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Register Your Vehicle

See the documents and forms you need to make your DMV visit a breeze!

How to Register a Vehicle

A vehicle’s registration proves you have registered it with the state and are legally allowed to drive it. You’ll need to register a vehicle if you buy it from a dealer or private seller, or move to a different state. Registrations must be renewed annually. Need to renew? A complete Virginia registration gets you: One front and one back license plate (one plate if your vehicle is a motorcycle, tractor truck, semitrailer or trailer) Decals displaying the registration’s expiration date A registration card

Note: If you are a new Virginia resident or if you lease your vehicle, additional information is required to title and register a vehicle.

Your vehicle must pass an annual safety inspection and display a valid safety inspection sticker before it can be operated in Virginia. Driving without an inspection sticker may result in a ticket from law enforcement. A conviction for violating Virginia inspection laws could result in a fine and be posted to your driving record.

Requirements Before Registering Your Vehicle

  1. Have your car titled in Virginia.
  2. Complete an "Application for Registration" (form VSA 14).
  3. If your vehicle is garaged in the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William or Stafford, or in the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, or Manassas Park: Undergo an emissions inspection (does not apply to motorcycles) Note:The emissions inspection station will electronically update your DMV vehicle record with the test results immediately. We will only ask you for emissions information if your vehicle failed the test or the information has not been received.
  4. Certify that the vehicle is covered by the minimum insurance requirements or pay the uninsured motor vehicle fee. Carry proof of insurance in your vehicle at all times. Higher insurance limits are required of vehicles operated for-hire and subject to intrastate operating authority requirements. Note: Failure to comply with insurance requirements can result in severe penalties. If your vehicle's liability insurance coverage ends or is canceled during the registration period, you must reinsure the vehicle, pay the uninsured motor vehicle fee, temporarily deactivate your license plates or surrender the license plates to DMV.
  5. If you are applying for an original registration or are transferring an existing registration to a different vehicle, and:
    1. You are using the vehicle to transport passengers or property for-hire, and
    2. No intrastate operating authority has been issued under the name that the vehicle is being registered under, and
    3. You are leasing the vehicle to a person or company that does hold intrastate operating authority;
    then you must complete the For-Hire Vehicles Registration Request (form MCS 115) and submit the form to Motor Carrier Services at DMV Headquarters for processing. By the next business day, Motor Carrier Services will contact you to advise if you are pre-authorized to complete the vehicle registration transaction at your preferred DMV service outlet, or if more information is required to qualify for for-hire vehicle registration.

Your License Plates

We will issue you

  • Two license plates (one plate if your vehicle is a motorcycle, tractor truck, semitrailer or trailer)
  • Decals displaying the expiration date and
  • A registration card. Keep this with you whenever you operate the vehicle.

To deter theft of your decals, remove the previous year's decals from your license plates before putting on your new decals. The material will tear if removed from the metal plate but may not tear if it is removed from a decal. Once the decal is applied, you may also wish to gently cut an "x" into the decal with a razor blade, so that it will not come off in one piece if it is removed.

It is illegal to mount 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 (Va. Code 46.2-716).

Registration Renewal

After your first registration, DMV will alert you about your upcoming renewal. Sign up for E-Notifications to receive notices by email or text message; or, you can receive reminders by mail.

A multi-year discount may be available if you renew your vehicle registration for two years or three years. See "Renewal Fees and Multi-Year Discounts" below for more information.

Renewal Options

  • Renew online, receive a $1 discount. If eligible, you may renew for two years and receive an additional $2 discount (for a total discount of $3) or three years for an additional $3 discount (for a total discount of $4).
  • Mail in your vehicle renewal notice. While typically received within 5 days, U.S. mail delivery times vary. Please allow 15 days to receive your decals before contacting DMV.
  • DMV Select. See DMV Select Locations by District for the DMV Select office closest to you.

Renewal Fees and Multi-Year Discounts

Your registration fee is determined your type of vehicle and the empty weight or gross weight of your vehicle. Additional fees may occur based on

  • The type of license plate you purchase
  • Whether you register for more than one year
  • Renewing your registration after it has expired and/or
  • If your vehicle is subject to a highway use fee.

Two year renewal-- $3 discount online or by phone; $2 discount by mail or in person. Three-year renewal-- $4 discount online or by phone; $3 discount by mail or in person*

The discounts for online and two-year or three-year renewals are not prorated and not refundable if your registration is canceled before it expires. Partial refunds do not include all fees paid at the time of registration. Fees not refunded are highway use fees, one-time plate reservation fees, Virginia Road Tax for heavy trucks and any late fees.

*Discounts only apply if you are eligible.

Additional Information

Dealer Purchases and Leased Vehicles

If you have recently purchased a vehicle from a dealer and that dealer is processing the work for you, be aware that it may take up to 30 days for the dealer to process your transaction and for the vehicle to appear in your DMV record.

Leased vehicles will not show up in your DMV record.

Ineligibility for a Multi-Year Fee Discount:

  • The two-year registration is not available 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.
  • The three-year registration is not available if:
    • You are registering your vehicle for the first time;
    • You are renewing your registration by mail;
    • Your vehicle is garaged 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.