Virginia License Plates

Virginia has over 200 hundred options for your custom license plates—just follow these steps and you’ll be showing off your individuality in no time.
Written by Matt Nightingale
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
has one of the most diverse selections of license plates of any state with over 200 options and approximately 25% of all motorists sporting specialized plates. Motorists can show off their personality with tags supporting organizations and causes of all stripes.
Virginia’s standard plates are pretty iconic and your options are almost endless when it comes to custom license plates. Ranging from popular choices like the yellow, rattlesnake-adorned “Don’t Tread on Me” plates, and the classic “In God We Trust” plates, to a fully customized character combination of your choice—you can personalize it as much as you want.
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What are Virginia license plates and why do I need them?

A license plate is a metal identification tag that is displayed on your vehicle. These tags prove that your car has been correctly registered and is legally allowed to be driven in Virginia. 
If you are in an accident or are issued a citation by a police officer, your license plate connects you to the incident. They also help law enforcement track stolen cars, so they’re a big help to regular, law-abiding citizens.
Virginia requires that license plates be clearly displayed on both the front and back of a passenger vehicle. Other vehicles, such as motorcycles and mopeds, are issued only one license plate to be displayed on the rear of the vehicle.

What license plates does Virginia have?

There are three types of license plates in Virginia:
  • Standard plates are the most common plates in use. These plates are white with a blue alpha-numeric identification number and sport the decades-old “Virginia is for Lovers” slogan. 
  • Special interest plates
    . Virginia has over 200 license plates representing special interests. Drivers can purchase these license plates to show support for organizations and causes ranging from aviation enthusiast organizations to diabetes awareness.
  • Special plates
    . There are all sorts of special plates for various purposes like plates for antique cars, amateur radio operators, and motorcycles.

Standard license plates

  • White and blue plates: These plates bear the famous “Virginia is for Lovers” slogan, which was introduced in 1969 by the Virginia State Travel Service. In 2012, the “Virginia is for Lovers” ad campaign was dubbed one of the greatest ad campaigns of the last 50 years by Advertising Age. 

Special interest license plates

  • University: You can purchase revenue-sharing plates for local universities like the University of Richmond or William & Mary. After the sale of the first 1,000 plates, $15 from each subsequent plate purchase goes toward scholarships. A portion of your fee may also be tax-deductible.
  • Alzheimer’s Association: You can support the fight against Alzheimer’s disease by purchasing Virginia license plates adorned with the Alzheimer’s Association logo. $15 from the purchase of these plates is given to fund the organization's programs and operations.
  • Wildlife: $15 of every $25 plate fee after the first 1,000 plates sold is given to the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources. Check with your tax specialist to see if a portion of this amount is tax-deductible.
  • Nurses Foundation: Say thanks to your local nurses by sporting a “Nurses Change Lives” plate. A portion of the proceeds is transferred to the Virginia Nurses Foundation to fund that organization’s activities.
  • Hobbies: You can show your love for your favorite pastime by purchasing a specialty license plate. Some of the hobbies you can show off include bowling, fox hunting, and boating.

Special license plates

  • Amateur Radio: If you operate a ham radio, these license plates will bear your official call letters. You must provide a copy of the radio license issued to you by the Federal Communications Commission. There is an annual fee of $1.00 for these special plates
  • Antique Cars: If your car is 25 years or older on January 1 of the current calendar year, you qualify for antique license plates. Just fill out a
    License Plate Application
    and an
    Antique License Plate Form
    and submit it to a DMV Customer Service Center along with a one-time $50 plate fee.
  • Disabled Veteran:  If you’re a disabled veteran, you can get a disabled veteran’s license plate by filling out this
    License Plate Application form
    and supplying a
    Veteran’s Certificate of Disability
    signed by a medical professional and the Veteran’s Administration.
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How do I get a Virginia license plate?

To get new license plates in Virginia, you’ll need to register your vehicle, which can be a tedious process. You’ll need to provide some paperwork and take your vehicle in for some inspections.
To register your vehicle in Virginia you’ll need the following items:
  • Your car’s title
  • Proof of Virginia residence
  • An emissions inspection if you reside in a county that requires one
  • A Virginia driver’s license
  • A safety inspection sticker
  • Proof of insurance
If you already have plates and you want to switch to a new style, you can submit your request when you renew your registration.
If you need replacement plates, you’ll have to fill out a Vehicle Registration form and submit it to the DMV Customer Service Center and pay all necessary fees.
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You can expect to wait four to eight weeks from the day you order them to receive your personalized Virginia license plates.
Yes. Virginia requires passenger vehicles to clearly display license plates on both the front and back of the vehicle.
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