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What To Do With Old License Plates Virginia

Do you have an idea of what to do with your old license plates in Virginia?

Stay tuned! Virginia is a state that is home to more than 8 million residents.

For the most part, they have used their license plates as reminders of times gone by.

With the automobile being such a prevalent way of transportation, most Virginians are unlikely to change out their license plates every time they buy a new car or trade in an old one.

That’s why Virginia residents need to know what to do with their old license plates when they no longer find them useful.

What to do with old license plates in Virginia

In Virginia, you’re required to surrender license plates to a nearby DMV center when you’ve sold, traded, or own a vehicle that’s no longer operational.

The rule also applies to people who decide to move out of the state and register their vehicles elsewhere.

Transfer your Virginia license plates to another vehicle

If you’ve decided to keep the license plates, it’s only sensible that you transfer them over to a different vehicle registered in your name.

This is what many people do because it’s cheaper than replacing the plates.

Keep in mind, you cannot transfer your plates to a vehicle registered in someone else’s name unless the person is your spouse.

Now to do that, you will have to fill out a license plate application form (form VSA-10) and go to a nearby DMV center to finish the transfer.

This may seem easy enough, but many people have found that it’s not all that easy.

Most DMV centers in Virginia have long lines and do not have enough workers to accommodate more than a few dozen customers per day.

This can make the ordeal of transferring license plates a pretty complicated process for some people.

Return old plates to the DMV

The next thing to do with your license plates is to turn them in for recycling at the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.

You can either bring your plates to a DMV center (as mentioned above), or report the surrender online.

It’s a good thing that the Virginia DMV has an Online Plate Surrender website where you can simply plug in your plate number and surrender the plate online.

The DMV will send you an online confirmation that your old plates are now officially history.

This is quite convenient, if you see the day of returning your old plates at a DMV center as something you’d rather not be doing.

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is responsible for overseeing registration of vehicles in the state.

The DMV houses a collection of documents and information that pertains to drivers, their vehicles and the state’s roads, highways and bridges.

They are also responsible for issuing new driver’s licenses and ID cards in Virginia.

Therefore, you can trust in them to properly dispose of your license plates.

Remember you don’t get a refund when you use the online platform to turn in your license plates.

Retain your license plates

The state of Virginia does allow drivers the option to retain, destroy or properly dispose of license plates.

In case you are selling your car or moving out of the Virginia state, you can decide to keep the plates as a souvenir.

The decision is entirely up to you and depends on what kind of impact they have on your life.

Some things have a sentimental value that you cannot put a price tag on.

It is mandatory you destroy them in order to ensure they are not used illegally.

It is best to personally visit a DMV center and get your license plates destroyed by an agent.

You won’t get a refund of any kind but at least you know your plates are out of harm’s way.

On the other hand, if you’re planning on destroying the plates cut them into pieces or bend them out of shape.

This is what you need to start the destruction process.

Once the plates are in pieces or bent, you can safely dispose of them in the garbage recycling bin.

Recycle old license plates at a recycling center

Recycling has a purposeful value.

The environment is groaning under the weight of tons of trash and wasted product.

It is a great way to find a new home for old materials that have lost their value.

It is also done so that the material can be used by someone else.

It’s wise to recycle your license plates because they are no different from any other scrap metal that can be used for other things.

You don’t get any money for them, but at least you know your license plates are being recycled instead of ending up in a landfill.

Find a recycling center close to you and watch your old plates serve some use.

Upcycle Virginia license plates

There are a number of creative ideas out there you can use to upcycle these old license plates.

Use them for artwork, door hangings, fridge magnets, key chains and other small things.

If you’re crafty, this may be an easy thing for you to do.

Let your creativity flow and see what you can come up with.

Sell old license plates for scrap metal

License plates do have a significant amount of scrap metal in them.

You can sell your old license plates to a scrap metal dealer and receive a nice chunk of change.

You don’t have to go through the trouble of getting rid of the plates, simply take them over to your local scrapyard and they will do it for you!

Final Thoughts

You may not have known it, but there are a number of things you can do with your old license plates.

Make them into a piece of art, or turn them into scrap metal that can be sold for money.

Whatever your decision is, you can rest assured that your license plates will not be just thrown away and will be put to good use.


Do you have to turn in old license plates in VA?

While it’s not mandatory, you’re encouraged to return license plates when you sell or trade your vehicle.

Can I use my old license plates on my new car in Virginia?

Yes, Virginia drivers are allowed to transfer their old plates to a new vehicle.


  • Jen Wheeler

    Jen Wheeler, co-founder of Recycling-Revolution.com, holds degrees from UC Berkeley, Yale, and Stanford. A renowned environmentalist, she's championed sustainable practices at global events and leads EcoBright Solutions, focusing on recycling education and eco-friendly products.

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