West Virginia law requires that motor vehicle owners must register their vehicle with the West Virginia Division 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 West Virginia residents who have registered their vehicle in another state must register their vehicle in West Virginia. The initial vehicle registration must be done in person, and registration renewals must be done annually, either in person or by mail.
If you are registering a motor vehicle in West Virginia for the first time, you must complete the following steps:
- All vehicles in West Virginia must be insured. When you register your vehicle you must provide proof of insurance. The easiest way to do this is to obtain auto liability insurance.
- Collect the necessary paperwork. If you bought your vehicle from a dealer, then the dealer will have sent the necessary paperwork to the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles. In all other circumstances you will need to collect the following additional papers:
- A bill of sale is necessary if you have not transferred the title of the vehicle and you have not paid at least half the book value for the vehicle.
- The vehicle title. If the vehicle is less than ten years old, make sure that the title shows the correct odometer reading.
- Visit your local DMV office, and bring the completed forms with you. You do not need to make an appointment for this.
- If your vehicle already has a valid inspection sticker, you do not need to have your vehicle inspected until the sticker expires. However, if you purchased your vehicle in West Virginia and it does not have a current inspection sticker, you must have the vehicle inspected within three days of registering it. Inspections are carried out at a West Virginia State Police approved inspection station.
The basic registration fee is $30; however this fee covers only the license plates and registration card. If this is the first time you have registered the vehicle, you will need to pay fees for the titling process - this usually $10 for your title and a 5% privilege tax, based on the purchase price of the vehicle.
If you have just moved to West Virginia and the vehicle title is already in your name, you may be exempt from paying the privilege tax. More information on the privilege tax and vehicle titles is available here.
RENEWING YOUR VEHICLE REGISTRATION
Owners of motor vehicles in West Virginia are required to renew their vehicle registration annually, in person or by mail. See our Registration Renewal section for complete details.
- The process for registering a motorcycle is generally the same as a car registration - the registration must be renewed by July 1 each year, but again, a renewal notice will be mailed to you. The fee for motorcycle registration is $16.
- There are different procedures for boat registration (which is valid for three years) and custom car registration.
- Auto Insurance is needed to legally operate all vehicles in West Virginia.
- See also Renewing Your Vehicle Registration.
- See also Title Transfers and Car Insurance.