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If you have recently purchased a vehicle through a dealership or a private seller, you will need to apply for a car registration. All vehicles in your possession must be registered in your name to be driven legally in your state. You cannot typically apply for a new vehicle registration online or by mail. You must visit a DMV office in person to register a car. To make sure that you are fully prepared for the process, download our informative digital guide. Our guide contains everything you need to know to register your vehicle with ease. You will also learn how to replace or renew your car registration, and how to change your name or address.

2. By Mail

Some states allow residents to register cars by mail. However, these applicants must meet certain eligibility requirements, such as temporarily residing out of state or having purchased the vehicle out of state. To obtain your new car registration by mail, you will need to send your completed application and all necessary documents (such as proof of ID, a bill of sale, an insurance card, etc.) to your local DMV office. You will also need to send in a check or money order for the full payment amount. Due to mailing and processing times, delays are common with the mail-in application method. It may take several weeks for you to receive your new car registration.

3. In Person at a DMV Office

In most instances, you will be required to get your car registration in person at a local DMV office. You must submit a filled-out application, proof of your identity, evidence of the car purchase and proof of auto insurance coverage for the vehicle. Additionally, you need to provide payment for all applicable fees, such as registration fees, titling fees and state taxes. Because many car owners are not sure which forms are required or which fees must be paid, application delays are common at the DMV. Additionally


The West Virginia car registration process is simpler than that of many other states. Residents are not required to get emissions tests at either the state or local levels. There are relatively few forms involved in the application process, and motorists may submit their applications at any DMV office. Owners are even allowed to apply for registrations before they have had their vehicles’ safety inspections completed.

Some crucial DMV registration requirements do apply, however. While vehicle registration renewal is available online, initial transactions must be done in person. Motorists must be West Virginia residents to register a vehicle. They must also hold appropriate minimum auto insurance and must have their vehicles inspected for safety every 12 months. Thoroughly reviewing the registration processes and criteria for new vehicles, used vehicles and out of state vehicles can simplify and streamline motorists efforts to register a car in West Virginia.

West Virginia Car Registration Requirements

There is no specific deadline by which motorists in West Virginia must get a vehicle registration for a newly purchased vehicle. However, as vehicles cannot be legally driven without registrations and titling and registering vehicles can be done at the same time, most motorists register vehicles immediately upon purchase. Motorists new to the state have 30 days to apply for DMV registrations for their vehicles.

Generally, registering a car in West Virginia requires motorists to have:

  • Proof of identity and residency (e.g. a drivers license).
  • Proof of vehicle ownership (e.g. a title and/or bill of sale).
  • Proof of insurance.
  • A completed registration application form.
  • Payment for any and all associated car registration fees and taxes.

Registrants have 10 days from the date of registration to get their automobiles inspected per state mandates.

Car Insurance Requirements for Registering a Car in West Virginia

All motorists registering a car in West Virginia must carry state-mandated minimum auto insurance policies. They must provide proof of insurance at the time of registration and keep evidence of their insurance with them whenever they are operating vehicles.

West Virginia requires that motorists have at least:

  • $25,000 in injury liability coverage for one person per accident.
  • $50,000 in injury liability coverage for two or more people per accident.
  • $25,000 in property damage liability coverage.

All policies must be issued by insurers licensed to do business in the state. Motorists who fail to meet insurance mandates may have their DMV registrations revoked and face fines and other penalties.

Vehicle Inspection/Smog Inspection/VIN Inspection Requirements in West Virginia

Emissions inspections are not part of West Virginia car registration requirements at the state, county or local levels. No emissions testing is necessary for any DMV transaction.

Vehicle Safety Inspections are required on all registered vehicles once per year. Inspections must be conducted by state-authorized mechanics or shops. Motorists may apply for and receive registrations before having their vehicles inspected. Residents who do so have 10 days from the date of registration to get their inspections completed.

Due to reciprocity agreements, for the purpose of vehicle registration, the state accepts safety inspection stickers issued by approved mechanics in Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.

Registering a Vehicle in West Virginia

How to register a car in West Virginia depends on whether a vehicle is newly manufactured, used or is transferring in from out of state. In all cases, motorists will use the same application form and need proof of insurance. However, supplemental documentation and fees will vary.

How to Register a New Car in West Virginia

Nearly all dealers offer free car registration services when motorists purchase newly manufactured vehicles. Motorists typically must supply proof of insurance and ID, but dealers do the rest.

Registering a Used Car in West Virginia

Motorists purchasing used vehicles can apply for new car registration documents at their local DMV offices. No appointments are necessary, but applicants will need to bring:

  • Proof of identity and residency such as a valid drivers license.
  • Proof of ownership including a Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin or title and notarized bills of sale.
  • Proof of insurance.
  • Odometer statement if there is no room to write the vehicle’s odometer reading on its title. Odometer disclosures are required for all vehicles under 16,000 pounds gross weight that are less than 10 model years old.
  • Completed application forms.
  • Payment for titling and car registration fees, as well as taxes, where applicable.

Motorists who have already had safety inspections completed should bring proof of passing inspection, as well. Those who have not must arrange to have their vehicles inspected within 10 days.

How to Register a Car in West Virginia as a New Resident

New residents have 30 days from the date of their arrival to apply for West Virginia DMV registrations. Like other motorists, new residents must submit the following to the DMV:

  • Proof of identity and residency such as a drivers license.
  • Proof of ownership and insurance.
  • Completed application forms and payment.

Additionally, motorists will need copies of their out of state registrations. If they do not have safety inspection stickers from reciprocally recognized states, they must either bring evidence of a newly conducted inspection or schedule one within 10 days.

Vehicle Registration for Military Members in West Virginia

There are no unique or distinct car registration requirements or privileges for members of the United States Armed Forces in West Virginia.

Temporary DMV Registration in West Virginia

The West Virginia DMV offers temporary registration permits in 10-day increments. Temporary permits are available for purchase online. Permits can be used for the one-time transportation of unregistered vehicles in a variety of circumstances. They may not, however, be used to drive unsafe, damaged or salvage vehicles on public roads.

West Virginia License Plates

Motorists registering a car in West Virginia will be issued a single license plate upon completion of the registration process. Specialty plates may be ordered at the time of registration, if desired. Additional forms and fees will apply.

West Virginia Car Registration Fees

West Virginia car registration cost increased in 2017 in response to a legislative initiative to raise funds for vehicle infrastructure improvements. Current fees include:

  • Title fee $15
  • Registration $51.50
  • Registration Transfer $10.50

Motorists will also be charged sales tax on newly purchased vehicles. Tax is levied at 6 percent of the sale price for vehicles costing over $500 and $30 for vehicles costing less than $500.

Last updated on Tuesday, December 4 2018.

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