Michigan Drivers License: Everything You Need to Know

January 27, 2012

A Michigan drivers license renewal is easy to complete, as long as you have the necessary documentation completed before your current license expires. Whether you have a Michigan operator's license, chauffeur's license or commercial drivers license, this guide will help you get the information necessary to renew. It is important to note that Michigan drivers license renewal online is not possible.

Renew by Mail
Michigan drivers licenses are valid for four years from the date of original issue. After four years, a license may be renewed by mail. The exception is for young drivers, whose Michigan graduated drivers licenses expire on their 21st birthday, after which the four year renewal requirement begins. Renewal by mail is easy. You only have to fill out and sign your renewal paperwork and include payment. Allow three to four weeks to process the renewal before you current license expires.

While a license may be renewed once by mail, you must visit a Secretary of State once every eight years to renew your license in person. You are also required to renew at a branch office if your ability to drive has worsened or if the state cannot verify your Social Security number. At the branch office, you must bring your current drivers license and complete a Michigan drivers license renewal vision test, so remember to bring your eyeglasses or contact lenses if you need them to drive. If your license does not currently show a vision restriction, it may be added to your license at the time of the vision test.

Make Corrections to Your License
If you receive your new license and notice that is a mistake, the Secretary of State can update and reprint your license. If changes to your address are necessary, these may be completed by mail or at any branch office. If there are errors in name or date of birth, these corrections must be made at a branch office. Name changes must be accompanied by legal proof of the change. The name change can be supported by way of a marriage certificate or legal name change document. A fee may be charged to update your Michigan license.

Complete Other Requirements If Your License Expired
If your license expires, you may be required to complete new training mandated by the Secretary of State. Be sure to contact a branch office directly if your license has expired. If the license expires while traveling outside of the state of Michigan, you may obtain a 180-day extension permit for your current license or apply for license renewal via mail.

Pay Necessary Renewal Fees
In order to complete your renewal, you must pay an $18 fee to extend your operator's license for four years. A chauffeur's license carries a $35 renewal fee and a commercial license has a $25 renewal fee. For drivers with an enhanced license, the renewal fee is $38 for personal licenses, $43 for a chauffeur's license and $25 for a commercial license.

How to Get a Michigan Drivers License

Getting a Michigan drivers license requires you to have all of your documentation and paperwork in order before visiting a Secretary of State branch office.

Prepare the Documentation
In order to fill out and submit a drivers license application in person at a Secretary of State branch, you must have documentation that proves your identity and your legal presence in the State of Michigan. The Secretary of State cannot accept faxes or photocopies of documents required to issue a license. All documents must be certified or have a raised seal from the issuing organization. The following documentation is required:

  • Social Security Number. One form of proof is needed. Provide a social security card, W2 or 1099, pay stub with your Social Security, U.S. military ID or letter of ineligibility from Social Security Administration dated in the last thirty days
  • Proof of legal presence. One form of proof is needed. Furnish the Secretary of State office with an original U.S. birth certificate, valid U.S. passport, Permanent Resident Card, Certificate of Citizenship, Certificate of Naturalization, unexpired foreign passport with English translation and an unexpired visa, Refugee Travel Document, Employment Authorization Card or other Department of Labor certification
  • Proof of identity. More than one proof may be required. Out-of-state or Canadian drivers license, U.S. marriage license, U.S. divorce papers, photo ID by a federal or Michigan government agency, valid U.S. military discharge (DD-214) or a tribal ID card or U.S. school records
  • Proof of residency. At least two forms of proof are needed. Utility bill or credit card bill from the last 90 days, account statement from a bank from the last 90 days, high school or university transcripts, mortgage or lease agreement, pay stub showing the Michigan address or an insurance policy issued at the address or Michigan title and registration

Visit a Secretary of State Office
After you ensure that you have the necessary documentation, you must visit a Secretary of State office to complete you drivers license application. As long as you have the necessary documentation, it will take only a few minutes to get your license picture taken and be issued a temporary license. A Michigan drivers license test is not required for most drivers who are currently licensed in another state or province.

If you are applying for a Michigan Enhanced Drivers license, you will also be questioned by Department of State officials. The questions are simply to confirm your identity before the licensed is issued. Remember than an Enhanced Drivers License allows you to cross the Canadian and Mexican borders via land or sea without requiring a passport. After several weeks of waiting, you will receive your permanent Michigan license or Enhanced Drivers License. Contact the branch office that issued your temporary license if the permanent card does not arrive in 30 days.

How to Get Your Michigan Driving Record

Getting a copy of your Michigan driving record is easy. At all Secretary of State branches, your Michigan certified driving record can be issued while you wait. Having a copy of your driving record allows you dispute any incorrect information before it impacts your insurance rates or forces you to attend remedial driving lessons.

  • Complete the BDVR-153 form. The first step is to visit a branch office or the Department of State website to download form BDVR-153. The information required to complete this form includes your name and address, telephone number, drivers license number, date of birth and your reason for requesting the driving record. You may also request other licensing reports such as application history, address history and offense records by completing this form. The form also provides a place to provide credit card information if you prefer to pay via this method

  • Mail or fax documentation to the Department of State. After completing the form, signing and providing payment information, you must return your request the Secretary of State. Form BDVR-153 may be mailed to the following address: Michigan Department of State, Record Lookup Unit, 7064 Crowner Drive, Lansing, MI 48918-1540. If you are paying by credit card, the request may also be faxed to (517) 322-1181
  • Visit a Secretary of State brach office. If you need a driving record immediately, you can request a certified driving record at any Secretary of State branch office. If you visit a branch office, no application form is required; you must only present your drivers license at the service counter. At a branch office you must pay via cash or check. Select PLUS offices and regional SUPER!Centers also accept credit card payments. Visit the Department of State website to find a specialty office that accepts credit card payments. You may have to wait in line while at the office
  • Pay the fees. The lookup of each individual record on a Michigan driving record carries as cost of $7. In order to certify a record, an additional charge of $1 per record will be assessed. All records issued on the spot at Secretary of State branches carry an $8 fee and will be certified
  • Review your driving record. Once you get your Michigan certified driving record, it is important to review it for errors and inconsistencies. Michigan does not participate in uniform traffic violation reporting like other states, so some out of state tickets or convictions may not appear on your driving record. By reviewing your driving record, you can ensure that information on violations, court judgments, crashes and license suspensions is accurate