New residents

Welcome to Wisconsin!

You are considered a Wisconsin resident if:

  • Your principal residence is in this state
  • You pay your income taxes here
  • You are registered to vote here

  • Regular license. Drivers new to Wisconsin must apply for a Wisconsin driver license within 60 days of establishing residency.
  • Commercial driver license. Drivers with a Commercial Driver License (CDL) must apply for a Wisconsin driver license within 30 days.
  • REAL ID. If you currently have an out-of-state REAL ID, you will still need to provide necessary documents to obtain a Wisconsin REAL ID. Wisconsin offers the option of a federally compliant or non-compliant driver license or ID.

How to obtain a Wisconsin driver license with a valid out-of-state license.

When you become a Wisconsin resident, you must obtain Wisconsin registration (license plates) for your vehicle.

  • If applying online for vehicle title and/or registration, you must have a Wisconsin driver license or identification number and the current out-of-state title.
  • Apply online for vehicle title and registration for most vehicles, by mail, or through a temporary license plate or service agent.
  • Pay the required fees
    • Vehicle registration fees. We cannot give credit for unused registration on your previous state's license plate.
      • Electric vehicles and hybrid-electric vehicles are assessed an annual surcharge. 
    • A wheel tax is required by some municipalities or counties which DMV collects. 
  • Mail in your out-of-state title to complete the process

A few things to know: 

  • When you submit your out-of-state title, you will receive a Wisconsin title and a Certificate of Registration (in addition to license plates).
  • Liens
    • If there is a lien on your vehicle, and you don’t submit a valid lien release, Wisconsin will send your title to the lien holder. You will receive a Confirmation of Ownership. If you apply for license plates, you also will receive a Certificate of Registration.
  • Registration cards
    • If you submit only your out-of-state registration card with the application, you will receive a Wisconsin Certificate of Registration, not a Wisconsin title. This allows you to operate the vehicle legally but is not valid for selling it. If you later submit your out-of-state title, we will issue a Wisconsin title at no additional charge.
    • If you submit your out-of-state registration card as proof of ownership, Wisconsin law still requires a title fee. If you later submit your out-of-state title, we will issue a Wisconsin title at no additional charge (except counter service fee, if applicable).
  • Submit proof of sales tax paid to your former state of residence if you have owned your vehicle for less than 90 days. Tax paid to another state will be applied to any state or local use tax due. 
  • Vehicle emissions testing is required by some Wisconsin counties within 45 days after first registering your vehicle. You will receive a letter from DMV if you are required to have an emission test.
Wisconsin has DMV customer service centers located around the state. In addition, we have contracted with third-party title/registration service providers and temporary license plate agents for more options. Please note, the services and additional fees vary according to the provider you choose.

Email Wisconsin DMV email service 


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