Vehicle owners must purchase car registration plates in Michigan as part of the initial vehicle registration process. As such, drivers must purchase a DMV license plate through the Secretary of State (SOS) office when registering their motor vehicles. Furthermore, as a general rule, motorists may apply for new registration plates at any SOS branch throughout the state.

Additionally, car owners must renew license plate tabs during their vehicle’s registration renewal period, or replace their credentials as they sustain enough damages. Explore all of the important requirements for how to get a license plate in Michigan by reading the following sections.

Types of License Plates in Michigan

After registering their vehicles in the state, drivers need to pick among various different types of new registration plates in Michigan. Overall, the SOS provides motorists with several options to choose from, such as standard plates, collector plates, veteran or military service tags, special organization plates, historical tags, fundraising plates and personalized plates.

Standard SOS car tags include the Pure Michigan plate, the Mackinac Bridge plate, the Spectacular Peninsulas plate and permanent trailer or coach plates. In some cases, vehicle owners may apply for temporary car registration permits, such as a 30-day or 60-day permit. Moreover, applicants with qualifying disabilities may apply for disability plates or placards if their disability is permanent.

Fundraising car registration plates in MI support universities such as Michigan State, as well as local organizations or special causes such as the Children’s Trust Fund. Furthermore, special organization plates are available to members of public service organizations and nonprofit fraternal groups, such as the state Professional Firefighters Union or the Police Officers Association of Michigan.

How to Apply for a License Plate in Michigan

Right after purchasing a vehicle, you must title and register it, as well as apply for an SOS license plate. To apply for new car tags after purchasing a vehicle from an individual, family member or private seller, you must visit an SOS office to apply in person and pay all of the vehicle registration and vehicle licensing fees. However, you may only do so if you can provide the SOS with proof of no-fault auto insurance.

After you purchase car registration plates and register the vehicle, the SOS will provide you with a registration card, license plate and month and year tabs, which are also referred to as stickers. You must affix the plate to your vehicle and place the tab in the upper right-hand corner of the plate. Conversely, when plating a motorcycle, you must place the tab in the lower right-hand corner of the plate.

How to Renew License Plate Tags in Michigan

For drivers wondering when and how to renew license plate credentials, it is important to note that car owners must renew license plate tabs once per year. During a car registration renewal procedure, motorists must renew their vehicle’s registration certificate, obtain new license plate tabs and pay any applicable renewal fees. When vehicle owners renew MI car tags after their registration’s date of expiration, they must pay a late fee in addition to regular renewal fees. When renewing license plate stickers, vehicle owners can choose from the following renewal options:

  • Online through the SOS official portal, which is available to individuals or businesses.
  • Via mail, by returning their registration renewal notice, renewal worksheet (if applicable), proof of auto insurance and payment to the applicable fees.
  • In person at a local SOS branch. To renew in person, applicants must present their driver’s license, proof of auto insurance, as well as the registration renewal notice or their vehicle’s current registration card. Furthermore, motorists must pay for the applicable fees.

In order to renew car tags online, drivers need to provide their vehicle’s license plate number, full name, date of birth, eye color, driver’s license or ID card number and the last four digits of their Social Security Number (SSN). When renewing car tags by mail, vehicle owners must include all of this required information in the application package they send to the SOS.

How to Replace License Plates in Michigan

You must promptly replace license plate tags or month and year tabs if you lose or damage these credentials for any reason. To do so, you must visit an SOS office to present your vehicle’s registration certificate or license plate number, and then pay the nominal tab replacement fees. Moreover, when replacing license plate credentials, you must submit your license plate number along with proof of your identification. On the other hand, if someone steals your SOS car tag or sticker, you must file a police report with local law enforcement.

As a general rule, you must replace Michigan car tags every 10 years during your vehicle’s renewal period. Otherwise, you must do so when transferring the plate to a different car.

How to Transfer License Plates in Michigan

Rather than purchasing new registration plates after acquiring a car, drivers may transfer a plate in their name from one vehicle to another. In order to transfer a license plate in Michigan, car owners must visit an SOS branch and complete the transfer in person.

Additionally, vehicle owners who need to transfer car registration tags in MI must submit a copy of their current registration card, the new vehicle’s title (or a copy of the new title application) and an acceptable payment method for the transfer fee. If transferring an SOS car tag from a passenger car to a vehicle of a different type, additional transfer fees may apply.

If you purchase a vehicle from a dealership, the dealer will be able to transfer the car registration plates on your behalf.

Michigan License Plate Fees

The fees for SOS license plates vary depending on a vehicle’s model year, suggested retail price or base price, and the type of license plate you choose. Moreover, when motorists renew their Michigan car tags each year, they must pay a standard registration fee of $5, in addition to annual license plate fees, depending on the specific type of license plate that they own. On the other hand, vehicle owners with standard Pure Michigan plate are exempt from paying annual license plate fees, but must still pay for the vehicle’s standard registration renewal fee.

The fees for temporary car registration plates, also known as permits, can also vary significantly. In most cases, the cost of a 30-day permit is one-tenth of the vehicle’s annual registration fee, in addition to a standard service fee. Moreover, the cost of a 60-day permit is one-fifth of the vehicle’s annual registration fee, in addition to the standard SOS service fee.

License Plate Lookups in Michigan

Before purchasing a new vehicle, drivers can perform an online SOS car tag lookup to learn more about a vehicle’s past performance, involvement in accidents and safety recalls. Additionally, a Michigan SOS license plate search provides vehicle owners with information about the car’s previous owners, manufacturer and engine type.

Last updated on Monday, March 11 2019.

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