Now renew license plates online through birthday

New policy aimed at reducing lines, need for last-minute visits

In a major step toward reducing wait times for customers, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson announced today that Michigan motorists can now renew vehicle license plate registrations online right up through their birthday, eliminating the need to make a last-minute trip to a branch office.

Previously, vehicle owners were advised not to renew online with less than two weeks to go before their birthday. This allowed time for the customers' registration and license plate tabs to arrive in the mail by the time the old ones expired.

In many cases, by the time customers remembered to renew and went online, it was too late and required them to make a last-minute trip to a branch office to obtain their new tabs and registration.

As a result of the new policy Johnson has implemented, vehicle owners can conveniently renew online at up through the last minute of their birthday. Upon completion of the transaction, they will be able to print off a temporary registration document to keep in their vehicle as proof until they receive their tabs and registration in the mail, usually within 7 to 10 days.

''This change should be a major step to improving our wait times at the branch offices,'' Johnson said. ''We understand that life is busy and renewing vehicle registrations is often a last-minute task. Now you can do it from home instead of at our office. So please: renew online, save the time and go do something more enjoyable on your birthday!''

Of the 9 million vehicle registration transactions processed each year in Michigan, approximately 75 percent -- more than 6.5 million transactions -- are still handled in branch offices. Moving hundreds of thousands of these transactions online and out of the branch offices will help speed service for those customers who do need to visit, Johnson added.

''In some of our busiest offices, we have wait times of up to two to three hours -- that is unacceptable,'' said Johnson, who has served as Secretary of State since January. ''Given budget and staff level constraints, we have to come up with creative ways to reduce customer wait times. Putting more services on line will be critical to doing that.''

Because of current constraints in the state's computer system, customers renewing multiple license plate registrations MUST print or save each registration individually before beginning their next transaction.

Law enforcement agencies in Michigan have been notified of the new policy and the use of temporary registration documents. It is critical that motorists carry their temporary registrations with them as proof of their transactions, Johnson said.

For more information about online options and other Secretary of State services, visit the website above and sign up for the official SOS Twitter feed,, and Facebook updates,

Customers also may call the Department of State Information Center to speak to a customer-service representative at (888) SOS-MICH (767-6424).

Copyright © 2011 State of Michigan

Published: Mon, Aug 22, 2011