Veteran and Military Driver Laws and Benefits in Wisconsin

The state of Wisconsin understands how difficult it can be for military members to keep up with license renewals and other requirements that apply to regular drivers, and the state has taken steps to make things easier. They’ve also introduced a number of perks for both active duty servicemembers and veterans.

License and registration tax and fee exemptions

While the state does not offer tax or fee exemptions for either active duty military members or veterans, they do help you save money and time in a couple of ways. First, you can request the unused portion of your registration fee to be refunded to you after you’ve received orders to transfer out of state. Note that the vehicle cannot be driven after this, until the registration is renewed. Temporary license plates are also available for military members on leave who need to drive their vehicles for a short period while they are in the state, but still technically on active duty. These plates last for a maximum of 30 days.

Driver’s license veteran designation

The state of Wisconsin offers veterans the ability to have their service noted on their driver’s license with a special veteran designation. The process requires a couple of steps, but they’re relatively simple. First, you need to establish your eligibility, which can be done through the state’s Department of Veterans Affairs. You can also get your eligibility information directly from the service officer in your county. Once you have this information, you can apply for the designation on your license. If you’re renewing your license, it can be done online.

However, if you need a new license, or need to replace your lost license, you’ll need to pay a visit to the DMV in person. Make sure to bring all your information with you to get the designation on your new license.

Military honor plates

Both active duty servicemembers and veterans can apply for special military honor plates for their vehicles. The state offers a number of different options (more than 50). They can also be ordered for a primary vehicle, as well as for motor homes, motorcycles and other vehicles.

All military plates cost $15 initially, as long as they are not personalized. You’ll then pay $15 per year. Note that this does not apply to disabled veteran plates, which the state treats as a different category. Personalized military license plates will cost an additional $15 initially, and another $15 per year ($30 for the initial price, and $30 annually).

For a complete list of the military honor plates available, see the DMV’s website.

Military skills test waiver

The state of Wisconsin allows military members to transfer their equipment operating skills to the civilian world in the form of easing the process of obtaining a CDL. Some military members with a military machinery operating license may not need to take the skills test, although all will need to take the knowledge test. You’ll need to complete the online Military Service CDL Skills Test Waiver Application, as well as apply for a CDL with a standard application. Note that you will need to provide proof of your military machinery operating experience, as well as your previous military experience with a DD_214 or NGB 22.

Driver license renewal while deployed

Wisconsin truly goes to great lengths to make the process of renewing a driver’s license a simple task for active duty military members. In fact, the state will actually extend your license indefinitely as long as you are out of state on active duty. To ensure that this happens, all you need to do is send a note to the DMV. Make sure to include the following information:

  • Your name
  • Your DOB
  • Your address in the state
  • Your temporary mailing address on deployment
  • Include a full statement that you are now on active duty with the military

Send this information to the following address:

Wisconsin Department of Transportation
Driver Eligibility Unit
4802 Sheboygan Avenue
Madison, WI 53707

As a note, you do not have to let the state extend your license. You can still renew by mail if you prefer. Note that the state requires a considerable amount of information if you choose to renew by mail. The address for processing is the same as above, and you can learn more about the requirements on the state’s DOT website.

Non-resident military personnel driver license and vehicle registration

Like most other states, Wisconsin does not require drivers to obtain a state-issued driver’s license if they are active duty and only stationed in the state (non-residents). You also do not have to register your car with the state. Note that you do have to hold a valid driver’s license from your home state, and your car must be registered (and current) there.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

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