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Apply for a Michigan Driver’s License
International students and scholars and their dependent family members who will be in Michigan for a semester or more are considered Michigan residents and are therefore eligible to apply for a Michigan Driver’s License or Identification Card. All Michigan residents must obtain a driver’s license as soon as possible after arrival in order to legally drive. There is no grace period during which you may use your home country license to drive.
Short-term visitors who will be in Michigan for less than one semester are not considered to be Michigan residents and are therefore not eligible for a Michigan Driver ’s License or Identification Card. However, you are eligible to drive in Michigan with your home country’s driver’s license and a certified English translation as long as your country appears on the “International Drivers’ Licenses and Reciprocity Update.” The International Driving Permit by itself does not grant permission to drive in Michigan; however the combination of the home country’s driver’s license and the International Driving Permit does indeed grant permission to drive in Michigan for your short-term visit.
- Visit the Secretary of State Branch Office to present your identification from the List of Required Documents. Follow instructions given by the branch office personnel.
- Study for tests on written knowledge and road signs by reviewing the “What Every Driver Must Know” handbook.
- Take tests for written knowledge, road signs and vision at the branch office. The vision test is a simple test to ensure that your visual abilities are adequate for driving. If you wear glasses or corrective lenses you should wear them to the branch office. You will also pay the $25 license fee.
- Practice for then schedule to take the driving skills test. You can prepare for your driving skills test by reviewing the “Driving Skills Test Study Guide”, which is available at the branch office or online.
- Ordinarily you would receive a temporary driver’s license after passing the tests in Step Two and would be required to wait 30 days before taking the driving skills test. During those 30 days you would not be able to drive without a licensed driver above the age of 18 in the passenger seat. However, if you can provide your home country’s license with a certified English translation, you can be exempted from this 30-day waiting period and will be allowed to take the driving skills test immediately after passing the tests in Step Two.
- Your driving test must be conducted by an organization appearing on the list found here. Some of the listed organizations will allow you to rent a car to use for your driving skills test (no car is provided to you for the test).
- Return to the branch office to finalize your license application by bringing proof of your legal residence (same documents you provided in step one above), your Temporary Instruction Permit, and your Skills Test Certificate back to the branch office. You will receive a temporary valid driver’s license to use until your actual license arrives in the mail.
Renewing your Driver’s License
Approximately 45 days prior to the expiration of your license, a renewal notice will be mailed to the address on your license. If the renewal notice says that you are eligible to renew your license by mail, you may do so if you wish, but you are not required to do so. If you wish to renew by mail, simply follow the instructions on the notice. If you do not wish to renew by mail, if your notice says that you are not eligible to renew by mail, or if you do not receive a notice, then you should renew your license in person at the local branch office. When you apply for your renewal, you will pay the $18 renewal fee, be asked a few general health questions, and be given a vision screening test. You may also be asked to provide the following documents:
Proof of Social Security (one of the following):
- Social Security card
- Social Security Number Verification letter (NUMI)
- Pay stub showing SSN
- W-2 form showing SSN
- If no SSN, letter of ineligibility (Form SSA L-676)
Proof of legal presence (all of the following):
- Visa stamp
- I-94 card
- I-20 or DS-2019