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Madisonian 101: our guide to becoming a 608 citizen

Welcome to the 608. This overview, from registering your car, to getting a library card, to surviving a Wisconsin winter, will get you established as a Madisonian.

A photo of the Wisconsin State Capitol building from State Street. The Orpheum Theatre marquee is also in view.JPG

Madison’s Capitol is the highest point in the city and can be seen from miles around. | Photo by 608today

Table of Contents

Picture this: You just moved to Madison, Wisconsin and you need some help with the practicalities of life (we can’t just sit back and eat cheese curds all day, unfortunately). That’s where we come in. Keep reading for Madisonian 101, our guide to all things 608 citizenship.

Voter registration

Make sure you’re eligible and registered to vote, find your polling location, and preview upcoming elections and sample ballots.

The exterior wall of a Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles building.jpeg

There are several DMV offices throughout Madison. | Photo via Wisconsin Department of Transportation

Driver’s licenses and vehicle registration

New residents in need of a Wisconsin driver’s license will need to provide proof of legal status, a Social Security document, and two documents confirming their residential address.

To register your car in the state of Wisconsin, you’ll need to bring proof of Wisconsin car insurance, proof of your identity (in the form of a driver’s license, passport, or ID card), and a Vehicle Identification Number and Odometer Verification form to any Wisconsin County office (such as at DMV offices on the East side and West side of Madison).

Initial registrations may be subject to an $85 fee.

You can make an appointment at any of Dane County’s offices to obtain a Wisconsin driver’s license. Registration for your vehicle is conducted on a walk-in basis.

Health care

Establishing yourself with a primary care provider is one of those things you’ll be glad you did when you need one. Reach out to the professionals at UW Health, UnityPoint, or SSM Health, to name a few. Pro tip: Websites like DocSpot filter physicians by location, patient reviews, insurance, language, and more.

An exterior shot of Madison East High School in the snow.jpeg

Madison East High School is part of the Madison Metropolitan School District. | Photo via Madison Metropolitan School District

School registration

Prepare your student for the school year by registering them with Madison Metropolitan School District. Here, you’ll find your school zone (based on your home address), a list of registration and immunization requirements, and the student entry form. With your required documents in hand, you’ll then make an appointment at your student’s zoned school to complete the registration process.

For information on Madison’s private schools, check out GreatSchools.

Library card registration

If you think libraries are only for renting the occasional book, think again. Register for a library card at your nearest Madison branch, or apply for a temporary card (valid for 30 days) online, to take advantage of:

  • Genealogy services
  • Events
  • eBooks, music, and movies
  • Online databases
  • Private meeting spaces for groups
  • Books-by-mail
  • State park passes

To get your card, you’ll need proof of identity and proof of address. Madisonians of any age can apply for a free card to be used at any Madison branch.

A blue recycling truck from Madison Streets and Recycling Department.jpeg

City of Madison Streets and Recycling Department is busy throughout the year. | Photo via Madison Streets and Recycling


Thanks for thinking green. For everything you need to know about recycling in Madison, from where to place your bin to pickup times and accepted materials, check out our guide.


Moving is exciting, but no one wants to unpack by candlelight. Establish your services with Madison Gas and Electric by creating an account or updating your address in your existing account. Pro tip: Madison Gas and Electric offers up some incentives to save you money and energy every month.

Internet providers

No connectivity issues here. Check out some of the internet providers on US News and World Report:

  • AT&T - Fiber connection. Download speeds up to 1.0 Gbps
  • HughesNet - Satellite connection. Download speeds up to 25 Mbps
  • Spectrum - Cable connection. Download speeds up to 1.0 Gbps
  • Starlink - Satellite connection Download speeds up to 134 Mbps
  • T-Mobile - 5G home internet connection. Download speeds up to 100 Mbps
University of Wisconsin mascot, Bucky the Badger, at a basketball game.JPG

Bucky is UW-Madison’s beloved mascot. There are plenty of sports to cheer for in Madison. | Photo by 608today

The ultimate Madison initiation

Having a Wisconsin driver’s license and a 608 area code may qualify you on paper, but you’re not officially a Madisonian until you’ve taken part in some local fun that is only found in Mad City.

608 Sports

We like all kinds of sports out here. Whether it’s at Camp Randall Stadium cheering on the Badger football team, at Breese Stevens Field watching Madison Forward FC’s soccer club, or at the rink watching high-caliber hockey, we are proud of our many local athletes.

Start your journey to fandom with our guide to Madison sports.

608 Food and Drink

A world record was set in Madison recently. It was the world’s largest old fashioned cocktail. Also? The world’s largest cheese board. We like food a lot.

Here’s a list of the best food and drink specials in Madison.

608 Outdoors

Madison has four distinct seasons and locals love all of them. Tie up your boots and head out on one of Madison’s many trails.

We can be your virtual trail guide.

Is there something you’re still left wondering about to get you properly established in Mad City? Ask us your question and we’ll do our best to answer it for you, like a good neighbor.

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