Applying for Car Registration in Michigan
Applying for a Michigan vehicle registration is one of the first steps you must take after purchasing, acquiring or inheriting a new or used automobile. However, the specific application process varies depending on whether you acquired the vehicle from a dealership, private seller or family member.
When you purchase a vehicle from a licensed car dealership, the dealer will submit your application materials directly to the Michigan Secretary of State (SOS), eliminating the need for you to register the car on your own.
Note: Keep in mind that if your car is already registered but you have lost your registration, you must apply for a replacement car registration instead of re-registering your car.
Since your DMV registration receipt displays important information like your vehicle’s license plate number and the name of the vehicle’s owner, you must keep this credential on you whenever you operate the vehicle on public roads and highways.
To learn more about how to obtain new car registration credentials and to explore the steps you must take to begin the SOS application process, review the sections below.
Getting Michigan DMV Car Registration Credentials
To obtain MI vehicle registration records after purchasing or acquiring an automobile from a private seller, you must visit a local SOS office to complete the application process within 15 days from the date of purchase.
During your visit, you must present evidence of vehicle ownership (such as the automobile’s reassigned certificate of title), a photo ID and proof of a valid insurance policy. In some cases, an Appointment of Agent may also be necessary.
As part of the auto registration application process, you may choose to transfer your existing license plates to the newly acquired vehicle before leaving the SOS office. Otherwise, you must purchase license plates for your newly purchased vehicle. Different types of license plates are available for purchase, including personalized or special organization plates.
In addition to the standard vehicle registration fees that you must pay when registering a newly acquired automobile in Michigan, you will need to pay a penalty fee if you do not apply for new registration credentials within 15 days of purchasing the car, truck, minivan or SUV.
To reduce your risk of incurring any penalty fees after purchasing or acquiring a vehicle, it is important to visit a local SOS branch to complete the registration process as soon as possible.
Get more information on applying for a new registration in our car registration guide.
Where can I apply for Michigan car registration near me?
To apply for DMV vehicle registration credentials after acquiring an automobile, you must visit one of the more than 130 local SOS offices in Michigan to complete the application process in person.
Depending on the county where you live, you may be able to schedule an appointment online before heading in. In some counties, you can even reserve your place in line before visiting a local SOS branch.
If possible, it is best to visit the SOS office with the car’s seller, as this will help to expedite the process if you need to provide any additional information when registering the newly purchased vehicle.
If the seller cannot accompany you to the SOS office, make sure that he or she accurately reassigns the vehicle’s title to you and provides a written signature.
Note: Keep in mind that the process for reassigning ownership of your vehicle is not the same as the process to change the name on a car registration.
After you pay car registration fees and complete the application process, an SOS agent will provide you with several important documents as proof of your vehicle’s valid registration period. These documents include a registration card, license plate (if applicable) and a sticker (or tab) for your license plate.
Once you receive your SOS registration tab, you must attach it to your vehicle’s license plate. If you lose or damage your tab at any time, you must purchase a replacement as soon as possible.
For more information on applying for a car registration, download our free guide.