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Guide for Members of the Armed Forces

Driver's License, Learner's Permit & ID's | License Extensions | Vehicle Titling & Registration | Other Vehicle Info | Insurance Requirements | Military Special Plates

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles welcomes the men and women of our Armed Forces stationed in the Commonwealth.

This information is also available as a PDF document. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view or print the document in this format.

Driver's License, Learner's Permit & ID Cards

If you are an active duty member of the Armed Forces stationed in Virginia, you, your spouse and dependent children may drive with a valid driver's license issued by your home state or country. You are not required to obtain a Virginia driver's license; however, if you choose to apply, you will need documents to prove:

  • Identity (two documents)
  • Virginia residency
  • Legal presence
  • Social security number, if you have been issued one

Use the interactive document guide to determine which documents you will need to bring to DMV when you apply, or refer to "Acceptable Documents for Obtaining a Driver's License or Photo ID Card" (DMV 141).

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Acceptable Residency Documents

If you are active duty military and present one of the following documents, you will be exempt from the requirement to present a residency document as proof of your Virginia address.

  • Letter from commanding officer, on official letterhead with an original signature, stating that the applicant resides onboard a ship docked in Virginia or in a barracks located in Virginia
  • Orders from the U. S. military assigning the applicant to a military unit with a Virginia address
  • Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) showing Virginia as the applicant's home of record

A spouse cannot use military documents for proof of residency. Spouses must provide their own proof of residency such as a cable bill, phone bill or bank statement. Applicants under age 19 may have a parent or legal guardian certify their Virginia residency. The parent or legal guardian must appear in person with the applicant, and provide a photo identification card and proof of their Virginia residency.

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Legal Presence

Legal presence means applicants for driver's licenses, learner's permits or ID cards are either citizens of the United States or are legally authorized to be in the U. S.

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License Extensions

Members of the military and certain individuals may request an extension of their Virginia driver's license. These include:

  • Active duty members of the U. S. military who are deployed outside of Virginia and plan to return
  • Members of the U. S. diplomatic service who are serving outside of the U. S.
  • A civilian employee of the U. S. government, or any agency or contractor serving outside of the U. S. on behalf of the U. S. government
  • The spouses and dependents of any of the above

One extension may be granted with the required documentation and will be valid for three years. A driver whose license is extended will be given an extension card to carry with the expired license. This card indicates that the extension is valid for up to three years, or for 90 days after the driver returns to the U.S., whichever occurs first. A military extension packet may be requested by mail.

Return the following:

  • A completed driver's license and identification card application
  • A copy of the service member's military identification card
  • A copy of military orders or a certification letter, on U. S. government letterhead signed by the commanding officer/supervisor

These documents should contain the name of the person requesting the extension, and should state that the customer is an active duty member of the military (or a spouse or dependent) stationed outside of Virginia.

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Vehicle Titling & Registration

While stationed in Virginia, if you purchase a vehicle, you may title and register that vehicle in your home state, or you may title and register the vehicle in Virginia. Vehicles titled and registered in your name may be driven with valid out-of-state license plates if you are the sole owner. If the vehicle is co-owned and out-of-state plates are used, all co-owners must be active duty members of the Armed Forces. If all the co-owners are not active duty members, the vehicle will need to be registered in Virginia.

To title a vehicle in Virginia, submit the following to DMV:

  • A completed Application for Certificate of Title and Registration (form VSA 17A). Be sure to check "yes" to the question that asks if the applicant is an active member of the military.
  • Proof of address
  • The manufacturer's statement of origin if the vehicle is new, or
  • The previous owner's title signed over to you if the vehicle is used. If you are titling a vehicle from another state, bring your title from your previous state of residence. Your name must appear on the out-of-state title as owner. Or, you may have the previous owner of the out-of-state vehicle assign the title to you.
  • Your social security number, if you have one

If there is a lien on the vehicle, the title will be mailed to the lien holder and you will receive a registration card and license plates. If there is no lien on the vehicle, you will receive the Virginia title.

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Imported Vehicles

For imported vehicles, military personnel or U. S. residents returning from a foreign country may complete CBP Form 3299, a Declaration for Free Entry of Unaccompanied Articles, with an original customs inspector's stamp and signature, or name and badge number. The vehicle make and identification number (VIN) must be specified on the CBP Form 3299.

Foreign military members stationed at military installations in Virginia under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) may register their vehicles for the length of their tour of duty only. A copy of their orders must be presented to determine the length of their tour of duty.

Title and Registration Fees

When titling your vehicle in Virginia, you are required to pay a title fee and a three percent motor vehicles sales and use tax that is based on the vehicle's sale price. There is a $35 minimum tax. If you hold a valid, assignable title or registration issued in your name by another state or branch of the U. S. Armed Forces, you will not have to pay the motor vehicle sales and use tax. However, if you purchased the vehicle within the preceding 12 months, to be exempt in Virginia you must provide proof that the sale and use tax was paid elsewhere.

Your registration fee is determined by the empty weight/gross weight of your vehicle, the type of license plate you purchase and the number of years (one or two) you register your vehicle. Customers receive a $2 discount when they register for two years. Owners of vehicles garaged in the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William or Stafford, or the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas or Manassas Park must pay an additional annual $2 emissions fee.

Renew your vehicle registration (decals) at www.dmvNOW.com, via telephone or mail. A $1 discount is applied when you renew online. A $5 fee is added to registration renewals conducted in a DMV customer service center.

Other Vehicle Information

To ensure your vehicle is mechanically safe to operate in Virginia, it must pass an annual vehicle safety inspection. Trailers with separate braking systems must also be inspected. For more information about Virginia's inspection requirements, contact the Virginia State Police at www.vsp.virginia.gov or 804-674-6774.

Vehicle safety inspection stickers issued for any vehicle that is garaged outside Virginia while its registered owner is an active member of the U.S. armed services will not expire during the owner's official absence from Virginia. Also, active military members who are stationed and own vehicles garaged outside Virginia and return to the Commonwealth have 72 hours to obtain a current vehicle inspection sticker.

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Deadline Extension

If a member of the military's license plate registration or vehicle registration expires while that person is deployed outside of the U.S., the service member has 90 days from the date of return to the U.S. to renew or register.

Insurance Requirements

You may title and register your vehicle in Virginia without obtaining a Virginia driver's license, but before you put plates on your vehicle and drive on the road, your vehicle will need to be inspected and insured. All Virginia drivers must carry the minimum insurance requirements on their vehicle, or pay the Uninsured Motor Vehicle fee, before registering a vehicle in Virginia. Your insurance carrier must be authorized to conduct business in Virginia. Virginia requires the following minimum coverage:

  • Bodily injury/death of one person: $25,000
  • Bodily injury/death of two or more persons: $50,000
  • Property damage: $20,000

The $500 Uninsured Motor Vehicle fee, which is paid to DMV, does not provide insurance. It only allows you to drive an uninsured vehicle at your own risk. It expires with your vehicle's registration and must be paid when renewing your registration.

DMV provides a list of insurance companies authorized to do business in Virginia.

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Military Special Plates

The Virginia DMV offers more than 30 different special plates that let you show your military pride.

When you title and register your vehicle in Virginia, check out our Military Special Plates, and display them proudly.

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