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Title transfer and vehicle registration
What do I need to title and register a vehicle? (Choose tab below)
Title and registration fees
Michigan No-Fault insurance
Present the original title (photocopies or titles that have been modified, such as crossing out a name, cannot be accepted) with:
- Your signature – All titled owners must sign when the title is transferred. Owners who can’t visit an office to sign the title may appoint an agent to sign on their behalf by completing an Appointment of Agent form.
- Seller’s signature – The seller must complete and sign the seller’s portion of the title if they don’t plan to visit a Secretary of State office with you.
- Odometer disclosure statement – Ensure the odometer reading is accurately recorded on the title. If space is not provided on the title, complete and submit an Odometer Mileage Statement.
- Statement from loan provider – If there was a loan against the vehicle, provide the lien termination statement or signed title from the financial institution that administered the loan. If there is an active loan on the title, a letter of authorization from the lienholder must be submitted with the title application.
- You also will need to bring your Michigan driver’s license or ID.
- $15 – Title transfer fee
- $10 to $15 – Plate transfer fee (varies depending on whether the vehicle receiving the plate was bought in a private sale or sold to a family member)
- 6 percent sales tax (not collected for vehicle sales to immediate family members)
- $12 – Recreation Passport (optional)
A $15 late fee will be charged if the title isn’t transferred within 15 days of the sale.
Secretary of State offices accept payment by cash, check, money order, or credit or debit card (additional fees apply).
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
What should I do if I’m buying a vehicle from a dealer?
Most dealerships will handle the title transfer and vehicle registration process for you.
Can I drive my newly purchased vehicle home without it being registered?
Yes but only if you drive the vehicle directly to the first place of storage (usually your home) within three days of the sale. You must have the properly assigned title and proof of insurance with you as temporary registration. At the time of the sale, remove the seller’s plate from the vehicle and return it to them.
Who is required to visit a Secretary of State office when transferring a title?
Anyone whose name will be listed as an owner on the title must be present. It is advised that the seller also accompany the buyer to transfer the title. Those who cannot visit a Secretary of State office to transfer the vehicle title may appoint a designated agent or power of attorney to attend the office visit and sign the title on their behalf.
How are title and registration fees determined?
Title transfer and registration fees are set by state law and cannot be amended without legislative action.
How soon after buying a vehicle do I need to transfer the title into my name?
You need to transfer the title within 15 days of purchasing the vehicle. A $15 late fee is charged if you don’t transfer the title in time.
If possible, the seller should join you at a Secretary of State office to complete the title transfer. Dealerships typically manage title transfers for vehicles purchased through the dealership.
Is sales tax charged if a vehicle is being sold between family members?
Under Michigan law, title transfers between the following relatives aren’t subject to sales tax:
- Parent (or stepparent or mother/father-in-law)
- Child (or stepchild or daughter/son-in-law)
- Sibling (or stepsibling, half-sibling, or sister/brother-in-law)
- Grandchild (or grandchild-in-law)
- Legal ward
- Legally appointed guardian
No other relationships are tax exempt.
How do I transfer a vehicle title into my name if the previous owner is deceased?
If the deceased owner's estate isn’t probated, the surviving spouse or legal next-of-kin may transfer the vehicle into their name by presenting the following at a Secretary of State office:
- The original vehicle title
- A certified copy of the death certificate
- Certification from the Heir to a Vehicle form completed by the next-of-kin
- License or ID for the next-of-kin
- Proof of Michigan No-Fault insurance, if the vehicle will be registered
If the estate is being probated, the personal representative appointed by Probate Court must assign the title to the surviving spouse. The spouse presents the assigned title and a copy of the personal representative's Letter of Authority document to apply for a title in their name at a Secretary of State office.
If the current title is in both your name and the deceased's name with the legend "Full Rights To Survivor" printed on it, then all that is needed to transfer the vehicle into just your name is the title and a copy of the death certificate.
Can I transfer a title with an active loan against it?
A title with a lien on it may be transferred only if the loan is paid off and a statement or letter of termination is provided by the lienholder, or if a letter of authorization from the lienholder approving the transfer is submitted with the title application.
If I sell a vehicle I own, am I liable for any tickets or damages related to the use of that vehicle if the buyer does not transfer the title into their name?
Yes. A person who cannot prove they sold their vehicle as required by Section 257.240 is responsible for a civil infraction and subject to a civil fine of $15. The person is also presumed to be the last titled owner and is liable for towing fees and daily storage fees if the vehicle is abandoned.