New To Virginia
Welcome to Virginia! We're excited to help you get on the road. These steps will give you the information you need to drive on Virginia's roadways.
Apply for a Virginia Driver's License
Within 60 days of moving here, you must obtain a Virginia driver's license to legally drive here. If you currently hold a commercial driver's license (CDL), you must obtain a Virginia CDL within 30 days.
When you apply for your Virginia driver's license, consider whether you need to get a REAL ID compliant license. Beginning May 3, 2023, the federal government will require you to present a REAL ID compliant driver's license or identification card, or another acceptable form of identification, in order to board a domestic flight or enter most secure federal facilities. Since you’ll be bringing all of the necessary documents when you apply for your Virginia license, it is the perfect time to upgrade to a REAL ID. Learn more about REAL ID at dmvNOW.com/REALID.
Additional information you need to review to obtain a driver's license is listed below:
- Eligibility Requirements
- Applying for a Virginia License
- Virginia Driver's Manual
- Document Guide for Licenses and ID Cards
Obtain 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. Be warned: if you drive your vehicle without an inspection sticker, you may be ticketed by law enforcement. A conviction for violating Virginia inspection laws could result in a fine and be posted to your driving record. For 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.
Meet Virginia's Emissions Inspection Standards
Your vehicle must pass an emissions inspection before it can be registered if it is garaged 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
If your vehicle is being registered for the first time in Virginia and has a current valid emissions certificate (performed in the last 12 months), it may be titled and registered without a Virginia emissions inspection.
For information about emissions inspections and the locations of inspection stations, contact the Department of Environment Quality at (703)583-3900 or toll free in Virginia at 1-800-275-3844.
Meet Virginia's Vehicle Insurance Requirements
From the moment you register your vehicle to the day the registration period expires, your vehicle must be covered by a liability policy issued by an insurance company licensed to do business in Virginia - even if the vehicle is not working or not being used. For all registered vehicles, Virginia law requires the minimum insurance coverage set forth in the Code of Virginia § 46.2-472.
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 cover the vehicle with liability insurance and do not pay the UMV fee, you face a $500 fine, suspension of your driver's license and vehicle registration(s), and higher insurance premiums for the next three years. Whenever you obtain or cancel a liability policy, or add or remove a vehicle from a policy, the insurance company notifies DMV immediately. Why take chances? Get insurance on your vehicle before you register it.
If you sell, trade or dispose of your vehicle, be sure to 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. Failure to comply with Virginia's insurance law will result in fines, suspension of your driver's license, and cancellation of the registrations on all vehicles that you own or co-own.
Title Your Vehicle in Virginia
To register your vehicle in Virginia and obtain license plates, you must first title your vehicle within 30 days of moving to Virginia.
Register Your Vehicle and Acquire License Plates
- the empty weight or gross weight of your vehicle,
- the type of license plate you purchase (see special license plates section), and
- the period of time, one or two years, you choose to register your vehicle.
A two-year registration costs twice the annual fee and provides added convenience for our customers. However, the two- year renewal option is not available for vehicles with a gross weight of 55,000 pounds or more, vehicles registered under the International Registration Plan or uninsured vehicles.
As a courtesy, DMV will mail renewal reminders to you prior to the expiration date of your registration. To receive reminders on time, be sure to update your address with DMV. You can renew your vehicle registration online or by mail.
Keep the registration card with you whenever you operate the vehicle.
DMV will issue you two license plates, two decals showing the expiration date, and a registration card. Apply the decals as indicated on the plates, then place the plates on the front and rear of your vehicle so that they are securely fastened and clearly visible. If your vehicle is a motorcycle, DMV will issue you just one license plate for the vehicle.
It is illegal to mount license plates frames, colored glass, plastic or any other type of covering on your license plates that alters or obscures the letters, numbers, decals or the state where the vehicle is registered, and when the registration expires.
Window Tinting/Sun-shading Requirements
If you are titling and registering a vehicle that has sun-shading, you need to be aware of Virginia law. Virginia's sun-shading requirements for the minimum percent of light allowed are as follows for any motor vehicle operated on Virginia highways:
- front side windows – 50%
- rear side and rear windows - 35%
- windshield - no sun-shading allowed
Contact the Virginia State Police if you have questions about whether the sun-shading on your vehicle meets these requirements. DMV may issue medical authorizations to individuals who have medical conditions requiring restrictions from sunlight or bright artificial light.
Obtain a Local Sticker Or Decal From Your Locality
The locality in which you live may require you to register the vehicle within 30 days of moving there. Contact your locality to find information for your local Commissioner of the Revenue, Treasurer or Director of Finance.
- Voter registration is available at any DMV office.
- If you are a male U. S. citizen living in the U. S. or abroad or a male immigrant (permanent resident alien) residing in the U. S., and you are age 18 through 25, you are required to register with the Selective Service System.
For other helpful information to assist you as you relocate, visit the Movers Guide.