How to register a car in Michigan


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Written by
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UPDATED: 2020-04-22T19:02:40.834Z
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A scenic road in Michigan.

Regardless of where you purchase your car, whether from an individual, car dealership, or family member, or if you move to Michigan from another state, you must register and title your car.

Michigan car registration for a newly purchased vehicle must be done within 15 days of purchase, and for those who are moving to Michigan, you must change title immediately upon becoming a resident — there is no grace period.

Here’s what you need to know about how to register a car in Michigan.

Why do I need to register my car in Michigan?

Michigan law requires all drivers to register and title their car. This ensures that the state has a legal record of who owns the vehicle and where the owner lives. Establishing ownership is important for a number of reasons, including accurate driver’s and tax records.

What will I need to bring with me to register a car in Michigan?

In order to register a car in Michigan, you’ll need to have certain documentation. If you’ve just moved to Michigan and need to register your out-of-state car, you’ll need to change your out-of-state title. If you’re a Michigan resident who has just purchased a vehicle, you’ll need to have the title registered in your name.

You will need to bring the following items with you to register a car in Michigan:

  • The vehicle’s title
  • Your identification
  • The odometer reading and Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
  • Method of payment for the use tax and title transfer fee
  • Proof of valid Michigan no-fault car insurance coverage

If you have purchased your vehicle from a dealership, the dealer will handle the paperwork, collect the taxes and fees, and will provide you with copies of all of the documentation you’ll need to retain. The dealership is required to provide you with copies of the application for Michigan title, any written warranties or service plans purchased, an odometer statement (if the vehicle is new) or the “Buyer’s Guide” sticker (if used), plates and Michigan car registration, and, if leased, a copy of the lease contract agreement.

If you have purchased a used vehicle, the dealership is required to present the prior owner’s title for inspection. Examine it closely; if the title is orange, the vehicle was issued a salvage title.

The dealership will then file the title application within the 15-day window allowed by law.

What if I’m purchasing the car from a family member, do I still need to go through the Michigan car registration process?

Yes, absolutely. Remember, the point of registering a car is to make certain that there is an accurate record of who the legal owner of the vehicle is, so even if a generous family member is giving you a car, you’ll still need to go to a Secretary of State office to ensure title is transferred correctly.

Michigan car insurance requirements to register a car

As noted above, you’ll need proof of Michigan no-fault car insurance coverage. No-fault insurance is required by law in Michigan and it means that every individual who owns a vehicle must have certain forms of insurance coverage to register a vehicle. So, what is no-fault insurance?

There are three types of minimum coverage included in no-fault insurance. First, there is personal injury protection (PIP). This part of your insurance coverage will pay for medical expenses if you are hurt in an accident. Second, there is property protection insurance (PPI). This pays for any damage to personal property that you might cause in an accident, such as hitting and damaging a fence. Third, there is residual liability insurance. This coverage protects you from being sued because of an auto accident except under certain circumstances, such as causing an accident in which someone is seriously injured or killed.

Below are Michigan’s minimum liability insurance limits:

  • Bodily injury liability — $20,000 per person, $40,000 per accident
  • Property damage liability — $10,000 per accident in another state

While these are the minimum limits required to legally drive in Michigan, it’s often recommended to purchase higher limits and additional coverage. If you want to protect your car further, such as coverage for damage caused by an accident or theft, you would need to add collision coverage and/or comprehensive coverage.

To learn more about what consumers in Michigan are saying about their insurance coverage, check out our website and see which are rated best in Michigan..

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