How To Return License Plates In Va?

In the state of Virginia, returning license plates is an essential process when you no longer need them, such as when you sell your vehicle, move out of state, or if the vehicle is no longer operable. 

Properly returning license plates ensures compliance with state regulations and helps prevent misuse or fraudulent activities associated with the plates. This guide will walk you through the necessary steps to return license plates in Virginia efficiently.

Why Return License Plates?

Before delving into the specifics of how to return license plates in Virginia, let’s briefly discuss why this process is important.

Compliance with State Regulations

Returning license plates is a legal requirement in Virginia. Failure to do so may result in penalties or fines.

Prevent Misuse or Fraud

Returning license plates prevents them from being misused or fraudulently replicated. This helps protect your identity and ensures that the plates are not associated with any unauthorized activities.

Registration and Insurance Purposes

Returning license plates signifies the end of your responsibility for the vehicle in question. It allows the state to update its records accordingly, relieving you of any future obligations related to registration and insurance.

Steps to Return License Plates in Virginia

Steps to Return License Plates in Virginia

Returning license plates in Virginia involves several straightforward steps. Here’s a comprehensive guide:

Remove License Plates from the Vehicle

Before returning license plates, you must remove them from the vehicle. Use a screwdriver or appropriate tools to detach the plates from the front and rear of the vehicle securely. Be careful not to damage the plates during removal.

Clean and Inspect the Plates

After removing the license plates, take a moment to clean them thoroughly. This step ensures that the plates are free from dirt, debris, or any other obstructions that may hinder the return process. Inspect the plates for any signs of damage or wear.

Cancel Vehicle Insurance

Contact InsuranceCall your insurance provider to cancel coverage.
Provide InformationProvide vehicle details and reason for cancellation.
Confirm CancellationEnsure policy termination and receive confirmation.
Update RecordsInform DMV of insurance cancellation for vehicles.

Remember to obtain written confirmation of insurance cancellation for your records.

Visit a DMV Customer Service Center

Once the license plates are removed and cleaned, visit a Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Customer Service Center nearest to you. Be sure to bring the following items:

  • The license plates you wish to return.
  • Valid identification, such as a driver’s license or state-issued ID, is required to answer questions like ‘How Many Florida License Plates Are There?’
  • Any relevant vehicle documentation, such as the vehicle title or registration.

Complete the Plate Surrender Process

At the DMV Customer Service Center, inform the staff that you would like to surrender your license plates. They will guide you through the plate surrender process, which typically involves completing a form or providing relevant information.

Obtain a Receipt

After surrendering the license plates, make sure to obtain a receipt or confirmation of the transaction from the DMV. This document serves as proof that you have returned the plates and can be helpful for record-keeping purposes.

Verify Plate Surrender Online (Optional)

For added peace of mind, you can verify the plate surrender transaction online through the Virginia DMV website. This allows you to confirm that the plates have been successfully returned and removed from your record.

Dispose of or Recycle Old Plates

Once you have returned the license plates to the DMV, you can dispose of or recycle any old or unused plates you may have. Be sure to follow proper disposal guidelines to ensure environmental responsibility.

Important Considerations

Important Considerations

While returning license plates in Virginia is a relatively straightforward process, there are some important considerations to keep in mind:

Timeliness: It’s essential to return license plates promptly after they are no longer needed. Delaying the process may result in unnecessary fees or penalties.

Incomplete Transactions: Ensure that all necessary documentation and steps are completed during the plate surrender process to avoid any issues or complications.

Verification: Always verify the plate surrender transaction to confirm that the plates have been removed from your record successfully.


How do I return license plates in Virginia?

To return license plates in Virginia, remove them from the vehicle, clean and inspect them, cancel vehicle insurance, visit a DMV Customer Service Center, complete the plate surrender process, obtain a receipt, and optionally verify the transaction online.

Can I return license plates by mail?

Yes, you can return license plates by mail in Virginia. Simply mail the plates along with a written request for plate surrender to the nearest DMV Customer Service Center.

Is there a deadline for returning license plates?

There is no specific deadline for returning license plates in Virginia, but it’s advisable to do so promptly after the vehicle is no longer in use to avoid any potential issues or penalties.


Returning license plates in Virginia is a simple yet crucial process that ensures compliance with state regulations and helps prevent misuse or fraud. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can efficiently return license plates and fulfill your responsibilities as a vehicle owner. 

Remember to prioritize timeliness and accuracy throughout the process to avoid any unnecessary complications. If you have any further questions or need assistance, don’t hesitate to contact the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles for guidance.

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