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Recreational vehicles and watercraft

Registration

Recreational vehicles and watercraft must be registered in Michigan, unless exempted. Some must also be titled. Recreational vehicle or watercraft may be titled and registered at a Secretary of State office.

Picture of a sailboat

Watercraft

Watercraft registrations are issued for three years and expire March 31 of the third year. Boats that are at least 20 ft. in length or that have a permanently affixed engine (inboard motor) must also be titled, with the exception of vessels issued U.S. Coast Guard Certificates of Documentation.

Watercraft decal

Picture of a snowmobile

Snowmobiles

Snowmobile registrations are issued for three years and expire Sept. 30 of the third year. The decals are displayed on front half of the cowl above the footwell on each side of the sled.

A trail permit issued by the Department of Natural Resources is also required to operate a snowmobile on public land. Registrations and trail permits aren’t required for snowmobiles used only on private property.

Snowmobiles aren’t required to be titled.

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Picture of a moped

Mopeds

Moped registrations are issued for three years and expire April 30 of the third year. The registration decal is displayed on back fender of the moped.

Moped decal

Moped license

Picture of a four wheeler

Off-Road Vehicles (ORVs)

Off-road vehicles (ORVs), all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and off-road motorcycles (dirt bikes/trail bikes) are titled by the Department of State.

If they have been modified for on-road use, they will be issued a registration and license plate. Otherwise, ORVs, ATVs, and off-road motorcycles are registered with the Department of Natural Resources and are issued a decal and a trail permit for use on public lands.

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Picture of a trailer

Trailers

Trailers and trailer coaches (for example, pop-up campers, fifth wheels and travel trailers) must be registered with a permanent trailer plate, which isn’t renewed. Registration fees are determined by the trailer’s empty weight. Trailer coaches and pickup campers must be titled. Also, trailers that weigh 2,500 pounds or more must be titled.

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Watercraft (Choose tab below)

The title is used to assign and transfer ownership. Titles are only required for watercraft that are:

  • 20 feet or longer
  • Have a permanently affixed engine (inboard motor) regardless of length
  • Titled at the owner’s request

Titles may be issued to watercraft that don’t legally require a title to allow the owner to add a lienholder to the record.


Transferring a title

If you’re selling a watercraft that is titled, you will need to sign the title to transfer ownership. If your title is damaged or lost, you may order a duplicate online through your online Secretary of State account or by mail, if you don’t live in Michigan.

Under certain circumstances, you can sell your titled watercraft without replacing a lost title if:

  • The seller and buyer appear together at a Secretary of State branch office with proof of the hull identification number (HIN)
  • There are no liens (bank loans) on the title record, or, if the record shows a lien, the seller brings a lien termination statement, and
  • A record of the current title is on the Secretary of State's computer system.

If there is no longer any reason to maintain a title on a watercraft, the title may be surrendered and cancelled when the watercraft is registered at a Secretary of State office.

  • Watercraft title: $5
  • Instant title: $5

All watercraft must be registered, except for:

  • Watercraft 16 feet or shorter, propelled by oars or paddles, and not used for rental or commercial purposes.
  • Nonmotorized 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.

To register your watercraft, visit a Secretary of State office to provide your license or ID and proof of ownership, including one or more of the following:

  • The previous registration for the watercraft, with the seller’s signature
  • A bill of sale that includes the watercraft:
    - Year and make
    - HIN
    - Buyer’s name and address
    - Seller's name and address
  • Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin (MCO)
  • Watercraft title (if the watercraft is required to be titled)
  • A surety bond (for watercraft valued at more than $2,500)
  • Self-certification procedure (for watercraft valued at $2,500 or less)
  • U.S. Coast Guard Certificate of Documentation

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Registration fees are based on the length of the watercraft.

6% sales tax is also collected at the time the watercraft is registered, unless you provide proof that sales tax was already paid, or the sale was to a family member who qualifies for an exemption.

If you purchase a new or used watercraft at a dealership, the dealer usually handles the registration and title requirements and collects the 6 % sales tax.

U.S. Coast Guard documentation is typically issued to watercraft weighing 10,000 pounds or more and is a national form of registration.

Vessels engaged in fishing activities on navigable waters or in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) or those transporting passengers or consumer goods between points in the U.S. and the EEZ must carry a U.S. Coast Guard Certificate of Documentation.

The Certificate of Documentation serves as the watercraft’s proof of ownership, eliminating the need for a title. However, if you own a boat meeting this definition, you will need to register it at a Secretary of State office.

For more information about the Certificate of Documentation, visit the U.S. Coast Guard website.

Place the registration decal about three inches to the right of and in line with the MC numbers. The placement on the port side of the bow will be a mirror image of that on the starboard side.

Snowmobiles (Choose tab below)

Snowmobiles aren’t required to have a title in Michigan. Snowmobiles with out-of-state titles will be registered but won’t be issued a Michigan title.

To register a snowmobile at a Secretary of State office you will need to present your ID and proof of ownership such as one of the following:

  • The previous registration for the snowmobile, with the seller’s signature
  • A bill of sale from the dealer
  • A bill of sale from a private sale that includes the snowmobile:
    - Year and make
    - Vehicle identification number (VIN)
    - Buyer’s name and address
    - Seller's name and address
  • Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin (MCO)
  • Reassigned title or registration, or a bill of sale from dealer or the owner for snowmobiles purchased out of state.

Registrations are valid for three years.

Please note: Registration can’t be transferred for one snowmobile to another.

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Registration is $30.

6% sales tax is also collected at the time the snowmobile is registered, unless you provide proof that sales tax was already paid or the sale was to a family member who qualifies for an exemption.

If you purchase a snowmobile at a dealership, the dealer usually handles the registration and title requirements and collects the 6% sales tax.

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.

Go to Michigan.gov/DNR

Place the decals on front half of the cowl above the footwell on each side of the sled.

Snowmobiles that are at least 26 years old or are owned as a collector’s item may be registered as a historic vehicle for a one-time fee of $50 at a Secretary of State office.

Historic snowmobile registrations don’t expire and can’t be transferred to another sled. Snowmobiles with a historic registration are restricted to occasional use, such as participation in club activities, exhibitions, tours, and parades.

The historic snowmobile registration decal is placed above or below the headlight. If the snowmobile doesn’t have a headlight, the decal is placed on the forward half of the cowl above the footwell.

Mopeds (Choose tab below)

Mopeds aren’t required to have a title in Michigan. Michigan law defines a moped as a vehicle with:

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

To register your moped, visit a Secretary of State office to provide your license or ID and proof of ownership, including one of the following:

  • The previous registration for the moped, with the seller’s signature
  • A bill of sale from the dealer
  • A bill of sale from a private sale that includes the moped:
    - Year and make
    - Vehicle information number (VIN)
    - Buyer’s name and address
    - Seller's name and address
  • Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin (MCO)
  • A surety bond if the moped is less than 10 years old or valued over $2,500
  • A court order

If you purchase a new or used moped at a dealership, the dealer provides you proof of ownership and an itemized bill of sale showing that 6% sales tax was paid. Submit these documents when registering your moped at a Secretary of State office.

Please note: Registration isn’t required if a moped is only operated on private property.

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Registration is $15.

6% sales tax is also collected at the time the moped is registered, unless you provide proof that sales tax was already paid, or the sale was to a family member who qualifies for an exemption.

Place the decal on the rear fender of a two-wheeled moped and the left rear fender of a three-wheeled moped.

Off-road vehicles (Choose tab below)

A title is required to sell an ORV, ATV, or off-road motorcycle (dirt bike/trail bike).

If you purchase a new or used ORV, ATV, or off-road motorcycle at a dealership, the dealer handles the titling requirements.

 

Transferring a title

If you purchase an ORV, ATV, or off-road motorcycle in a private sale, transfer ownership at a Secretary of State office by providing:

  • Your valid license or ID
  • The assigned title with the seller’s portion and signature completed
  • Payment for all title and registration fees

If your title is damaged or lost, you may order a duplicate online through your online Secretary of State account or by mail, if you don’t live in Michigan.

You will need an assembled vehicle title and valid registration to operate your ORV, ATV, or off-road motorcycle on public roads.

To apply for an assembled vehicle title, visit a Secretary of State office and provide:

  • Your valid Michigan driver's license or ID
  • Title
  • Relevant assembly information
  • Vehicle Number/On-Road Equipment Inspection Form completed and signed by a Michigan law enforcement officer

Upon passing a second inspection with the Michigan Department of State, a new vehicle information number (VIN) will be issued for your ORV.

Titling fees and a 6% sales tax will be due on materials used to upgrade the ORV unless sales slips are presented showing the tax was paid.

Assembled vehicle titles

Vehicle Number/On-Road Equipment Inspection Form

  • Title: $11
  • Assembled vehicle title: $15
  • New VIN sticker (assembled vehicles only): $10

6% sales tax is also collected at the time the ORV is titled, unless you provide proof that sales tax was already paid, or the sale was to a family member who qualifies for an exemption.

ORVs, ATVs, and off-road motorcycles used on eligible county, state, and national roads must be registered with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR). An DNR trail permit is required to ride on state-designated trails and scramble areas. ORV licenses and trail permits must be renewed each year:

  • DNR/ORV license: $26.25 per year
  • DNR/trail permit: $36.25 per year

ORV licenses and permit information (DNR)

ORVs, ATVs, and off-road motorcycles that are titled as assembled vehicles for on-road use must be registered with the Michigan Department of State and are required to have the following:

  • A state-issued license plate and valid registration tab
  • Proof of a valid Michigan No-Fault insurance policy for the vehicle

To register your assembled ORV, ATV, or off-road motorcycle, visit a Secretary of State office and provide the following:

  • Your valid driver’s license or ID
  • Assembled vehicle title
  • Payment for title and registration fees

Like standard vehicle registration, you will need to renew your ORV, ATV, or off-road motorcycle registration and plate annually, and must have a valid Michigan No-Fault policy to do so.

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Renew vehicle tab and license plate

Trailers (Choose tab below)

Trailers weighing less than 2,500 pounds don’t require a title.

If you purchased a new or used trailer or recreational trailer from a dealership, the dealer handles the titling procedures, including the collection of the 6% sales tax.

 

Transferring a title

If you purchase a trailer in a private sale, transfer ownership at a Secretary of State office by providing:

  • Your valid driver’s license or ID
  • Trailer title
  • Payment for title and registration fees


If you don’t have at title for the trailer, present one of the following as proof of ownership:

  • Assigned ownership document
  • Bill of sale from the dealer
  • Bill of sale from the seller, including the trailer:
    - Year and make
    - Vehicle identification number (VIN)
    - Buyer’s name and address
    - Seller's name and address
  • Lien termination document showing any loan was paid off

Assembled trailers must have a special assembled title. To apply for an assembled trailer title, visit a Secretary of State office and provide the following:

  • Your valid driver’s license or ID
  • Trailer title
  • Assigned ownership documents (Example: Release of Abandoned Vehicle notice from a police department)
  • Original bills of sale for all parts or components
  • The trailer weight slip
  • Vehicle Number/On-Road Equipment Inspection Form completed and signed by a Michigan law enforcement officer

The running gear of the trailer, (the frame, axle, and wheels), must be accounted for in the ownership documents presented. The box, if any, or the body unit for trailer coaches or camping trailers must also be noted.

6% will be due on materials used to upgrade the trailer unless sales slips are presented showing the tax was paid.

Upon passing a final inspection with the Michigan Department of State, the trailer will be issued a new VIN and may be registered at a Secretary of State office.

Small, non-titled trailers don’t need to go through the assembled vehicle process since these vehicles don’t undergo an inspection like assembled trailers that are 2,500 pounds or more and require titling.

Assembled vehicle titles

Vehicle Number/On-Road Equipment Inspection Form

All trailers and trailer coaches, whether they are manufactured, assembled, or homemade, must be registered if used on public roads.

Trailers are issued a registration and permanent license plate that doesn’t expire. The plate and registration can’t be transferred to another trailer.

To register a trailer, visit a Secretary of State office and provide the following:

  • Your valid Michigan driver’s license or ID
  • The trailer weight or scale weight receipt
  • Proof of ownership, such as:
    - Assigned trailer title with the seller’s portion and signature completed
    - Previous trailer registration with the seller’s signature
    - Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin
    - Dealer's bill of sale
    - Bill of sale from the seller with the trailer:
         - Year and make
         - Vehicle identification number (VIN)
         - Buyer’s name and address
         - Seller's name and address

After your trailer is registered, your permanent trailer registration and license plate will be issued.

Schedule an office visit

Registration fees are set based on the empty weight of the trailer:

  • 0-2,499 lbs: $75
  • 2,500 - 9,999 lbs.: $200
  • 10,000 lbs. and over: $300

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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 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
  • Any ORV, ATV, or off-road motorcycle can be upgraded for legal use on public roads, except for:

    • Four-wheel all-terrain vehicles: Often called “quads”, these are units with handlebars and a seat straddled by the operator.
    • Gray Market off-road “mini trucks”: These can’t be upgraded to meet U.S. EPA emission standards and U.S. DOT safety standards. Examples include the Suzuki Carry, Subaru Sambar, Honda ACTY, Mazda Scrum, and Daihatsu Hijet.
    • Ex-military Humvees and armored personnel carriers
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.


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