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New To Virginia

Welcome to Virginia! Here at DMV, we're excited to help you get on the road. These steps will give you the information you need to drive on Virginia's highways.

Apply for a Virginia Driver's License

Information you need to review/study to obtain a driver's license is listed below:

Obtain a Vehicle Safety Inspection Sticker

Before operating a vehicle in Virginia, it must pass an annual safety inspection and display a valid safety inspection sticker. Be warned: if you drive your vehicle without an inspection sticker, you may be ticketed by law enforcement. A conviction for violating Virginia inspection laws could result in a fine and be posted to your driving record. For information about safety inspections, or to find safety inspection stations near you, contact the Virginia State Police at www.vsp.virginia.gov or (804) 674-6774.

Meet Virginia's Emissions Inspection Standards

Your vehicle must pass an emissions inspection before it can be registered if it is garaged in one of the following localities:

  • The counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, or Stafford
  • The cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, or Manassas Park

If your vehicle is being registered for the first time in Virginia and has a current valid emissions certificate (performed in the last 12 months) from one of the following states, it may be titled and registered without a Virginia emissions inspection:

  • Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia,
  • Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri,
  • New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon,
  • Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, or Wisconsin.

Emissions inspections in Virginia are valid for two years and may be obtained by having your vehicle inspected at a certified emissions inspection station. When you have your vehicle inspected in Virginia, the emissions station will update your vehicle record at DMV.

Your emissions inspection should not cost more than $28. Vehicles subject to the emissions program will be charged an additional $2 per year at the time of registration. This fee is used to cover the cost of the emissions inspection program. For additional information about emissions inspections and the locations of inspection stations, contact the Department of Environment Quality at (703)583-3900 or toll free in Virginia at 1-800-275-3844.

Meet Virginia's Vehicle Insurance Requirements

From the moment you register your vehicle to the day the registration period expires, your vehicle must be covered by a liability policy issued by an insurance company licensed to do business in Virginia - even if the vehicle is not working or not being used. Virginia law requires the following minimum insurance coverage for all registered vehicles.

  • $25,000 for bodily injury or death of one person;
  • $50,000 for bodily injury or death of two or more people; and
  • $20,000 for property damage.

If insurance is not an option, you must pay a $500 uninsured motor vehicle fee (UMV). Paying this fee does not provide insurance coverage, but it does allow you to register and operate your vehicle in Virginia for one year.

If you register your vehicle in Virginia but do not cover the vehicle with liability insurance and do not pay the UMV fee, you face a $500 fine, suspension of your driver's license and vehicle registration(s), and higher insurance premiums for the next three years. Whenever you obtain or cancel a liability policy, or add or remove a vehicle from a policy, the insurance company notifies DMV immediately. Why take chances? Get insurance on your vehicle before you register it.

If you sell, trade or dispose of your vehicle, be sure to notify DMV if you want to transfer the license plates to another insured vehicle. If you do not want to transfer your license plates, please return them to any DMV customer service center before you cancel your insurance. Failure to comply with Virginia's insurance law will result in fines, suspension of your driver's license, and cancellation of the registrations on all vehicles that you own or co-own.

Title Your Vehicle in Virginia

To register your vehicle in Virginia and obtain license plates, you must first title your vehicle within 30 days of moving to Virginia.

Register Your Vehicle and Acquire License Plates

After you have insured and titled your vehicle, register it at any Virginia DMV customer service center within 30 days of moving to Virginia. Your registration fee is determined by:

  • the empty weight or gross weight of your vehicle,
  • the type of license plate you purchase (see special license plates section), and
  • the period of time, one or two years, you choose to register your vehicle.

A two-year registration costs twice the annual fee and provides added convenience for our customers. However, the two- year renewal option is not available for vehicles with a gross weight of 55,000 pounds or more, vehicles registered under the International Registration Plan or uninsured vehicles.

As a courtesy, DMV will mail renewal reminders to you prior to the expiration date of your registration. To receive reminders on time, be sure to update your address with DMV. You can renew your vehicle registration online, by telephone, or by mail.

Keep the registration card with you whenever you operate the vehicle.

DMV will issue you two license plates, two decals showing the expiration date, and a registration card. Apply the decals as indicated on the plates, then place the plates on the front and rear of your vehicle so that they are securely fastened and clearly visible. If your vehicle is a motorcycle, DMV will issue you just one license plate for the vehicle.

It is illegal to mount license plates frames, colored glass, plastic or any other type of covering on your license plates that alters or obscures the letters, numbers, decals or the state where the vehicle is registered, and when the registration expires.

Window Tinting/Sun-shading Requirements

If you are titling and registering a vehicle that has sun-shading, you need to be aware of Virginia law. Virginia’s sun-shading requirements for the minimum percent of light allowed are as follows for any motor vehicle operated on Virginia highways:

  • front side windows – 50%
  • rear side and rear windows - 35%
  • windshield - no sun-shading allowed

Contact the Virginia State Police if you have questions about whether the sun-shading on your vehicle meets these requirements. DMV may issue medical authorizations to individuals who have medical conditions requiring restrictions from sunlight or bright artificial light.

Obtain a Local Sticker Or Decal From Your Locality

The locality in which you live may require you to register the vehicle within 30 days of moving there. Contact your locality to find information for your local Commissioner of the Revenue, Treasurer or Director of Finance.

Additional Information

  • Voter registration is available at any DMV office.
  • If you are a male U. S. citizen living in the U. S. or abroad or a male immigrant (permanent resident alien) residing in the U. S., and you are age 18 through 25, you are required to register with the Selective Service System.

For other helpful information to assist you as you relocate, visit the Movers Guide.

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