In the state of Virginia, license plates cost between $40 and $55, depending on your vehicle's weight and the type of plate you choose.

Quick links:

What is the process for getting license plates in Virginia?

Virginia license plate costs

How do I transfer a title in VA?

How to register your vehicle with the Virginia DMV?

Does Virginia require SMOG inspection?

How do I order license plates?

How do I register a car from out of state?

Virginia registration renewal fee

How much are license plate replacement fees?

How much are Virginia temporary license plates?

How to check if a car has back fees?

If you want Virginia personalized plates, you will have to pay $10 in addition to the vehicle registration and personalized plate fees.

What Is The Process For Getting License Plates In Virginia?

In Virginia, vehicles are required to have both rear and front license plates.

(A rear license plate is required in every state in the United States. Some states require a front plate, while others do not.)

Here are the necessary steps to getting new license plates from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (Virginia DMV).

  1. Get your vehicle registration from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. You will be required to present paperwork such as proof of ownership, proof of insurance, and a valid driver's license or identification card.
  2. Select the license plate you want. Virginia has a variety of standard and specialty license plates available, such as personalized plates, military plates, and college or university plates.
  3. Pay the appropriate fees for your license plate. This may include both a one-time fee for personalized plates and an annual fee for the majority of other plates.
  4. You will need to apply for your plates directly through the Virginia DMV.
  5. Wait for the mail to deliver your license plates. After completing the registration process, Virginia license plates typically take 5-10 business days to arrive by mail.
  6. Put your license plates on your car. All registered vehicles in Virginia must display two license plates, one on the front and one on the back.
  7. Keep your license plates and vehicle registration up-to-date. You must renew your registration annually and pay any applicable fees to avoid late fees and penalties.

Virginia License Plate Costs

There are many different types of license plates: passenger license plates, commercial vehicle plates, special license plates, trailer plates, and motorcycle plates.

Unrecognizable man holding wallet with money

Standard license plates measure 6 by 12 inches and are rectangular (motorcycle license plates are smaller, measuring 4 by 7 inches). They are made of aluminum, which is durable and resistant to rust.

The Virginia license plate has seven characters (across the 50 states, license plates have anywhere from six to eight characters).

Let’s look at how much Virginia license plate fees are for different types of plates.

How Much Is a Standard License Plate In Virginia?

A set of standard Virginia license plates costs:

  1. $40.75 for cars 4,000 lbs and under
  2. $45.75 for cars 4,001 lbs and over

Standard Virginia license plates can be put on passenger vehicles, business cars, trucks, and vans.

Standard license plates are issued in any of the following scenarios:

  • Purchase of a vehicle
  • Replacing lost, damaged, or stolen license plates
  • Surrendering special interest license plates and replacing them with standard license plates

Personalized Plates Fee

Virginia personalized plates have an annual fee of $10 in addition to the standard license plate fee.

Personalized Virginia plates can be ordered online, by mail, or at your local DMV office by submitting the following:

  1. Complete the Virginia personalized license plate application (Form VSA-10)
  2. Proof of vehicle ownership
  3. Proof of insurance for the vehicle.
  4. Pay the $10 fee for the personalized license plate, in addition to the standard license plate and registration fee.

Your personalized license plate will arrive in the mail. Delivery times can be up to 6 weeks to receive your personalized plate.

Special Interest Plates Fee

Virginia special plates have an annual fee of $10 in addition to the standard license plate fee, depending on the weight of your vehicle.

Available Virginia special interest plate designs include the following:

  1. Alzheimer's Association
  2. Butterfly Heritage
  3. Greyhound Adopt
  4. Move Over
  5. Natural Bridge

Military License Plates Fee

Virginia military plates have an annual fee of $10 in addition to the standard license plate fee, depending on the weight of your vehicle.

According to 38 U.S.C. 101, you must provide a copy of an active duty or retired ID card or DD214 showing dates of service, honorable military discharge status, and 180 days of active duty.

Military license plates can be personalized just like standard plates.

Disabled License Plates Fee

Virginia offers disabled license plates to those with disabilities. Disability license plates come with no additional fees.

To apply for disabled license plates, you must complete and submit a completed disabled parking plate or placard application (MED 10).

You can submit your application either in-person at any DMV customer service center or DMV Select office, or by mailing it to:

Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles

P. O. Box 85815

Richmond, VA 23285-5815

Virginia Title Transfer Process

To complete the Virginia vehicle title transfer form, you will need to provide the following:

  • A vehicle safety inspection sticker
  • The completed VA vehicle title
  • Odometer reading
  • Emissions certificate
  • Payment for the title transfer fee: $15
  • Proof of the vehicle’s sales price (bill of sale or vehicle price certificate)
  • If applicable, the transfer of certificate of title with lien (form SUT 4)

See our guide to transferring a Virginia car title for more detailed information on the title transfer process.

Register Your Vehicle with the Virginia DMV

To apply for a Virginia license plate, you must have a valid car registration card from the Virginia DMV. VA registrations can be done in-person. To make things more efficient, you will title and register your car at the same time.

Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)

An initial registration must take place in person at a local DMV office at the time of titling your vehicle by submitting the following:

  • Bill of sale
  • Completed certificate of title
  • Application for Virginia car registration
  • Proof of identity and address
  • Valid Virginia auto insurance policy
  • Emissions test and safety inspection
  • Payment to cover VA vehicle registration fees ($30.75 - $116.49)
  • Payment to cover VA sales and use tax of 4.15% of the purchase price of the car

Emissions Inspection

Some counties and cities in Virginia require that all gasoline- and diesel-powered passenger vehicles pass an emissions test. No emissions testing—no registration and title transfer.

The following counties and cities require emission testing:


  • Alexandria county
  • Fairfax county
  • Loudoun county
  • Prince William county


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

If you live in one of these counties or cities and want to register your car, you will need to find an emissions inspection station and take the test.

Emission Check Exemptions in Virginia

If your car fits into one of the following categories, you don't have to get it tested for emissions, even in cities and counties that require emissions testing:

  1. New cars with a manufacturer’s certificate of origin getting titled for the first time
  2. Gasoline cars 25 years and older
  3. Gasoline-powered cars that exceed 10,000 lbs
  4. Diesel-powered cars manufactured in 1997 and before model year and exceed 8500 lbs
  5. Clean fuel cars
  6. Hybrid cars (gasoline hybrids are not exempt)

The fee for performing this test will be $28 per vehicle.

Vehicle Safety Inspection

In Virginia, all registered vehicles must pass a safety inspection in order to have their registration renewed. You can get your safety inspection done at most repair shops, and it should cost around $20.

How to Order License Plates

You can order license plates in Virginia by mail, or in person at a DMV office. Here are the steps for ordering license plates in Virginia:

  1. Select the type of license plate you want to order (standard, personalized, special interest, military, disability, etc.).
  2. Visit the DMV website to look over the available license plate combinations and make sure the one you want is available.
  3. Download and fill out the appropriate application form for the type of license plate you want to order.
  4. Provide the necessary documentation for the type of license plate you want to order, such as proof of vehicle ownership, proof of insurance, and payment for any required fees.
  5. Submit the completed application form to the Virginia DMV, along with the required documentation and fee. You can apply in person at any DMV Customer Service Center or mail it to the DMV.
  6. Wait for your license plate to be mailed to you. It takes about 4-6 weeks to receive your plate.

How Much Does It Cost To Register a Car In Virginia From Out Of State?

The cost of registering a car in Virginia from another state is determined by a number of factors, including the vehicle's age, weight, and value. Here are some fees that may apply:

  1. Title fee: $15
  2. Registration fee: $30.75 - $116.49
  3. Sales tax: Virginia charges 4.15%
  4. Additional fees such as a vehicle inspection fee, emissions testing fee, and any fees for specialized license plates.
Fees on increasing coin stacks

If you're planning on buying a car long distance from a private seller, give our guide a read.

Virginia Registration Renewal Fee

The fee to renew your registration depends on the gross weight of your car:

  • Vehicles weighing up to 4,000 pounds: $40.75
  • Vehicles weighing between 4,001 and 6,500 pounds: $45.75
  • Vehicles weighing between 6,501 and 10,000 pounds: $55.75

Each state has different requirements for how often license plates need to be renewed. Virginia drivers are required to renew their registration every year.

Being late on registration renewal can lead to late additional fees, fines, and other problems when pulled over for a traffic stop. To avoid this, it is important to pay careful attention to the registration expiration date.

License Plate Replacement Fees

In some cases, the VA DMV may require you to change your license plates. If your license plate is lost or stolen, contact the DMV or go to an authorized third-party office to have it replaced with new numbers and letters.

The fee for a replacement registration card is $11 if you apply in person or through the mail. However, replacement registration cards are free if you use your MyDMV account online.

  • The fee for replacement license plates is $10.
  • The fee for replacement license plate stickers is $1.

In Virginia, you must have a valid and legible registration card, license plates, and a license plate sticker to drive on the roads.

It is illegal to drive without proper documentation for registration, which can result in a steep fine.

Virginia Temporary License Plates

Virginia provides (upon request) temporary plates to people who have bought a car but don't have their permanent plates yet. They cost $5 and are valid for 90 days.

To get a Virginia temporary permit, you must provide proof of vehicle ownership, proof of insurance, and payment for the temporary permit fee. The temporary license plate must be on the car at all times, and the driver must always have proof of insurance and ownership.

How To Check If a Car Has Back Fees?

Before you buy a used car in Virginia, find out if it has any hidden fees. If it does, you could be responsible for them.

The first step is to obtain the vehicle identification number (VIN) from the seller. With the VIN, you can contact your closest Virginia DMV location and request a title search. The Virginia DMV will be able to tell you if there are any unpaid fees associated with the car, such as a vehicle registration fee or a parking ticket.

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Virginia License Plates FAQ

Which forms do I need to submit when transferring an out-of-state title?

You need the following forms to transfer the title of an out-of-state vehicle to Virginia:

  • The application for certificate of title and registration (Form VSA 17A)
  • The out-of-state vehicle title or vehicle registration card
  • Valid Virginia driver’s license
  • Proof of the purchase price if you purchase the vehicle within the last 12 months
  • Proof of paid sales tax in a different state if you purchased the vehicle in the last 12 months
  • Payment for the vehicle title transfer fee of $15

How much is a title transfer late fee?

The initial fee for a late title transfer is $10; if you go over 90 days, you will have to pay additional fees. Renewal reminders are mailed or emailed to the owner 60 days before the registration expires.

What are some important facts about Virginia vehicle registration?

Every Virginia resident must complete the application for registration and provide their Virginia driver's license, vehicle insurance, and safety inspection sticker, as well as pay the required registration fees in Virginia.

Virginia residents can handle their vehicle title and registration in person at DMV offices, DMV Select locations, or a mobile office. You will have to pay late fees if registration expires, and a highway use fee is also required for new vehicle purchase or for cars being registered for the first time.

Private party vehicle sales and leased vehicles also require registration. Additionally, out-of-state plates must be surrendered once the vehicle is registered in Virginia. Some counties, such as Arlington, Fairfax, Alexandria, Loudoun, Prince William, and Falls Church, Manassas, or Manassas Park, have additional registration requirements, fees, and taxes.

What are some important facts about Virginia vehicle titles?

Virginia law requires that all cars be insured before they can be titled. To title a car in Virginia, you can apply online or in-person at a DMV office or DMV Select location. In some Virginia counties, such as Falls Church, Alexandria, Fairfax, Manassas or Manassas Park, and Loudoun, you have to provide additional documentation, such as proof of residency or proof of purchase, to title a vehicle.

If you’ve purchased a car from a private party, you will have to submit a bill of sale. You can also get trip permits for out-of-state travel or when temporarily operating an unregistered vehicle.

Vehicle registration fees are determined based on the vehicle's weight and other factors, and payment is required at the time of title application. You must ensure that their vehicle registration does not expire to avoid late fees and penalties.

How do I know that my registration is expiring?

DMV sends email and text registration expiring reminders 30 days before it expires. Make sure the DMV has your current address to receive your mailed reminders.

What are the minimum insurance requirements in Virginia?

Driving a car in Virginia without at least the bare minimum of liability coverage is illegal:

  • Bodily injury: $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident.
  • Property damage: $20,000 per accident.
  • Uninsured motorist bodily injury: $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident.

Can I register my car online?

Registration online is currently not possible. The state of Virginia only offers online registration renewal. You can also renew your car registration by telephone or by mail.

What is the uninsured motor vehicle fee?

In Virginia, vehicle owners may pay a $500 uninsured motor vehicle fee as an alternative to purchasing liability insurance. This fee is paid at the time of vehicle registration each year and does not include insurance coverage. The fee is available only for vehicles that will not be driven on public roads.

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