Drivers in the Military in Michigan

Advantages for Military Personnel

Active-duty military personnel have plenty to worry about without the hassle of renewing licenses from afar and keeping vehicles registered back at home. That's why Michigan's Secretary of State has tried to make it as easy as possible for our men and women in uniform to keep current.

For instance, licensed Michigan residents who are members of the U.S. military may operate on expired licenses while on active duty. But they will need to renew their licenses within 30 days of their first leave of absence or discharge, whichever occurs first.

It's really pretty easy to stay on top of it all. To explain how, we've answered the most frequently asked questions from drivers in the military

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I renew my license?

Like any Michigan resident who's living out of state temporarily, renewing a license is simply a matter of mailing in the requisite documents and the $18 renewal fee. The difference, for military personnel, is that you can renew a license as long as it hasn't been expired more than 6 years and as long as the Secretary of State has an electronic photo of you on file.

You can get a renewal form by contacting the Out-of-State Resident Services Unit at (517) 636-5872, or by writing to:

  • Michigan Department of State
  • Special Services Branch
  • 7064 Crowner Drive
  • Lansing, MI 48918

But remember: Although you're covered, your spouse and dependents are not. Their driver licenses expire on their birthday of the expiration year.

I'm shipping out soon. Can I renew my license early?

Yes. A Michigan driver license is good for 4 years, expiring on your birthday (unless you get your license before 21 years old, in which case it expires on your 21st birthday). If you know you're being posted out of state, you can renew your license up to 12 months early. Simply visit a Secretary of State branch office before you leave.

What if I lose or damage my license?

Should you misplace or mutilate your license while out of state, getting a replacement is almost as easy as renewing it. Simply contact the Secretary of State's Out-of-State Resident Services Unit at (517) 636-5872. They'll ask you to verify that you're a Michigan resident. Then they'll mail you a temporary replacement and ask you to fill out a form for Out-of-state Resident Duplicate Driver License Application. You'll need to supply a current mailing address, proof of residency in Michigan, your Social Security number, and payment. A duplicate non enhanced license is $9.

The Renewal by Mail address is:

Michigan Department of State
Special Services Branch
7064 Crowner Drive
Lansing, MI 48918

How can I apply for a title or registration?

If you're buying a car and want to title and register it in Michigan, you need to complete an Application for Michigan Vehicle Title(Form TR-11L). You'll need to pay the 6% Michigan sales tax and a $15 title fee. You'll also need to provide proof of Michigan no-fault insurance if you are renewing or purchasing a Michigan license plate.

Because registration fees are based on the model year and base price, you'll need to contact the Secretary of State at (517) 636-5872 for specific registration fees.

How about renewing my registration?

There are a couple of options available:

  • The easiest is to renew your registration by mail. You'll need the preprinted renewal notice (make sure you print your current out-of-state address on the front), proof of insurance (enclose the Secretary of State's copy of your Michigan no-fault certificate), and payment.
  • You can also renew through the Out-of-State Resident Services Unit . Send a letter to the address above indicating that you'd like to renew. Include your plate number, your out-of-state address, and a daytime phone number where you can be reached. Include your proof of insurance and the correct fee, payable to the State of Michigan.

Can I vote if I'm posted outside Michigan?

Absolutely. Your base will have copies of the Federal Postcard Application (FPCA) form that will allow you to register and to apply for an absentee ballot. And should you need more information, you can check it out at Michigan Military and Overseas Civilian Voters.

Does Michigan's permanent legal presence requirement affect me?

Michigan's permanent legal presence requirement pertains to all Michigan residents applying for either a license or ID card for the first time.

What should I know about the proposed upgraded and enhanced driver's licenses?

If they become realities, the proposed upgraded "standard" driver's license and ID card and the enhanced driver's license and ID card will help maintain both border safety and the ability to easily travel to and from Canada and other Western Hemisphere countries.

For more details refer to our Applying for a New License and Applying for an ID Card pages, and stay current with Michigan's Enhanced Driver's License section.


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