Register Car in West Virginia
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Our Registration Renewals page covers all the information you need if you’re looking to renew your registration.
This is a first-time registration for you if you’ve:
- Purchased a vehicle from a dealership or private sale
- Transferred vehicle ownership
- Just moved to West Virginia
If you’ve purchased a vehicle or are transferring ownership, you have 60 days to register the vehicle in your name.
If you’ve just moved to West Virginia, you have 30 days from the date you established residency to both title and register your vehicle.
The Compulsory Insurance Law requires the owner of a registered vehicle to cover that vehicle with a car insurance policy that meets minimum liability coverage requirements, so if you’re registering your vehicle for the first time, be prepared to present proof of insurance and have that proof in your vehicle at all times.
Our Insurance Center provides specifics about the minimum liability coverage requirements, as well as the tools to compare rates and find the most affordable policy.
When you purchase a vehicle from a dealership, the dealer will generally handle the titling and registration paperwork for you.
When it’s time for you to register a vehicle you’ve purchased from a private seller, a vehicle that’s undergoing an ownership transfer, or a vehicle you brought with you when you moved to the state, take these steps to prepare the paperwork:
- Locate the title and, if the vehicle is less than 10 years old, make sure the title reflects the correct odometer reading.
- You'll need the notarized Bill of Sale if you haven’t yet properly transferred the title (put the vehicle in your name) and you didn’t pay at least half of the vehicle’s book value.
- Locate your proof of insurance.
If you haven’t purchased a vehicle yet, but have one or two in mind, be sure to obtain a Vehicle History Report to make sure you’re getting a quality ride for a decent price.
The registration fee is $30; however, this basically just covers the license plate and registration card. If you’re registering a vehicle in your name for the first time or have just moved from another state, it’s likely you’ll need to cover other fees, too.
In addition to the $30 registration fee, the fees associated with first-time registrations usually include the fees associated with titling, too. You can handle these two processes during the same trip to the DMV, after all.
Titling fees include fees for the actual title, to record lien information, and privilege tax.
NOTE: If you’ve just moved to the state and your vehicle’s title is already in your name, you may be exempt from paying the privilege tax. Please refer to the state’s information on this matter.
For information about exact titling fees for your situation, visit Title Transfers.
You can register your vehicle in person at your local DMV Regional Office without an appointment.
Once you register your vehicle, you must have it inspected at a West Virginia State Police-approved inspection station.
If you purchased the vehicle in the state, you have three days to have it inspected; however, if the vehicle already has a valid inspection sticker, you can hold off until it expires.
If you’re new to the state, or you purchased a vehicle out of state, you have 10 days to get the vehicle inspected. Keep in mind your vehicle doesn’t have to undergo inspection if you purchased it in, or moved from: Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, or Wyoming. Inspection stickers from these states are valid in West Virginia until their regular expiration date.
Inspection stations are usually automotive shops that provide repair services for the kinds of things the inspector looks for, like properly functioning horns, tires, lights, and brake systems. Smog and emission checks aren't part of the deal or even required, but you can still learn how to keep your vehicle a clean-running one.
Once your vehicle passes inspection, the inspector will affix a sticker to your windshield letting everyone know your vehicle is good for another 12 months.
For more information, visit the Motor Vehicle Inspection Program.
Unless you’re transferring your old, West Virginia license plate to your new vehicle, you’ll receive a new license plate in the mail.
The $30 registration fee covers the license plate; however, you may want to browse special plates for disabled drivers or classic and antique vehicles. You can even find license plates that boast your favorite sports team. Plain or spectacular, you can always add more pizzazz to your plate with a new frame.
When you receive your license plate and decal in the mail, make sure you affix the decal to the license plate according to the instructions.
According to Chapter 22 of the IRS’s Publication 17, you may be able to deduct a certain amount of the sales tax you paid on a vehicle. Keep in mind that if you paid a sales tax that equaled more than the general sales tax rate, you can still only deduct the amount you would have paid if you paid the actual general sales tax rate. And, you need receipts.
Confusing stuff? Yes. That’s why it’s always best to consult a tax attorney.
To legally operate your vehicle, you must register it and renew that registration each year; however, to safely operate your vehicle, you can always take a few more steps.
Investing in an after-market auto warranty is a great way to make sure your vehicle repairs are covered, and you may want to get familiar with an experienced mechanic you can trust. Of course, for those times when your faithful mechanic isn’t immediately available―like when you’re stranded on the side of the road―being enrolled in a road-side assistance program comes in mighty handy.
In addition to seeking outside help, there are a few measures you can take to help keep yourself, your passengers, and your vehicle safe. Stocking your trunk with a car emergency kit may get you out of a tight jam, and using a hands-free headset when you need to make a phone call allows you to keep both hands on the wheel. And don’t forget to secure your child in a high-rated child safety seat to help make sure he is safe―and you’re obeying the law.
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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We put a lot of effort into making our content helpful & accurate. Please let us know if you see something that isn't clear or correct; we are here to ease any frustrations you may have while navigating DMV topics. We are not a government agency, please reach out to your local DMV, insurance agent, or respective professional for further assistance on specific situations.