How to register a car in Virginia


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UPDATED: 2020-05-19T21:05:34.210Z
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The Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia.

If you’ve just bought a car in Virginia or if you are planning to move there soon, you’ll need to register your vehicle.

States require residents to register vehicles in order to create an official record that connects a vehicle’s legal owner to a record of their address. This allows states to correctly assess any taxes due and it provides a record of lawful ownership, which is valuable in preventing criminal activity and resolving crimes if a vehicle were stolen.

The first step, whether you already live in Virginia or are moving there, is to complete an application for title and registration, which you can find here. There are different steps you’ll need to take to get a Virginia car registration if you’re moving to Virginia or if you already live there.

Registering your car if you’re moving to Virginia

If you’re moving to Virginia, you will have 30 days to register your vehicle. You’ll need to bring the following items with you to get a Virginia car registration:

  • A completed application for title and registration
  • Proof of your Virginia address (Here is a list of acceptable documentation.)
  • The title or registration from the state that your vehicle was recently registered in
  • Proof of purchase if your vehicle was purchased within the last year
  • A method of payment for fees, which will include the title fee, the registration fee, and the motor vehicle sales and use tax

Due to the proximity to the nation’s capital, which is where a number of Embassies from around the world are located, some new Virginia residents may be interested in titling foreign vehicles. Motor vehicles that are 25 years old or newer are subject to federal safety standards. This means that these foreign vehicles cannot be titled in Virginia without proof that they meet federal motor vehicle safety requirements. More information on titling an imported vehicle in Virginia can be found on the DMV website.

Registering your car if you’re a Virginia resident

As a Virginia resident, you have the option to complete some services online by using the state’s DMV website. This includes the option to renew your vehicle registration online. However, if you are registering a vehicle for the first time, you’ll need to visit one of the DMV customer service centers. Then, the vehicle’s title application can be handled at the same time.

Once the vehicle is titled, subsequent registration renewals can be completed online, including the option to renew your registration for a two-year period instead of choosing an annual renewal process.

If you’re selling or transferring the title of a vehicle, you’ll need to record the odometer reading on the title in the “assignment” section of the title. If the vehicle being sold has an out-of-state title that doesn’t have an assignment section, the odometer reading may be recorded on an odometer disclosure statement form.

How much is car registration in Virginia?

When you register your car in Virginia, you’re required to pay Virginia car registration fees. Your vehicle registration fee is determined by several factors, including the type of vehicle, its weight, whether it is an electric vehicle or not, and whether you are electing to do a one-year registration or two-year registration.

The cost of Virginia car registration fees are outlined below.

  • A passenger vehicle of 4,000 pounds or less will cost $40.75 for a one-year registration.
  • A passenger vehicles from 4,001 lbs. to 6,500 pounds will cost $45.75 for a one-year registration .
  • An electric vehicle will cost $64.00.
  • A pickup truck weighing between 4,001 pounds and 6,500 pounds will cost the same rate as a passenger vehicle of the same weight class ($45.75).
  • A truck weighing from 6,500 pounds to 10,000 pounds gross weight will cost $51.75.

Two-year registrations are double the Virginia car registration fees of a one-year registration. There are some restrictions on eligibility for the two-year registration option.

There is an emissions inspection fee in Virginia of an additional $2.00 assessed for any vehicles garaged in specific locations. These include Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, or Stafford counties, or in the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas or Manassas Park.

Electronic or paper titles in Virginia

In Virginia, you have the option to select an electronic title. This is instead of receiving your title in paper form, in which case the DMV will retain an electronic record of your title.

You are able to obtain a paper title by requesting one at a customer service center, in case you ever need one. You will be required to provide proof that you are the registered owner of the vehicle in order to receive a paper title.

Virginia insurance requirements in order to register your car

To purchase license plates or plate decals, you will be required to provide proof of insurance or pay the Uninsured Motor Vehicle Fee.

Virginia’s minimum insurance requirements are:

  • Coverage of $25,000 for the bodily injury/death of one person
  • Coverage of $50,000 for the bodily injury/death of two or more people
  • Property damage coverage of $20,000

If you do not have insurance, you must pay the Uninsured Motor Vehicle fee of $500. This fee does not provide you with insurance, it simply allows you to drive an uninsured vehicle at your own risk.

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles partners with insurance companies on a program that provides electronic verification of liability insurance coverage on vehicles registered in Virginia.

If you are looking to find a top-rated insurance company in Virginia, or are considering a move to Virginia, discover the cheapest and best car insurance in Virginia by visiting Clearsurance’s Virginia car insurance rankings page. The ranking is powered by customer reviews.

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