Virginia Car Inspection

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Virginia requires annual safety inspections for all cars and biennial (every two years) emissions testing for cars in Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, and Stafford counties, as well as certain individual cities. 
Emissions testing allows state governments to monitor and improve the air quality of a region. Safety and air quality are priorities for most states, but not every state requires vehicle inspections, and the rules differ from state to state. 
Here to answer all your questions about Virginia’s car inspection laws is the car insurance comparison and broker app Jerry. What inspections do you need, when do you need them, and where can you get them? Let’s break it down. 

What are the car inspection requirements in Virginia?

Virginia requires an annual safety inspection for all vehicles. The fee for passenger cars and light trucks is $20
New residents must get a safety inspection as soon as possible since failure to display a valid inspection sticker could earn you a ticket.
For certain gas-powered vehicles less than 25 years old and under 10,000 pounds, Virginia requires emissions inspections before registration and every two years thereafter. 
The same requirements apply to diesel vehicles from 1997 and newer and under 8,500 pounds
Virginia’s emissions inspection requirements only apply to cars in the following counties and cities: 
  • Arlington County
  • Fairfax County
  • Loudoun County
  • Prince William County
  • Stafford County
  • Alexandria
  • Fairfax
  • Falls Church
  • Manassas
  • Manassas Park 
If you just moved to Virginia, you do not need to get an emissions inspection if you have a valid inspection certificate issued by a qualifying state in the last 12 months. 
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Exceptions to the state requirements

The only vehicles exempt from Virginia’s safety inspection requirements are: 
  • Any car at least 25 years old that is registered with the Virginia DMV as an antique
  • Any trailer without brakes with an actual gross weight (i.e. trailer and cargo combined) less than 3,000 pounds
The following vehicles are exempt from Virginia’s emissions inspection requirements: 
  • Motorcycles and autocycles
  • Gas-powered vehicles with a model year over 25 years old
  • Gas-powered vehicles with a manufacturer’s gross vehicle weight rating over 10,000 pounds
  • Diesel vehicles of model year 1996 or older and a gross vehicle weight over 8,500 pounds
  • Any vehicle exclusively powered by clean fuel (e.g. electricity, natural gas, or solar power)
  • New or demo cars being titled for the first time (exempt for only 4 years)
  • Used vehicles of the current and three previous model years (exempt for up to 4 years)
  • Qualifying hybrid vehicles (subject to $2 emissions fee)

Where to get a car inspection in Virginia

You can get a safety inspection at any qualified inspection station in the state of Virginia. 
The state does not keep a list online and cannot recommend a station, so look in your area for a car dealership, garage, or other business that displays a sign indicating they perform safety inspections. 
To obtain an emissions inspection, use the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality’s online locator to find a station near you. 
Virginia’s cleanest vehicles may qualify for the RAPIDPASS roadside remote sensing program, which allows you to get your emissions test by driving past sensors at certain points on public highways. 
You can find more information about the remote emissions testing program, including how to qualify, on the RAPIDPASS Virginia website

How often do you need a car inspection? 

Virginia requires a safety inspection every year and does not grant extensions or grace periods. 
If you live in one of the qualifying counties or cities, you’ll need an emissions inspection once every two years

Finding affordable insurance

A car inspection usually only takes a few minutes, which is more than enough time to find a cheaper car insurance policy with Jerry
Jerry is a licensed broker who lives in your pocket—but there’s no need to buy tiny office furniture. Jerry is an app! 
Just enter a few pieces of information, and Jerry will browse quotes from over 50 top providers and send the best deals straight to your phone. Once you find a new policy you like, Jerry will even do all the heavy lifting and help cancel your old policy for you.
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It’s always a good idea to get a safety inspection before selling your car. 
Depending on the timing, you may not need an emissions inspection, but especially if your certificate is about to expire, it’s best to have one done just in case.
An emissions inspection in Virginia costs $28.

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