Salvaged Vehicles in Virginia

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While a salvaged car might feel like a total loss (in fact, that’s what your insurance company will call it), there are ways to make the best of it—you might even get it back on the road! Keep reading to learn about the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles’ (DMV) rules and options when it comes to dealing with salvaged vehicles.

What Is a Salvaged Car in VA?

In Virginia, a salvaged car is defined as one so damaged by a collision or accident, fire, flood, theft, or other occurrence that the cost of repairs would exceed the car’s actual cash value.

Nonrepairable Vehicles

A nonrepairable vehicle is one that has no value except for use as parts or scrap metal

Depending on who keeps the car (see below), you or your provider will apply for a nonrepairable certificate by taking the following to a local VA DMV office:

Nonrepairable certificates are free. Once you have the nonrepairable certificate, you can ONLY sell the car to scrap metal processors, salvage vehicle dealers, car removal companies, or dismantlers. It’s illegal to sell a nonrepairable car to anyone else.  

What to Do with Your Salvaged Car

How you handle your salvaged car mostly depends on who declares the car a total loss: your insurance company or you.

Declared by Insurance Company

When your car’s been severely damaged, you may choose to get your insurance company involved by filing a total loss claim.

When you file a total loss claim, your provider will confirm the car meets the criteria for a salvage. If it does, you can expect a monetary settlement based on your car’s actual cash value (less any deductibles) with the option to:

  • Keep the car and accept partial payment.
  • Let your insurance carrier keep the car and accept full payment.
    • Aside from providing proof of lien satisfaction (if applicable), the car isn’t your responsibility anymore and you can use your settlement money to invest in a replacement vehicle. 

Declared by Car Owner

You can declare your car a salvage and apply for the appropriate title without getting your insurance carrier involved.

Once you have a VA salvaged title, you might decide to sell the car to a scrapyard, recycler, or other business that deals with dismantling salvage cars, OR you might repair the car and apply for a rebuilt title, making the vehicle legal for street use again.

Apply for a VA Salvaged Title

To apply for a salvaged title in Virginia, submit the following to the Virginia DMV’s Vehicle Branding Work Center:

  • The original car title.
  • A completed Salvage Certificate Application (Form VSA 56).
  • An itemized estimate of the repair costs from your insurance company OR an independent appraisal firm. The estimate must include a:
    • Vehicle description (including the make, model, year, and vehicle identification number).
    • List of new and used parts that need repairing and the cost to do so.
    • Total cost for parts and labor.
    • Signature from insurance company or appraisal company representative.
  • Payment for the $10 salvage title fee.
    • See the DMV’s fee chart for acceptable payment methods.

Mail everything to:

Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles
P.O. Box 27412
Richmond, VA 23269

If you have questions about applying for a Virginia salvage title, call the Department of Motor Vehicles at (804) 497-7100.

Virginia Rebuilt Vehicle Inspections

Once you’ve repaired your salvage car, it must pass a safety inspection AND a rebuilt vehicle examination before you can apply for a rebuilt title.

Safety Inspection

Your rebuilt car must pass a vehicle safety inspection BEFORE the rebuilt car inspection. You can apply for a temporary trip permit to drive your car to and from the inspection facility. 

Refer to our guide on Virginia car inspections for details on what the safety inspection entails. 

Rebuilt Vehicle Examination

To start, schedule your rebuilt car examination by submitting:

  • The original salvaged title.
  • A completed Request for Examination of Rebuilt Salvage Vehicle (Form LES 022A).
    • Make a copy of the completed form before sending it off—you’ll need to provide the copy at the actual rebuilt examination appointment.
  • Payment for the:
    • $125 inspection fee.
    • $10 rebuilt (or “substitute”) title fee.

Mail the above items to:

Department of Motor Vehicles
Vehicle Branding Work Center
P.O. Box 27412
Richmond, VA 23269

Next, a Virginia DMV agent will contact you to schedule the exam. When the day arrives, bring the following items to your rebuilt inspection appointment:

  • Proof the car passed the state safety inspection.
  • A photocopy of the Request for Examination of Rebuilt Salvage Vehicle (Form LES 022A).
  • Pictures of the car BEFORE repairs were made.
  • Receipts for all original parts.
  • Old component parts showing the vehicle identification number (if available).

The DMV agent will let you know if you need any additional documents when he or she schedules your exam.

Once your car passes inspection, you’ll receive a VA car title with the “REBUILT” brand. You can apply for car registration 24 hours after receiving the title.

VA Rebuilt Title & Car Registration

After your car passes inspection, the Virginia DMV will issue your rebuilt title. You MUST wait 24 hours from receiving your rebuilt title to apply for a new car registration.

Typically, registering a rebuilt car is similar to registering a regular car. The Department of Motor Vehicles agent who issued your car title can explain and provide the required paperwork specific to registering your rebuilt vehicle.

Still have questions about getting a rebuilt title? Give the Virginia DMV a call at (804) 497-7100.

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