Frequently Asked Questions about the Recreation Passport
The Recreation Passport has replaced your vehicle window sticker for entry into state parks, state forest campgrounds and non-motorized trail head and boat launch parking, and it's valid until your next license plate renewal date.
Click on the topics below to find more answers to your Recreation Passport questions:
- Recreation Passport program details
- Specialty vehicles
- Metro/community parks
- Many benefits of the Recreation Passport
- Passport Perks shopping discounts
Recreation Passport program details
What do I get when I buy the Recreation Passport?
The Recreation Passport replaced the Motor Vehicle Permit as a new way to fund programs for state parks, recreation areas, state forest campgrounds and non-motorized trail heads and boat launches and to assist in improving state historic sites and your community parks. By purchasing your Recreation Passport, you can visit all Michigan state parks, recreation areas, state forest campgrounds and non-motorized trail head and boat launch parking. Please note that additional camping fees apply for overnight visitors. The Recreation Passport is required for all visitors entering in a vehicle, day users and overnight visitors alike.
In addition, if you purchase your Recreation Passport through the Secretary of State, you also receive access to the statewide Passport Perks shopping discount program, giving you discounts to your favorite local businesses and services.
If I don't get a window sticker, how do I prove I bought a Recreation Passport?
When purchased through the Secretary of State, the Recreation Passport is displayed as two small "P's" on the top and bottom of your license plate tab. That means that Michiganders who purchase a Recreation Passport through the Secretary of State when renewing their license plate tabs will no longer receive the traditional window sticker. The Recreation Passport proof of purchase is your license plate tab (showcasing the two small "P's") and your registration, where "Recreation Passport" is printed at the top. The small "P's" on your license plate tab are all that's needed to enter into Michigan's state parks, recreation areas, state forest campgrounds and non-motorized trail head and boat launch parking. And, it's good until your next license plate registration renewal…typically a year from when you purchase it through the Secretary of State.
How do DNR staff check for the Recreation Passport?
If you have a Recreation Passport on your vehicle plate tab, you can just drive right into the day use areas of Michigan state parks, state forest campgrounds, trails and boating access sites! Passport Rangers throughout the site will verify that you have the "P's" on your license plate tab during their routine checks. You'll see round, orange "Passport Ranger" magnets on the side of Passport Ranger vehicles.
Please note: to limit traffic and ensure the safety of campers, only registered campers are allowed to enter the campgrounds in a vehicle.
Are any vehicles exempt from the Recreation Passport requirement?
Vehicles with the following license plates do not require a Recreation Passport:
- 100% disabled veteran
- Medal of Honor
Are there any state parks which don't require a Recreation Passport?
You don't need a Recreation Passport to enter Milliken State Park, Lime Island Recreation Area and some other facilities, including some boat launches. In addition, you do not need a Recreation Passport to enter state harbors. For a complete list of facilities that don't require a Recreation Passport, review the Land Use Orders of the Director.
Where can I buy the Recreation Passport if I didn't check "yes" at the Secretary of State when I renewed my license plate?
Michigan residents can purchase an $11 Recreation Passport in the form of a window sticker at state parks, recreation areas and Customer Service Centers during normal business hours. A Recreation Passport can be purchased at the Secretary of State is when you renew your license plate online, by mail, at a kiosk or branch office. If you forget to purchase a Recreation Passport during renewal, you can bring your registration in to a Secretary of State branch office any time to pay the $11 and receive a replacement license plate tab showing the "P" as your proof of purchase.
Do I need a Recreation Passport if I am walking or riding a bicycle into an area that requires a Recreation Passport?
A Recreation Passport is only required for a motorized vehicle entering the facility. Walking or riding a non-motorized bicycle into the facility does not require a Recreation Passport.
Do I have to get a passport for each car or can I transfer it to multiple vehicles?
A Recreation Passport is required for all vehicles that are eligible to renew through the Secretary of State (online, in-person or by mail). They are linked to individual cars registration/plates so you would need one for each vehicle. Since the proof of purchase is 2 small "P"s on the tab that goes on your license plate, you cannot remove the tab and place it on another vehicle.
How long is the Recreation Passport valid once I purchase it?
However you purchase the Recreation Passport (window sticker or through Secretary of State), it is good until your next license registration renewal date. For this reason, your best deal is to check "yes" to the Recreation Passport during registration/renewal at the Secretary of State so that you get year-round access to Michigan state parks, trails, boat launches and harbors.
How is the Recreation Passport displayed on my vehicle?
If you purchase your Recreation Passport when renewing your license plate through the Secretary of State, the Recreation Passport is displayed as two small "P's" on the top and bottom of your license plate tab. If you purchase your Recreation Passport at a state park or recreation area, you will receive a window sticker. If you purchased a non-resident annual or daily Recreation Passport, you will receive a window sticker.
How will park rangers enforce the Recreation Passport when it's only two little "P's" on the license plate tab?
If you have a Recreation Passport on your vehicle, just drive right in! Our intent is to try and alleviate some of the lines when entering a park or access site. When making their rounds through state parks, recreation areas, state forest campgrounds and non-motorized trail head and boat launch parking, Passport Rangers will verify that you have the "P's" on your license plate tab. You'll see round, orange "Passport Ranger" magnets on the side of Passport Ranger vehicles. If you do not have a Recreation Passport but have entered a state park, recreation area or boat launch, you are subject to a fine.
What if I didn't get the Recreation Passport through the Secretary of State when I renewed my license plate? Can I still get into a state park, recreation area, state forest campground or non-motorized trail head and boat launch parking?
Yes, you can still purchase the Recreation Passport at a state park or customer service center, or bring your registration in to a Secretary of State branch office to pay $11 ($5 for motorcycles) and get a replacement license plate tab indicating the proof of purchase. Please note that the Recreation Passport expires when your license plate expires, whether you buy it during vehicle registration, after vehicle registration at the Secretary of State, or as a window sticker at a state park.
Can I still buy a daily pass?
Daily passes are only available for non-Michigan vehicles (vehicles without a Michigan license plate). If your vehicle or motorcycle is registered in the State of Michigan, daily passes are no longer available, and you will need to purchase the $11 Recreation Passport ($5 for motorcycles). Non-residents can purchase a daily pass at a state park or recreation area for $9.
Can senior citizens (age 65+) still get a discounted yearly pass?
The cost of a Recreation Passport is the same for all Michigan residents ($11 for vehicles, $5 for motorcycles). Maintaining one Recreation Passport rate for all registered automobiles and motorcycles reduces confusion during vehicle registration.and regardless of when you purchase the pass, it is valid until your next license plate renewal.
The Recreation Passport is now required at state forest campgrounds and non-motorized trail head parking, but often there aren't rangers present to sell a Recreation Passport. What happens if I use one of these facilities and there's nobody present to sell me a Recreation Passport? Will I receive a ticket?
No, you will not receive a ticket if you enter these facilities and someone is not present to sell you a Recreation Passport. We realize some visitors may not have purchased the Recreation Passport yet when they arrive at a DNR facility. You will simply receive a notice on your vehicle that will assist you in purchasing a Recreation Passport via mail. If you do encounter a DNR ranger who has access to Recreation Passports, you must purchase one for your vehicle at that time. At some locations, you will be able to purchase a Recreation Passport via a self-service station.
How do I know if the facility I visit requires a Recreation Passport?
Many state parks and recreation areas, state forest campgrounds, boat launches and non-motorized trail head parking require a Recreation Passport for entry. Click here for a full list of locations requiring the Recreation Passport. In any case, entrances to all DNR facilities that require the Recreation Passport will have a sign stating "Recreation Passport Required for Entry."
Do I need a Recreation Passport for a towed vehicle?
A $6 towed vehicle permit is required for a towed vehicle and is good for the length of your camping stay. The vehicle, such as your RV, that is towing the second vehicle must have a Recreation Passport as well. Non-resident vehicles used in a similar manner must have a daily, annual or towed-vehicle permit based on length of stay.
Do I need a Recreation Passport for my moped even though I didn't register it with the Secretary of State?
Yes, because it is a motorized vehicle, the $5 motorcycle Recreation Passport will be needed. This can be purchased at any state park or customer service center.
What if I have a specialty plate or another unique plate that doesn't get renewed every year?
You will still need a Recreation Passport. You can purchase the window sticker at a state park or customer service center. The sticker will be good for the rest of the calendar year. This applies to the following plates:
- Antique car
- Non-profit organization (Y plate)
- Tribal government
Because you are not eligible to purchase the Recreation Passport through the renewal process through the Secretary of State, the Recreation Passport can be purchased locally each year at the same price.
If your vehicle is not annually renewed, you may affix your Recreation Passport window sticker on to a clear backing and place it in the vehicle window.
Exemptions: A Recreation Passport is not required for any vehicle with these plates:
- 100% disabled veteran
- Medal of Honor
I'm part of a group who is taking a field trip to a state park. Does the bus/motorcoach/shuttle need a Recreation Passport?
School buses can purchase a window sticker, affix to a clear backing and placed in the bus window when parked. If the vehicle is over 24,000 lbs. gross vehicle weight and/or has a seat capacity of 16 passengers or more, it would require a $16 Commercial Vehicle Recreation Passport. Otherwise an $11 sticker will suffice. You can purchase either at the state park you're visiting.
I have a commercial vehicle. How do I get the Recreation Passport?
The Secretary of State will not be offering the Recreation Passport to owners of vehicles with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of over 24,000 pounds or vans/buses with a capacity of 16 or more. These vehicles, as well as tour buses, will be required to purchase a $16.00 permit, good for that day only, upon park entry. If you have a commercial vehicle without a Recreation Passport and you are using the vehicle for non-commercial, recreational use in the park, you will need to purchase the Recreation Passport at the park.
Will I need to purchase the Recreation Passport for my ATV/ORV when I go to the Silver Lake State Park Sand Dunes?
Yes, a Recreation Passport is required for ORVs at Silver Lake State Park. Window stickers are available for purchase at the park. Any ORVs utilizing the Silver Lake ORV scramble area will also be required to display the Michigan ORV sticker along with the Recreation Passport. ORV stickers may also be purchased through the Secretary of State or at Silver Lake State Park.
Do I need a Recreation Passport for the parking areas servicing ORV or snowmobile trials, linear state parks and rail-trail access?
No, you do not need a Recreation Passport for these areas. A Recreation Passport is required for non-motorized trail head parking, but not parking areas servicing ORV or snowmobile trails, linear state parks or rail-trail access.
Can I get into metro or community parks with the Recreation Passport?
No, the Recreation Passport will get you into state parks, state forest campgrounds and state non-motorized trailhead and state boat launch parking. You can not access metro or community parks with the Recreation Passport. Although a portion of Recreation Passport funding goes to many local parks through the Recreation Passport Community Grants Program—awarded to 24 parks, nearly $600,000, in 2011—metro and community parks, including non-state operated boat launches, still need to raise money for daily operations and maintenance.
Can I get into boat launches run by my county or township with the Recreation Passport?
No, the Recreation Passport will only get you into state-operated boat launches, state parks, recreation areas, state forest campgrounds and non-motorized trail head parking. You can not access county or township-operated boat launches. Although there is grant funding made available to local recreation agencies through the Recreation Passport Community Grant Program, your local boat launch still needs to raise money for daily operations and maintenance.
The Recreation Passport helps state parks, but what about my neighborhood parks? Will it help them too?
Yes, a portion of Recreation Passport revenue goes to help neighborhood/community parks through the Recreation Passport Grants Program. In 2013, the DNR awarded $761,600 in Recreation Passport Community Grants to 19 communities. This funding helps build accessible playgrounds, revitalize recreation areas and install needed park features and updates. Through the Recreation Passport Grant program, checking "Yes!" provides benefits even for visitors who may never visit a state park or other state-operated recreational facility.
Many benefits of the Recreation Passport
Why should I purchase a Recreation Passport for each of my vehicles?
Purchasing a Recreation Passport for each of your vehicles every year is investing in Michigan and ensuring its spectacular natural resources for generations to come. By checking "YES" for each of your vehicles every year you:
- Fund outdoor recreation facilities and opportunities;
- Fund state parks, recreation areas, state forest campgrounds, non-motorized trail heads and boat launches;
- Support historic sites within state parks;
- Provide grants to communities to improve neighborhood parks;
- Stimulate hundreds of millions in economic impact for local communities from tourism, including businesses in your hometown;
- Contribute to local economies near state parks, state forests, trails and boating facilities;
- Attract new businesses and jobs to the state;
- Enhance the quality of life for Michigan's residents;
- Assist in the revitalization of Michigan and;
- Protect our natural resources for generations to come.
I don't use state parks, recreation areas, forest campgrounds, recreation areas, trail head parking or boat launches, so why should I check "YES" for the Recreation Passport?
By purchasing the Recreation Passport, you:
- Receive discounts through the Passport Perks program (if you purchase your Recreation Passport through the Secretary of State, which includes a branch office, kiosk, by mail or online). Passport Perks is a statewide discount program with thousands of participating retailers. More details are listed below under "Passport Perks shopping discounts."
- Support neighborhood and community parks, which are eligible to apply for a Recreation Passport Community Grant. This grant, which can range up to $30,000 for a single community park, helps to improve neighborhood parks. In 2013, 19 grants were awarded to communities throughout the state, from the western reaches of the Upper Peninsula to southern lower Michigan, a total of nearly $761,600 in all. Just think of what this could do for your neighborhood park and your community! A percentage of Recreation Passport monies is earmarked for this grant program, which means that the more Recreation Passports sold, the more funding will go to local community parks.
- Support historic sites in state parks.
- Protect Michigan's natural resources for generations to come.
How does the Recreation Passport program benefit state forest recreation?
A Recreation Passport is required when entering state forest campgrounds and non-motorized trail head parking. Seven percent of Recreation Passport revenues are dedicated to supporting state forest campgrounds and non-motorized trails.
Passport Perks shopping discounts
What is the Passport Perks program?
By purchasing your Recreation Passport through the Secretary of State when you renew your license plates, you'll also receive access to the statewide discount shopping program, Passport Perks. As a Passport Perks holder, you can save hundreds of dollars each year at local restaurants, your favorite hometown store, on vehicle oil changes, on your tax preparations and so much more. Businesses include larger Michigan companies such as select Dunham's Sporting Goods and small hometown businesses right in your own neighborhood. To view a list of the 1,000+ participating Passport Perks businesses throughout the state (with the number of participating businesses growing daily!), view the Passport Perks database. Your discount savings can more than pay for your license plate fees annually.
How do I get Passport Perks discounts at participating businesses?
When paying for the items or service, simply show your vehicle registration to the Passport Perks businesses representative. If you checked yes to the Recreation Passport when you renewed your license plate with the Secretary of State, you'll see the words "Recreation Passport" printed at the top of the registration, and that is your proof of purchase so that participating businesses can give you the Passport Perks discounts.
How does my business become a Passport Perks provider?
If you'd like your business to be promoted as a Passport Perks provider, fill out the Passport Perks Provider Application. There is no cost to becoming a Passport Perks provider, and businesses are welcome to use the Recreation Passport promotional e-toolkit to let customers know about supporting and visiting Michigan's woods and waters with the Recreation Passport. Click here to learn more about the benefits of becoming a Passport Perks provider.