan License Plates

Most vehicles in Michigan must have a license plate issued by the Michigan Secretary of State (SOS), including:

  • Passenger vehicles and trucks.
  • Motorcycles and mopeds.
  • Vehicle trailers.
  • Motorhomes.

Your license plate must be displayed on the rear of your vehicle.

You will also need a decal that shows the month and year of your vehicle's expiration. It should be placed on the upper-right corner of most plate types.

Special Tags

The MI SOS offers several types of license plates to Michigan residents. In addition to standard plates, you can order personalized plates and other special license plates.

Learn more about available MI plates on our Types of Special Plates page, and get complete application details on our Special Plates Application page.

The MI SOS also issues disabled parking plates to eligible residents. For more information, see our Disability Placards and Plates page.

Temporary Plates

When you buy a car from a dealer, they should give you:

  • A new license plate.
  • A temporary registration valid for 15 days.

The MI SOS offers temporary registration permits if you do not plan to use for your vehicle for long periods of time. You can apply for:

  • A permit valid for 30 days. The fee is:
    • The greater of 1/10 of the usual registration fee OR $20.
    • A $10 service fee.
  • A permit valid for 60 days. The fee is:
    • The greater of 1/5 of the vehicle registration fee OR $40.
    • A $10 service fee.

You or a representative can apply for a temporary permit in person at a Michigan SOS office. You will need:

  • Proof of ownership, such as the vehicle title.
  • Proof of car insurance.
  • Payment. (See fees above.)

Apply for License Plates in MI

To get your Michigan license plates, you'll need to register your vehicle with the MI SOS.

When you move to Michigan, you must register your vehicle as soon as you become a MI resident.

When you buy a vehicle, you have 15 days to title and register it. You can drive it home without license plates within 3 days of buying it as long you have the title certificate (in your name) in the vehicle.

Our Vehicle Registration in Michigan page has complete details.

Renew Vehicle Tags

You'll renew your registration annually to renew your plates. You should receive a reminder before your registration expires.

When you renew, you'll get a new expiration tab/decal to put over the old one.

The MI SOS offers renewals online, by mail, and in person. For more information, see our Registration Renewal page.

Replace License Plates & Decals

If your license plate has been lost or stolen, you must apply for a replacement in person at a MI SOS office.

To get a replacement plate or tab, you will need:

  • Your vehicle registration or license plate number.
  • A form of ID, such as your MI driver's license.
  • Payment:
    • $5 for a replacement plate.
    • $5 for a replacement decal.
    • To replace a defective decal is free.

NOTE: If your license plate was stolen, you should report the theft to your local law enforcement agency in case someone commits a violation using your tags.

Transfer or Surrender Tags

You can transfer your license plate to another vehicle in your name in person at your local MI SOS branch office. You will need:

  • The current registration of the vehicle your transferring plates FROM.
    • If the SOS has the correct information on file, you may be able to just provide your plate number.
  • The title certificate of the vehicle you're transferring plates TO.
  • Payment for fees:
    • $8 transfer fee.
    • Any difference in registration fees between the vehicles.

NOTE: If you buy a vehicle from an authorized dealer, they can transfer the plates for you.

You can also transfer license plates to an immediate family member who is buying your vehicle. You can complete the plate transfer when you transfer the vehicle title.

You may need to surrender your license plate if you:

  • Do not transfer it to another vehicle or buyer.
  • Get a new type of license plate.
  • Cancel your insurance.
  • Move to another state.

For plate surrender questions, contact the Michigan SOS at (888) 767-6424 (SOS-MICH)

Fees for Michigan License Plates

The license plate fees below DO NOT include other fees that you may have to pay (e.g., taxes, title fees, service fees, or postage fees).

  • New standard plates: The fee is based on MSRP or vehicle weight, depending on the age of the vehicle. See our Vehicle Registration page for more details.
  • Renewal of standard plates: The fee decreases by 10% less than the new plate fee per year for the first 3 renewals. After 3 renewals, the fee remains the same.
  • Replacements:
    • License plates: $5.
    • Tabs: $5.
  • Transfer fee:
    • $8 PLUS any difference in registration fees.

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