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Registering your out-of-state motor vehicle in Michigan

November 27, 2012 by Steven M. Gursten

Why you must register if your car or truck is in Michigan for 90 days straight

They say normal people understand the law just fine, but you need a lawyer for the loopholes.  Well, there are more legal loopholes and traps for the unwary on the issue of what the Michigan No-Fault law says about out-of-state residents driving a motor vehicle in Michigan than about almost anything else.  Most insurance agents do not properly advise clients of the risks involved, and as a Michigan insurance lawyer who specializes in No-Fault, I’ve seen the consequences.

So, here are some of the main loopholes/dangers that you must be aware of: If your out-of-state vehicle is in Michigan for a cumulative period of 30 days or more in any calendar year, you are required to have Michigan No-Fault insurance coverage on your vehicle.

The consequences for driving uninsured in Michigan can be extremely severe.

You can simultaneously carry insurance coverage from your home states, especially if you travel back and forth and need to comply with the law of your home state (legally, your place of domicile). It’s probably more cost effective if you can find an insurer that writes policies in both states.

What many people don’t know is that if your out-of-state vehicle is in Michigan for 90 consecutive days, you are also supposed to register your motor vehicle here in Michigan.

This situation is extremely important for  college students who bring cars from out-of-state for long periods of time, such as those who attend college for a year in Michigan but do not intend to permanently live in Michigan and return home over the summer and after school.

This doesn’t mean that you have to change your domicile, residency, vehicle title and/or vehicle registration in your home state. You still have to comply with the laws of your home state (place of domicile).

Also, if you are actually relocating to Michigan to become an in-state resident, as opposed to just visiting for an extended period, you don’t get the benefit of this 90 day grace period and you must register your motor vehicle immediately.

Unfortunately, since most people don’t comply with the Michigan registration provision, most of the Michigan Secretary of State branch offices are also unfamiliar with the procedure. In some cases I’ve seen them turn people unwittingly away.

Keep an eye out for my blog next week on how registering out-of-state cars in Michigan affects Canadians.

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