How To Register a Car In Michigan

To register a car in Michigan for the first time, visit a Michigan Secretary of State office. You can use online services for registration renewal after that.
Written by Abbey Orzech
Reviewed by Bellina Gaskey
If you just moved to
with your old vehicle, you’ll need to register the car in the state immediately. When purchasing a vehicle, you’ll need to secure the title transfer and registration within 15 days of the sale or you’ll be fined. 
Living in the state that’s home to the Motor City means you’ll need to drive pretty much everywhere. Whether you’re bringing your car with you in a move or you’ve acquired a new vehicle, it’s important to take care of the vehicle’s registration right away. 
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How to register a car in Michigan

Registering a car in Michigan is relatively straightforward as long as you can provide the necessary paperwork. Generally, you’ll need the vehicle’s original title, your Michigan driver’s license or ID, proof of valid
Michigan No-Fault insurance
, and a registration fee that usually lands between $50 and $200. 

If you just moved to Michigan

If you’re brand-new to Michigan, you may be expecting some sort of grace period in which you can get your car registration squared away. However, Michigan law requires you to title and register your vehicle immediately, with no grace period mentioned. 
Now, does that mean you’ll have to drive straight to a Secretary of State branch office as soon as you touch down in the Great Lakes State? Not necessarily, but you should make titling and registering your vehicle a high priority after you move, especially if you need to use your car as soon as you get there. 
If you do not transfer the title and get the vehicle registered within 15 days, you’ll be fined a $15 late fee. 
As soon as you’re able, make an appointment at the most convenient Secretary of State office to you, or just show up and wait in line (ugh, we know). In order to complete your registration, you will need to bring:
  • Vehicle’s out-of-state title with odometer statement (if the title does not have an odometer statement space, fill out an
    Odometer Mileage Statement
  • Proof of valid Michigan No-Fault insurance
  • Valid Michigan driver’s license or ID
  • Registration fee (depends on the details of your car and driver profile) 
If you do not have an out-of-state title because a loan/lienholder is involved, you’ll need to bring your out-of-state registration (recently expired is acceptable) instead. If your out-of-state title lists more than one owner, either both of the owners need to be present when applying for the registration or an
Appointment-of-Agent form
must be completed to allow one owner to sign for the other
Exactly how much you’ll pay at the time of registration will depend on your vehicle details and your personal details like your car size, make, and model, its intended use, its retail value, the ownership history, and your age. However, most people can expect to pay between $50 and $200 to register their vehicles. 
After submitting the completed paperwork and appropriate fees, you’ll be able to walk out with your new registration tags! 

If you just bought a car

The registration requirements if you’ve just bought a car are similar to the registration requirements for an out-of-state car. However, your titling requirements will depend on the details of the sale. Buying from a dealership is usually the easiest route since the dealership usually handles the title transfer.   
But maybe you bought your car from an immediate family member instead. In this case, you’ll need to head to the Secretary of State with all the required paperwork, plus an additional $15 title transfer fee and $10 plate transfer fee. The 6% sales tax that’s collected on private vehicle sales will not apply to family-to-family sales. 
Michigan Secretary of State offices accept cash, check, money order, Discover, MasterCard, or Visa debit or credit cards for payment.  
MORE: Title transfer in Michigan

How much insurance coverage do you need in Michigan? 

The Great Lakes State is one of just 12 US states that is a no-fault insurance state. Michigan No-Fault insurance laws stipulate that drivers are required to carry liability insurance and what’s called “no-fault insurance.” 
Your liability coverage should include bodily injury liability coverage and property damage liability coverage. Your no-fault insurance must encompass
personal injury protection (PIP)
coverage, property protection insurance (PPI) coverage, and liability insurance. 
The Michigan liability insurance minimums are:
It’s important to consider purchasing more insurance coverage than the minimum stipulations, though. No-fault insurance benefits do not cover vehicle body repairs in the event of an accident, so it will probably be worth it to add
collision coverage
comprehensive coverage
to your policy. 

How to renew your Michigan vehicle registration 

Michigan vehicle registrations need to be renewed every year. In most cases, your registration expires on your birthday, so it should be relatively easy to remember. You may also receive a renewal reminder by mail. 
If you’re unsure of when your registration expires, check your copy of the registration or the registration tags on your license plate. The tags will likely have an alphanumeric code, like NOV 23, and tell you the last month and year your current registration will be good. In this case, your registration would expire after November 30, 2023.  
There are several avenues for renewing your registration in Michigan. If your car insurance can be verified electronically, you can renew through the
MI SOS Online Services
or at one of
Michigan’s self-service stations
Renewing in-person at any SOS branch is always an option, but be sure to bring your old registration or plate configuration, proof of valid Michigan No-Fault insurance, your Michigan driver’s license, and a form of payment. 
If you choose to snail-mail in your registration renewal, include a photocopy of your current registration, proof of valid Michigan No-Fault insurance, and a check or money order made payable to the State of Michigan. Send it here:
Michigan Department of State
Renewal by Mail Unit
7064 Crowner Drive
Lansing, Michigan 48980 

How to replace a lost registration sticker or license plate

Sometimes we find ourselves in the sticky situation where we can’t find our registration sticker or license plate. Happily, it’s relatively easy to get replacements. 
You’ll need to visit a Secretary of State office with your personal identification and the vehicle registration or license plate number. A replacement plate and tag will run you $5 unless you have a personalized license plate, in which case you’ll spend a bit more. 
MORE: Michigan license plates
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To register a vehicle in Michigan, you’ll need the vehicle’s original title, proof of valid Michigan No-Fault car insurance, a Michigan driver’s license or ID, and a form of payment for registration fees.
Michigan college students from out-of-state do not have to register their vehicle in Michigan unless they get a part-time or full time job. 
You establish Michigan residency and thus must register your vehicle in the State of Michigan if you’re registered to vote in Michigan, file a Michigan income tax statement, open a Michigan business, have or get a Michigan driver’s license, or pay in-state college tuition.
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