- A. Who Can Apply for a Michigan Driver’s License
- B. Do I Need a State of Michigan Personal Identification Card?
- C. Do I Need a Social Security Number to Apply for a Michigan Driver’s License or Personal Identification Card?
- D. What is the Application Process?
- E. Can I drive in Michigan with a Non-U.S. Driver’s License?
- F. Can I drive in Michigan with an International Driving Permit?
- G. Where are the nearest Secretary of State offices to the U-M Ann Arbor campus?
You do not have to be a U.S. citizen to obtain a Michigan driver’s license, but you must be “legally present” (i.e. have a valid visa, employment authorization, or lawful permanent residence) and have proof of your Michigan residence (home address). Residency must be validated with at least two documents which could include a bank statement, your lease or mortgage agreement, a utility bill, or a payment statement – these documents must show your name and Michigan address.
If you do not need a driver's license but do need extra identification, you can get a State of Michigan Personal Identification card at a Michigan Secretary of State office for $10. The identification requirements are the same as the identification requirements for a driver's license as described above. However, the Secretary of State office will not issue you an ID card if you have a Michigan driver's license or a driver's license from another state.
C. Do I Need a Social Security Number to Apply for a Michigan Driver’s License or Personal Identification Card?
No. In order to apply for a Michigan Driver’s License or Personal Identification Card you will need to provide evidence that you have a valid social security number OR proof that you are not eligible for a social security number by providing a Letter of Ineligibility from the Social Security Office (This is called the Form SSA L-676).
If you have questions about whether or not you are eligible for a Social Security number, please read Determining Eligibility for a Social Security Number and Card. You can either visit the Ann Arbor Social Security Office in person OR you can fill out Form SS-5 and write “Letter of Ineligibility” at the top of the form. Mail the form to: Social Security Administration, 3971 Research Park Drive Suite A, Ann Arbor, MI 48108. No additional documents are required; just the form. The Ann Arbor Social Security Office will mail your Letter of Ineligibility to you in approximately three weeks. You are required to have the Letter of Ineligibility in order to take the driver's license written test. When you receive the letter, look for form number SSA L-676 in the bottom right hand corner to verify. The Letter of Ineligibility is valid for 60 days.If you are not in Ann Arbor, you can ask your local Social Security Administration office how to apply for a Letter of Ineligibility.
Before you apply for a driver’s license, please remember to wait about 10 days from your most recent entry into the U.S. This waiting period allows for U.S. government databases to update with your arrival information. If you attempt to apply for a driver’s license too soon, your application is likely to be delayed or denied.
Step 1: Begin by studying the Michigan Department of State manual What Every Driver Must Know.
Step 2: Gather the following documents:
1a. Evidence that you have a valid Social Security number. See Column 1, Your Social Security number or letter of ineligibility for a list of documents you can use to demonstrate you have a valid Social Security number.
1b. If you are not eligible for a social security number (see Determining Eligibility for a Social Security Number and Card), you can request a "letter of ineligibility" from the Ann Arbor Social Security Office. See above (C) for more information regarding this process.
2. Your Passport
3. Form I-94
4. Proof of Michigan residency: Two documents showing your Michigan address are required. See Column 4, Proof of Michigan residency list for acceptable documents. Students can use an unofficial transcript printed by the Office of the Registrar as one of the two documents.
5. I-20, DS-2019, or I-797 (H-1B employees)
6. Permit Fee: $25.00 that must be paid with cash, check or money order.
Step 3: Pre-apply for your license or ID online.
This step is optional but recommended. The online Pre-application allows you to create an account with the Secretary of State office and confirm that you have the necessary documents. You do not need to submit documents online - they will be reviewed when you go to the office in person. Go to Online Services and click on “Pre-Apply for a Michigan Driver’s License or ID”.
Step 4: Visit a Secretary of State office
Schedule an Office Visit. Here you will present all required documents and take the driver knowledge written exam during your visit if you are 18 or older and applying for a first-time license. You’ll also complete a vision exam and have your license photo taken.
Please Note: New international students and students extending their I-20/DS-2019 should plan to wait several days after their SEVIS record has been activated/extended before visiting the Secretary of State Office to allow for processing and verification time with the USCIS SAVE system. If the Secretary of State Office says that additional SAVE verification is needed, be sure to obtain a SAVE case number to track the progress of your verification.
Step 5: The Road Test
a. Practice Period: After you pass the driver knowledge exam and receive a temporary instruction permit, you are required to wait for a 30-day practice period before taking the road test.
If you have in your possession a valid Driver's License from your home country that is translated into English, the 30-day practice period will be waived. The license must be translated into English by a translation service unless the parts of the license that list the name, date of birth, country of issue, issue date, type of license and expiration date are already in English. The Michigan Secretary of State’s Translators Resource List includes several translation services in Ann Arbor.
b. Prepare for the Road Test: Practice by studying the Road Skills Test Study Guide.
c. Register for the Road Test: Choose a company authorized to give the road skills test. Go to the Michigan Department of State online services page and look for Driver Testing Business Locations. Ann Arbor is in Washtenaw County. These are private companies and may charge different fees. It’s recommended to call several companies to compare fees.
d. Take the Road Test: You must have a passport and a valid registration for the vehicle to be used in the road test, along with proof of its insurance. The vehicle must be in good mechanical condition.
Drivers from established treaty countries are allowed to legally drive in Michigan on a foreign driver’s license if the license is printed in English or accompanied with an English translation.
- If you have a valid Driver’s License from your home country, verify if your license qualifies under the Foreign Driver’s License Treaty Countries.
Drivers from non-treaty countries are allowed to legally drive in Michigan on a foreign driver’s license if:
- The driver’s license is printed in English or accompanied with an English translation, AND
- The driver can show proof of legal presence.
Due to reciprocity agreements with the state of Michigan, drivers with valid driver’s licenses from South Korea, Canada, and Germany can apply for a Michigan driver’s license at the Secretary of State office with the required documents without having to complete the written exam or the road test. A vision test will still be required.
A Michigan driver’s license is recommended if you plan to be driving in the U.S. for more than one semester or if you will purchase a car while living in Michigan; however, there is no designated time frame required by the Secretary of State Office for when a Michigan Driver’s License must be obtained.
You can drive legally in the U.S. using a driver's license from your home country and an International Driver's Permit (IDP). The IDP serves as a translation of your driver’s license from your home country. They must be presented together.
You must obtain the IDP in your home country before you arrive in the United States. The United States does not issue IDPs to nonresidents.
Secretary of State Office in Maple Village
295 North Maple Rd
Ann Arbor, MI 48103
Secretary of State Office in Glencoe Crossing
4675 Washtenaw Ave
Ann Arbor, MI 48108