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Vehicle Emissions Inspection in Virginia

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In Virginia, a vehicle emissions test is required for many original registrations, as well as for annual registration renewals. Renewal notices are sent annually to vehicle owners, and indicate whether and by what date an emissions test must be completed.


A car, truck, motor home or RV (recreational vehicle) requires an emissions test when:

  1. It is a 1983 model or less (25 years older than the current calendar year).
  2. Diesel vehicle which carries passenger/property and is 1997 or newer.
  3. It is registered in the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, and Stafford and in cities such as Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, and Manassas Park.
  4. It runs on diesel fuel, and has a manufacturer's gross vehicle weight rating up to 8500 pounds.


Emission tests are valid for 90 days. A valid test is required to reinstate a suspended registration and to complete an original vehicle registration or registration renewal. Used car dealers are required to issue a valid emissions test for any vehicle they sell. Getting an emissions test is the buyer's responsibility when the vehicle is purchased from a private owner.


A vehicle is exempt from emissions testing when:

  1. It is a 1983 model or older.
  2. It is a new vehicle, or on its first registration provided the manufacturer's certificate of origin is attached.
  3. It is a hybrid vehicle.
  4. It is powered by clean fuel.
  5. It is a diesel vehicle.
  6. It is 25 years or older powered by gasoline.


Any Authorized Emissions Inspection Station licensed by the State can test your vehicle. Look for the official sign issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles to authorized testing stations. The test standards and maximum fees will be displayed at the stations.


For a two-year inspection it can cost up to $28. Vehicles that fail the first inspection are eligible for one free retest at the same station within the next 14 days of the first inspection.


If your vehicle fails the emissions test, you must have the vehicle repaired, after which it must pass the after repairs emissions test.
If your vehicle is unable to meet the emissions standard following the necessary repair work and the amount exceeds $695 you may be able to obtain a waiver. For qualifying for a waiver the repair work should have been carried out at a DEQ certified repair center and must have been carried out by a DEQ certified technician.
Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles Emission Test Facility to request a waiver.


  • In certain cases, the Department of Motor Vehicles offers a one-time extension for vehicles that are included in the Northern Virginia program area for a nominal fee. Call the DMV at (866) 368-5463 or 1-800-435-5137 or visit a branch office for more information.
  • See also Vehicle History Reports.

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