Green Driver State Incentives in Virginia

Virginia entices locals to go green by offering numerous time- and money-saving, green driver incentives. These perks include alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) emissions test exemptions for electric cars and hybrids, high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane access for clean-fuel vehicles, state and federal tax incentives, discounted electric vehicle (EV) charging rates, fuel-efficient auto insurance discounts, and more.

These eco-friendly driver incentives and related green vehicle laws are subject to change. In addition to referencing this page, periodically check in with your local VA Department of Motor Vehicles branch and the government's Alternative Fuels Data Center.

VA Emissions Test Exemptions for Eco-Friendly Vehicles

If you drive one of the following fuel-efficient vehicles, you may skip the emissions test otherwise required for VA vehicle registration and registration renewal. Virginia exempts:

  • Vehicles exclusively powered by clean fuels, including:
    • Compressed natural gas (CNG).
    • Liquefied natural gas (LNG).
    • Electricity.
    • Solar energy.
  • Qualified hybrids.
  • Motorcycles.
  • Certain diesel-powered vehicles.

For full details, consult the state's emissions test exemptions. Note that only certain parts of Northern Virginia require emissions testing. This includes the:

  • Counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, and Stafford.
  • Cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, and Manassas Park.

Get the full scoop through Air Check Virginia and our pages on green vehicle laws and smog checks. If necessary, locate the nearest inspection center using our locator widget at the bottom of the page.

HOV Lane Access with Virginia Clean Special Fuel License Plates

If you drive a qualifying clean-fuel vehicle, you may apply for clean special fuel vehicle plates through the Virginia DMV. The benefit: You may use certain VA high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, regardless of the number of passengers in your vehicle.

What Qualifies as Clean Fuel in VA

Virginia requires vehicles to run exclusively on the power of one (or a combination of two) of the following fuel types in order to qualify for clean special fuel plates:

  • Compressed natural gas (CNG).
  • Electricity.
  • Ethane.
  • Hybrid gasoline/electric.
  • Hydrogen.
  • Hythane.
  • Liquefied natural gas (LNG).
  • Liquefied petroleum gas.
  • Methane.
  • Solar.

Virginia issues three types of clean special fuel plates. Each comes with a specific HOV lane occupancy-requirement exemption. The date on your DMV plate application receipt determines the type of clean fuel plate you'll receive.

  • On or after July 1, 2011—Exemption from the occupancy requirements of any HOV lane, excluding those in the I-95/395 corridor and I-66 corridor.
  • Between July 1, 2006 and June 30, 2011—Exemption from the occupancy requirements of any HOV lane, excluding those in the I-95/395 corridor.
  • Before July 1, 2006—Statewide exemption from the occupancy requirement of any HOV lane.

Keep in mind, if Virginia issues you clean special fuel plates before July 1, 2011, you may only renew or transfer these to a new purchase that also qualifies as a clean vehicle.

How to Apply for Clean Special Fuel License Plates

Only the DMV's Special Registration Work Center issues, reissues, and transfers clean special fuel license plates; You can't obtain them online or through a Customer Service Center, a DMV Select agent, or a car dealer. To apply:

  1. Check that your vehicle made the list of qualifying clean fuel vehicles.
  2. Download and complete the License Plate Application (VSA 10), including the vehicle identification number (VIN) and title number.
  3. Either fax your application to (804) 367-6379 or mail it to:

DMV Registration Work Center
P.O. Box 26668
Richmond, VA 23261-6668

The DMV Special Registration Work Center will then review your application, then mail you notification of whether you qualify. If so, it will also mail you your clean special fuel license plates and a payment invoice (if applicable). These plates cost $25 annually in addition to your regular registration fees.

For full details, consult the DMV's page on Clean Special Fuel Vehicles/Plates.

State and Federal Tax Incentives

Virginia and the federal government offer tax breaks on alternative fuels and alternative fuel vehicles. Read the following subsections below for more info.

If you have questions on taking advantage of certain tax incentives, consider consulting a tax professional, the Virginia Department of Taxation, or your local IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center.

Virginia Alternative Fuel Tax Exemptions

Virginia exempts alternative fuel from taxes when:

  • Sold and delivered to a government entity (to also be exclusively used by the government entity)—excluding anyone operating under contract with said entity.
  • Sold and delivered to a 501(3)(c) nonprofit, charitable organization —that exclusively offers charitable, long-distance, advanced life-support to Virginia's low-income medical patients—to operate an aircraft.
  • Produced by the owner (or lessee) of an agricultural operation when he uses it exclusively for the farm or as fuel in the producer's motor vehicles.

Refer to Virginia Code (58.1-2250) for specifics.

Federal Tax Incentives for Buying a Fuel-Efficient Car

To entice American taxpayers to go green, the government offers numerous federal tax credits for buying a fuel-efficient vehicle such as one of the following:

  • Electric car (EV).
  • Hybrid.
  • Plug-In hybrid (PEV).
  • Diesel.
  • Other Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV).

For full details on these tax breaks for eco-friendly vehicle owners, consult's Tax Incentive Information Center.

Dominion EV Charging Rate Incentives

Dominion offers two electric vehicle pricing plans as part of its pilot program for plug-in electric vehicles. Read on to learn how you can save some extra green.

Electric Vehicle Pricing Plan

Dominion offers a rate reduction to customers who charge their electric vehicles during an 8-hour off-peak period. To take advantage of the Electric Vehicle Pricing Plan, you must have an additional meter installed specifically for your EV.

Although Dominion provides additional meters for free, you might incur installation costs. Plus, the EV Pricing Plan comes with an additional service charge. For more info, check outDominion's EV Pricing Plan Details and FAQs, or call (866) 566-6436.

EV + Home Pricing Plan

Dominion offers a whole-house pricing plan called the EV + Home Pricing Plan that aims to get customers to use appliances during off-peak hours as much as possible. For the purposes of this plan, view your EV as a separate appliance.

The plan entails exchanging your current meter for a new one that records energy usage in 30-minute intervals. This allows for a recharging your electric vehicle and using other appliances during a pricing period that costs you less.

For more info, check out Dominion's EV + Home Pricing Plan Details, FAQs, and recharging tips , or call (866) 566-6436.

Auto Insurance Discounts for Eco-Friendly Driving and Green Vehicles

Some Virginia auto insurance providers offer insurance discounts for having green driving habits and/or driving a fuel-efficient vehicle. Consult your car insurance company about potential green vehicle discounts such as:

  • Hybrid auto discounts.
  • Alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) discounts.
  • Economy car discounts.
  • Low-mileage discounts.
  • Pay-as-you-drive discounts.

Auto insurance discounts vary by provider and circumstances. For example, you might receive a 10% discount on car insurance for owning or leasing a hybrid car, while maintaining low mileage can earn you up to a 30% auto insurance discount.

If your current auto insurance carrier doesn't reward eco-friendly driving, find one that does. Compare auto insurance rates online and save some green for going green.

VA Vehicle Weight Limit Extensions

Virginia grants an extension on state weight limits for natural gas vehicles and vehicles either equipped with an auxiliary power unit (APU) or idle reduction technology. Read on for details.

Natural Gas Vehicle Weight Exemption

Virginia extends the state gross, single axle, tandem axle, or bridge formula weight limits by an additional 2,000 pounds (in total) for vehicles that run either partially or fully on natural gas. Eligibility depends on whether you (as the operator) can demonstrate that your vehicle is one of the following:

  • Natural gas vehicle.
  • Bi-fuel vehicle that uses natural gas.
  • Vehicle converted to run on natural gas.

Find out the full details in the Virginia Code (46.2-1129.2).

APU and Idle Reduction Technology Weight Exemption

Virginia extends the state weight limits for vehicles that reduce emissions either using an auxiliary power unit or idle reduction technology. Specifically, such a vehicle may exceed gross, single axle, tandem axle, or bridge formula weight limits by a maximum of 550 pounds (in total) to compensate for the extra weight of the equipment.

Eligibility depends on whether you (as the operator) can prove the certified weight of the APU or idle reduction technology unit in writing, and demonstrate (or provide written certification) that your idle reduction technology is fully functional

For specifics, consult the Virginia Code (46.2-1129.1).

Find a Nearby Virginia Emissions Testing Station

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