How to Renew a Michigan Driver’s License

Posted by in Auto | Updated on August 14, 2023
At a Glance: To renew a Michigan driver’s license, you have several options. If you meet certain criteria, such as upgrading to a REAL ID or not having renewed in person for four years, you must renew in person. Visit your local Secretary of State branch, bring necessary documents, complete the renewal form, and pay the fees. Renewal by mail is possible if eligible, and online renewal is available for U.S. citizens who previously renewed in person. There is no phone renewal option. Renewal must be done every four years, and there is no grace period for expiration. The renewal fee is $18, with an additional late renewal fee of $7 if renewed after expiration.

Procuring or renewing government documents can be a huge hassle for many Americans, even though it’s an important part of life.

That said, renewing your Michigan driver’s license doesn’t have to be a pain! In this article, we’ll outline all the steps needed for you to renew your license in Michigan as efficiently as possible.

How to Renew a Michigan Driver’s License

If you’re a driver in Michigan, you get several options for renewing your license. Although you can use any method that is most convenient for you, you can’t get away from renewing in person at least every few years. In fact, you can only skip renewing in person if you already renewed in person last time.

Here are the situations that would require you to renew in person:

  • You’re upgrading to a REAL ID or renewing yours
  • You haven’t renewed in person in four years ago
  • You don’t have a Social Security Number on your file
  • You’ve requested a duplicate license in the last month
  • You’ve requested a change of address in the last 10 days
  • You have a new health issue that may affect your driving ability

If these don’t apply to you, feel free to choose another method that you wish. If you’re an immigrant without a social security number, check out our guide to getting a driver’s license without an SSN.

How to Renew a Michigan Driver’s License in Person

Renewing in person may be the most time-consuming method, but it’s actually pretty straightforward:

  1. Visit the local branch office of your Secretary of State (SOS)
  2. Bring all the necessary documents
  3. Bring your Real ID, if trying to renew or upgrade your Real ID
  4. Complete the renewal form and check it for accuracy
  5. Retake the written and driving exams (if your license expired 4 or more years ago)
  6. Take the required vision test
  7. Ray the required fees (cash, card, check, or money order)

If your location doesn’t print on-site, you’ll get a temporary paper license that you can use in the meantime. Your actual driver’s license will only arrive at your chosen address in about three weeks’ time.

How to Renew a Michigan Driver’s License Online

Only U.S. citizens, who have previously renewed their Michigan driver’s license in person, are qualified to renew online. Online renewal is currently not available to drivers with visas. If you’re in the U.S. on an H4 visa, check out our guide to renewing your H4 visa driver’s license.

Additionally, if your driver’s license is already expiring soon, you may receive a renewal notice that will include all the renewal methods that you’re qualified for. If this sounds like you, here are the steps:

  1. Go to the Michigan Department of State website
  2. Choose “Log in to renew Michigan driver’s license or ID” under “Driver’s Licenses and ID”
  3. Log in using your User ID and password or
  4. Create an account
  5. Provide proof of identity (SSN, driver’s license number, date of birth, and eye color)
  6. Complete the next steps as indicated on the page
  7. Pay the fees using your valid debit or credit card

You have to wait for around three weeks to get your driver’s license. If your license has already expired, don’t drive during this time, or else you’ll get into legal trouble.

How to Renew a Michigan Driver’s License by Mail

A renewal notice typically arrives around a month and a half (45 days) before your license expires. If it says that you’re eligible to renew by mail, you can do this method.

However, keep in mind that if you’ve changed your personal details, such as your name, you have to disregard what the notice says and still renew in person. Here are the steps to renew your Michigan driver’s license by mail:

  1. Fill out the form sent to you in your renewal notice and sign it
  2. If your address has already changed, update it
  3. Pay the required fees via check or money order
  4. Mail back the notice before your license expires

Until your new license arrives, don’t drive. Again, it’s illegal to drive if you don’t have a license, even if you’ve already sent in your renewal documents.

How to Renew a Michigan Driver’s License by Phone

As of this writing, Michigan doesn’t allow renewing your driver’s license by phone. This is unlike renewing a California driver’s license, which can be done over the phone.

When Do I Need to Renew My Michigan Driver’s License?

You need to renew your Michigan driver’s license every four years. You can renew starting 12 months before the expiration. You’ll also receive a renewal 1.5 months before your license expires as a courtesy.

That said, if you’re under 21 years old, your license will expire on your 21st birthday. Be sure to renew beforehand so that you won’t have to stay off the road for weeks.

Michigan Driver’s License Renewal FAQ

In this section, you’ll find some of the most frequently asked questions about your Michigan driver’s license renewal.

What is the Driver’s License Renewal Grace Period in Michigan?

Unfortunately, there’s no grace period for driver’s license renewal in Michigan. Once your driver’s license reaches its expiration date, it becomes invalid and you can face legal troubles if you’re caught driving with it.

For the first offense, you can be asked to pay up to $500 in fines and even be ordered to spend up to 93 days in jail. Each time you’re caught, this amount just gets bigger and bigger. To avoid this, be sure to renew your license way before the expiration date.

Can I Renew a Suspended License?

You won’t be able to renew your Michigan driver’s license if it’s suspended or revoked. Additionally, you also won’t be allowed to renew if you have at least three unpaid parking tickets.

What Are the Driver’s License Renewal Fees in Michigan?

It will cost you $18 to renew your driver’s license. If you renew your license after it expires, you also have to pay the $7 late renewal fee.

Read More

Renewing Your Michigan Driver’s License: Conclusion

Renewing your Michigan driver’s license doesn’t have to be a big hassle for you. That said, Michigan is pretty strict with its renewal process and doesn’t have grace periods for renewals. Luckily, by following these steps, you can renew your driver’s license in Michigan quickly and easily.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.