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Recreational vehicles and watercraft

  • All watercraft 20 feet and over in length and all watercraft with a permanently affixed engine, regardless of length, must be titled. Watercraft not required to be titled may be titled upon the request of the owner. 

  • The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) issue ORV decals. Also, most ORV dealers issue these decals. Check your local telephone directory for the DNR or ORV dealer office nearest you. 

  • Helmet use is strongly encouraged when riding a moped for all moped users. Helmets are required for all moped operators under the age of 19.

    Eye protection, such as goggles, isn’t mandated but is encouraged.

  • Snowmobiles aren’t required to be titled.

  • Michigan law allows owners of watercraft registered in another state use of Michigan waterways up to 60 days after which a Michigan registration is required. That means if a boat is stored or anchored in Michigan, and exclusively used on Michigan waterways over 60 days, the watercraft must be registered in Michigan.

    All sailboats, motorized watercraft, and hand-powered watercraft over 16 feet must be registered. A three-year transferable registration is issued, expiring March 31.

    If you register your watercraft in Michigan, you can renew your registration decal by mail up to 45 days in advance. Request a replacement decal by mail or via email at RenewalByMail@Michigan.gov.

  • Use the following link and refer to the section on assembled vehicles.

    Information on titles

  • ORVs, ATVs and off-road motorcycles that have been upgraded for on-road use must be insured by a valid Michigan No-Fault insurance policy before they can be issued a registration and license plate. Before modifying an ORV, ATV, or off-road motorcycle, check to make sure your vehicle can be insured.

  • Mopeds must be registered at a Secretary of State office unless operated solely on private property.

  • All snowmobiles must be registered unless used only on private property. The snowmobile registration number is printed on the three-year snowmobile decal. Snowmobile decals must be displayed on "each side of the forward half of the cowl above the foot well of the snowmobile."

    Owners may elect to register snowmobiles 26 or more years old and owned solely as a collector's item as a historic snowmobile. A non-expiring historic snowmobile registration is issued and is placed above or below the headlight or, if the historic snowmobile was not originally equipped with a headlight, on the forward half of the cowl above the footwell. 

  • Replacement decals for watercraft, snowmobiles, and mopeds may be ordered at a Secretary of State office.

    If you believe your moped decal was stolen, contact law enforcement.

    Schedule an office visit

  • After transferring ownership into your name, you may ask to cancel the previous title at a Secretary of State office, provided that there is no longer a lien on the watercraft.

    Schedule an office visit

  • You can change your address on your recreational vehicle or watercraft registration through your online Secretary of State account or by submitting a Change of Address form by mail.

    To correct your name on your title or registration, you will need to visit a Secretary of State office.

    Go to Online Services

    Change address

    Title correction

  • A trailer’s weight may be found on the Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin (MCO) or on the registration. If you don’t have either of these documents, you will need to have the trailer weighed at a certified scale. By law, a trailer may be towed without a license plate, using the most direct route, to a certified scale. Certified scales are typically found at truck stops, grain elevators, scrap metal recyclers, and junk yards. Bring the scale weight receipt when you visit a Secretary of State office.

  • In addition to the registration decal, snowmobiles must also display an annual snowmobile trail permit sticker on the front of the snowmobile, centered on the hood above the headlight.

    Trail permits cost $52 and expire each year on September 30. You can purchase a trail permit from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

    Snowmobiles used exclusively on private lands or on the ice when ice fishing on public lands are exempt from the registration and trail permit requirements.

  • To request replacement registration for a vehicle, watercraft, snowmobile, or moped, select Online Services, and follow the prompts to create or log into your account to print a duplicate copy of your registration.

    Go to Online Services

  • Allow enough time for ordering, processing, and mail delivery when renewing a snowmobile registration online, by mail, or at a self-service station. A Secretary of State office can process your renewal immediately.

  • Allow enough time for ordering, processing, and mail delivery when renewing a watercraft registration online, by mail, or at a self-service station. A Secretary of State office can process your renewal immediately.

  • The renewal fee is $30. Ahead of renewing your snowmobile decal, you will be mailed a renewal notice.

  • In most cases, registration fees are based on the length of the watercraft. Ahead of renewing your watercraft decal, you will be mailed a renewal notice which will include the renewal fees you owe for your watercraft.

    • Your moped registration and decal are valid for three years and must be renewed by April 30 of the third year.
    • To renew your moped registration and decal, send us a note with your name, address, and moped decal number with your check or money order ($15 made payable to “State of Michigan”) before the expiration date to the:

      Michigan Department of State
      Internal Services Section
      7064 Crowner Drive
      Lansing, MI 48918-8264
  • ORV's are titled but not registered through the Secretary of State. ORV's used on public land must display an annual ORV decal. ORV decals are issued through the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). 

  • Watercraft may be renewed at Online Services, at a self-service kiosk, by mail or in person at a Secretary of State office. 

  • Snowmobiles are not titled. To transfer ownership, simply complete the back of your snowmobile registration. If you have lost the registration, then a complete bill of sale with the year, make, vehicle identification number, registration number (if available) and the names and addresses of the buyer and seller to transfer ownership. 

  • If the watercraft is not titled, simply complete the back of your watercraft registration. If you have lost the registration, then a complete bill of sale with the year, make, hull identification number, MC registration number (if available) and the names and addresses of the buyer and seller may be used to transfer ownership.

    If the watercraft is titled, a properly assigned title must be used to transfer ownership. If the title and/or registration are lost, a duplicate can be acquired by the owner(s) from any Secretary of State branch office. Without a properly assigned title, registration or bill of sale, a court order or surety bond would be needed to transfer the ownership. For more information contact your local Secretary of State branch office or the Michigan Department of State, Driver and Vehicle Information Center at 1-888-SOS-MICH (1-888-767-6424).  

  • No, if you don’t live in Michigan, you don’t need a Michigan registration to temporarily use your snowmobile in Michigan. However, you will need to purchase a Michigan Department of State trail permit to operate your snowmobile on public lands.

    Go to Michigan.gov/DNR

  • If you aren’t a Michigan resident, you will need to renew your watercraft registration decal by mail. You can also renew at a Secretary of State office while you’re in Michigan. It’s strongly recommended that you schedule an office visit in advance.

  • If you aren’t a Michigan resident, you will need to renew your snowmobile registration decal by mail. You can also renew at a Secretary of State office while you’re in Michigan. It’s strongly recommended that you schedule an office visit in advance.

  • If your vehicle was built before 1991 and doesn’t have a title, you can use a bill of sale with the following information to transfer ownership:

    • Year and make of the vehicle
    • Vehicle information number (VIN)
    • Buyer’s name and address
    • Seller’s name and address
  • If the new owner does not want a title and the watercraft does not need a title to perfect a lien (show a secured party), the previous owner's title is surrendered at the time the buyer transfers the registration into his/her name and pays any tax due. The Secretary of State branch office will arrange for the cancellation of the previous title. 

  • Watercraft that aren't normally titled may be titled in order to add a lienholder to the record. You will need to visit a Secretary of State office and bring your ID and proof of ownership, such as the watercraft registration, to apply for the title.

    Schedule an office visit

  • Fundamentally, a trailer does not have a motor and it is towed behind another vehicle. A trailer coach is defined as a vehicle designed and used as temporary living quarters for recreational, camping, or travel purposes that is drawn by another vehicle. This classification includes vehicles such as a pop-up campers, fifth-wheels, and travel trailers.

    Trailer coaches and trailers must be registered with a permanent trailer plate. All trailer coaches and pick-up campers must be titled, as well as any trailers weighing 2,500 pounds or more.

  • If you are at least 15 years old and unlicensed, you may apply for a moped license at a Secretary of State office. Minors will need a parent or guardian’s approval. You must pass moped knowledge, traffic sign, and vision tests, and provide proof of a valid Social Security number, identity, citizenship, and residency.

    Residents with a standard, enhanced, or chauffeur’s license; a GDL Level 1 license with a moped privilege added; or a GDL Level 2 or Level 3 license may operate a moped without the need for a moped license.

    You aren’t eligible for a moped license if your operator or chauffeur's license is suspended, revoked, or denied.

    Acceptable documents

  • The watercraft record needs to be researched. To initiate this, you may visit your local Secretary of State office, send a message at Michigan.gov/ContactSOS or call the Michigan Department of State Driver and Vehicle Information Center at 1-888-SOS-MICH (1-888-767-6424). 

  • Mopeds and motorcycles are registered differently under Michigan law. Some retailers may sell what appears to be a moped but is actually classified as a motorcycle. Michigan law (section 257.32b) defines a moped as having:

    • An engine that doesn’t exceed 100 cc’s piston displacement,
    • A power drive system that doesn’t require the operator to shift gears, and
    • A top speed of 30 mph or less on a level surface.

    If the vehicle exceeds any of these criteria, it is classified as a motorcycle and must be registered and titled as such. Operation of a motorcycle requires insurance, a motorcycle endorsement, and helmet use (helmets are required for operators and passengers under age 21).

  • The assigned registration and the Coast Guard documentation papers in the new owner's name must be shown to register a documented vessel.

  • Watercraft registration decals expire on March 31, every three years following issuance. You can renew as early as January 1 of the year that your decal expires.

  • All watercraft on Michigan waters, including privately owned lakes and waterways, must be registered except:

    Watercraft 16 feet or less, propelled by oars or paddles, and not used for rental or commercial purposes;
    Non-motorized canoes and kayaks not used for rental or commercial purposes, rafts, surfboards, sailboards, and swim floats, regardless of length;
    Watercraft registered in another state and used only temporarily in Michigan.

    For most watercraft, the registration fee is based on length. All registrations expire on March 31 in the third year of issuance.

  • Riding a moped on a bicycle path or on a sidewalk constructed for pedestrian use is illegal. Also, you don’t have the right to operate a moped in a full lane of traffic. You must stay to the right side of the lane and ride with traffic.

  • Trail Permit stickers are displayed on the front of the snowmobile, centered on the hood directly above the headlight.

  • Snowmobile trail permits cost $52 each and expire on Sept. 30 of each year. Trail permits are sold by agents of the Department of Natural Resources, including sporting goods stores, local retailers, snowmobile dealers, department stores, resort motels, etc. The generated revenue is designated to develop and maintain snowmobile trails.

  • In addition to the regular three-year snowmobile registration, all snowmobiles used on public land must display an annual Snowmobile Trail Permit sticker. This applies to both residents and nonresidents. Snowmobiles used on private land or used only on frozen public waters for ice fishing are exempt from the trail permit.

    A trail permit is not required for snowmobiles registered as a historic snowmobile.