When you relocate to Virginia from another state, you have 30 days to register your vehicle. Registration, which proves that you have the authorization to drive your vehicle in the state, requires that your vehicle pass an emissions test, pass a safety inspection, be titled in Virginia, and be properly insured.
You also must pay a registration fee to get plates for your car. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, you have more time, 60 days, to obtain your Virginia driver’s license than you do to register your car. However, if you hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL), you must obtain a Virginia CDL within 30 days.
During the application process for your driver’s license, you may want to consider getting a REAL ID since the federal government will require everyone to have one by May 2025 to be able to board an airplane. To obtain a driver’s license in Virginia, you need to:
- Complete a driver’s license application
- Have required documentation, such as two proofs of residency, one proof of identity, your previous driver’s license and other items
- Pay a driver’s license fee, which is $32 for the standard eight-year license
When you move to the Commonwealth of Virginia, you also will need to get a new title for your vehicle within 30 days of your move. You may want to get this done before you get your driver’s license since you have less time to obtain a title for your car. Requirements for titling your car:
- A completed application form
- Adequate proof of residency
- Title and registration from the state you lived in before your move
- $15 title and a sales and use tax fee
In Virginia, you can apply for your title by mail or in person at a DMV counter.
Emissions and safety inspections for vehicle registration in VA
In addition to having a title for your car, there are other things that you must do to register it in the state. You also must pass an annual emissions inspection if you move to Arlington, Fairfax, Loundon, Prince William or Stafford counties or any of the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas or Manassas Park.
You also will need to have an annual safety inspection completed, which can be done at many of the different repair shops in Virginia. After your vehicle passes the safety inspection, you will receive a safety inspection sticker that you need to have on your vehicle. If you do not display this sticker, you can be fined, which will post to your driving record.
What else must you do at the DMV when you move to Virginia?
In Virginia, you also need to meet the minimum requirements for liability insurance. This is true even when the vehicle is not working or not being used. When you register your car, you must show proof of your insurance coverage. Virginia law requires the following minimum liability insurance coverage for all registered vehicles for policies went into effect on January 1, 2022:
- $30,000 for bodily injury or death of one person;
- $60,000 for bodily injury or death of two or more people; and
- $20,000 for property damage
Those minimums change after January 1, 2025, to the following minimums:
- $50,000 for bodily injury or death of one person;
- $100,000 for bodily injury or death of two or more people; and
- $25,000 for property damage
If you choose not to obtain insurance in Virginia, you must pay a $500 uninsured motor vehicle fee to the Department of Motor Vehicles, which is good for one year.
You then have 30 days to register your car in the Commonwealth of Virginia. To do this, you will need to have the car titled in Virginia, complete the application for registration, pass an emissions test, pass the safety inspection, have the minimum insurance requirements and pay a registration fee. The registration fee will vary on whether you choose a two-year or three-year registration and if you pay by phone, online or by mail. You may also need to pay a Highway Use Fee if your vehicle has a fuel rating of 25 miles per gallon or higher.
In summary, when you move to Virginia, the first things you need to do at the Department of Motor Vehicles are work on obtaining your new driver’s license and start taking the steps for the vehicle registration process. You have 60 days to get your driver’s license and 30 days to get your registration. You can also start shopping for your VA car insurance here with us by getting free auto insurance quotes.
— Shivani Gite and Michelle Megna contributed to this story.
Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. “Apply for a Driver’s License.” Accessed January 2023.
Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. “Insurance Requirements.” Accessed January 2023.
Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. “New to Virginia.” Accessed January 2023.
Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. “Title Your Vehicle or Trailer in Virginia,” Accessed January 2023.