State of Michigan Driver's License
To earn a Michigan driver's license, you must pass a written test, a road sign test, a vision test, and a driving test. Applicants are issued a limited-term license. This is valid for as long as you are authorized to be in the US.
If you are a newly arrived student, a student changing academic levels, or a visiting scholar, and are eligible for a Michigan driver’s license, you must wait 14 days after your I-20/DS-2019 has been activated by IPS before applying for your license.
Collect all of the following valid documents (you cannot use expired documents):
- Two proofs of Michigan residency
- Original passport, along with valid stamp on the Visa page
- Form I-94 (Download from here)
- I-20 or DS-2019
- I-797 in cases of change of status (e.g.: F-1 to H1B)
- Copy of Social Security card or letter of ineligibility from the Social Security Office (located next to the Secretary of State office)
- EAD card (only for students on OPT)
- F-1 students with an approved 12-month or 24-month OPT must bring the EAD card. Explain to the agent that you are on OPT, which means they can only verify your status using the EAD card's USCIS number. Students with a pending 12-month or 24-month OPT may have to wait to renew your license until your OPT is approved.
Pick up the following from the IPS office:
- Your completed support letter (Processing support letters may take 2-3 working days. We will email you once your support letter is ready.)
Apply for your license in person at the Secretary of State Branch Office in Houghton.
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Wednesday 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Important note for individuals who already have a driving license issued by a foreign country
If your license is issued by a treaty country, you can legally drive in the state of Michigan, provided all the relevant information on your license is printed in English. Verify if your license qualifies under the Foreign Driver’s License Treaty Countries.
If your license is issued by a non-treaty country, you can legally drive in the state of Michigan provided all the relevant information on your license is printed in English, AND you can show a proof of your legal presence in the USA (i.e., Form I-94 OR valid Visa stamp on your passport).
Refer to this document to see whether your country qualifies either as a treaty or a non-treaty country.
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.
Be aware that this rule with this specific list of countries is applicable only for the state of Michigan. Other states may have their own rules and their own separate list of acceptable countries. Be sure to check the rules and regulations of other states if you drive outside of Michigan.
State of Michigan Identification (ID) Card
If you do not need a driver's license, but want extra identification, you can get a State of Michigan ID card for $10. The identification requirements are the same as the identification requirements for a driver's license. You can only have one, a Michigan ID card or a Michigan driver's license, at the same time—unless your license has been restricted, suspended, revoked, or is a driver's license from another state. Questions? Review the State ID Card information.