Buying/Receiving A Vehicle
These steps will give you the information you need to buy a vehicle or when you receive a vehicle as a gift or donation:
1. Research the Vehicle with NMVTIS
Before you proceed, check the vehicle's condition and history at the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS).
2. Notify the insurance company
You must notify the insurance company when you have purchased or received a vehicle as a gift. If you sold another vehicle, you may transfer insurance coverage to the new vehicle by providing the required information to the insurance company. Be sure to obtain liability insurance for the vehicle before you register it with DMV and transfer the old plates or purchase new plates for it.
3. Ensure that the vehicle is properly titled
(The vehicle may be subject to Motor Vehicle Sales and Use Tax when titled.)
- If you are buying a new vehicle from a dealer, the dealer may process the proper title work and submit paperwork to DMV for processing.
- If you are buying a vehicle from an individual or the dealer is not handling the title work, ensure that Section A of the title has been completed, including the signature of the owner.
- If you receive a vehicle as a gift or donation, ensure that Section A of the title has been completed, including the signature of the owner, and that "gift" appears as the sale price on the title.
- If the vehicle was donated or sold by a charitable organization, ensure the organization has provided a statement on the official letterhead stationery of the charity, certifying that the charity is registered with the Internal Revenue Service § 501(c)(3) as a non-profit organization, and has not registered the vehicle.
- Visit your local DMV to title the vehicle.
4. Register the Vehicle
Once your vehicle is titled, you may register your vehicle with DMV and pay the appropriate registration fees.
5. Place license plates on the vehicle
You may either purchase new license plates or apply to transfer existing plates from another of your vehicles to the new vehicle and pay the transfer fee.
6. Ensure the vehicle has a valid safety inspection sticker
Before operating a vehicle in Virginia, it must pass an annual safety inspection and display a valid safety inspection sticker. Trailers with separate braking systems must also be inspected.
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.
7. Register the vehicle with your city/county (if required)
The locality in which you live may require you to register the vehicle. Contact your locality to find information for your local Commissioner of the Revenue, Treasurer or Director of Finance, in order to pay any required vehicle registration fees to your city or county.
Vehicles which are either sold to or donated to charitable organizations may be exempt from Motor Vehicle Sales & Use Tax. To be exempt, the charitable organization must be registered with the Internal Revenue Service § 501(c)(3) as a non-profit organization and be specifically exempted in the Code of Virginia § 58.1-2403. The charity must also receive the title along with the vehicle.
The vehicle donated to the charity will have to be titled in the charitable organization's name. The titling fee will be collected.
Charitable organizations that transact more than 5 vehicle donations/sales to individuals annually must register with the Motor Vehicle Dealer Board.
Once the vehicle has been titled in the name of the charity and the charity wants to transfer the vehicle to a recipient, the following documents are to be provided to the recipient:
- A statement on the official letterhead stationery of the charity, certifying that the charity is registered with the Internal Revenue Service § 501(c)(3) as a non-profit organization, and has not registered the vehicle driven, nor permitted the vehicle to be driven on the highways.
- The title to the vehicle, with the vehicle reassigned to the individual recipient in Section A, and showing the sale price or, if a donation, the word "GIFT."
Refer to state-owned vehicles for additional information.