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Vehicle License Information

On this page:
Title Information
New Residents
Title Process
Title Fees
Other Things to Remember About Titles
Odometer Statement
When a Registrant Dies
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 Information
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.

Every motor vehicle, trailer, semi trailer, pole trailer, and recreational vehicle when driven or moved upon a highway must be titled and registered.

If you purchase a new vehicle, one that has never been titled in any state, the dealer must provide you with a manufacturer’s certificate or statement of origin. This document comes from the manufacturer and is provided to the dealer. When the vehicle is sold the dealer completes the reassignment of this document, which is what you will need to title your new vehicle. Whether you purchase the vehicle from a West Virginia dealer or an out-of-state dealer this document is required in order to title the new vehicle. In West Virginia if the new vehicle is to have a lien recorded, the West Virginia dealer is required to collect all of the fees required and forward the fees along with the paperwork to the division. If the vehicle is purchased from an out-of-state dealer, the application must be accompanied by an invoice reflecting the purchase price. West Virginia dealers can certify the price by using the certification on the bottom of our title application (DMV-1-TR), if this is not completed, a dealer invoice is required. Fees required to title a new vehicle include a $10 title fee, 5% tax on purchase price, $5 lien fee (if applicable) and the standard registration fee is $30, if transferring a valid West Virginia plate the transfer fee is $5.50 instead of the $30 fee. If a trade-in is involved, the 5% tax would be based on the purchase price minus the trade-in (trade-in must be titled in West Virginia and in the applicant’s name to receive credit, REBATES are taxable).

If the vehicle purchased is used, you must have the previous owner’s title properly reassigned to you whether it is a West Virginia title or an out-of-state title. Both the seller and the buyer must sign the back of the West Virginia title. If it’s an out-of-state title the previous owner must sign the title and the name and address of the new owner should appear on the title. The new owner would then submit the out-of-state title along with a West Virginia application for title (DMV-1-TR). If the vehicle is less than ten years old the seller must also complete the odometer disclosure on the title that has to be acknowledged by the purchaser. The above fees would also apply when titling a used vehicle whether it’s purchased from a dealer or not.

There is a 5% privilege tax on vehicles that are purchased, if the vehicle is purchased from an individual and the purchase price is below 50% of the current Automobile Red Book loan value, a notarized bill of sale must accompany the application for title, or the tax will be assessed on the Automobile Red Book loan value. If the purchase price is above 50%, the tax will be assessed on that price. Any vehicle not purchased from a registered dealer which is two years old or less will be taxed on the current Automobile Red Book loan value despite the purchase price, a notarized bill of sale will not be accepted.

New Residents

New Residents must have their vehicles titled and registered within thirty (30) days of establishing residency.

The fees include a $10 title fee, a $5 lien fee if applicable, and a regular registration fee of $30. The 5% privilege tax on a vehicles’ value has been eliminated for new residents moving into West Virginia with a vehicle already title in their name in another state. The vehicle has to be in the name of the applicant when they apply for title and will be titled in the same name as the out-of-state title. In order to qualify for the exemption, the new resident must meet the standards listed below:

The applicant was not a resident of this state at the time of purchasing or otherwise acquiring ownership of the vehicle. The out-of-state title in their name with an out-of-state address would be the proof. There is no limit on how long the vehicle was titled in their name in another state.

Presents evidence as the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles may require of having titled the vehicle in the applicant’s previous state of residence. The out-of-state title in the applicant’s name with an out-of-state address would be the proof.

Has relocated to this state and can present such evidence as the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles may require showing bona fide residency in this state. A new West Virginia driver’s license or any other documents we would accept for proof of residency for a West Virginia driver’s license.

Presents an affidavit, completed by the assessor of the applicant’s county of residence, establishing that the vehicle(s) has been property reported to the assessor. The affidavit (DMV-178-R) needs to be completed and signed by the assessor. NO AFFIDAVIT — NO EXEMPTION.

Makes application to the division and pays all the fees required by law within thirty (30) days of establishing residency in this state. The new law allows a three month amnesty, June 7, 2007 through September 7, 2007 for residents regardless of how long they may have lived in West Virginia. After September 7, 2007, the thirty day requirement applies.

The exemption also applies to vehicles (i.e. motor boats, trailers, ATV’s, etc) that are only registered and no title exists.

This exemption does not apply to leased vehicles, as the tax on them is different that the standard vehicles. To receive tax credit on a vehicle being traded for a new vehicle purchased in West Virginia the trade-in must be first titled in West Virginia.

If you are moving to West Virginia and the vehicle is titled in your name in another state and the title is not being held by a lien holder, you would need to submit your out-of-state title along with a West Virginia title application (DMV-1-TR). You would also need to complete an odometer disclosure, your insurance information can be listed on the title application, but must be insured by a company licensed to sell insurance in West Virginia.

If you are moving to West Virginia and the vehicle title is being held by a lien holder, you must submit the following:

A completed form DMV-1-TR, Application for Certificate of Title
Insurance information, can be listed on title application
A completed odometer disclosure statement (DMV-TM-1)
A copy of the title or a printout if an electronic lien of your out-of-state title or a letter from your lien holder stating they are holding your title, the letter should include the vehicle information along with their correct mailing address. Fees (see Title Fees section)

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 you purchased, the dealer is required to collect the proper fees from you and apply for the title on your behalf. If you have a valid West Virginia license plate, the dealer may transfer your license plates for a fee of $5.50, which is good for sixty days and allows you to legally operate your vehicle. If you don’t have a plate, the dealer can issue a temporary plate which will allow you to legally operate the vehicle for sixty days. The dealer has sixty days to process your title.

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 Division’s Regional Offices. Work can also be processed through any of the privately owned license services that are regulated by the division.

Title Fees

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

The 5% privilege tax is based on the purchase price of the vehicle.

Vehicles purchased from a dealer are taxed on the purchase price only.
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 lien holder 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 lien holder 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: 2007 – 10 = 1997. Therefore, 1997 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. County sheriff’s offices can renew passenger vehicles (Class A) and motorcycle registrations (Class G).

Other Things to Remember About Registration
If a registrant fails to receive a renewal notice, renewal 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 the form of a (WV-1) Certificate of Insurance. in their vehicle at all times. Law enforcement officers will request this information during any traffic stop or accident.

HOW THE DMV VERIFIES YOUR INSURANCE COVERAGE: The Division will verify the insurance information provided at the time of registration. The verification of insurance may be conducted at any time during the registration year. If you receive a 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. During the time the vehicle is stored, you must complete a (WV-4B) Seasonal Statement of Insurance and submit it to the Division.

THE PENALTIES FOR LACK OF INSURANCE ARE STRINGENT: Several penalties are in place for motorists who fail to present proof of insurance during a verification 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 notice for verification of coverage, your driving privilege will be suspended for 30 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 judgment through civil court. Once the judgment 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 judgment 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

To check if a company is licensed in West Virginia or to obtain a consumer complaint form contact the West Virginia Insurance Commission.

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.

Visit the WV State Police Motor Vehicle Safety Program for more information about vehicle inspections

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.
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