License Plates & Placards in Virginia
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When your vehicle is properly titled and registered in your name, you can purchase different types of license plates for it instead of the standard-issue plates. To purchase plates, you will need your title number and vehicle identification number (VIN), which you can find on your registration card.
If purchasing specialized, personalized, or souvenir plates in person or through the mail, you will also need to complete a License Plate Application. If you order online instead, you can view samples of all the license plates and see how they'd look if you personalized them.
Virginia offers more than 200 special license plate designs that allow you to promote yourself or a cause. For an extra annual fee, you can get a plate with your university name and logo on it, or promote your rotary club membership or your enthusiasm for bicycles. There are plates representing the military, civic organizations, fraternities and sororities, and hobbyists, just to name a few.
You can also personalize your license plates with a special character combination of up to seven letters and numbers. You can check online to see if your desired personalization is available, and play with it to see what it would look like.
There is no obligation when you check online, but if you choose to, you can reserve or purchase your plates online when you find one you like. Personalized plates are just an additional $10.00 annually.
Souvenir plates are reproductions of Virginia license plates, issued for fun displays and as gifts. They are for ornamental use only―it is illegal to display or use a souvenir plate on a motor vehicle.
You can order a souvenir plate online and it will be mailed to you within four weeks. Orders from outside the United States require extra shipping time. Souvenir plates are just $10 each. They are issued singly. If you want to personalize your souvenir plate with up to seven alphanumeric characters, you can do that for an additional $20.
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) accepts MasterCard, Visa, and Discover credit cards as well as MasterCard and Visa debit cards. The DMV also accepts bank information for electronic withdrawals from your checking account. If you are ordering in person or through the mail, you can also pay by check.
If you are a driver with a disability, whether it's temporary or permanent, you may be eligible to use parking spaces specially reserved for the disabled. To do this, you will have to order disability license plates and a placard to hang from your vehicle's rearview mirror.
A vehicle must be over 25 years old and used primarily for antique exhibitions, parades, and related activities to qualify for antique status. (The vehicle may be used for infrequent pleasure trips of under 250 miles, and to obtain repair work.)
Should your vehicle meet the antique standards, you may choose to apply for antique plates or vintage plates. The latter are the plates issued in the vehicle's model year. You'll have to supply the vintage plates, however, and the plates must pass an inspection at the DMV office.
The DMV provides a look at the the two types of antique plates available.
To apply for either the antique or vintage plates, complete the following forms:
The plates carry a one-time, $50.00. The plates are permanent, don't need to be renewed, and are good as long as the vehicle ownership doesn't change.
If a vehicle is only required to display one plate, then you may opt to just use a single plate, attached to the rear of the vehicle. Otherwise, a front and rear plate must be displayed.
Take the paperwork and your payment to any DMV office, or mail everything to:
- DMV Special Plates
- P.O.Box 26668
- Richmond, VA 23261-6668
Antique Plates for Everyday Vehicles
What if your vehicle is over 25 years old, but is used for routine transportation?
You may apply to use the vintage plates for your vehicle. However, the vehicle must be registered for general transportation, and you'll need to renew the plates, just like with standard plates. (The fee is the same as standard plates.) Also, the vehicle will need to pass the annual safety inspection.
Information found on our Car Registration page.
The state does not require Virginia residents to return their license plates after relocating to another state, but it does in other situations. Learn more on our VA License Plate Surrender page.
Other Topics in This Section
- Register Car
- Registration Renewal
- Registration & Insurance
- Replacing a Lost Registration
- RV & Motorhome Registration
- Custom Built Car Registration
- Boat Registration and Licenses
- Title Transfers
- Replacing a Lost Title
- Salvaged Vehicles
- Special Vehicles
- Drivers with Disabilities
- License Plates & Placards
- Smog & Emission Checks
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