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  • New to Virginia

    Nearly 7 million people call Virginia their home. From the state's many historic cities to its Atlantic beaches and abundant river valleys, it is easy to see why.

    The "Old Dominion" officially became a state on June 25, 1788. Incidentally, it was the 10th state, as well as the 10th of the 13 original colonies. Virginia is actually a commonwealth rather than a state.

    The flowering dogwood is both the state tree and the state flower, while the cardinal is the official state bird. Major industries include transportation equipment, textiles, food processing, and printing.

    New Residents

    If you are new to Virginia, one of the first places you'll want to go when you get settled is your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for your driver's license and vehicle registration. Generally, military personnel and full-time students may drive here with valid out-of-state licenses.

    If you are not military or a full-time student, and you have a valid license from somewhere else, you must obtain a Virginia driver's license within 60 days of moving here.

    If you are a temporary resident, you don't have to get a Virginia license unless you stay here for longer than 6 months or become gainfully employed. However, if you hold a commercial driver's license (CDL), you must get your Virginia CDL within 30 days of moving here.

    Getting a License

    If you are 19 years old or older and you have a valid driver's license from another U.S. state or territory, a Canadian province, France, or Germany, you must apply for your Virginia license by doing the following:

    • Pay any applicable fees.
    • Bring required documentation (see below).
    • Pass a vision screening.
    • Surrender your old license.
    • You may not be required to take the knowledge exam or the road skills test, show proof that you completed driver's education, or hold a learner's permit.

    If you are 19 years old or older and you have a valid license from a country other than the U.S., Canada, France, or Germany, you must pass the knowledge exam, road skills test, and vision screenings.

    Regardless of your situation, you will need to show proof of your:

    • Identity.
    • U.s. legal presence.
    • Virginia residency.
    • Social Security number (if you've been issued a number).

    See the DMV list of acceptable documents for each category.

    Has your license been suspended or revoked by another state? You cannot receive a Virginia driver's license until your driving record from that state is cleared. You must also meet the other requirements for a Virginia license.

    Next Step: Safety Inspection

    If you have a vehicle, you must get a safety inspection and, in certain counties, an emissions inspection. Be sure to register vehicle first, before taking it in for an inspection.

    For vehicle safety inspection locations, check our section on the topic.

    Insurance Requirements

    You must obtain auto insurance on your vehicle. Virginia is very strict about vehicle insurance, and it is monitored very carefully. The minimums for coverage are:

    • $25,000 for bodily injury or death of 1 person.
    • $50,000 for bodily injury or death of 2 people or more.
    • $20,000 for property damage.

    Instead of insurance, you may opt to pay an uninsured motor vehicle fee every year.

    Titling, Registration, and License Plates

    Prior to registering your vehicle, you must title it in Virginia. After that, and within 30 days of moving to Virginia, you must register your vehicle and purchase license plates. You will receive license plates for your vehicle, plus decals that show when your registration expires. These get affixed to the plates.

    Local Registration

    Finally, certain localities also require vehicle registration and decals (commonly called "city stickers"). You should contact officials at your locality to find out if you need to register your vehicle there, as well as with the state.