Registration and Permit Requirements

Permit and license requirements icon

In addition to registering a snowmobile with the Secretary of State, a person (resident and non-resident) that operates a snowmobile in Michigan is required to purchase a snowmobile trail permit. The trail permit enables snowmobilers to ride state-designated trails and public roads and public lands (where authorized). 

Michigan’s snowmobile program is 100% funded by trail permit and registration dollars – dollars that are directly reinvested into the program for the benefit of snowmobilers. 


Residents must register snowmobiles with the Michigan Secretary of State (unless sleds are used solely on private property). Registration is good for three years, and those registration dollars support the purchase of easements, law enforcement on trails and safety education.

  • You must affix the two registration decals to each side of the forward half of the cowl above the footwell.
  • If a snowmobile is sold to another person, the registration also must be transferred through the SOS. 
  • Nonresidents must display a valid registration from the operator's home state or province or be registered in Michigan.


The snowmobile trail permit is valid for one year (Oct. 1 to Sept. 30). The permit enables snowmobilers to ride state-designated trails and public roads and public lands (where authorized). State-designated trails are open Dec. 1 to March 31 and grooming occurs when there is enough snow on the ground. Permits can be purchased:

Display of trail permit sticker:

It needs to be permanently affixed to the forward half of the snowmobile directly above or below the headlight.

Snowmobiles are exempt from the trail permit AND registration if they:

  • are operated exclusively on lands owned or under the control of the owner.
  • are used entirely in a safety education program conducted by a certified snowmobile safety instructor.
  • are operated exclusively in a special event under a permit from the governmental unit having proper jurisdiction.

Snowmobiles are exempt from the trail permit, but must still be registered if they:

  • are used solely for transportation on the frozen surface of public waters for ice fishing.