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Vehicle tabs and license plates

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

  • Yes, proof of Michigan no-fault insurance is required when renewing at a Secretary of State office or by mail.

  • Yes, plates may be renewed through our Online Services website or by mail.

    Renewals may also be completed at any Secretary of State self-service station. A processing fee may be charged.

  • Renewal forms not received cannot be resent. However, you may renew your license plate without a renewal form on Online Services or at our self-service stations if your insurance can be verified electronically. You may also renew without the renewal form at any Secretary of State branch office. Documents needed for renewals are:

    • Old registration for each registration (or plate configuration)
    • Proof of Michigan no-fault insurance for each registration
    • Driver's license
    • Cash, check, money order, or a Discover, MasterCard or Visa debit or credit card.
    • You may also mail a photocopy of your current registration, proof of valid Michigan no-fault insurance, and a check or money order payable to the State of Michigan to:

      Michigan Department of State
      Internal Services Section
      7064 Crowner Drive
      Lansing, Michigan 48918

  • Online

    Go to Online Services and then to Vehicle Services. If you go to ‘More Online Vehicle Services’, you can renew your license plate and submit a one-time mailing address so that your new tab and registration can be mailed directly to you. Tabs and registrations renewed using the Quick Renewal option will be mailed to the vehicle’s residential address on record.

    By mail

    Send a photocopy of your current registration, proof of valid Michigan no-fault insurance, and a check or money order payable to the "State of Michigan" to:

    Michigan Department of State
    Renewal by Mail Unit
    7064 Crowner Drive
    Lansing, Michigan 48980

    Information about your renewal fee can be obtained by calling 517-636-5872. Please provide an out-of-state address if you want your registration receipt and new license plate tab mailed to you while you are out-of-state. 

  • Under Michigan law, you are obligated to have a valid license plate and registration for your vehicle. Therefore, whenever you are issued a new license plate and tab, you must put them on your vehicle as soon as you receive them. Your old plate is cancelled once the new one is assigned to you - no matter when your old plate was set to expire. There is no grace period under Michigan law. If you continue driving with your old plate, the license plate and tab on your vehicle will not match what is on file with the Secretary of State. This may be considered an improper plate violation. It could result in a ticket from law enforcement, a fine and having your vehicle impounded. Registration and insurance. Always make sure to have the proper registration and insurance certificates with you when driving. Failure to do so can result in tickets.

  • License plate fees for 1984 or newer model year passenger vehicles and light trucks are calculated using a percentage of the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) at the time the vehicle is first titled. This is also known as the base price. It is then reduced by a percentage of that registration fee for the following three years. Under the present law, no further reduction is provided.

    If the vehicle is older than 1984, the fee is based on the weight of the vehicle. You may contact our Information Center at 1-888-SOS-MICH (1-888-767-6424) and someone will help you figure the fee for your particular vehicle, or visit a Secretary of State branch office for assistance.

  • On individually owned passenger vehicles, pickup trucks, and vans, the license plate expires on the owner's birthday. For vehicles owned by more than one person, either owner's birthday may be used as the expiration date. If the license plate expiration date is not on one of the owner's birthday, it can be changed at renewal time at the request of the owner. A new license plate fee will be calculated for the new expiration date. Changes to plate expiration dates must be submitted at a Secretary of State office.

    Schedule an office visit

  • When you move, you must change the address on your driver's license as soon as possible. A change of address may be submitted at a Secretary of State office, online through online services or by mail using the change-of-address form. Until all system upgrades can be completed, changing the address on your driver’s license will not update the address on your vehicle registration. Changing your driver’s license address will update the address for your voter registration.

    When you renew your license plate by mail and the address needs to be corrected, check "yes" for a change of address on the front of the renewal notice and write your new address on the back of the form in the space provided. This will alert the Michigan Department of State to correct the address when renewing your registration. If you are renewing your vehicle registration online and you are logged into your account, then you may also submit a change of address at the same time.  Change of address cannot be submitted when using the Quick Renewal option.

  • Veteran plates are available in the standard Pure Michigan design. Campaign and Service Medal Veteran plates are available for veterans who have served in Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam and earned a medal. Veterans must provide their Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty form (DD-214), indicating a medal award, for a Campaign or Service Medal Veteran plate. The official Service Medal Award Certificate issued by any of the Armed Forces branches will also be accepted for the Vietnam Service Medal plate. Veteran plates may be ordered at any Secretary of State office or by mailing in a completed Application for Veteran Plate form.

  • Yes, if you have been decorated with a campaign/service medal for serving in Afghanistan, Iraq or Vietnam, you are eligible for this special veteran plate. Please bring your Officer Record Brief or Enlisted Record Brief when submitting your plate application. The Veteran Campaign/Service Medal plate is available in the standard Pure Michigan and Spectacular Peninsulas designs.

  • If you provided your license plate number to an employer or to an apartment, housing complex or parking facility manager, make sure you update them when you receive a different plate number.

  • The latest in graphic plates, the Mackinac Bridge plate offers residents a chance to show their state pride in a way that is Pure Michigan. Featuring one of the most iconic of Michigan landmarks, the Mackinac Bridge is featured front and center on this beautifully designed plate. It is available in disability and personalized versions and for motorcycles. A one-time fee of $5 is charged when purchasing a plate (in addition to any other registration or fees that may apply). Order it at any Secretary of State office, on at Online Services or by mail. The Mackinac Bridge plate replaces the Spectacular Peninsulas plate, which is being slowly phased out.

  • If you have titled and registered your vehicle in another state, Michigan does not require the return of the Michigan license plate. The plate should be destroyed before disposal to prevent misuse. If you receive a Michigan registration renewal notice after you have registered your vehicle in another state, it can be ignored.

  • You may transfer a license plate issued in your name at any Secretary of State branch office. You will need your current registration or license plate number, your title to the vehicle to which you want to transfer the license plate (your copy of the title application will be sufficient if you recently applied for your title), a $10 transfer fee and a $5 stand alone transaction fee will be due. Additional fees may be due if transferring a plate to a different type of vehicle (such as from a car to a motor home). Additional fees will be due if you apply for a new title at the same time. The owner of the registration must be one of the owners shown on the title. If you are purchasing a vehicle from a Michigan dealer, the dealer will handle the plate transfer for you.

  • Your registration receipt will show the license plate number and the vehicle to which your license plate is registered. If any of this information is incorrect, you should visit a Secretary of State branch office for assistance or check with our Information Center at 1-888-SOS-MICH (1-888-767-6424) for further information. Some corrections, such as for name or vehicle information, may require that you also bring in the vehicle title.

  • The number and letter configurations used on Auto Centennial plates are not used on any other type of plates and therefore may be incorporated into a personalized plate. Owners of an Auto Centennial plate who wish to personalize a different type of plate using the number and letter configuration of their Auto Centennial plate may do so before the plate expires. The original personalized plate service fee is due in addition to the regular renewal fee. Once the Auto Centennial plate expires, the number and letter configuration are no longer reserved to the original owner and anyone seeking a personalized plate may use them.

  • Plates that are rusted, damaged or illegible due to age or wear-and-tear should be replaced. A replacement plate can be obtained at any Secretary of State office or on Online Services. Additionally, Michigan requires plates that are 10 years old or older to be replaced upon renewal.

  • 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.

    Make sure to have the license plate number or registration number ready. There is no fee for a duplicate vehicle registration. A duplicate watercraft or moped registration is $2 and a duplicate snowmobile registration is $5.

    Go to Online Services

  • If there are no plans to use the license plate and you decide to dispose of it, please destroy it by cutting it in half or bending off a corner to discourage theft and fraud. Recycling might also be another option. Check with your local recycler for more information.

  • Allow at least 14 days when renewing a license plate online or by mail. A branch office can process your renewal immediately (proof of Michigan no-fault insurance will be required), but at least two weeks is needed when renewing by these alternate systems. Many Secretary of State offices and other locations also feature a Self-service station - another convenient method for immediately renewing license plates. You must have insurance that has been electronically verified indicated on your renewal notice and pay by credit card to use a Self-Service Station. (Note: Please refer to the Frequently Asked Question topic of "New Standard and Spectacular Peninsulas Plates" for information about renewing a standard license plate.)

    Keep your valid registration and insurance certificate with you when driving. Neglecting to carry your vehicle's registration and insurance certificate are two more violations that can result in tickets, fines and fees.

  • If you are using a license plate frame, please make sure that it does not cover or obscure any of the information on the plate or tab.

    At the start of 2007, some of the state's license plates were inadvertently stamped with the two bottom bolt holes slightly out of line. This problem was immediately corrected. It may not be possible for you to use all four bolts if you have one of these plates. However, your plate will still be held securely on your vehicle even if you use only the top or bottom two bolts. If you have any questions about your plate or are having trouble fastening it to your vehicle, please contact the Department of State Information Center at (888) SOS-MICH; (888-767-6424).

  • You may obtain a replacement license plate at a Secretary of State office. Bring the vehicle registration or the license plate number and your identification. A replacement plate and tab will be issued for $5, along with a new registration. Additional fees are due if you personalize your replacement plate or if you purchase a different type of plate.

    If your plate was stolen, contact your local police or sheriff's office. The agency will enter a message into the Law Enforcement Information Network alerting officers that the plate was reported as stolen.

    A license plate can only be replaced by the vehicle owner, by a member of the owner's family living at the same address or by a representative of the owner with an Appointment of Agent form completed by the vehicle owner.

  • You may select from a variety of license plates, such as standard, university, special cause, veteran/military service, personalized, historical, collector (for display purposes only), and special organization plates. Plates may be ordered online, by mail, or at a Secretary of State office.  

  • Your vehicle registration is the document that shows your license plate has been officially registered to your vehicle.

    The tab is the sticker you place on your license plate after you apply for or renew your vehicle registration.

  • Yes. If you would like your replacement vehicle registration or tab sent to an alternative mailing address, be sure to add your alternative mailing address to your account before requesting your replacement tab or registration. To do so, login to your online services account and select “Change My Address.”

    Go to Online Services

  • A vehicle can be titled in your name without a license, but to maintain the registration and plate there will need to be a licensed adult listed on the registration. There cannot be a registration hold on your record. You may also wish to contact your insurance company for any requirements it may have. 

  • Michigan law requires that all vehicles must have proof of valid Michigan No-Fault insurance coverage to be registered or renewed in Michigan. The Michigan Department of State isn't able to accept proof of valid out-of-state insurance coverage in lieu of Michigan No-Fault insurance.

  • License plates registered to vehicles you own are only transferrable if you sell your vehicle to an immediate family member:

    • Spouse
    • 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)
    • Grandparent
    • Grandchild (or grandchild-in-law)
    • Legal ward
    • Legally appointed guardian
  • A plate or tab can only be replaced by the vehicle owner, by a member of the owner’s family living at the same address, or by someone the vehicle owner designates through an Appointment of Agent form.

    Appointment of Agent form

  • The Department has two types of commercial plates available - a "regular" commercial plate and an elected gross vehicle weight (GVW) commercial plate.

    The following vehicles use the "regular" commercial plate:

    • A vehicle used to transport persons for hire (e.g., taxi, bus, limousine)

    • Company-owned pickups and vans up to 8,000 pounds

    • A vehicle up to 8,000 pounds used commercially to transport goods, wares, or merchandise (e.g., stake truck, tank, dump, utility) including passenger vehicles used commercially

    • Ambulances and hearses

      The following vehicles require GVW plates:

    • All trucks weighing over 8,000 pounds (empty) used commercially

    • All semi tractors used commercially

    • Trucks weighing 8,000 pounds or less (empty) towing a trailer or any other vehicle for commercial purposes (This does not include pickups and vans under 8,001 lbs. towing a trailer. They use regular fees as if there was no trailer).

      The GVW plate fee is based on the truck's maximum elected gross vehicle weight (GVW). Elected gross vehicle weight is the empty weight of the vehicle or combination of vehicles, fully equipped for service, plus the weight of the maximum load that the owner has elected to carry.

  • Under Michigan law, organizations can pursue the creation of a specialty fundraising license plate to recognize the work of their organization and contribute some of the revenue from plate sales to their special cause. The process of creating a special cause fundraising license plate begins in the state legislature, where legislation must be introduced and passed by both the House and Senate to authorize the state to create the plate. Once the legislation is signed by the governor and enacted into law, the Michigan Department of State is then permitted to begin working with the organization and state vendors to design, test, and produce the license plate for sale.

    Special cause fundraising license plates are $35. $25 from each license plate sale is donated to the cause when the plate is issued. The cause will then receive an additional $10 when the plate is renewed.
  • A vehicle tab costs $5. If you print your tab at a self-service station, an additional $3.95 service fee will be charged for each item transacted at the station.

  • Under Michigan law, you are obligated to have a valid license plate and registration for your vehicle. Therefore, whenever you are issued a new license plate and tab, you must put them on your vehicle as soon as you receive them. Your old plate is canceled once the new one is assigned to you - no matter when your old plate was set to expire. There is no grace period under Michigan law. If you continue driving with your old plate, the license plate and tab on your vehicle will not match what is on file with the Secretary of State. This may be considered an improper plate violation. It could result in a ticket from law enforcement, a fine and having your vehicle impounded.

  • If it's been more than 30 days since you renewed, create or log into your online Secretary of State account or contact the Michigan Department of State to verify the address on your vehicle registration.

    If your address is incorrect, you can update it and order a new set of tabs for $5 online, at a Secretary of State office, or by calling our department. If your address is correct and it's been more than 30 days since you renewed, request a set of replacement tabs by calling our department or visiting a Secretary of State office. If you renewed by mail, track processing of your renewal by monitoring the account from which you submitted payment by check or money order. Once payment has been withdrawn, your renewal has been processed.

    Upon renewing your tab and license plate, your vehicle registration will be updated automatically in the state record system, which can also be accessed by law enforcement.

    • No - immediately remove your plate upon selling the vehicle. You can transfer the plate to another vehicle you own or purchase. Do not let a buyer "borrow" your plate, as any violations (including parking tickets) issued to the buyer with your plate on the vehicle will be your responsibility.

    • Under Michigan law, a person who buys a vehicle through a private sale may drive the vehicle home using the most direct route without a license plate. The buyer must do so within three days of purchase and carry the assigned title and proof of insurance during transit.
  • Passenger vehicles, vans, and light trucks must have proof of Michigan No-Fault insurance to be registered and renewed in Michigan. Out-of-state insurance policies cannot be used to meet Michigan insurance requirements for registering a vehicle. Motorcycles must also be insured, but it doesn’t need to be No-Fault insurance.

    Keep your Michigan No-Fault insurance certificate in your vehicle or carry it with you when you drive. Failure to present proof of valid Michigan No-Fault insurance while driving a vehicle could result in the suspension of your license. Your license plate could also be canceled if proof of insurance isn’t provided.

    If you use your vehicle seasonally and it will be kept in storage when your plate and registration expire, you can either renew it up to 6 months early or provide proof of your storage/comprehensive insurance policy and valid Michigan No-Fault insurance policy to renew after the expiration.

  • Electronic Insurance Verification makes renewing online or at a self-service station possible because proof of insurance has already been verified through updated electronic files sent by participating insurance companies.

    If your insurance company doesn’t participate in EIV, you won’t be able to renew online or at a self-service station. Complete the fillable plate renewal form, include your payment, and mail in your application. You may also schedule a visit at an office.

  • Bring your plate to a Secretary of State office and let the greeter know you have a damaged plate. The $5 plate replacement fee may be waived if the manager determines the plate is damaged because of a manufacturing defect.

    Damaged plates are canceled on system after they have been brought to our attention. If you don’t bring the plate to a Secretary of State office for disposal, you may destroy it by cutting it up or bending off a corner so that it can no longer be used.

  • A $5 replacement fee is charged for tabs that are damaged, lost, or stolen.

    If you believe your tab was stolen, you should contact law enforcement right away.

    You may order a replacement tab online or print one at a self-service station. Additional fees apply when paying with a credit or debit card. A $3.95 service fee will be charged for each item transacted at a self-service station.

    Find a self-service station

  • You may email us at Michigan.gov/ContactSOS or visit a Secretary of State office. There is no charge for replacing a defective tab.

  • Early: You can renew your registration, tab and license plate up to six months in advance of their expiration.

    Expiration date: In most cases, your tab and license plate will expire on your birthday. If your birthday falls on the weekend or a legal holiday, you have until the next business day to renew your tab and plate without penalty.

    After expiration (additional fees apply): If you don't renew your registration, tab and plate on time, you will be charged an added $10 fee and risk being ticketed or fined by law enforcement for driving on expired registration. Renewal fees for expired plates are not prorated. The amount shown on your renewal notice doesn't change if the plate is renewed after it expires.

  • With the exception of a motorcycle and Water-Winter Wonderland plates, registration tabs should be placed on the upper right-hand corner of your license plate.

    For motorcycle and Water-Winter Wonderland plates, place the tab in the lower right-hand corner.