Skip to main content

Titles

A title determines vehicle ownership. When you buy or inherit a vehicle, the title must be transferred into your name to verify the ownership has passed from the previous owner to you.

If you are buying a vehicle at a dealership, the dealer will process the paperwork for transferring the title to you. However, for private vehicle sales or when transferring a vehicle to a family member, the responsibility for transferring the title rests with the seller and you.

Transferring a title after a sale

Whether you’re buying a vehicle from an individual or a family member, it is strongly recommended that both the buyer and the seller visit a Secretary of State office to transfer the title together and complete the vehicle purchase.

The buyer and/or buyer and seller will need to provide the original vehicle title (no photocopies) with the following information:

  • Accurate odometer reading or odometer disclosure statement
  • Seller’s section completed
  • Seller’s signature
  • Buyer’s section completed
  • Buyer’s signature
  • Date of the sale
  • Sale price

The title cannot be modified (such as scratching a name out). If there is an outstanding lien against the vehicle, the seller must provide a lien termination statement or include a signature from a representative of the financial institution financing the loan on the title.

Schedule an office visit

Duplicate title

Transferring a title from a deceased owner

In most cases, when a vehicle owner dies, the surviving spouse, or, if no spouse, the next closest kin may transfer the vehicle into their name, if the estate isn’t already probated.

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.

If the vehicle is being transferred to the surviving spouse or an immediate family member, the license plate may remain on the vehicle.

Schedule an office visit

  • If the deceased owner’s estate is probated, the probated owner must visit a Secretary of State office and provide:

    • The original vehicle title, signed by the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate
    • Letter of Authority from the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate
    • A certified copy of the death certificate for the deceased
    • Proof of Michigan No-Fault insurance (if the vehicle will be registered)
    • Their valid driver’s license or ID
  • If the deceased owner's estate isn’t probated, ownership will be assumed by the surviving spouse or legal next-of-kin.

    If there is no surviving spouse, and there are several closest next-of-kin (e.g., multiple brothers or sisters), all share equal inheritance. Next-of-kin with no interest in the vehicle must complete a certification statement to this effect.

    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 for the deceased
    • Certification from the Heir to a Vehicle form completed by the next-of-kin. (Next-of-kin with a legal right to ownership of the deceased's vehicle who don't wish to claim the vehicle must also sign the Certification from the Heir form.)
    • Valid driver’s licenses or IDs for all next-of-kin
    • Proof of Michigan No-Fault insurance (if the vehicle will be registered in Michigan)

    If they wish, the next-of-kin may add a co-owner at time of titling. If the co-owner is not an immediate family relative of the deceased or is not the spouse of the closest next-of-kin who is inheriting the vehicle, the co-owner is liable for 6% sales tax.

    Certification for the Heir to a Vehicle form

    Certification Affidavit form

Purchasing a duplicate title

If you need to replace your Michigan vehicle title, apply for a duplicate title through your online Secretary of State account. Duplicate titles cost $15.

If you have a lien on your vehicle, the title will be sent to your lienholder.

Go to Online Services

Title duplicate or replacement

Information for out-of-state residents

Correcting or converting a vehicle title (Choose tab)

To add or remove a vehicle owner from the title, visit a Secretary of State office.

All listed owners on the title must be present and provide their valid license or ID in order to change or correct the title.

The fee to correct a name on a title is $15.

Schedule an office visit

Title correction

If your name has changed and needs to be corrected on your vehicle title, visit a Secretary of State office and provide the following:

  • Your valid license or ID
  • Vehicle title
  • Vehicle registration or license plate number
  • An official document providing proof of the legal name change (if it has not yet been corrected on your license or ID)

All listed owners on the title must be present and provide their valid license or ID in order to change or correct the title.

The fee for a corrected title is $15. There is no fee to correct vehicle registration.

Schedule an office visit

Title correction

To correct the address on your vehicle title, visit a Secretary of State office and provide the following:

  • Your valid license or ID
  • Vehicle title
  • An official document showing proof of your new address (if it has not yet been added to your license or ID)

All listed owners on the title must be present and provide their valid license or ID in order to change or correct the title.

The fee for a corrected title is $15. There is no fee to correct your vehicle registration.

Schedule an office visit

Title correction

When you pay off or terminate a lien against a vehicle, the lienholder’s information won’t automatically clear from your vehicle title, unless the financial institution providing the loan is enrolled in the Electronic Lien and Title system (ELT).

You aren’t required to remove the lienholder from your title after paying off the lien, however, you can do so for $16 at a Secretary of State office by providing the lien termination notice or title signed by the lienholder.

All listed owners on the title must be present and provide their valid license or ID in order to change or correct the title.

If you decide not to remove the lienholder from your title, you will need to provide the lien termination notice or title signed by the lienholder when you sell the vehicle and transfer ownership.

If your lien is financed through a bank or financial institution participating in ELT, they will mail you a corrected title after the lien is resolved.

Schedule an office visit

Vehicles purchased and titled out-of-state can be converted to a Michigan title by presenting the following at a Secretary of State office:

  • The out-of-state vehicle title
  • Your valid driver’s license or state ID
  • Proof of Michigan No-Fault insurance for the vehicle
  • The out-of-state vehicle registration (if the vehicle was registered in another state)
  • A lien termination statement or title signed by the institution issuing a loan (if there is a lien against the vehicle)

If your title is being held by an out-of-state lienholder, provide the above documents and one of the following:

  • Photocopy or fax of your out-of-state title
  • Memo title
  • Recently validated title application
  • Vehicle record printed on the issuing state's Department of Motor Vehicles letterhead verifying the vehicle is titled in that state

The Michigan Department of State will issue a Foreign Ownership-Registration Only registration – also known as a memo registration - for your vehicle. A Michigan title is not issued in this case and the out-of-state title remains the ownership document.

All listed owners on the title must be present and provide their valid license or ID in order to change or correct the title.

Schedule an office visit

Information for new Michigan residents

Special titles

Certain vehicles in Michigan require specialty titles, which are obtained through a slightly different process than what is common for standard vehicle titles. Special titles are issued based on the vehicle’s condition and assembly.

  • A salvage title is issued for a vehicle that has become a "distressed vehicle". A vehicle becomes "distressed" when one or more major component parts have been wrecked, destroyed, damaged, stolen, or are missing to the extent that the total estimated damage is from 75% to less than 91% of its pre-damaged cash value. The vehicle owner's insurance company will determine the amount of damage to the vehicle.

    A regular vehicle title is replaced with a salvage title. Salvage and rebuilt titles are orange in color and list the vehicle's color and non-salvageable major component parts.

    A vehicle with a salvage title cannot be plated or used on public roads until it is recertified by a specially trained police officer and retitled.

    Applying for a salvage title

    You, your insurance provider, or a dealership may apply for a salvage title for a vehicle, motorcycle, trailer coach, or titled trailer by providing the following:

    • Completed Michigan Salvage or Scrap Title Application
    • Proof of vehicle ownership (i.e.: title)
    • Certification from an insurance provider verifying the vehicle damage
    • A check or money order made payable to the State of Michigan for the $15 title application fee

    Submit the required documents and payment by visiting a Secretary of State office or mail the required them to:

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

    Michigan Salvage or Scrap Title Application

    Schedule an office visit

  • A scrap title is issued to a vehicle that has one or more major component parts (such as bumpers, fenders, transmission, engine, hood, doors, frame, tailgate, body, etc.) that have been wrecked, destroyed, damaged, stolen, or missing to the extent that the total estimated cost of repair (parts and labor) for the vehicle is 91% or more of its pre-damaged value.

    A Michigan scrap title is red and has the wording "Scrap Title" at the top, while regular Michigan titles are green. After a scrap title is issued, the vehicle may be used only for parts or scrap metal. It can’t be re-titled or returned to the road using the existing vehicle identification number.

    If you’re selling an older model vehicle for scrap, you can write the word(s) “scrap” or “junk” on the original vehicle title, which will ensure the vehicle can’t be titled or put back on the road again.

    Applying for a scrap title

    You, your insurance provider, or a dealership may apply for a scrap title for a vehicle, motorcycle, trailer coach, or titled trailer by providing the following:

    • Completed Michigan Salvage or Scrap Title Application
    • Proof of vehicle ownership (i.e.: title)
    • Certification from an insurance provider verifying the vehicle damage
    • A check or money order made payable to the State of Michigan for the $15 title application fee

    Submit the required documents and payment by visiting a Secretary of State office or mail the required them to:

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

    Michigan Salvage or Scrap Title Application

    Schedule an office visit

  • After a vehicle titled with a salvage title has been repaired or rebuilt, it can be titled and registered for road use again if it has passed an inspection by a specially trained law enforcement officer.

    Application for inspection

    Before scheduling an inspection with a certified salvage inspector, complete the Application for Salvage Vehicle Inspection form with a licensed mechanic.

    Inspection

    At the inspection, provide the assigned title or bills of sale for parts used in rebuilding the vehicle.

    During the inspection, salvage vehicle inspection officer will complete a Salvage Vehicle Recertification form (TR-13B). The inspection will verify ownership of the repair parts used and compliance with all Michigan Vehicle Code equipment and safety requirements.

    Upon passing inspection, the officer will issue you the completed and signed Salvage Vehicle Recertification form.

    Applying for a rebuilt title

    Upon passing inspection, bring the following with you to a Secretary of State office:

    • The salvage title
    • Completed Application for a Salvage Vehicle Inspection
    • Completed Salvage Vehicle Recertification form (as assigned by a salvage vehicle inspector)
    • Proof of a valid Michigan No-Fault insurance policy for the vehicle
    • Your valid driver’s license or ID
    • Payment for the $15 title application fee and any added registration fees

    You will be issued a new title with the legend “REBUILT SALVAGE”. This will alert future owners that the vehicle was once classified as “totaled” by an insurance company under a previous owner.

    Application for a Salvage Vehicle Inspection

  • Assembled vehicle titles are assigned to vehicles that are:

    • Built or assembled from new or used materials and parts by someone not recognized as a manufacturer
    • Altered or modified to the extent that it no longer reflects its original manufacturer configuration
    • Has replaced the body unit (passenger body or pickup truck cab) with a different style body unit from another vehicle, altering the vehicle's original configuration
    • Has replaced the body unit (passenger body or pickup truck cab) with an identical style body unit that doesn’t alter the vehicle's original configuration is retitled as a reconstructed vehicle
    • Assembled from a kit designed for on-road use (often called "kit cars"), even if a Manufacturers Certificate of Origin is provided

    Golf carts can't be registered as on-road vehicles. However, if the vehicle manufacturer's certificate of origin (MCO) indicates the vehicle meets federal regulations for on-road use, the vehicle may be titled as a low-speed vehicle and registered with a passenger license plate (similar to cars and trucks).

    Obtaining an assembled vehicle title

    1. To obtain an assembled vehicle title, you will need:

    • Ownership documents for all vehicles or major component parts used in assembling the vehicle. This includes:
    • Titles
    • Assigned ownership documents (Example: Release of Abandoned Vehicle notice from police department)
    • Original bills of sale
    • The following parts must be accounted for in the ownership documents presented:
    • Motor vehicles: Engine, transmission, body parts (doors, front, rear clips) and frame, including axles
    • Motorcycles: Engine, frame, front end assembly including the fork, wheels, and seat
    • Titled trailers or trailer coaches: Running gear (frame, axle, and wheels) 

    2. A certification statement summarizing the vehicle’s assembly that includes:

    • A description of the vehicle and its parts
    • The name of the person who assembled the vehicle
    • When and where the vehicle was assembled or reconstructed
    • Any special information about the vehicle to assist the Michigan Department of State investigator 

    3. A Vehicle Number/On-Road Equipment Inspection completed by a Michigan police officer.

    The inspection will verify the vehicle has all equipment required for on-road registration. 

    Completion of the inspection form by law enforcement doesn’t qualify the vehicle for a title or registration. Michigan Department of State regulation agents conduct a final inspection of the vehicle before placement of the assembled VIN sticker. 

    4. Payment

    A new vehicle information number (VIN) will be assigned to your vehicle for $10. When applying for your assembled vehicle title, tax is due on all parts, unless it was paid at time of purchase.

    A Regulatory Monitoring Division agent will contact you to schedule the final inspection appointment and vehicle inspection location. Upon passing the final inspection, the agent will place the assigned VIN sticker on the vehicle. The new title will be mailed.

    NOTE: Assembled vehicles aren’t eligible for temporary registrations

    ORV/ATV requirements

    Before a utility vehicle or an all-terrain vehicle can be used on public roads, it must pass the full equipment and safety inspection as defined on the inspection form.

    Be aware that a receipt is required confirming that the installed windshield is U.S. Department of Transportation certified and is laminated glass. A polycarbonate or Plexi-glass windshield isn’t acceptable. Also, the parking brake must be mechanical, and not hydraulic. Mechanical brake calipers activated by a hand lever and cable assembly can be bought from aftermarket vendors.

    Instructions for Titling an Assembled Vehicle

    Vehicle Number/On-Road Equipment Inspection

  • Brands are placed on titles of vehicles that will be used or have been used as police vehicles, taxis, and municipal vehicles. Flood damaged vehicles and rebuilt vehicles are also branded. Once entered, these brands stay on all future titles.

    Titles with these brands are orange colored.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

  • It is ideal for the seller and the buyer to go to a Secretary of State office together to complete a title transaction. However, if the seller can’t join you at a Secretary of State office visit to transfer the title, you can still transfer the vehicle title in your name.

    To do so, seller must accurately complete and provide you with the assigned title, an odometer disclosure statement, and either a lien termination statement or title signed by the lienholder, if there is a lien or loan against the vehicle.

  • All listed owners on a title must be present and provide their valid license or ID in order to change or correct a title.

    If a titled owner can’t be present, they may appoint someone else to complete the title correction on their behalf at a Secretary of State office by completing and signing an Appointment of Agent form to provide to the appointed agent with a copy of their license or ID.

    Appointment of Agent

  • The title can’t be transferred to anyone other the rightful inheritor(s) after the titled owner has passed. Whether the inheritor is a representative appointed by Probate Court or the appointed next of kin, the title must be transferred to the inheritor first before it can be retitled in any other name.

  • Michigan residents whose vehicle is registered and plated, but not titled, in Michigan can apply for a memo registration. A memo registration will be issued when:

    • The owner's out-of-state title is held by a lienholder or lessor
    • A company based in another state operates vehicles here
    • Someone from another state whose plate has expired needs a temporary permit to return home
    • A new resident can’t locate their out-of-state title and needs a temporary permit until a duplicate title is received (only a 30-day permit can be issued)

    It is required to provide proof of a valid Michigan No-Fault insurance policy to apply for and maintain a memo registration in Michigan.