Over the years Michigan license plates looks have gradually changed. Orange, green, and olive came to substitute traditional blue and white colors of license plates.
“Water Wonderland” was the first slogan of Michigan license plates displayed in 1954. Then, “Water-Winter Wonderland” came to replace it. Simultaneously to slogan change material to produce the license plate also changed. Galvanized steel was the material helping Michigan license plates to survive harsh winters.
For making your license plate lookup easier we gathered here some basic things you need to know before ordering it.
Michigan manufactures almost 2 million plates yearly. Fees collected from license plates registration are for road construction and maintenance.
Currently, the Michigan Department of State is responsible for issuing Michigan license plates. The Secretary of State (SOS) administrates the department.
Moreover, Michigan is one of 19 states not requiring front license plates. Since 1981 Michigan has required citizens to display only rear plates on their vehicles.
Registration tabs should be placed on the upper right-hand corner of your license plate. The only exception is a motorcycle. In terms of motorcycle put it in the lower right-hand corner.
The renewal of Michigan license plates is annual.
The character limit is 7 for Michigan license plates. However, you should be careful because there may be cases when the character limit is 6. The character limit will depend on the license plate type.
In order to obtain vehicle registration and license plate, you should first visit one of the local SOS offices. After, you should submit the required documents.
Finally, you receive a license plate, registration, and title.
State law establishes license plate fees. Michigan has its own way to calculate license plates fees. When a customer applies for a license plate the dealer is responsible for calculating the plate fee and record it. CARS e-Services minimize license plate fee errors.
Michigan license plates fees vary also depending on various factors. For example, fees may vary according to vehicle model, year, type. Furthermore, fees differ according to the tag history. Tag history shows whether your car had another owner or you are the first one.
All these factors have their influence on license plate fees. However, the core factor is the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP).
The fee is calculated using a percentage of the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price. This fee is the base price for the license plate. It does not include any taxes and options.
Annual renewal price fee decreases by 10% each year. But it only applies to the first 3 years of annual renewal. After, the fee remains the same.
They have another system to calculate plate fees. In this case weight of the vehicle is the decision-making factor.
You can also find Base Prices and Plate Fee Charts on the SOS website. It will give you more detailed information about the fees.
Anyway, if you still face some difficulties in calculation the fees you can ask for assistance. You should call the Department of State Information Center. The number is 1-888-767-6424.
It is a requirement in Michigan to renew your license plates annually. Usually, the license plates expire on the day of the birthday of the vehicle’s owner. Typically, you will receive a renewal reminder mail. It is to remind you to renew your license plates 45 days before the registration expires. The renewal is also possible 6 months before the expiration of the registration plate.
There are 4 options for you to choose from for renewing your registration plates.
You can use this method only if your insurance provider participates in Electronic Insurance Verification (EIV).
You will need to provide the vehicle number. There is also a need to have a credit card or debit card to make payments.
You should look through the renewal notice mailed to you by the Secretary of State. After, you should follow the steps described in the notice.
You must provide proof of Michigan no-fault insurance if you want to renew your license plate at SOS offices. Branch Offices Locator will help you to find your nearest locations.
Self-service station renewal like online also requires your insurance provider participation in Electronic Insurance Verification (EIV).
There are also some documents you need to provide. You should provide the vehicle number and vehicle identification number. For paying fees you will need a credit or debit card.
You are eligible to replace your license plates in Michigan. You will need this service if you accidentally lost, damaged or someone stole your license plate. The Secretary of State office is responsible for giving replacement license plates.
The following documents are needed to replace your license plate:
The fee for the replacement plate and tag is $5.
It’s not always possible to transfer your license plate to another vehicle. However, it will be available for most cases.
You may use the SOS office to transfer your license plate. There is another option as well. If you bought the vehicle from Michigan licensed dealerships it can transfer the plate instead of you.
You will need to provide the following documents to transfer your license plate:
The fee for transferring the plate is $10.
Michigan is not one of the states requiring to return license plates. If you no longer need your license plate simply destroy it before disposal. It is done to prevent the misuse of the license plate. But if you don’t want to do it on your own there is another option as well. Recycling may also be an alternative option to surrender your license plate. Try to contact your local recycler for getting more information.
Michigan offers different types of Michigan license plates. There is a specialty license plate with its subtypes, historical license plate, collector license plate, and temporary license plate available in Michigan.
Michigan has different types of specialty license plates you can choose from. Personalized plates, historical plates, collector license plates are the specialty license plate types in Michigan.
Let’s talk about each type of specialty license plate one by one.
The personalized license plate has its types.
There are 4 standard plates offered by Michigan.
Veteran/military service plates are available with the standard plate background.
Fundraising license plates are for Michigan’s 15 state-supported universities. There may also be some special causes. For instance, Agricultural Heritage, Olympic Education, and Water Quality can be considered as specialty causes plates.
The fee for a personalized license plate is $30 in addition to the regular license plate fee.
The state may reject issuing specific vanity plates for various reasons, check out our Michigan banned license plates page for more details.
Michigan has been issuing historical license plates since 1956. Historical license plates are issued to the antique vehicles.
There is something interesting about historical license plates. Owners of antique vehicles with historical license plates can’t drive them for routine transportation. Yet there is an exception as well. The law allows driving antique cars with historical license plates for any reason and any time in August.
To obtain a historical license plate your vehicle should be:
The fee for a historical license plate is $30 and valid for 10 years.
Michigan gives a chance to obtain collector license plates. But they are not considered vehicle registration plates.
Some of the examples of collector license plates are university fundraising plates, non-profit organization plates, and so on.
Michigan offers temporary license plates. It is for those who are not using their vehicles regularly. In this case, residents may order a 30-day or 60-day temporary permit.
The fee for each permit is a portion of the vehicle’s annual registration fee. The 30-day permit costs $20. While the cost for the 60-day permit will be $30.