License Plates & Placards in Virginia
Read below for information about Virginia license plates and tags.
NOTE: Do you qualify for disabled parking? Our Disability Placards and Plates page has information about applying for disability license plates.
If you live in VA, your vehicle must have license plates issued by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
Most vehicles are required to display license plates on BOTH the front and back, while other vehicles only need a rear plate.
You'll also be issued decals for the rear plate that show when your tag expires.
You CANNOT have a frame, cover, or anything else that alters or covers part of your plate number, decals, or state name.
License Plate Designs
The standard Virginia license plate is white with blue lettering and features the state name at the top.
Disability parking plates are also available from the VA DMV. For application requirements and other helpful details, see Disability Placards & Plates.
You can get a temporary tag when you buy a vehicle from a dealership. The tag allows you to use your vehicle while you wait for your permanent VA license plate to arrive.
Temporary tags are valid for 30 days. The dealer can issue another one if they do not provide your ownership documents within 30 days.
You must apply for Virginia license plate by registering your vehicle with the VA DMV in person.
To avoid late fees or possible citations, you must register your vehicle within 30 days of moving to VA.
Visit our Vehicle Registration page for more information, including documentation requirements, fees, and other helpful tips.
You will renew your VA license plate by renewing your vehicle registration either:
- By phone.
- By mail.
- In person.
NOTE: The VA DMV will send you a reminder notice before your tags expire.
After renewing, you will get a new validation sticker for your rear license plate. Remove your current sticker BEFORE applying the new one.
Our Registration Renewal page will provide you with more details, including renewal fees and other requirements.
If your license plate or expiration sticker is lost, stolen, or damaged, you can get a replacement in person or by mail from the VA DMV.
You will need:
- The Vehicle Registration Application (Form VSA 14).
- Payment for the applicable fees:
- License plate replacement (with or without decals): $10.
- Decal or set of decals only: $1.
Submit your form:
- In person at a VA DMV office.
- By mail to the address on the form.
NOTE: You DO NOT have to report your lost or stolen plate to the police, but notifying the police may be helpful in preventing fraud if someone else uses your tags.
If you buy a vehicle and already have Virginia license plates, you can transfer your plates when you register the new vehicle. Both vehicles must be in your name.
You must surrender your tags if you:
- Move to another state.
- Trade, sell, or donate your vehicle and don't transfer the tags to another vehicle.
- Plan to cancel your insurance and stop operating your vehicle.
- Surrender the tags BEFORE canceling your insurance.
You can also apply for a refund if you have at least 6 months left on your registration. You will need to complete an Application for a Vehicle Registration Refund (Form FMS 210).
Surrender your tags and submit your refund application (if applicable):
- In person at a DMV service center.
- By mail to:
Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles
P.O. Box 27412
Richmond, VA 23269
The fees below DO NOT include title fees, taxes, or fees for other services. Some Virginia counties or cities may also charge additional fees.
- Registration/Standard license plates (annual fee) are based on a few different things that affect the fee:
- The type of vehicle.
- The weight of the vehicle.
- The type of license plate (speciality/personalized).
- The length of renewal (multi-year renewals may have discounts).
- License Plate Replacements:
License plate Transfer: $2
- License plate: $10.
- Decal: $1.
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 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 for every 1 year of registration.
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 $10.
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.
A vehicle must be over 25 model 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:
- Vehicle registration (Form VSA 14)
- License Plate Application (Form VSA 10)
- Notarized Antique License Plate Certification (Form VSA 10B).
The plates carry a one-time, $50. 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.
Antique Plates for Everyday Vehicles
What if your vehicle is over 25 model 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.
Use this application to register your vehicle, renew your registration, or replace your registration, license plates, or decal.
Complete this form for a registration fee refund. See the form for eligibility requirements.
Submit this form to apply for an antique license plate.