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Antique Motor Vehicles and Trailers

Antique and Vintage License Plates

black antique plate with white lettering yellow antique plate with black lettering

If you own a passenger vehicle, trailer, semi-trailer or motorcycle with a model year that is more than 25 model years old before January 1 of the current calendar year, you've got an antique! Depending on how you plan to use your vehicle, you may choose antique, vintage or any one of our standard license plates. Antique license plates are provided by DMV, while vintage license plates are original Virginia license plates issued prior to 1976 that you provide. Antique vehicles must be insured with motor vehicle liability insurance or you must pay the uninsured motor vehicle fee.

Passenger vehicles and trailers manufactured in or after 1973 are not eligible to use vintage license plates, as DMV began issuing yearly decals for passenger vehicles and trailers in 1973. You will only be able to use antique or standard license plates issued by DMV on those vehicles. If you own a motorcycle, you may be able to provide vintage motorcycle plates that were issued up to 1976. However, if your motorcycle was manufactured in or after 1976, you must use either antique or standard license plates issued by DMV.

Using Your Antique Vehicle Just For Show

If you plan to use your antique vehicle or trailer solely as a collector's item, you may register your vehicle with antique license plates or permanent vintage license plates.

Registering your vehicle either of these ways limits your use of the vehicle to:

  • Participation in antique car club activities, exhibits, tours, parades, and similar events.
  • Testing its operation, obtaining repairs or maintenance, selling the vehicle or trailer, transportation to and from events as described in number 1 above and for the occasional pleasure driving not to exceed 250 miles from your residence.
  • Carrying or transporting passengers, personal effects or other antique motor vehicles being transported for show purposes.

You may not use your vehicle for general, daily transportation. This includes, but is not limited to, driving to and from work.

If you are providing vintage license plates, then the year embossed on the license plate must match the model year of the vehicle. In addition, DMV must inspect and approve the physical condition of the vintage plates.

To register your vehicle with antique or permanent vintage license plates, DMV charges a one-time $50 registration fee. Use the Vehicle Registration Application (VSA 14) or the License Plate Application (VSA 10), and the Antique Vehicle Applicant Certification (VSA 10B).

  • Your license plates will be valid for as long as you own the vehicle.
  • You may not transfer your license plates to another vehicle, but you may surrender them to DMV and then register them to a different vehicle for an additional fee.
  • Unless the vehicle was manufactured for one license plate only, you must display license plates on the front and the rear of your vehicle.
  • Using the Antique Vehicle Applicant Certification (VSA 10B), you must also certify that you own, or have regular use of, another vehicle, without antique plates, for daily use and that the vehicle or trailer you want to register with antique plates can be driven safely on the highways of Virginia.

If you have additional questions, you may find the answers in our Antique Vehicle FAQs.

Using Your Antique Vehicle For Everyday Driving

In order to enjoy unrestricted driving privileges in your antique vehicle, you'll need to either purchase standard license plates (not antique plates) from DMV or provide vintage license plates and register your antique vehicle for general transportation purposes. No matter which option you choose, you will be subject to the same registration requirements. So, remember, if you choose to use vintage license plates, just like owning a modern vehicle, you'll have to:

  • Renew your vehicle registration every year or every other year (depending on whether you renew for one or two years), pay the same registration fee you would pay to purchase standard license plates.
  • Display month and year decals on your vintage license plates.
  • Obtain an annual safety inspection sticker for your vehicle.

If you own another vehicle or trailer of the same model year, you may transfer your general transportation vintage license plates to that vehicle.

Violations of the antique vehicle rules are Class 4 misdemeanors under Virginia Code Section 46.2-730 and will result in the revocation of your antique or permanent vintage license plates for a period of five years from the date DMV is notified of your conviction.

Additional Information

For more details about the use of antique or vintage license plates, visit Virginia Code Section 46.2-730 or check our Antique Vehicle FAQs.