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How to Register a Vehicle in Virginia

Vehicle Registration Online Services Guide

Virginia law requires that motor vehicle owners must register their vehicle with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) before taking it on the road. Both new and second-hand vehicles must be registered, regardless of whether they are purchased from a dealer or an individual. In addition, new Virginia residents who have registered their vehicle in another state must register their vehicle in Virginia. The initial vehicle registration must be done in person but registration renewals can be done on-line, by phone, by mail or in person.


If you are registering a motor vehicle in Virginia for the first time, you must complete the following steps:

  1. All vehicles in Virginia should be insured. When you register your vehicle you must either provide proof of insurance, or pay the Uninsured Motor Vehicle (UMV) Fee. The UMV fee is valid for 12 months, but does not provide any insurance cover.
  2. Collect the necessary paperwork. If you bought your vehicle from a dealer, then the dealer will have sent the necessary paperwork to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. In all other circumstances you will need to collect the following additional papers:
  3. Vehicle title. New residents in Virginia must apply for a title before they can register a vehicle.
  4. Proof that your vehicle has passed a safety inspection, if required
  5. Proof that your vehicle has passed an emissions control test, if required
  6. A completed Vehicle Registration Application.
  7. Visit your local DMV office, and bring the completed forms with you.


Registration fees are based on various factors, including your vehicle's weight and type of license plate you require. Your registration fee will include some or all of the following:

  • State registration fee, which varies according to vehicle type, but is normally $40.75 for a passenger vehicle or $28.75 for a motor cycle.
  • If your area participates in the Local Vehicle Registration Program you will have an additional fee.
  • If you have requested personalized license plates, there will be an additional cost.


Owners of motor vehicles in Virginia are required to renew their vehicle registration annually, and can do so in person, online or by mail and at a DMV Select Office. See our Registration Renewal section for complete details.


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