To register a car with the Virginia DMV, go to the local office and provide a proof of ownership document, proof of identity and residency, inspection certificate, proof of insurance, and payment for the registration fees.

Safety inspections are required for all vehicles, while emissions tests are required for residents of certain counties, listed below.

Registering a Vehicle in Virginia

Before residents can legally drive in Virginia, they must register and title their car with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Both are completed at the same time, which saves individuals an extra trip to the VA DMV.

For information on the titling process, please visit our section on “Titling a Vehicle in Virginia.”

NOTE: Other vehicle types, such as custom-built cars and trailers, have their own registration requirements. Please visit our section for “Other Vehicle Registrations” for more information.

New to Virginia?

Once individuals establish residency in the state of Virginia, they have 30 days to complete their vehicle registration and titling with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Before individuals can register their vehicle as a new Virginia resident, individuals must do the following:

  • Get auto insurance on the vehicle by a licensed Virginia carrier, or plan to pay the uninsured motorist fee (see “Virginia Auto Insurance Requirements” below).
  • Complete a vehicle safety inspection and smog and emissions check if required.

NOTE: If the vehicle has a current valid emissions sticker from any of Virginia’s list of eligible exemptions, they do not have to have an emissions inspection upon registering in Virginia. Individuals need to get one when their out-of-state sticker expires if they live in an applicable emissions inspection county (see “Safety & Emissions Inspections” below).

  • Transfer the title to Virginia (this may be done at the same time as registration).

Registering a Vehicle in Virginia

To register a vehicle with the state of Virginia, residents must appear in person at their county Virginia DMV office and be ready to present the following:

  • A completed Application for Registration (Form VSA 14) or a completed Application for Certificate of Title and Registration (Form VSA 17A) if your vehicle was not previously titled in Virginia.
  • Proof of identity and address.
  • The vehicle’s inspection certificate (see “Safety & Emissions Inspections” below).
  • Proof of insurance OR payment for the $500 uninsured motorist fee (see “Insurance Requirements” below).
  • Payment for your registration fees. (Registration fees vary based on the vehicle; see Fees below.)
  • Documentation and payment for titling your vehicle. (* Note: Required only if individuals haven’t previously titled your vehicle with the VA DMV. See our page on Title Transfers for titling information.)

Once the registration process is complete, individuals will be given a Virginia registration card, which must be kept in the vehicle at all times, and Virginia license plates. VA residents will need to renew their vehicle registration either 1 year or every 2 years, depending on which option residents choose.

For additional questions about registration procedures, call the VA DMV help desk at (804) 497-7100 or contact the local Virginia DMV office.

Leased Vehicle Registration

Virginia residents may register a leased vehicle in their name with the Virginia DMV as long as the lessor (owner) of the vehicle permits the DMV to add the resident’s name and address to both the registration and the title of the vehicle.

If the resident’s name and address appear on the title, they may register their vehicle according to the steps described above, as well as complete all other registration transactions, like ordering Virginia specialty plates.

If the resident’s name and address do not appear on the title, they must get a power of attorney from the lessor of the vehicle before they may complete any transactions with the Virginia DMV.

Please note that if individuals keep the vehicle after their lease expires, they will need to re-title it in their name and without the lessor’s information on it.

Trip Permit

Residents who need to move an unregistered vehicle, perhaps to take it to the DMV to register it or to an inspection station for its vehicle inspection, may apply for a trip permit. This permit is valid for 3 days, and the vehicle must be insured before being driven.

Individuals may apply online for a trip permit, or visit the local VA DMV office. VA residents will need to provide:

  • Proof of ownership, such as a valid, assignable title or bill of sale.
    • If individuals don’t currently own the vehicle but plan to purchase it within 15 days, they only need to document the vehicle’s year, make, model.
  • Information listing your vehicle’s current location (e.g. address) and the location where you will be moving it.
  • Dates when the vehicle will be moved.
  • Either proof of vehicle insurance or payment for 1/12 of the $500 uninsured motorist fee.
  • $5 permit fee.

Vehicle Registration Fees

VA car registration fees are based on the following factors:

  • The gross (empty) weight of the vehicle.
  • The type of license plate VA residents purchase (e.g. standard vs. specialty plates).
  • The length of time residents choose to register their vehicle (e.g. 1 year, 2 years, or 3 years).

Residents who choose to register their car for 2 years can expect to pay double registration fees since they are paying for a longer period of time. VA residents can visit the Virginia DMV’s vehicle registration fee chart to calculate the exact fee amount they’ll be expected to pay.

Safety & Emissions Inspections

Before individuals can register their vehicle, they will need to have their vehicle inspected for safety, and they may also have to successfully pass an emissions inspection.

Safety inspections are required for all vehicles in the state, while smog and emissions checks are currently required for vehicles being registered in the following counties and cities:


  • Arlington.
  • Fairfax.
  • Loudoun.
  • Prince William.
  • Stafford.


  • Alexandria.
  • Fairfax.
  • Falls Church.
  • Manassas.
  • Manassas Park.

VA Auto Insurance Requirements

Vehicles registered in Virginia must be covered by adequate liability insurance at all times, and residents of this state will be required to buy insurance before they can register their vehicle.

Uninsured Motorist Fee

Residents of Virginia who are unable to purchase insurance before registering their vehicle may pay a $500 uninsured motorist fee, which will allow individuals to register and operate their vehicle for 1 year.  Please note that the uninsured fee is not an insurance policy; VA residents will be held liable for any accidents or damages to their vehicle or to others.

Virginia License Plates

After registering a vehicle, residents will be issued standard Virginia license plates and registration stickers with their registration expiration date printed on them. Make sure the sticker is firmly affixed to the license plate and is clearly visible.

Virginia residents may also have the option of purchasing specialized plates, such as military or veteran plates, vanity or personalized plates, collegiate plates, or license plates supporting various social causes.

Motorcycle Registration in Virginia

All Virginia residents must register their motorcycles with the Department of Motor Vehicles before riding on the Old Dominion’s roads. On this page, individuals will learn about registering their bike as a new VA resident AND as a current resident who recently bought a motorcycle.

New Virginia Residents

After moving to Virginia, individuals have 30 days to register their motorcycle with the DMV.

BEFORE submitting an application for registration, VA residents must:

  • Complete a safety inspection and possibly an emissions test, if individuals moved to a qualifying county.
  • Apply for a Virginia title within 30 days of moving.
  • Purchase VA motorcycle insurance.

Residents of Virginia who don’t wish to purchase insurance and want to operate their motorcycle at their own risk can instead pay a $500 uninsured motorist fee at the time of registration.

After completing the steps above, head to the local DMV office with the following items:

The motorcycle’s:

  • Title.
  • Applicable inspection certificates.
  • A completed Vehicle Registration Application (Form VSA 14).
  • For residents who are leasing a motorcycle, a power of attorney form from the lessor.
  • Proof of Virginia motorcycle insurance OR payment for the uninsured motorist fee.
  • Payment for the $24.75 registration fee, plus any other applicable taxes or fees.

Individuals will have the option to register their motorcycle for either 1 year or 2 years. Residents who choose 2 years, they’ll need to pay twice the base registration fee.

How to Register a Motorcycle in Virginia

The process for registering a motorcycle varies depending on whether it was purchased at a dealership OR from a private seller. Below are the steps required to register a motorcycle with the VA Department of Motor Vehicles in both scenarios.

Motorcycles Bought at Dealerships

When residents purchase a motorcycle at a Virginia dealership, the dealer will typically submit all required documents to the DMV. Sales tax and the costs associated with registration are usually included in the purchase price.

VA residents need to ask the dealership agent if any additional steps are required on their end to complete the process. The dealer may provide a temporary registration to use until their license plates and official Virginia registration arrive in the mail.

Motorcycles Bought from Private Sellers

Individuals who bought a motorcycle from a private seller in Virginia, are responsible for registering the motorcycle themselves.

PRIOR to applying for a motorcycle registration, make sure the bike has a:

  • Valid safety inspection sticker.
  • Current emissions inspection certificate for applicable counties.

If inspection stickers are missing, individuals need to complete the necessary safety and emissions tests before heading to the DMV.

Once residents are ready, present the following at the local Virginia DMV office:

  • The appropriate inspection certificate(s).
  • A completed Application for Registration (Form VSA 14).
  • The motorcycle’s completed and signed title.
  • A current odometer reading should be filled in the space provided. If there is no space, complete an Odometer Statement (Form VSA 5) instead.
  • Proof of the purchase price; EITHER a:
  • Bill of sale.



  • Proof of Virginia motorcycle insurance.


  • Payment for the $500 uninsured motorist fee.
  • The $24.75 registration fee, plus any other applicable taxes or fees.

Individuals can choose to register their motorcycle for either 1 year or 2 years; residents who choose 2 years need to pay twice the base registration fee.

VA Motorcycle Registration Fees & Taxes

VA residents could be required to pay the following fees and taxes when registering their motorcycle with the VA Department of Motor Vehicles:

  • Motorcycle registration (1 year): $24.75.
    • You’ll need to pay twice this fee if residents want to register their bike for 2 years.
  • Motorcycle safety inspection fee: $12.
  • Sales and use tax: 4.15% of the purchase price.
  • Title fee: $15.

Boat Registration & Licenses in Virginia

The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DGIF) enforces all boating rules and regulations. On this page, we’ll go over boat titling and registration AND the state’s requirements to legally operate vessels on the Old Dominion’s waterways.

Vessels to Title & Register in Virginia

The VA DGIF requires ALL motorized vessels to be titled AND registered. Additionally, residents must title any sailboats more than 18 ft long.

The following types of watercraft do not require titling or registration:

  • Non-motorized (powered by paddles or oars) vessels like:
  • Canoes.
  • Rowboats.
  • Kayaks.
  • Boats only used on private waters.
  • Watercraft registered in another state, not kept in Virginia for more than 90 consecutive days.

Residents of Virginia who still have questions about whether their boat requires a VA title and/or registration can call the Department of Wildlife Resources’ boat title and registration number: (866) 721-6911.

Title & Register Your Boat in VA

To title and/or register a vessel with the Virginia DGIF, residents first need to collect the following items:

  • A completed Application for Watercraft Certificate of Title and Certificate of Number (Registration) (Form BRT-001).

A proof of ownership for:

  • New boats: Original Manufacturer’s OR Importer’s Certificate of Origin, with the “First Assignment” section completed by the dealer.
  • Previously titled used boats: Original, properly assigned Virginia OR out-of-state certificate of title.

Previously registered (not titled) used boats from:

  • Virginia: A dated bill of sale OR a completed Notification of Change in Status of a Numbered Vessel (Form BRT-010).
  • Out-of-state: A copy of the vessel’s out-of-state registration and, if the boat isn’t yet registered in your name, the bill of sale.
  • The appropriate boat title/registration fees.

Submit the vessel title/registration application by any of the following methods:

In-person at any Virginia DMV office.

In-person at the DGIF Henrico office, located at:

7870 Villa Park Drive
Suite 400
Henrico, VA 23228

By mail to:

Department of Wildlife Resources—Client Services
P.O. Box 9930
Henrico, VA 23228

The Department of Motor Vehicles will issue a temporary registration that is valid for 90 days. A Virginia boat registration is valid for 3 years.

Virginia Boat Title & Registration Fees

Below are the VA Department of Wildlife Resources’ fees to title and register a vessel. Checks or money orders need to be made out to “Treasurer of Virginia”:

  • Vessel title: $7.
  • Per lien recorded on an already titled boat: $7.

Original/renewal registration (determined by your boat’s length:

  • Less than 16 ft: $27.
  • 16 up to 20 ft: $31.
  • 20 up to 40 ft: $42.
  • 40 ft and longer: $50.


  • Registration certificate: $14.
  • Boat decals: $14.
  • Vessel title: $2.

Watercraft sales tax: 2% of the boat’s sale price.

VA Vessel Renewals & Replacements

VA boat registrations are valid for 3 years. The DGIF will mail a renewal notice before registration’s expiration date.

There are a few different ways to renew a vessel registration, including:

Online by providing your:

  • Boat’s registration number.
  • Registration renewal PIN (included with the renewal notice).
  • Credit card information for the applicable renewal fees.

By mailing the appropriate renewal fees and the renewal notice to the address provided on the renewal notice.

In-person by taking the renewal notice and the necessary renewal fees to a DGIF office location.

VA residents who lost or did not receive a renewal notice can mail a completed Application for Watercraft Certificate of Title and Certificate of Number (Registration) (Form BRT-001) AND the appropriate registration renewal fees to:

Department of Wildlife Resources—Client Services
P.O. Box 9930
Henrico, VA 23228

Replace Lost VA Title & Registration

Residents of VA who lose or damage their boat title, registration, and/or decals? Residents can easily request replacements by sending the items below to the VA Department of Wildlife Resources:

  • A completed Duplicate Application (Form BRT-011) with the applicable replacement boxes checked.
  • The appropriate fees for replacement title/registration/decals.

Mail the above items to:

Department of Wildlife Resources—Client Services
P.O. Box 9930
Henrico, VA 23228

Virginia Boater Requirements

In Virginia, individuals are required to complete a boating safety course if they:

  • Are 14 or 15 years old and want to operate personal watercraft (PWC).
    • Boaters younger than 14 years old cannot operate PWC.
  • Wish to operate a motorized vessel with 10 HP or more (regardless of age).

To fulfill the DGIF’s boater education requirement, complete any of the following:

  • Online course—See the DGIF page on boating safety courses for a list of approved online education providers.
  • Classroom course—Schedule of approved classroom courses across Virginia.
  • Boating safety exam (for experienced boaters with general knowledge of VA boating rules and regulations)—Schedule of testing locations in Virginia.

Residents of VA can then order their Lifetime Virginia Boating Safety Education Card through the DGIF’s affiliated online provider. Individuals need to pay a $10 fee to receive their education card. Once residents have your card, they’ll be good to go out on Virginia state waters!

Accepted Forms of Payment

The Virginia DMV accepts the following forms of payment:

  • (ACH) credit and debit formats
  • E-check
  • Cash
  • Check
  • Money order

Prior authorization is required for VA residents who wish to use ACH payment options. Virginia residents need to make sure they have an accepted form of payment before heading to their local VA DMV office to avoid late fees and other penalties that can delay the registration process.

Leave a Reply