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Common Questions about Michigan Driver's Licenses

Contents

    This is a list of common questions about Michigan driver's licenses.

    Questions about Michigan Driver's Licenses

    Where can I get my driver’s license?

    You can get your standard Michigan driver’s license at your local Secretary of State office. Use the Secretary of State’s Branch Office Locator to find an office near you.

    How much does it cost to get my driver’s license?

    The fees for getting your standard Michigan driver’s license vary. An original license, costs $25.00. A renewal license costs $18.00. There is a $7.00 late renewal fee if you renew your license after it expired. A duplicate license costs $9.00. It also costs $9.00 if you need to change information on your current license.

    How long does it take to get a driver’s license?

    It depends. If you are over 18 and getting your first driver’s license , you must pass the knowledge test and practice driving with a licensed adult for at least 30 days before you can take the driving skills test. After you pass the driving skills test, you are eligible to get a temporary, paper driver’s license while you wait for your actual driver’s license. It takes two to three weeks for your actual driver’s license to arrive in the mail.

    If you are under 18 and getting your first driver’s license, you must use the Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) system to get your license. Depending on your age and your driving experience, this process could take a few years. Read Getting a Standard Michigan Driver’s License if You Are a Teenager to learn more about the GDL.

    If you are renewing your driver’s license, you can get a temporary, paper driver’s license immediately, after you pay the fee. It takes two to three weeks for your actual driver’s license to arrive in the mail.

    If you have a driver's license from another state that is current or expired less than four years ago, you may be able to get your temporary, paper driver’s license immediately. Check with your local Secretary of State office to learn more.

    I’m a teenager; can I get a driver’s license?

    Maybe. Read Getting a Standard Michigan Driver’s License if You Are a Teenager to learn about getting a driver’s license if you are a teenager.

    How can I find a driver education class?

    Driver education programs are provided by both public school districts and private driving schools. You can find lists of Driver Education Providers, Certified Education Instructors, and Driver Education Classrooms on the Secretary of State (SOS) website.

    What is the Graduated Driver Licensing System?

    If you are under the age of 18, you need to go through the Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) system to get your driver’s license. This system teaches you to drive by slowly increasing your driving privileges. The GDL consists of two segments of driver education and three licensing levels.

    Read Getting a Standard Michigan Driver’s License if You Are a Teenager to learn more about the GDL.

    What is the knowledge test, and do I have to take it?

    The knowledge test determines how well you know Michigan traffic laws and safe driving practices. You must pass the knowledge test and the driving skills test if you:

    • Have an expired foreign driver’s license

    • Have a driver’s license from another state that expired more than four years ago or

    • Are getting a driver’s license for the first time.

    The knowledge test has 40 multiple choice questions, or 30 true or false questions, plus 10 road sign recognition questions. Your test will be graded immediately after you turn it in, and your results will be given to you at that time. All the information you will need for this test is available in the booklet, What Every Driver Must Know. You can review the booklet online and print it out, or you can pick it up at any SOS branch office. There is no fee to take this test.

    If you are 18 years old or older and fall into one of the categories mentioned above, you can take the knowledge test at a Secretary of State (SOS) branch office. If you are younger than 18 years old, read Getting a Standard Michigan Driver’s License if You Are a Teenager to learn more about tests you need to take.

    What is a Temporary Instruction Permit, and do I need one?

    A Temporary Instruction Permit (TIP) lets you practice driving for up to 180 days with a licensed adult who 21 years old or older. After you pass the knowledge test, you will be eligible for a TIP.

    You only need a TIP if you are 18 years old or older and needed to take the knowledge test because you:

    • Have an expired foreign driver’s license,

    • Have a driver’s license from another state that expired more than four years ago, or

    • Are getting your driver’s license for the first time.

    What is the driving skills test, and do I have to take it?

    The driving skills test is made up of two parts - a basic control skills test and an on-road driving test. The first part of the test involves a series of off-street, closed-course exercises. After passing this part, you must pass a road skills test to get your driving skills certificate. The road skills test includes urban, expressway, rural highway, and residential driving.

    All drivers who are getting their licenses for the first time, have expired foreign driver’s licenses or driver’s licenses from another state that expired more than four years ago, must take the driving skills test.

    The driving skills test may be waived if your driver's license from another state is current or expired less than four years ago.

    What if I misplaced my driver’s license?

    You can request a replacement driver’s license by going to your local Secretary of State office.

    What documents do I need to get a driver’s license?

    You will need to prove the following four factors to get your driver’s license:

    • Your identity

    • That you are a U.S. citizen or that you have legal immigration status

    • That you live in Michigan

    • That you have a social security number or that you are ineligible for one

    You can prove the four factors with different documents, but some documents could be used to prove multiple factors. The SOS accepts only original documents. Faxed and photocopied documents will not be accepted. All documents are subject to the approval of SOS managers. Certain types of documents may take more than one day to be approved.

    The most common documents used include:

    • U.S. issued passports

    • Driver’s licenses/ ID’s from Michigan or other states

    • U.S. birth certificates

    • Social security cards

    • Multiple utility bills

    Things like yearbooks, medical records, and tax forms might be acceptable alternatives. For a list of the Secretary of State’s “preferred documents,” visit the SOS Document List.

    What if I don’t have all the documents needed to get a driver’s license?

    If you don't have the exact kinds of proof that are listed as preferred documents, you can ask your local office to request an exception from the Central Office in Lansing. Take any documents you have with you when you ask for an exception, including your Record of Effort. It will likely take the Central Office one or two weeks to make a decision.

    If you are requesting an exception because you do not have all the documents you need, you will need to show that you tried to get them. You can use the Record of Effort to show the SOS office what you have done to try to get the papers you need. It can also be used to show that someone else has tried to help you get the papers. This is very important in case you have a problem getting all the papers that you need.