Obtaining a Michigan Driver's License

  • Step One: Study "What Every Driver Must Know".

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    You can obtain a copy at the OISS or online.

  • Step Two: Present required documents at Secretary of State (SOS)

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    The nearest office is at 4675 Washtenaw, Ypsilanti MI 48197

    • Social Security Number, or "Letter of Ineligibility". See Applying for a Social Security Number for more information on SSN eligibility and Letter of Ineligibility requests.
    • Valid, unexpired foreign passport and U.S. visa
    • Stamped I-94
    • I-20 or DS-2019
    • Two official documents showing proof of Michigan residency (examples include utility bill, credit card bill or bank statement issued within last 90 days, lease or rental agreement, insurance policy, pay stub from Michigan employer). Your name and address must be listed on the documents.
  • Step Three: Knowledge, Road Signs and Vision Tests

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    Pass vision test, knowledge test and road signs test given at the SOS. You can obtain a copy of the study guide for knowledge and road signs test at the OISS or online.

    Pay $25 for Temporary Instruction Permit (called TIP permit). You can pay with cash, check, money order, MasterCard or Discovery. A permit is required to take driving skills test (step five).

  • Step Four: Practice

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    After you pass the written test and receive a TIP, you are required to wait for a 30-day period before taking the road test; this period is to allow you to practice driving before taking the driving skills test. Note that your TIP is only valid for 180 days.


    If you have in your possession a driver's license from your country, the 30-day practice period will be waived. Your 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 in English. The Michigan Secretary of State's Translators Resource List [PDF] includes several translation services in Ann Arbor. If you have a valid license and translation, you do not need to wait 30 days to take the driving skills test.

  • Step Five: Driving Skills Test

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    Choose a company authorized to give the road skills test from the Michigan Department of State Driving Skills Testing Organizations, Washtenaw County. We suggest you contact several companies to compare fees as prices may vary between companies.

    You must also 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. The driving skills test has two parts:

    1. Basic control skills
    2. On-the-road driving requirements
  • Step Six: Take skills test certificate, TIP and identification to SOS for license issuance

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    In February 2013, Michigan began issuing limited licenses and state I.D. cards. Licenses and state I.D. cards may expire on the same date as the program end date on your I-20 or DS-2019. Students who are on grace period and have not applied or OPT or Change of Status cannot renew their license or state I.D. Students that have a Change of Status or OPT Receipt Notice (I-797) can bring the Receipt Notice in addition to the other required documents for renewal. 

State of Michigan Personal Identification Card

If you do not need a driver's license, but would like a Michigan Personal Identification card, you can apply at any SOS office. There is a fee of $10. The identification requirements are the same as for a driver's license.

Please be aware, the SOS will not issue you an ID card if you have a Michigan driver's license, a driver's license from another state, or a driver's license from another country.

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