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Vehicle Registration Information

NOTE: If you are submitting your registration application by mail, refer to submit by mail for information to help ensure timely processing of your application.

It's Required

Before you can get on the road with your motor vehicle, motorcycle, tractor truck, trailer or semitrailer, (Va. Code 46.2-600) you must title and register it at one of our customer service centers (CSCs), DMV Select offices or mobile offices.

You will need additional information to title and register a vehicle if you are a new Virginia resident or if you lease your vehicle.

Your vehicle must pass an annual safety inspection and display a valid safety inspection sticker before it can be operated in Virginia. 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.

Suzy Q & A Explains How to Renew Online

 Meet Suzy Q & A

Note About 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.

If you lease a vehicle, that vehicle will not show up in your DMV record.

Before Registering Your Vehicle, You Must....

  1. Have your car titled in Virginia.
  2. Complete an "Application for Registration" (form VSA 14).
  3. Have an emissions inspection on your vehicle if it 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. Motorcycles are not required to have an emissions inspection. Important: When you have your vehicle's emissions system inspected, the emissions inspection station will electronically update your DMV vehicle record with the test results immediately. When registering your vehicle, DMV will not ask you for emissions information unless your vehicle failed the test or this information has not been received from the inspection station.
  4. Certify that the vehicle is covered by the minimum insurance requirements or pay the uninsured motor vehicle fee. Your insurance carrier must be authorized to conduct business in Virginia. Make sure that you carry proof of insurance in your vehicle at all times. Virginia requires the following minimum coverage set forth in the Code of Virginia § 46.2-472. Higher insurance limits are required of vehicles operated for-hire and subject to intrastate operating authority requirements. Note: Severe penalties are imposed for not complying with insurance requirements. If liability insurance coverage on a vehicle terminates or cancels 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, you will be contacted by Motor Carrier Services and advised that either you have received pre-authorization to complete the vehicle registration transaction at your preferred DMV service outlet, or that there are other items that must be completed and/or provided in order to qualify for for-hire vehicle registration.

Registration Renewal

After your first registration, DMV will alert you about your upcoming renewal. You can opt for the convenience of receiving notices by email or text message by signing up for E-Notifications. Otherwise, you can receive reminders by mail.

  • You can save money and time by renewing your vehicle registrations (decals) online or through the mail.
  • You can also renew your registration at any DMV Select or mobile office.
  • A $10 late fee will be assessed if you renew your vehicle registration after its expiration date.
  • You will receive a discount if you renew your vehicle registration for two years or three years; however, these discounts are not available in all cases. Please refer to the "Renewal Fees and Multi-Year Discounts" section below for more information.
  • Here are your registration renewal service options:
    • Internet. Renew online, receive a $1 discount. If you are eligible to receive a multi-year renewal fee discount, 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. Mail in the vehicle renewal notice. Most customers receive their vehicle registration materials within 5 days, but U.S. mail delivery times vary. Please allow 15 days to receive your decals before contacting DMV.
    • DMV Select. Visit one of the DMV Select offices in Virginia. Refer to DMV Select Locations by District to find the DMV Select office closest to you.
  • You may be denied your registration renewal (decals) if you have delinquent local personal property taxes, parking citations, toll violations, or other fees. DMV will notify you by mail if it has received notification from another entity that you have outstanding payments due. You will be required to make the payments before you can renew your decals.

Renewal Fees and Multi-Year Discounts

Your registration fee is determined by the type of vehicle and the empty weight or gross weight of your vehicle. The type of license plate you purchase, whether you register for more than one year, and renewing your registration after it has expired may result in additional fees. Some vehicles may also be subject to a highway use fee.

If you are eligible to receive a multi-year fee discount and renew your vehicle registration for two years, you will receive a $2 discount. You can save even more by renewing your registration online or over the phone for three years and receiving a $3 discount. If you renew your registration online, you will receive an additional $1 discount for using the internet.

The discounts for online and two-year or three-year renewals are not pro-rated and not refundable if the registration is canceled before it expires.

Partial refunds do not include all fees paid at the time of registration. Fees not refunded are the Highway Use Fees, one-time plate reservation fees, Virginia Road Tax for heavy trucks, and any late fees.

Ineligibility for a Multi-Year Fee Discount:

Multi-year discounts are not available in all cases.

  • 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;
    • 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;
    • You have paid the uninsured motor vehicle fee.

Your License Plates

DMV 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 the registration card with you whenever you operate the vehicle.

Put the decals on the plates, and place the plates on the front and rear of your vehicle so that they are securely fastened and clearly visible. 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).

Returning to Virginia After a Temporary Absence

If you are a military, diplomatic service and civilian employees returning to Virginia from outside the United States, refer to Federal Employees Returning to Virginia From Outside the U.S. for information on registering and titling your vehicle(s).

State Agencies:

Refer to state-owned vehicles for additional information.