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If you have recently purchased a vehicle through a dealership or a private seller, you will need to apply for a car registration. All vehicles in your possession must be registered in your name to be driven legally in your state. You cannot typically apply for a new vehicle registration online or by mail. You must visit a DMV office in person to register a car. To make sure that you are fully prepared for the process, download our informative digital guide. Our guide contains everything you need to know to register your vehicle with ease. You will also learn how to replace or renew your car registration, and how to change your name or address.

2. By Mail

Some states allow residents to register cars by mail. However, these applicants must meet certain eligibility requirements, such as temporarily residing out of state or having purchased the vehicle out of state. To obtain your new car registration by mail, you will need to send your completed application and all necessary documents (such as proof of ID, a bill of sale, an insurance card, etc.) to your local DMV office. You will also need to send in a check or money order for the full payment amount. Due to mailing and processing times, delays are common with the mail-in application method. It may take several weeks for you to receive your new car registration.

3. In Person at a DMV Office

In most instances, you will be required to get your car registration in person at a local DMV office. You must submit a filled-out application, proof of your identity, evidence of the car purchase and proof of auto insurance coverage for the vehicle. Additionally, you need to provide payment for all applicable fees, such as registration fees, titling fees and state taxes. Because many car owners are not sure which forms are required or which fees must be paid, application delays are common at the DMV. Additionally, any mistakes on DMV forms will add to your potential wait time for receiving your new registration.


Vehicle owners must complete a car registration request for each vehicle they own on an annual basis. The Michigan Department the Secretary of State (SOS) oversees all DMV registration process in the state and is the agency drivers should turn to with specific questions or concerns. The registration and title application process can be carried out in a couple different methods in Michigan. Eligibility requirements vary based on how the driver acquired the vehicle and the type of vehicle being registered.

Michigan vehicle registration and titling procedures are somewhat different for owners of used vehicles and for owners of newly manufactured vehicles. In addition, vehicle owners living in Michigan as members of the military have special registration instructions to follow. MI car owners will receive their new license plates after successfully submitting a registration and title request to the SOS. All applications must be accompanied by the appropriate processing fee to be accepted. Read on to learn more about how to register and title your vehicle in Michigan.

Michigan Car Registration Requirements

Most vehicle owners registering a car in Michigan can easily meet the state’s requirements to qualify for a registration. Drivers who would like to register a car that they recently purchased from a dealer do not have to meet any additional criteria not already met during the purchase process. New owners of used vehicles, however, must pay the car registration fee and submit the application to the SOS themselves. Drivers in this situation will be required to provide the following supporting material when registering their newly purchased car:

  • Proof of identification for the vehicle owner
  • Proof of auto insurance that is up to MI standards, including no-fault coverage
  • The former title of the vehicle, signed by both the seller and buyer
  • An odometer reading signed by the seller, including the VIN

Car Insurance Requirements for Registering a Car in Michigan

In Michigan, an important part of the DMV registration process is being able to provide proof of a valid auto insurance policy purchased in the state. According to MI vehicle registration law, all passenger vehicles, vans and light trucks must be covered by four basic types of insurance coverage. This coverage excludes collision (damage) coverage and comprehensive (theft) coverage, both of which are recommended for complete coverage. The four mandatory types of insurance include:

  1. No-fault insurance.
  2. Bodily injury/property damage (BI/PD).
  3. Personal injury protection (PIP).
  4. Property protection insurance (PPI).

Registering a Vehicle in Michigan

Drivers cannot complete an initial car registration online in Michigan, unlike in some states around the country. Instead, drivers of recently purchased used cars are required to pay car registration fees and submit the necessary application form and supporting material in person at a nearby SOS office. Owners of new cars can usually let the dealer take care of most of the registration and titling process.

How to Register a New Car in Michigan

Owners of new vehicles purchased from a dealer pay the car registration cost and submit the necessary paperwork at the time of signing for the new vehicle. The dealer should know the details about how to register a car in Michigan and be able to ask the driver to provide any additional information required for the vehicle’s registration from the beginning. The dealer will then provide copies of all registration network to the new vehicle owner for his or her records.

MI dealers are authorized to issue temporary tags for drivers who would like to drive new vehicles off the lot. These papers and plates are generally valid for 15 days while the driver awaits his or her permanent plates.

Registering a Used Car in Michigan

How much is car the registration of used vehicles in Michigan? There is a standard schedules of fees for different types of car registration and title requests issued by the SOS, with the registration of new or used vehicles generally carrying the same fee. In order to register a vehicle, new owners of used vehicles must gather the necessary paperwork and visit their nearest SOS office with the appropriate application fee to request a new title, registration and license plates.

There is no car registration form that Michigan vehicle owners must complete before visiting the SOS with the necessary documentation. It is recommended that the seller of the vehicle and the buyer both visit the SOS to complete the necessary transfer and new car registration, though it is not necessary. Drivers have a three-day window in which they can drive a newly purchased car home without having any license plates and not face any penalties. A late fee will be processed if the required documentation has not been submitted within 15 days of the title transfer.

How to Register a Car in Michigan as a New Resident

The SOS requires all new residents of Michigan to update their car registration details once they have established residency in the state. New residents to the state can meet state requirements by buying MI no-fault insurance coverage and making sure that their current policy meets the other state requirements. Once prepared, they can take their current titles and registrations issued from another state along with the proofs of insurance and application fee to their nearest SOS location.

Vehicle Registration for Military Members in Michigan

MI residents who are currently out of state on active duty military orders get to waive some car registration fees and taxes in addition to enjoying extensions on some registration and renewal deadlines. In most cases, these drivers can wait to complete a registration renewal until they return to the state. If they must apply for a title and new car registration from outside of Nebraska, they may be able to submit an application packet by mail. Applications sent by mail must include the same information as applications sent by other categories of vehicle owners, including the appropriate application fee. Mailed applications can be sent to:

Michigan Department of State
The Special Services Branch
7064 Crowner Drive
Lansing, MI 48918
517-322-1473

Temporary DMV Registration in Michigan

Drivers living in Michigan who only need car registration services for 30 to 60 days a year can buy a temporary registration permit. These temporary registration permits allow residents temporarily living outside of the state, like military personnel, the chance to only buy a portion of the annual registration package for when they are home. Proof of no-fault insurance is required to purchase a temporary permit in Michigan.

Michigan License Plates

Vehicle owners in Michigan should receive their car registration, title and license plates upon submitting an application in-person to the SOS. Drivers requesting special license plates will have to wait to receive their plates in the mail.

Michigan Car Registration Fees

Car registration fees in Michigan vary according to the category or title the driver is requesting. In addition, the car registration cost of temporary permits varies according to the base price.

The 30-day permit fee is one-tenth of the annual registration fee or $20, whichever is greater. The 60-day permit fee is one-fifth of the annual registration fee or $40, whichever is greater. There is also a $10 service fee.

Last updated on Monday, December 3 2018.

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