U.Va. Graduate Guide


Helpful Tips

Voter Registration

City residents who are U.S. citizens may register to vote at City Hall, corner of 7th and Market streets, or at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

County residents can register at the Office of the Registrar of Voters in the Albemarle County Office Building, 401 McIntire Rd., or at the Department of Motor Vehicles. You may also register by mail. Applications may be found at the Law School and public libraries. In all cases, registration closes 29 days before elections. You must present your Social Security number when registering. Information about voter registration can be obtained by calling 970-3250 (City of Charlottesville) or 296-5863 (Albemarle County).

Married Students, Faculty & Staff

If your partner works at the University, you will need to coordinate your students, faculty & staff parking registration. Contact University Human Resources for information. All drivers of your car should be familiar with the University traffic regulations because violations count against the student's record. There is one "free" ticket per 12-month period before fines apply.

Parking Lots

Some John Paul Jones Arena events will require permit holders to vacate the lots surrounding University Hall and the Arena by a posted time. Check the Parking and Transportation Services Web site for those dates.

Let's face it: Having a car, while convenient for life in the United States, can be a hassle. Virginia is no exception. If you are moving from outside the state, you are in for a treat. Besides the issue of license tags and driver's licenses, you must pay a Virginia Property Tax on your car and pay for a city or county decal. The following pages will fill you in on all the information you need.

License Tags

If you are a Virginia resident with Virginia tags and a current Virginia inspection sticker on your car, you will not need to have your car inspected in Charlottesville until the normal expiration date.

If you are an out-of-state resident and your car is used to drive a family member to and/or from work in the state of Virginia, you must register that car. Work performed for scholarships or grants puts your car into the "must-register" category.

If there are two or more cars in the household and one member of the household is a full-time student, the car(s) used for transportation by the student does not have to be registered. The car used for transportation to and/or from work by a person must be registered. You must register at least one car if you are earning income in the state of Virginia, even if you are using other means of transportation.

By law, car registration is required within 30 days of moving to Virginia. If you have recently purchased a car, you need to register your car (purchase tags) and have your car inspected, unless these tasks have already been completed by the previous owner. However, as long as one family member is a full-time student and no one in the family is earning income in the state of Virginia, you may retain "out-of-state" status.

Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles

Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles | 2055 Abbey Rd., Charlottesville
Toll free: 1-866-368-5463 or 1-800-435-5137
Hours: M-F 8 am - 5 pm, Sat 8 am - 12 pm

Faces Rt. 250 East at the top of Pantops Mountain on the eastern edge of town. Parking lot is entered from rear. Turn on State Farm Blvd. to get there. To avoid a long wait, go in the middle of the month and avoid weekends.

At this important office new Virginia residents can do the following:

Purchase Virginia license plates

First you must change your car's title to Virginia. In order to change your title you must have your car title from your former place of registration or proof that you paid sales tax when you purchased your car, and $10 to pay the title fee. All persons listed on the title do not need to be present at registration, but a signature is required for each person listed on the title. The DMV accepts credit cards to pay the fees below.

Proof of sales-tax payment varies with the state you came from, but a call to the License Office should establish what you need. If you did not pay sales tax when you purchased your car, you will be required to pay 3 percent of your car's "blue book" value. Be sure to make a copy of your sales-tax proof because the License Bureau will retain the original proof.

Virginia license plates are $29.50 for a car weighing under 4000 lbs. and $34.50 for a car weighing over 4000 lbs. Inspection tags are $15 and must be obtained annually through various garages and dealerships.

Purchase a Virginia driver's license.

Check out the DMV page describing steps to get a driver's license. Virginia's licensing rules changed in January 2004.

List of acceptable documents to get a license or photo ID card.

Note to international Students, Faculty & Staff

If you are planning to drive in the United States, you must obtain a Virginia driver's license from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) as soon as possible. You can only use your foreign driving license or an international driving permit for up to 30 days, starting from the day you arrive in the U.S. Non-U.S. license holders are required to take a vision test, a driving theory test (multiple choice), and a short practical driving test. Two proofs of identification and proof of Virginia residency (e.g. a lease agreement on your house or apartment) are required before taking the test. The test is based on the Virginia Driver's Code, a copy of which can be obtained from DMV. It is recommended that you study the Code carefully before taking the theory test, as you may be asked some quite specific questions about braking distances, parking regulations, etc.


You do not need to show proof of insurance when registering your car, but you will sign a statement that says you do have insurance from a company licensed to do business in Virginia. Insurance agents are listed in the yellow pages of the Charlottesville telephone book.

Note to International Students:

International students should be aware that unless they have had a U.S. driver's license for three years they will have difficulty finding car insurance at normal rates. If you are considering purchasing a car when you come to the U.S. or are shipping a car to this country, the insurance rates may influence your decision as to what type of car you buy. It is recommended that you purchase car insurance initially for a six-month period, after which time you can attempt to renegotiate a better premium on the basis of that six-month U.S. driving history.

Tax (Virginia Personal Property Tax)

All persons residing in Virginia who own automobiles are subject to a personal property tax based on the average loan value ("blue book" value) of their automobile. This is filed when city or county tags are purchased. The first half of the tax is due June 5 and the second half is due December 5.

If you are a resident of another part of Virginia, read carefully: By a strange quirk in the law, students who have residency in another part of Virginia (not in Charlottesville or Albemarle County) and are not locally employed, but own their own automobiles must pay the personal property tax in their home county or city—that is, their place of residency.

On the other hand,if your car is owned by your parents, or by you and your parents, you must pay the local (Charlottesville or Albemarle County) property tax (even if you are a resident of another part of Virginia). You can give a copy of your personal property tax receipt to the local authorities in your home county or city to prove you have already paid the tax.

City or County Decals

Once you have paid the Virginia Personal Property Tax on your car, then you must purchase a decal from the city or county government, depending on where you live, to prove that you have paid the tax (in other words, this is another tax). These are stuck inside your windshield next to your state inspection sticker and police check for valid ones.

City of Charlottesville Treasurer's Office

City decals are $28.50 a car ($8.50 for a motorcycle) and must be purchased once a year by January 31 or when you buy a car. If you purchase the decal between July and December the price is $14.25 for a car and $4.25 for a motorcycle. You must have a State Registration card, which can be purchased through the mail or received when you purchase your Virginia license plate.

City of Charlottesville Treasurer's Office | (434) 970-3146 | City Hall, 7th and Market St.

Albemarle County Office Building

A county decal costs $25 for a vehicle under 4,000 pounds and $30 for a vehicle heavier than that. Decals must be purchased each year by January 31. County decals may also be purchased at the time of registration at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Decals bought after January 31 are prorated.

Albemarle County Office Building | (434) 296-5851 | Preston & 400 McIntire Rd., Finance Department

University Car Registration

U.Va. Parking and Transportation Department

Parking space is one of the scarcest resources at the University. Students, faculty & staff wishing to park on Grounds will have to purchase a U.Va. parking permit. You will receive more information about parking at registration.

U.Va. Parking and Transportation Department | (434) 924-7231 | Millmont St. (Behind Barracks Road Shopping Center)

Standard Commuter Permits

Most students, faculty & staff who drive to school purchase this type of permit, also called a Blue permit. Blue permit parking is available at University Hall and at the lower half of the lot serving The Park, the complex of softball fields just east of the Law School. Bus service is available from the University Hall lots to the Law School at 10-minute intervals. The bus system is free to all students. The University Hall lot is about a 10-minute walk from the Law School. Blue permits cost $16 a month, or $192 annually. The permit year runs from June through May. Cost is prorated, so if you buy one in September for the academic year the cost is $144. You can also buy permits on a weekly or 90-day basis at the same rate.