Additional Foreign Driver's Licenses Now Valid for Nonresidents Under New Michigan Law

MAPAAC supported legislation that enables foreign-born visitors to more easily travel throughout state

Media Contact: LARA Communications 517-373-9280
Constituent Contact: Denise Yee Grim 517-648-4642


May 31, 2017 - Under a new state law, additional foreign driver’s licenses are now valid in Michigan with the requirement that all nonresident drivers with foreign licenses must carry an English translation of their license. The Michigan Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission (MAPAAC) supported the legislation that resulted in Public Act 138, 2016.

“Michigan continues to be one of the most welcoming states to people from around the world,” said MAPAAC Chair Jamie Hsu, Ph.D. “This law enables foreign-born visitors to more easily travel throughout our great state.”  
Prior to the legislation, only driver’s licenses from specific “treaty” countries were considered valid for foreign-born visitors to drive a car in Michigan. Licenses from “non-treaty” countries are now recognized as valid provided the driver can prove “legal presence” in the United States. Previously, licenses from non-treaty countries like China were not recognized in Michigan. Nonresidents who have a license from a “treaty country” and it is in English or have a translation, are driving legally in Michigan. Nonresidents who have a license from a “non-treaty” country, must possess a valid passport, a valid visa, or other valid documents to verify their legal presence in the U.S. and a translation -- if their license is not in English.

All drivers with foreign licenses that are not in English are now required to have the license translated into English with a document from their home country called an “International Driving Permit” or “IDP.” For individuals who cannot get that document, a translation that has similar information is required. Anyone fluent in both languages relevant to the license can do the translation. There is no requirement in the law that a translator have any particular certification.

For more information on applying for a Michigan license or ID visit the Michigan Secretary of State here.

For more information on the new law, including a list of treaty countries, visit the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center resource page here.

For more information about LARA, please visit

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