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  • State Regulations in Virginia

    Registering a car?

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    There is nothing like the personal satisfaction you get from owning your own vehicle. With today's busy lifestyle, you need transportation to get you to work and around town, and nothing is as convenient as your own car.

    Buying a Vehicle

    Whether it's a car, SUV, truck, motorcycle, or other motor vehicle, when you buy or receive a vehicle, you must first get it insured. Whether this is your first vehicle or you have replaced your old one, notify your insurance company right away.

    If you opt not to get at least the minimum coverage that Virginia requires, then you can pay the $500 uninsured motor vehicle fee. You'll have to pay this annually unless you get insurance, and be careful―you're not insured.

    Some used vehicles will require an emissions inspection before the Virginia DMV will register them. If this applies to you, do this next.

    Finally, visit your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) customer service center to title and register your vehicle. (If you bought the vehicle from a dealer, the dealership might handle this paperwork for you.)

    You will need to bring proof of residence, proof of purchase price, and the vehicle's previous title if it is from out of state. Fill out an Application for Certificate of Title and Registration (Form VSA 17A). There is a section on the form to record the odometer reading.

    If the vehicle is more than 5 years old, and was not purchased through a dealership, you will also need a bill of sale or a completed Vehicle Price Certification (Form SUT 1)

    A $10 titling fee applies, plus a registration fee based on the vehicle's type and weight. You might also have to pay motor vehicle sales and use tax, which is 4.05% of the purchase price or $75, whichever is higher. Some locations also levy their own additional local registration fees.

    Once your vehicle is titled and registered, you will receive two license plates, which you should attach to the front and back of your vehicle. Affix the decals to the one on the back.

    Note that the DMV will maintain your title in electronic form if you wish; otherwise, you can opt for the traditional paper title.

    Selling or Donating a Vehicle

    When you sell or donate a vehicle, you must first sign the title over to the buyer or recipient. Also make sure that he or she signs it and includes his or her name and address.

    Next, remove your license plates. If you have purchased another vehicle, you can transfer the plates to it. If not, you can return them to the DMV or destroy and dispose of them yourself.

    If there is a full six months or more left on your registration, you may qualify for a prorated refund, and you will need to turn in the plates to the DMV. Complete the Application for Vehicle Registration Refund (Form FMS 210) and mail it in with your license plates. Let the DMV know that the plates are inactive.

    Then, you should notify the DMV that you sold or donated your vehicle. It's an easy process that can be accomplished online or by phone at (804) 497-7100.

    You must also notify your insurance company. If you bought another vehicle, you can have your current policy transferred to your new vehicle. You must have liability coverage before you can register your car.

    If you cancel your insurance policy because you no longer own the vehicle but you forgot to tell the DMV that you sold it, then your driver's license could be at risk, as well as the registration of your other vehicles. Insurance companies tell the DMV when someone cancels a policy, so if the DMV thinks you still own the car but are no longer insuring it, you could be in trouble.

    Buying or Selling a Vehicle Without a Title

    Can't be done. A title is mandatory. If you're the seller, you must apply for a duplicate title before any transaction can be completed. You can do this online or visit any DMV office and complete an Application for Supplemental and Transfer Liens or Replacement and Substitute Titles(Form VSA 66). A replacement title costs $10.

    If you have more questions, call (888) 337-4782.

    Buying or Selling a Vehicle Without Registration

    Not an issue. A registration card is not required to buy or sell a vehicle. If you are selling and are also missing the title, however, you will need proof of ownership, such as a registration card or a vehicle identification number (VIN) card, to apply for the title.