Vehicle License Information

On this page:

  • Title Documents
  • Title Process
  • Title Fees
  • Other Things to Remember About Titles
  • Odometer Statement
  • When a Registrant Dies
  • Registration
  • Registration Renewal
  • Other Things to Remember About Registration
  • Mandatory Insurance
  • Vehicle Inspection
  • Lost or Stolen Plates, Registration Card and Decals
  • Worn, Faded or Illegible License Plates
  • A Word About Vehicle Waste and the Environment

Title Documents

A title to a vehicle is the legal document showing ownership. If the vehicle has more than one owner, and the names are joined by “AND” both owners must sign the title documents for a sale or transfer to be legal. If “OR” or “AND/OR” appears between the owner’s name, either owner can sign the title document as the seller or purchaser of the vehicle.

All highway vehicles, all-terrain vehicles, and motorboats are required to be titled at the time of purchase.

If the vehicle is new and has never been titled, a manufacturer’s statement of origin (MSO) and a completed title application (DMV Form – 1-TR) are required.

If the vehicle is used, you must submit the previous owner’s title, signed over to you. Both the seller and the buyer must sign the back of the West Virginia title.

If the vehicle is titled in another state, submit the out of state title properly reassigned, along with an application for title (DMV Form – 1-TR).

If the vehicle is titled in another state, and you do not have a title because you are still making payments and there is no change in ownership, please submit:

• A completed form DMV Form – 1-TR (Application for a Certificate of Title)
• Insurance information must be provided which lists an insurance company licensed to do business in West Virginia
• A completed odometer disclosure statement (DMV Form TM-1)
• A letter from the lienholder stating they are holding a title along with a copy
of the title and lienholder’s correct mailing address
• Fees required – $10 title fee, $5 lien fee, 5% privilege tax on current
NADA loan value and the license plate fee of $30

Title Process

If you purchase a vehicle from a licensed West Virginia dealer, the dealer may accept your fees and submit the fees to the DMV on your behalf. However, if there is a lien on the vehicle, the dealer is required to collect the proper fees from you and apply for the title on your behalf. The dealer may transfer your license plates, or may issue you a temporary license plate, both of which are valid for 60 days.

If you purchase a vehicle from an individual, or purchase a vehicle from a dealer without a lien, you may apply for the title and registration by mail or in person at one of the Regional Offices or at one of the 130 privately owned license services located in most communities. The dealer may also take care of the paperwork on your behalf.

Title Fees

New residents must have their vehicles titled and registered within thirty 30 of establishing residency.

The title fees include a 5% privilege tax, a $10 title fee, and a $5 lien fee, if there is a lien on the vehicle. The registration (license plate) fee is $30.

The 5% privilege tax is based on the purchase price of the vehicle. If you are moving here from out of state, the tax is based on the NADA loan value of the vehicle.

If the purchase price is below 50% of the current NADA loan value, a notarized bill of sale must accompany the application for title, or the tax will be based on the NADA loan value at the time of titling.

Vehicles purchased from a dealer are taxed on the purchase price only.

Any vehicle not purchased from a registered dealer which is two years old or less will be taxed on the current NADA loan value despite the purchase price.

Tax is based on the net cost when a vehicle is purchased from a dealer and the “trade-in” is titled in West Virginia in the name of the purchaser.

Other Things to Remember About Titles

Do not buy a vehicle from an individual unless the seller has the title to the vehicle in their name and can give it to you at the time of sale.

Make certain that the vehicle identification number on the title matches the vehicle identification number on the vehicle. Also, the vehicle odometer reading must not be less than the odometer reading on the face of the title.

When final payment is made, your lienholder will send the title with the lien released. Application to DMV for a clear title (fee – $10) should be made immediately. The lien remains on record with the DMV unless such application is made. If the title is lost and a lien is still on record with DMV, a lien release by the original lienholder would be required before a clear duplicate title can be issued. This could cause a delay in the sale of a vehicle.

Odometer Statement

When a motor vehicle is sold or transferred, the odometer reading must be recorded in the assignment section of the title by the seller. If the title does not include this section for this purpose, the seller may record the mileage on an odometer statement on a form available from DMV. If an odometer reading is not accurate, the seller must so inform the buyer, and give a fair estimate of the actual mileage of the vehicle.

A separate odometer disclosure form is ALWAYS required unless:

• The title is a new “Conforming Blue Title” printed after January 1991
• The vehicle is ten (10) or more model years old
• The vehicle is non-motorized
• The vehicle has a registered gross weight or gross vehicle weight rating
of more than 16,000 pounds

Use the following formula to determine if the vehicle is ten or more years old:
Example: 1997 – ten = 1987. Therefore, 1987 and older vehicles are exempt.

Recording a vehicle’s mileage and ensuring the accuracy of such recordings is part of DMV’s efforts to protect consumers. Recording mileage history helps legal authorities to detect and prove cases of odometer tampering, or the illegal practice of “rolling back” a vehicle’s mileage. When this occurs, the true condition of the vehicle is misrepresented and the buyer is deceived.

When A Registrant Dies

After the death of a vehicle owner, a survivor should remove the name of the deceased registrant from the vehicle’s title. This is necessary for insurance and tax purposes and will lesson the burden for legal heirs after the death of the survivor.

To transfer the title of a jointly-owned vehicle (the word “or” appears between the two names) into the survivor’s name, the survivor signs the back of the title as the seller. The survivor also completes the remainder of the title and signs as the purchaser and completes the bottom of the title as the purchaser.

If the title is in the deceased registrant’s name only, or if the word “and” appears between the two names, the administrator or executor of the estate signs as the seller, and the survivor signs as the purchaser. If the word “and” appears between the two names, the survivor must sign as one of the sellers. A copy of the court appointment papers must accompany the application for the transfer of title. The survivor also completes the bottom section of the title as the purchaser.

In both instances, the survivor should submit the properly assigned title, the odometer disclosure information, insurance information and the current registration card for the vehicle being titled.

There are no fees for the transfer of title if the survivor is the legal heir and the court appointment papers are attached.


When a vehicle is registered in West Virginia, the registrant will receive a license plate and registration card, which should be kept in the vehicle with the current insurance certificate at all times.

The registration fee for passenger vehicles and pickup trucks weighing 8,000 pounds or less is $30.

Registration Renewal

Renewal notices for your vehicle registration are mailed approximately 30 days before the registration expires. The accompanying form may be returned by mail with the correct fee, insurance information and personal property tax receipt. This transaction may also be completed at any DMV Regional Office. Passenger vehicle or motorcycle registration may also be renewed at local sheriff’s offices.

Other Things to Remember About Registration

If a registrant fails to receive a renewal notice, renewall may be completed by submitting a copy of the vehicle’s old registration card, a current insurance certificate or owner’s statement of insurance, a personal property tax receipt and the correct fee by mail or to any DMV Regional Office.

Renewal notices are printed several months before they are mailed. When purchasing a new vehicle within 60 days before current vehicle registration expires and the renewal notice for the old vehicle is received, throw away the renewal notice for the car no longer owned. Renew by mailing a copy of the registration card that has the new vehicle information, along with the insurance information, personal property tax receipt and the correct fee. However, dealers have up to 60 days to submit the paperwork on vehicle purchase, so unless the new registration card with the new vehicle information, a vehicle may not be titled in the new vehicle owner’s name when the license plate expires. The new vehicle owner should ask the dealer to collect enough money to both transfer and renew the registration for the purchase of a vehicle within 60 days of when the license plate normally expires.

West Virginia offers a variety of special license plates for veterans and organizations. Have the vehicle already titled and registered with a regular license plate before applying for any of the special license plates.

Personal property tax is assessed by the County Assessor and collected by the County Sheriff. Proof of payment of the tax or an affidavit from the Assessor is required before license plate renewal. Contact the nearest county courthouse if questions arise concerning this tax.

Mandatory Insurance

IT’S THE LAW – West Virginia law requires all registered vehicles to be insured. The minimum amount of coverage required is $20,000 for one accident, one injury, $40,000 for one accident, two or more injuries, $10,000 for property damage. All vehicle insurance policies must be issued by a company licensed to sell insurance in West Virginia. The Compulsory Insurance Law is designed to protect you and all motorists who operate a vehicle in the state of West Virginia.

KEEP IT IN THE GLOVEBOX OF YOUR VEHICLE: Motorists are required to carry proof of insurance in their vehicle at all times. Law enforcement officers will request this information during any traffic stop or accident. Motorists must complete an Owner’s Statement of Insurance upon registering their vehicle and upon renewing registration each year. You will be required to write the company name, policy number and effective date of policy. You will also be required to sign the document to certify that you are insured.

HOW THE DMV VERIFIES YOUR INSURANCE COVERAGE: The Division will verify by random sample the insurance information provided at the time of registration. The sample may be conducted at any time during the registration year. If you receive a random sample notice, you will be required to send back proof of coverage. Failure to do so will result in the suspension of your registration as well as your driver’s license.

IF YOU CANCEL YOUR INSURANCE: You must bring or mail in the license plate to the Division and fill out a notice of insurance cancellation. The Owner’s Notice of Cancellation (WV-4C) may be brought in to any DMV location or mailed to the Division.

ALL CURRENTLY REGISTERED VEHICLES ARE SUBJECT TO VERIFICATION: If you own a vehicle with a valid license plate and the vehicle becomes inoperable or out of use for any reason, you must maintain insurance or complete a WV-4C form and return the plate to DMV.

IF YOUR VEHICLE IS USED SEASONALLY: If you have a motorcycle, camper or antique vehicle that is only used for part of the year, it is required to be insured for the time it’s used. You may be required to show proof of insurance for the time the vehicle is used.

THE PENALTIES FOR LACK OF INSURANCE ARE STRINGENT: Several penalties are in place for motorists who fail to present proof of insurance during a random sample or are found driving without insurance by any law enforcement agency. These administrative penalties affect your vehicle registration, as well as your driver’s license. This does not include any criminal penalties that could result from a conviction in magistrate court. Criminal penalties include fines and jail time and have no bearing on the administrative penalties. Dismissal of the ticket through the court system does not release you from any obligation to provide insurance to the division upon request.

SUSPENSION OF VEHICLE REGISTRATION: If you fail to show proof of insurance, the registration of your vehicle will be suspended. The reinstatement fee is $100, plus proof of insurance. If the division sends a state police secure order on the plate, an additional fee of $50 will be assessed.

SUSPENSION OF YOUR DRIVER’S LICENSE: If you fail to show proof of insurance during a random sample check, your driving privilege will be suspended for 90 days. If a law enforcement officer or insurance company reports you are operating a vehicle without insurance, your license will be suspended for 30 days. A second offense will result in a 90-day suspension. There is no provision in the Motor Vehicle code for a driving permit during a suspended period. After the suspension period ends, you will be required to pay a $50 reinstatement fee.

AN UNPAID TICKET SUSPENSION HAS NO BEARING ON A MANDATORY INSURANCE SUSPENSION: Failure to pay or appear in Court for a ticket, may result in suspension of your driving privileges. Accordingly, when the Court later submits the PAID TICKET to the Division, this will cause any tickets for “No Insurance” to require additional suspension action. Any suspension time for the unpaid ticket issue does not count towards your insurance suspension requirement.

ACCIDENT WITH AN UNINSURED DRIVER: If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, you may file a judgement through civil court. Once the judgement is awarded, you must submit a copy of the court order and the accident report to the division. Upon receipt, the division will notify the defendant of suspension of the driver’s license. The suspension will remain in effect until the judgement is either paid in full or the defendant has entered into an installment agreement.

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR DRIVER’S LICENSE AND REGISTRATION ARE SUSPENDED: If you are sent a notice of suspension, we urge you to obtain insurance immediately and send proof to the division. To reinstate your vehicle registration, you must show proof of insurance and pay a required reinstatement fee.

If your driver’s license is suspended, you are required to complete the suspension period. You may pay the reinstatement fee before the suspension period is complete and the division can set a date of reinstatement at that time.

All insurance questions and reinstatement transactions can be handled by mail or in person at our Capitol Complex office.

Room 118, Building 3, Capitol Complex
Charleston, WV 25317
(304) 558-0274 or 1 (800) 642-9066

Vehicle Inspection

West Virginia requires a routine safety inspection every twelve (12) months. Vehicles may be inspected at any official inspection station licensed by the West Virginia State Police. When a vehicle passes the inspection, a sticker valid for twelve (12) months will be placed on the inside of the windshield. It is illegal to drive a vehicle without a valid inspection sticker.

New residents have 10 days from the date they title a vehicle to have a West Virginia inspection. This also includes the purchase of vehicles out of state. West Virginia has reciprocity with Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. Therefore, out of state inspection sticker from these states is valid in West Virginia until expiration.

Any vehicle purchased or otherwise acquired within West Virginia not having a valid inspection sticker must be inspected within three days.

Have a valid registration card and a current certificate of insurance in the vehicle at the time of inspection.


Lost or Stolen Plates, Registration Card and Decals

Immediately notify the West Virginia State Police if a license plate is lost or stolen. The fee for a duplicate license plate is $5.50. An insurance certificate or owner’s statement of insurance is required before we can issue a duplicate plate. The fee for a duplicate decal or a duplicate registration card is $5.00. Customers can call the DMV and request a form DMV-32 to get any of these three items replaced.

Worn, Faded, or Illegible License Plates

If a license plate becomes worn, faded, or otherwise illegible, request a new plate at the time of renewal. There is no additional charge. If you request a new plate at any other time, there is a $5.50 fee.

A Word About Vehicle Waste and the Environment

How does operating a car or truck endanger the environment? The following waste products pose the biggest threats: dirty motor oil, old tires, antifreeze and batteries. If dumped in a lake, the oil from a single oil change (about a gallon) can ruin a million gallons of water. When stockpiled illegally, used tires collect water, attract mosquitoes and become a temptation for arsonists. The United States Environmental Protection Agency lists antifreeze as a hazardous waste. Old batteries contain large amounts of lead and sulfuric acids, also hazardous wastes. The good news is that all of these “waste” products can be recycled and reused. To learn how, call 1-800-472-8286.