New To Virginia
Welcome to Virginia! Let’s make sure you have everything you need to get on the road.
Step 1: Get a Virginia Driver's License
When you move to Virginia, you have 60 days to get a Virginia driver's license to legally drive here. If you currently have a commercial driver's license (CDL), you must get a Virginia CDL within 30 days.
Make It a REAL ID
When you apply for your license, consider making it a REAL ID. Beginning May 7, 2025, the federal government will require you to show a REAL ID compliant driver's license or identification card, or another federally approved form of ID, in order to board a domestic flight or enter most secure federal facilities.
Since you’ll have all the necessary documents when you apply for your Virginia license, it’s the perfect time to upgrade to a REAL ID. Learn more at dmvNOW.com/REALID.
To get your driver’s license, review the items below:
- Eligibility Requirements
- Applying for a Virginia License
- Virginia Driver's Manual
- Document Guide for Licenses and ID Cards
Step 2: Get a Vehicle Safety Inspection Sticker
Before operating a vehicle in Virginia, it must pass an annual safety inspection and display a valid safety inspection sticker. This helps catch any issues before they can cause harm.
Safety inspections are performed at most repair shops in the state. Contact your preferred location to see if it’s offered.
For more information about safety inspections, or to find safety inspection stations near you, contact the Virginia State Police at www.vsp.virginia.gov or 804-674-6774.
Note: If you drive your vehicle without an inspection sticker, you may be ticketed. A conviction for violating Virginia inspection laws could result in a fine and be posted to your driving record.
Step 3: Title Your Vehicle in Virginia
Before you can register your vehicle and get license plates, you must first title your vehicle within 30 days of moving to Virginia. See Title Your Vehicle in Virginia.
Step 4: Pass an Emissions Inspection
If you’re registering your vehicle in Virginia for the first time and it has a current valid emissions certificate from the last 12 months, you can register it without a Virginia emissions inspection.
Otherwise, your vehicle must pass an emissions inspection before it can be registered if it is kept in one of the following localities:
- The counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William or Stafford
- The cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas or Manassas Park
Find an emissions station near you.
For more information on emissions inspections, visit the Department of Environmental Quality website, or call them at 703-583-3900 or toll free in Virginia at 1-800-275-3844.
Step 5: Meet Virginia's Vehicle Insurance Requirements
From the moment you register your vehicle to the day the registration period expires, you must maintain the minimum amount of liability insurance coverage — even if the vehicle is not working or not being used.
If insurance is not an option, you must pay a $500 uninsured motor vehicle fee (UMV). Paying this fee does not provide insurance coverage, but it does allow you to register and operate your vehicle in Virginia for one year.
If you register your vehicle in Virginia but do not insure it or pay the UMV fee, you face:
- A $500 fine
- Suspension of your driver's license and vehicle registration(s)
- Higher insurance premiums for the next three years.
Why take chances?
Avoid penalties by getting insurance on your vehicle before you register it.
If you sell, trade or dispose of your vehicle, please notify DMV if you want to transfer the license plates to another insured vehicle. If you do not want to transfer your license plates, please return them to any DMV customer service center before you cancel your insurance.
Step 6: Get Registration and Plates
- The type of license plate you purchase. See Special License Plates.
- The vehicle registration period.
- Whether your vehicle is subject to a highway use fee.
A two-year registration offers a $3 discount if you register online or by phone, and a $2 discount if by mail or in person.
A three-year registration offers a $4 discount if you register online or by phone, and a $3 discount by mail or in person.
Who is ineligible for multi-year renewal discounts?
You’re ineligible for the two-year renewal if:
- Your vehicle has a gross weight of 55,000 pounds or more;
- Your vehicle is registered under the International Registration Plan;
- You have paid the uninsured motor vehicle fee; or
- You live in an emissions area and only have one year left on the emissions inspection.
You’re ineligible for the three-year renewal if:
- You are registering your vehicle for the first time;
- You are renewing your registration by mail;
- Your vehicle is kept in Arlington, Fairfax City, Loudoun, Prince William, Stafford, Alexandria, Fairfax County, Falls Church, Manassas or Manassas Park, since vehicles in these localities are subject to an every-other-year emissions inspection;
- Your vehicle has a gross weight of 55,000 pounds or more;
- Your vehicle is registered under the International Registration Plan; or
- You have paid the uninsured motor vehicle fee.
DMV will mail, email or text renewal reminders to you before your registration is set to expire. To receive mailed reminders on time, check that your address on file is up-to-date by logging in or creating an account.
Sign up for E-Notifications.
Step 7: Get a Local Sticker or Decal
In addition to registering your vehicle, some localities also require new residents to purchase a Local Sticker or Decal within 30 days of moving there.
These items are typically sold by the local Commissioner of the Revenue, Treasurer or Director of Finance. You cannot get them from DMV.
Register to Vote
Voter registration is available at any DMV office.
Are your windows tinted?
Virginia has specific requirements for window tinting:
- Front side windows must allow at least 50%
- Rear side and rear windows must allow at least 35%
- Windshields cannot be tinted
Contact the Virginia State Police if you have questions about whether the tinting or sun-shading on your vehicle meets these requirements. DMV may issue medical authorizations to individuals with medical conditions requiring protection from sunlight or bright artificial light.