Michigan License Plates

Whether you want a basic standard license plate or one that supports a specific cause, Michigan has you covered.
Written by Melanie Johnson
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Whether you want to rock the classic Pure Michigan plate or one supporting Breast Cancer Awareness, you’ll have plenty of options when selecting a license plate in
A license plate gives your car a sense of identity—and can also be a great accessory. Thankfully, Michigan has over 100 plates to choose from, so you’re sure to find something you like. Whether you want to support your alma mater or a cause you believe in, Michigan has you covered.
This article has everything you need to know about applying for a license plate in the Great Lakes State. In this article, we’ll cover the different types of license plates, how to apply for one, and how to renew your plates down the line.
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What are Michigan license plates and why do I need them?

Michigan license plates are identification for your car. They verify that your vehicle is registered and insured.
Michigan license plates are issued by the Secretary of State. Since 1981, only rear license plates are required. The state requires drivers to replace their license plates every ten years.
License plates are extremely important—as important as your driver’s license and registration! In some cases, they can help police track stolen vehicles. So let’s unpack the different types of license plates available in Michigan.

What license plates does Michigan have?

Michigan has four main types of license plates:
  • Standard:
    most of the license plates you’ll see on the road today. These are white with blue lettering.
  • Special cause
    : support specific causes like breast cancer awareness, agricultural heritage, and more, by purchasing one of these plates.
  • University fundraising
    : support your University by purchasing a custom license plate. A portion of the proceeds goes to the academic institution. 
  • Military and veteran:
    only available for military service members, veterans, and their families. 
You may also
any of the above plates. Keep in mind the following rules for personalization:
  • Only letters A-Z and numbers 0-9 are permitted.
  • The letter 'O' is not allowed. The number '0' will be used instead.
  • Symbols and punctuation marks are not allowed, spaces are.

Standard license plates

The three types of standard license plates are:
  • Pure Michigan: the standard of the standard. A white plate with blue text, first released in 2013. Order your
    Pure Michigan plate
    with the Michigan Secretary of State office.
  • Mackinac Bridge: show your state pride with one of Michigan’s most iconic landmarks. Order your Mackinac
    Bridge plate
    with the Michigan Secretary of State office.
  • Water-Winter Wonderland: celebrate Michigan’s four seasons with the
    water-winter wonderland plat
    e. First issued in 1965, it was discontinued by then reissued in 2021.
Standard license plates cost $5
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Special cause license plates

There are 20 special cause license plate options. Some popular options include:
  • Agricultural Heritage: supports agricultural education programs for grades K-12. Breast Cancer Awareness: provides low-income women access to cancer screening services, follow-up care, and cancer treatment. 
  • Children's Trust Fund: works towards the prevention of child abuse and neglect. 
  • Support Michigan Veterans: provides outreach activities for Michigan veterans and their families. 
  • Detroit Lions Foundation: partners with non-profits in underserved communities to provide access and opportunities to youth. 
 Fundraising plates cost $35. $25 goes towards the designated charity/special cause.

University fundraising license plates

There are 15 university license plates to select from, including:
  • Central Michigan University
  • Michigan State University
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Michigan - Flint
  • Western Michigan University
 Fundraising plates cost $35 with $25 provided to the university.

Military and veteran license plates

There are 34 military and veteran license plates to choose from, including:
  • Air force veteran
  • Disabled veteran
  • Ex-prisoner of war
  • Korean War veteran
  • Vietnam War veteran
Military and veteran license plates cost $5.
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How do I get a Michigan license plate?

The process of getting a Michigan license plate is fairly straightforward. You’ll simply insure your vehicle and
it with the Secretary of State.
To register your vehicle, you’ll need.
If you purchase a vehicle from the dealership, they will handle the registration paperwork for you.
To renew your Michigan license plate, you my
renew online
, by mail, or at a
self-service station
. You may also visit a
Secretary of State office
To renew your license plate, you will need your:
  • License plate number
  • Last four digits of your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
  • Payment ($5 for standard plates, more for others)
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Michigan has fourmaintypes of license plates—standard, special cause, university fundraising, and military and veteran. There are manyoptionswithineachtype, which means over 100 total options for license plates!
Nope! Since 1981, only back license plates are required in Michigan.
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