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After you buy a car and get car insurance, your next step is to get your Virginia license plates. 

Your Virginia license plate number consists of a unique set of characters that associate your vehicle with:

  • Your current registration status and details. 
  • Your name and address.
  • Information about the vehicle itself.  

Like the VIN number, the license plate number is another unique identifier of your vehicle. 

Whether you’re getting the standard sequential plates or custom license plates, the process is basically the same. 

And then after you’ve got your new plates you’ll need to make sure to keep them up to date and renew your car tags each year.  

We’ve compiled all the information you’ll need to make it easy to get license plates for your vehicle in Virginia.

Looking for more information about your vehicle (or a vehicle you’re interested in)? Check out our free Virginia license plate lookup and our VIN Decoder. 

Plus, we’ve got plenty of resources for buying and selling vehicles, get started here:

How to Get a License Plate in Virginia

When you buy a new or used vehicle in Virginia, you’ll first need to transfer ownership into your name.

If you’ve bought a car from a dealership, they’ll typically take care of this process for you

But, if you’ve purchased a car from a private seller, you’ll be responsible for completing the process through the DMV.  

Make an appointment and visit your local VA DMV office to get started. You’ll have 30 days to apply. 

Once the title is transferred into your name, you’ll be ready to register the vehicle and get your new license plates. In most cases, you’ll be able to take care of these steps all at once. 

To get new license plates in Virginia, you’ll typically need to:

  • Provide proof of ownership for the vehicle you need plates for. 
  • Complete an application for a new Virginia registration.
  • Complete a VIN inspection, depending on the type of vehicle and if you bought it out of state. 
  • Complete any necessary vehicle safety and emissions inspections. 
  • Provide proof of car insurance and/or have an active policy for the vehicle that meets Virginia’s minimum insurance requirements. 
  • Have paid all necessary state, local, sales and use taxes. 
  • Pay your initial registration and license plate fees. 

In some cases, you may receive your new license plates on the spot. In other cases, your new plates will be mailed to you within about 2 to 3 weeks. 

After you’ve received your new Virginia tags, you’ll need to install them. Learn how to remove and install license plates with this simple guide. 

Be sure to mount them properly and affix the necessary car tags to the plate. 

How much will my car tag cost in Virginia?

The exact cost of your car tags will depend on the type of vehicle you have, the type of license plates, and where you live. 

Base fees for your car tags typically start at $30.75 to $44.75.

The total cost of your car tags will vary depending on:

  • The weight of your vehicle. 
  • The value/age of your vehicle. 
  • The type of vehicle you have (gasoline, hybrid, electric). 
  • Sale price, if applicable. 
  • Local fees and taxes. 
  • Specialty and personalized license plate fees, if applicable. 

For the most up-to-date car tag costs for your vehicle, please visit the official DMV website or refer to your renewal notice. 

Does Virginia require a front license plate?

Yes, a front license plate is a requirement in Virginia. 

Learn more about front license plate requirements here. 

Where do you place the car tag in Virginia?

The car tags go on the front and rear plates. 

Failing to keep your plates and car tags valid, up-to-date, and properly mounted can result in a ticket. (What are car tags?)

Virginia License Plate Renewal 

In order to continue driving legally, you’ll need to make sure that your car insurance policy is current and your car tags are renewed. 

In Virginia, your car tags will be valid for either 1 year or 2 years. 

Renewing your license plates in Virginia is a simple process. You’ll typically have the option of renewing your plates:

  • Online. 
  • By mail. 
  • In person. 

For any  license plate renewal eligibility questions, you should refer to your renewal notice or contact the Virginia DMV. 

To make sure you’re able to renew your Virginia license plates, you should have the following information and items ready:

  • Your current registration card and/or license plate renewal notice. 
  • Your Virginia registration number/license plate number. 
  • Your vehicle’s VIN. (Where to find the VIN?)
  • Your current address. 
  • Your driver’s license number. 
  • Your current car insurance policy details
  • Payment for your license plate renewal fees. 

Replace a Lost, Stolen, or Damaged License Plate in Virginia

Remember, in order to drive legally, you’ll need to display your valid, up-to-date license plates on your vehicle. 

If your plates have been lost, stolen, or damaged, you’ll want to be sure to replace them as soon as possible. 

In the case of a stolen license plate, be sure to contact your local law enforcement office to file a police report first. Learn more about what to do if your license plate is stolen here. 

In Virginia, you’ll typically be able to replace your license plates:

  • Online. 
  • In person at your local DMV office. 

In order to get replacement license plates or stickers, you’ll typically need to provide:

  • Your full name, driver’s license number, and address to prove your identity
  • Your license plate number and registration details. 
  • Payment for the replacement fee. 

Types of License Plates in Virginia

There are a variety of different types of license plates to choose from in Virginia. 

In Virginia, you can choose from over 250 different license plate designs and create your own personalized plates. 

Available designs and organizational plates to choose from include:

  • Colleges and universities. 
  • Military and veteran plates. 
  • Animal Friendly
  • Appalachian Trail
  • Aviation Enthusiasts
  • Bicycle Enthusiasts
  • Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Colonial Williamsburg
  • Community Peacebuilding
  • Cure Childhood Cancer
  • Delta Sigma Theta Sorority
  • Diabetes
  • Don’t Tread On Me
  • Drive Smart
  • Ducks Unlimited
  • Eastern Shore
  • Fight Terrorism
  • Fox Hunting License Plate
  • Fraternal Order of Police
  • Fraternal Order of Police Motorcycle
  • Freemason
  • Friends of Coal
  • Friends of Tibet
  • Gold Star
  • Greyhound Adopt
  • Harley Davidson Owners Group
  • Harley Owners Group Motorcycle
  • Home Education
  • Horse Enthusiasts
  • Horse Enthusiasts Motorcycle
  • In God We Trust
  • In God We Trust Motorcycle
  • Internet Capital
  • James River Park System
  • James River Park System Motorcycle
  • Kappa Alpha Psi
  • Keeping The Lights On
  • Keeping the Lights On Motorcycle
  • Knights of Columbus
  • Law Officers Mem. Motorcycle
  • Law Officers Memorial
  • Lighthouses (Virginia)
  • Lions of Virginia
  • Meg’s Miles
  • Most Worshipful Prince Hall
  • Move Over
  • NASA Langley Research Center
  • NASA Wallops Flight Facility
  • National Air and Space Museum
  • National Rifle Association
  • Natural Bridge
  • Newport News Shipbuilding
  • Newport News Shipbuilding Motorcycle
  • Next of Kin
  • Northern Neck
  • Nurses Foundation
  • Omega Psi Phi Fraternity
  • Order of The Eastern Star
  • Organ Donor
  • Organ Donor Motorcycle
  • Parrothead Motorcycle
  • Parrotheads
  • Peace
  • Peace Begins at Home
  • Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity
  • Poquoson City
  • Professional Firefighter-Int’l
  • Professional Firefighter-Int’l Motorcycle
  • Protect Pollinators
  • Protect Sea Life
  • Rescue Squad
  • Robert E. Lee
  • Rotary International
  • Shenandoah National Park
  • Shenandoah National Park Motorcycle
  • Shriner
  • Smith Mountain Lake
  • Sons of Confederate Veterans
  • Sons of Confederate Veterans – Motorcycle
  • Stop Gun Violence
  • Surfrider Foundation
  • TeamTommie
  • Tobacco Heritage
  • Tobacco Heritage Truck
  • Trust Women, Respect Choice
  • United We Stand
  • United We Stand Motorcycle
  • Unlocking Autism
  • Virginia Agriculture
  • Virginia Beach City
  • Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation
  • Virginia For The Arts
  • Virginia Realtors
  • Virginia State Parks
  • Washington Capitals
  • Washington Nationals
  • Wildflower
  • Wildlife
  • Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc

For more information about Virginia license plates as well as official forms, fees, and details, check out the state’s website at the following link: