Secretary of State
Off-road vehicles or all-terrain vehicles on public lands and trails
To use your off-road vehicle (ORV) or all-terrain vehicle (ATV) on public lands and state-designated trails and routes, you will need an ORV license and an ORV trail permit. These documents are issued by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Visit DNR eLicense for more information.
ORVs or ATVs on private land and trails
You don’t need any state-issued permits to use your ORV or ATV on privately owned property or trails. When riding on someone else’s private property, be aware of any liability issues that may affect you in the event of a crash or damage to the property.
Titling ORVs or ATVs
In Michigan, when you buy an ORV or ATV, you are issued an “off-road title.” A title verifies you own the vehicle. An off-road title means the vehicle can’t be operated on public streets because it was built exclusively for off-road use and lacks the necessary safety equipment for on-road use. (Michigan law does make an exception for ORVs or ATVs that are legally modified and retitled for on-road use as an assembled vehicle.)
Titling ORVs or ATVs for on-road use
Under Michigan law, certain side-by-side off-road utility vehicles may be retitled as an assembled vehicle for on-road use. Vehicles fitting this description include the John Deere “Gator” and Polaris “Ranger.” You must follow the secretary of state’s standard assembled vehicle title procedure. The vehicle must be retro-fitted with high- and low-beam headlights, brake lights, taillights, turn signals, horn, windshield, windshield wipers and washers, independent parking brake, street-legal tires and all other on-road equipment required by the Michigan Vehicle Code. It will be retitled as an “assembled vehicle” and issued a new vehicle identification number.
NOTE: If the ORV title shows a lienholder, a signed letter from the lienholder authorizing the change to an on-road assembled title is required. The letter should list the VIN, year and make of the ORV.
Two-wheeled ORVs (motorcycles known as “dirt bikes” or “trail bikes”) also can be retitled for on-road use. A vehicle inspection is required to verify that the motorcycle has the required safety equipment.
Selling ORVs or ATVs
You will need the title to sell your ORV or ATV. Michigan began titling ORVs in 1991. For vehicles built before 1991 that never have been titled, a bill of sale (with the year, make, vehicle identification number and the names and addresses of the buyer and seller) may be used to transfer ownership.
Replacing lost ORV or ATV titles
If your title is damaged or lost, a replacement may be ordered online at ExpressSOS.com or at a secretary of state office. A replacement title only will be issued to the person listed as the owner on the document.
Registering ORVs or ATVs
The only off-road vehicles that require a Michigan registration and license plate are those that have been legally modified and retitled as an assembled vehicle for use on public roads.
Registering ORVs or ATVs for on-road use
To obtain a Michigan registration and license plate for an on-road ORV or ATV, you must have Michigan no-fault insurance. Be aware that an increasing number of insurance companies won’t insure these altered vehicles for on-road use because of liability and safety concerns. Before modifying an ORV or ATV, check to make sure your vehicle can be insured.
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