How to Register & Title a Vehicle in Virginia

Having Virginia car registration is legally required in order to operate a motor vehicle, including after the purchase of a vehicle. While new Virginia residents will have 30 days to obtain new car title documents and complete DMV car registration, current residents will need to obtain new car registration immediately, and will have to apply for a permit to move a vehicle that is not registered. The registration of vehicle process is crucial and taken seriously in Virginia, with severe penalties awaiting those who do not register. For those asking, “What is needed when registering my car and titling my vehicle in Virginia?” continue to the sections below.

Getting Car Registration & Virginia Car Title on a New Vehicle

The first step in obtaining car registration and a new Virginia car title depends greatly on your situation. If you have purchased a new or used vehicle from a reputable dealership, the dealership may complete all the paperwork and steps for your new car registration and vehicle title for you. If this is the case, you will be provided with a temporary license plate and registration that you can use until you receive your documentation in the mail. Your vehicle title will also be mailed to you, or to your lienholder – if you have one. Unlike many other states, however, the state of Virginia does not legally require a dealership to obtain your car title or complete your initial car registration for you, so you should always ask the dealership if this is a service provided. Learn more about registering and titling new vehicles in Virginia by downloading our free, informative guide.

How to Get Car Registration & Car Title on a Used Vehicle in Virginia

In order to successfully obtain car registration in Virginia, you must first obtain a new Virginia car title. This is commonly done if purchasing a used vehicle from a private seller or in the rare case that a dealership would not provide registration and titling services.

You cannot obtain your initial title or car registration online, and will, instead need to visit your local Virginia DMV to submit your application. When obtaining your vehicle title, you will need to complete the Application for New Owner Certificate of Title and Registration form. You will then need to provide either the Manufacture’s Certificate of Origin or the previous car title. If you purchased a vehicle from a private seller, the Virginia car title must be completed, including the seller’s information and the current odometer reading of the motor vehicle. Additionally, you will need to provide:

  • Proof of identity.
  • Proof of address.
  • Proof of purchase price.
  • The Virginia car title fees and potential sales tax based off of the vehicle’s purchase price.

Download our comprehensive guide to read about the required documents needed for DMV registration and titling in Virginia.

Once you have successfully obtained your vehicle’s title, it is time to move on to the registration. If you are wondering, “When can I register my car after I have obtained my car title?” the answer is right away, so long as you meet your car registration requirements. You will need to have obtained a Virginia auto insurance policy for your vehicle that, at minimum, meets state requirements before you can complete your registration. Additionally, certain counties within Virginia will require you to complete an emissions inspection, unless you qualify for an exemption. You will need to provide proof of these outlined car registration requirements, complete an application and pay the appropriate registration fees before your registration can be completed. Motor vehicle registration can be processed the same day when done in person, so you will be provided with your license plates and proof of registration at the end of your visit, so you can mount and store these items immediately.

Get Car Registration & Vehicle Title as a New Virginia Resident

Unlike current Virginia residents, new residents must complete their car registration and obtain Virginia car title documents for their vehicles within 30 days from the date of moving to the state, rather than right away. By now, you may be wondering how to get car title documents as a new resident, and that is a valid concern. While car registration requirements are the same for a new resident and one that has purchased a vehicle from a private seller, applying for a car title in Virginia does carry a few key differences. New Virginia residents will need to complete an Application for Title and Registration, or VSA 17A form, as well as provide proof of identification, proof of address and the vehicle title or car registration from the previous state of residence.

Additionally, you will be required to provide proof of purchase if you purchased your vehicle within that past 12 months. Learn more about new resident car registration and titling in our comprehensive guide.

Virginia Multi-Year Motor Vehicle Registration Eligibility & Discounts

In Virginia, car registration can be purchased for multiple years at a time in order to take advantage of special discounts from the state. This is known as a multi-year motor vehicle registration, and is recommended if you are eligible to obtain one, as it saves both time and money. Understanding multi-year DMV car registration is crucial, as you are not eligible for a two-year registration period if:

  • Your vehicle’s gross weight is 55,000 pounds or more.
  • Your vehicle is registered under an International Registration Plan.
  • You have paid the uninsured motor vehicle fee, instead of obtaining auto insurance.
  • You live in an emissions area, and only have one year left on your emissions inspection.

Additionally, a three-year car registration will not be available to you if:

  • You are registering your motor vehicle for the first time.
  • You live in a Virginia county that requires a vehicle inspection every other year.
  • Your vehicle totals more than 55,000 gross weight.
  • Your vehicle is registered under the International Registration Plan.
  • You have paid the uninsured motor vehicle fee, and have opted out of valid auto insurance.