A Michigan car title is a legal document that displays the name(s) of a vehicle’s owner. Drivers must obtain a car title on all motor vehicles including off-road vehicles, empty trailers weighing more than 2,500 lbs, trailer coaches, pickup campers and watercraft vehicles of more than 20 feet. Car owners must apply for an MI auto title before they may operate a new or used vehicle on public roadways.

In addition to obtaining a title for car ownership, motorists must register and obtain license plates before they may operate a vehicle on state roads. To learn more about getting car title certificates and to find out how vehicle titles relate to registration documents, review the sections below.

Where to Apply for a Car Title in Michigan

Vehicle owners must apply for a new car title in Michigan within 15 days of purchasing or acquiring a new or used vehicle. Failure to apply for a DMV car title (also known as a pink slip) before the deadline results in late fees in addition to the standard titling taxes and fees.

However, the process of where and how to get car title certificates varies depending on whether motorists purchase a vehicle from a private party, car dealership or a family member. To get car title certificates after purchasing a vehicle from a third-party seller or a relative, motorists must visit a Secretary of State (SOS) facility to complete the transaction in person.

Furthermore, getting a certificate of title after purchasing a vehicle from a dealership is even easier. Generally, the dealer completes and submits the new or used car title paperwork to the SOS on behalf of car buyers.

The Michigan Auto Title Application

When getting a car title in Michigan, vehicle owners must complete an Application for Vehicle Title (Form TR-11L) if they purchase or acquire a vehicle from a private party or family member. When completing the new vehicle title application, motorists must provide the following information:

  • License plate number and expiration date.
  • Year, make, model, style and vehicle identification number (VIN) of the vehicle.
  • Odometer reading.
  • Name, address and driver license number of the vehicle owner(s).
  • Lienholder information, if applicable.

You do not need to complete a certificate of car title application if you purchase a vehicle from a dealership. Instead, the dealer will complete and submit the application on your behalf. During this time, you will pay for all MI car title taxes and fees. After completing the transaction, the dealer will provide you with a copy of all DMV vehicle title and/or registration documents.

Documents You Must Provide When Applying for a New Car Title in Michigan

To obtain a title for a car in Michigan, vehicle owners must visit an SOS office to submit the following documentation, unless the vehicle was purchased from a dealership:

  • The current Michigan car title.
  • Proof of photo identification.
  • An Appointment of Agent application (Form TR-128), if all vehicle owners cannot sign the title application at an SOS office. Additionally, the absent owner must submit a photocopy of his or her photo identification.
  • Payment for car title transfer fees and use taxes.

Furthermore, drivers may get a new car title and register their vehicles simultaneously if they wish to receive a registration certificate, tab and license plate during their visit to an SOS facility. To apply for a certificate of car title and a registration card at the same time, vehicle owners must provide proof of Michigan no-fault vehicle insurance and pay registration taxes and fees.

Note: If you purchase a vehicle from a family member, you are exempt from paying use tax.

What is a Michigan car registration?

A car registration certificate shows that a vehicle meets all state registration prerequisites, including auto insurance requirements and the payment of DMV car registration taxes and fees. As such, drivers must obtain an auto registration certificate and the license plate and tab that come with it after purchasing a new or used vehicle.

During the MI vehicle registration process, motorists may transfer a current license plate to the new vehicle, or they may purchase a new license plate from the SOS. Even though drivers do not need new car registration materials (or a license plate) to drive a vehicle home from a dealership within three days of purchase, they must obtain a title and motor vehicle registration materials before legally operating the vehicle on state roads.

What is the difference between a car title and a vehicle registration in Michigan?

Vehicle owners may apply for a DMV certificate of car registration and titling documents simultaneously using the Application for Vehicle Title (Form TR-11L), but the two documents serve different purposes. When drivers get car registration certificates, tabs and license plates, they can legally operate the vehicle on public roadways since these documents show that a vehicle meets all MI car registration prerequisites.

However, drivers must get a Michigan car registration certificate and a new title before they may legally drive a new or used vehicle. Unlike DMV vehicle registration documents, a car title serves as legal proof of vehicle ownership, and drivers cannot operate a motor vehicle without obtaining both a title and auto registration materials.

Car Title Costs in Michigan

The cost of a vehicle title in Michigan is $15. Additionally, the Secretary of State branch office will collect a six percent use tax. Use tax exemptions exist for vehicle transactions between certain family members. If you would like an instant title, you will need to pay a $5 fee in addition to the standard title fee.

Last updated on Tuesday, March 10 2020.