How to Get Personalized or Vanity License Plates in Michigan

Michigan personalized plate
Photo © Joanna Poe (CC BY-SA 2.0)

If bumper stickers aren't your style, you can express yourself via your license plate. While once the province of the rich, you can now get personalized or vanity license plates in Michigan for a modest additional fee. That being said, a personalized plate requires a modicum of creativity as you play with letters, numbers, and spaces to express yourself in six-to-seven characters without causing a lot of head-scratching confusion. Of course, inspiring laughter is just fine. Check out this list of Top 100 Rated Vanity License Plates, including NOT OJ and DUMBLND  from Michigan.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: The plates are mailed within 21 days following application.

Here's How

  1. Choose the type of license plate you want.

    Aside from your choice of design, the type of plate you choose affects the number of characters you'll have to express yourself. It also affects the amount of fee you'll pay.
      • The Standard Plate has seven (7) characters and includes three choices: Spectacular Peninsulas, Mackinac Bridge and Pure Michigan. In addition to paying for the plate itself, you will also pay a $30 service fee. The fee is prorated if you apply for the plates midway through a registration term ($8 for the first month, $2 for each month thereafter). The Spectacular Peninsulas Plate requires an additional $5 fee. The renewal fee each year is currently $15.
  2. A Veteran or Military Service Plate has six (6) characters and requires a $30 service fee plus an additional $5. Choices include Spectacular Peninsulas (requiring an additional $5 fee) and Pure Michigan.
  3. A University Plate has six (6) characters and requires a $30 service fee plus an additional $35. There are 15 universities from which to choose. The renewal fee is $25 a year, $10 of which is a donation.
  4. Special Cause Fundraising Plates have six (6) characters and require a $30 service fee plus an addition $35. The renewal fee is $25 a year, $10 of which is a donation. There are 12 special causes from which to choose, including Breast Cancer Awareness, the Boy Scouts, and Proud To Be American. 
  5. Note: Personalized or vanity license plates are not available for trailers or trailer coaches. Veteran, Military Service, University and Special Cause Fundraising plates are not available for motorcycles or commercial vehicles.
  6. Get Creative.

    You can use letters, numbers, and spaces but no symbols or offensive language. The plate has to be approved by the Department of State.
  7. Check to see if your choice is available.

    The State of Michigan website allows you to check for availability before application.
  8. Apply for a personalized plate.

    While you can check for availability online, your application must be made at a Secretary of State branch office.
  9. Pay the appropriate fee.

    Personalized plates require fees in addition to your yearly registration fee:
      • $8 first month, $2 a month thereafter
  10. + $5 for Spectacular Peninsula Plate
  11. + $5 for Veteran or Military Service Plate
  12. + $35 for University or Special Cause Fundraising Plate
  13. + $15 second plate
    1. Note: Michigan only requires a plate on the rear of the vehicle.
  14. Renewal: There is a $15 renewal fee in subsequent years (plus a $10 university or special cause donation).
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