What to Do with Old License Plates Virginia

What to do with old license plates in Virginia? Your old VA license plates have seen all the weather conditions and it may be time to retire them, and this must be done correctly.

What to do with old license plates Virginia


Virginia license plates remain with the owner. You may keep your VA license plates after you sell, trade, or no longer operate your vehicle. This also applies if you move out of Virginia. Ensure to cancel your registration with the VA DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles).

Do I need to return license plates in VA?

You do not need to return your license plates in VA. You must inform the DMV in Virginia that the registered vehicle is no longer operational, or has been sold, donated or traded. If you surrender your old VA license plates to the Virginia DMV, you cannot use them again or transfer them to another vehicle, even if it is registered in your name.


However, if you have any violations or crimes, including not insuring or paying the uninsured motor vehicle fee required by your local motor vehicle division, you must surrender your VA license plates to the department because your registration is deactivated.

If your VA license plate is lost, damaged, or stolen, you must request a replacement VA license plate.

Read also: Virginia is an at-fault state: learn how to negotiate insurance cash settlement

What to do with old license plates Virginia

The VA license plates in your possession may be suitable for any of the following:

  1. Transfer your VA license plates to another vehicle

You can transfer your old Virginia registration plates to another vehicle that is registered in your name.

Your VA license plate is not transferable to another vehicle registered in another person’s name. However, this may not be the case if the person in question is your spouse.

To transfer your VA license plates to another motor vehicle in your name, complete the License Plate Application (form VSA-10) and visit the nearest customer service center to complete the transfer transaction.

  1. Return VA plates to the DMV

After selling or trading your vehicle, you keep your Virginia tags. If you do not transfer them to another motor vehicle registered in your name, you may return the tags to your local VA DMV customer service center for recycling.

Moreover, if you have a full 6 months or more remaining in your vehicle registration period, you may be eligible for a refund by returning your Virginia license plates to the VA DMV.

Note that a partial refund does not include all the fees you paid at the time of registration. Some of the nonrefundable fees include one-time plate reservation fees, Highway Use Fees, Virginia Road Tax for heavy trucks, and any late fees.

To get a refund, you must complete an Application for Vehicle Registration Refund Form (FMS-210) and mail it with your old Virginia license plates to the address on the form. Contact and notify the VA DMV that your VA registration plates are inactive.

You can also request a registration refund by returning your completed FMS-210 and plates to a Customer Service Center.

Unfortunately, you are not eligible for a refund if you use Virginia’s Online Plate Surrender process to surrender your Virginia license plates.

  1. Retain VA license plates

You can keep, destroy or dispose of your old VA license plates after selling or trading your vehicle or moving out of state.

Also, if you replace your old VA license plates, you may destroy them after receiving your new plates.

You can use your old VA license plates for the following if you keep them:

  • Garage wall décor
  • Gift them
  • Sell them online via Craigslist, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, etc.
  • Sell them to an antique shop
  • Souvenir
  • Use them for any home craft

Read also: What is Ohio’s old license plate returning law like?

Booking an appointment with the DMV before you visit

Before you visit the Virginia DMV to surrender or cancel your license plate, it is advisable to book an appointment. Besides, license plate services can be conducted online or by mail.

Ensure to schedule an appointment for your submission on Monday and Friday. If your situation is urgent, you can obtain an urgent in-person walk-in service, which is available every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday (check the Saturday hours).

You can Book Your Appointment Now to find a convenient date and time. Note that the VA DMV limits customers to one appointment per person. If you make multiple appointments, the DMV may cancel them. The appointment must be made in your name or the name of the person that will represent you. Do not visit the DMV with other people, except you need their assistance to surrender your VA plates.

If you arrive late to submit your VA license plate, you may have to reschedule. You only have a maximum of 3 months of appointment slots available at any time each year.

What happens if you don’t return license plates in VA?

If you do not return your license plates in VA, the following could happen:

Ineligibility for a partial refund

Surrendering your Virginia license plate can make you eligible for a partial refund if you have a full 6 months or more remaining in your vehicle registration period. However, you do not qualify for a partial refund if you use VA online service to surrender your license plates.

You remain liable

You are liable for anything that happens to your old Virginia license plate if you do not return it to the VA DMV or notify them that you no longer need the plates. The license plates could get into the wrong hands, and you can be held responsible for traffic violations or even crimes committed with it.

Drivers license suspension

In a situation where your license plate has been deactivated by the division for a traffic violation, you must turn them in. Failure to surrender your deactivated VA plates can result in a fine and your driver’s license suspension.

Notify the insurance company when you sell your vehicle in VA

After selling, donating, or trading your vehicle in Virginia, notify the insurance company. If you have another vehicle in your name, you can transfer your old plates to it.

You may also transfer your insurance coverage to your new vehicle by providing the insurance company with the required information. Obtain liability insurance for your other vehicle before you register it with DMV and transfer your old Virginia plates to it.

Insurance companies notify the VA DMV after canceling, adding, or writing new coverage for a motor vehicle. If your insurance company cancels liability coverage on a motor vehicle you no longer own and you do not notify the VA DMV, the records will show that the vehicle is registered in your name but is uninsured just like in Utah state.

Therefore, since it is illegal not to insure a registered vehicle, the VA DMV may suspend your driver’s license and vehicle registration privileges.


Can I transfer license plates from one car to another in Virginia?

You can transfer license plates from one car to another in Virginia. However, the vehicle must be registered in your name. In some cases, a spouse may be able to use the plates in their name.

What do I do with my license plates when I sell my car in Virginia?

Your VA license plates remain with you when you sell your car or motorcycle in Virginia. VA plates are not registered to the motor vehicle, so you must not allow the buyer or new owner to go with it. Transfer your plates to another car registered in your name or surrender them to the VA DMV for recycling.

Final thoughts

When you sell, donate or trade a car in VA, notify the VA DMV. You can complete the process online, visit a customer service center or contact your local DMV by phone.

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