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What color are virginia state inspection stickers?

In the state of Virginia, all vehicles must undergo an annual safety inspection to ensure they meet legal requirements for operating on public roads. An important part of this inspection process is the application of a colored inspection sticker on the windshield indicating the vehicle has passed inspection.

Virginia Inspection Sticker Colors

The color of Virginia inspection stickers changes each year as a way to easily identify whether a vehicle has a valid, current inspection. Here is an overview of the yearly color cycle for Virginia inspection stickers:

Year Sticker Color
2023 Green
2024 Purple
2025 Blue
2026 Yellow
2027 Orange

As you can see, the color changes each calendar year, cycling through green, purple, blue, yellow, and orange. At the end of 2027, it will start over again with green for 2028.

Reasons for Color-Coding Inspection Stickers

There are a few key reasons why Virginia utilizes color-coded inspection stickers that change yearly:

  • Quick visual confirmation – Law enforcement can immediately see if a vehicle has a valid, current inspection sticker
  • Difficult to counterfeit – The changing colors make it hard for fake stickers to be produced and sold
  • Driver awareness – Drivers can easily remember what color means the current year

The color-coding system makes it fast and straightforward for officials to identify expired, invalid stickers from a distance without running plates or pulling vehicles over. It also reminds drivers when their inspection is due for renewal.

When New Sticker Colors Go Into Effect

The color change for Virginia inspection stickers goes into effect on January 1st of each new year. For example:

  • On January 1, 2023, the new sticker color becomes green.
  • On January 1, 2024, the color will change to purple.
  • This continues each new calendar year.

Any vehicle getting a safety inspection after January 1st will receive the latest color sticker for that year. Some key dates surrounding the change:

  • December 1st – Inspection stations can begin using the upcoming year’s sticker color if they run out of the current year’s color.
  • December 31st – The last day valid for the current year’s color sticker.
  • January 1st – The new sticker color officially goes into effect for the new year.
  • March 1st – The grace period ends for the previous year’s sticker color. All vehicles must display the current year’s color by this date.

This gives a transition period for vehicle owners to get their annual inspections done and switch over to the latest sticker color for the new year.

Displaying the Virginia Inspection Sticker

The Virginia inspection sticker must be displayed on the windshield in a specific location to be considered valid. The rules are:

  • Passenger vehicles – Sticker goes on the bottom left corner (driver’s side) of the windshield.
  • Commercial vehicles – Sticker goes on the bottom right corner (passenger side) of the windshield.

The entire sticker must be fully affixed within the appropriate corner without touching the vehicle’s registration stickers. Partially applied, damaged, peeling, or improperly placed inspection stickers are invalid.

New Vehicles and Inspection Stickers

Brand new vehicles purchased or registered in Virginia are exempt from needing an inspection for the first 12 months. However, once a vehicle is more than 12 months old based on the model year, it must get inspected and display a valid sticker even if it’s still within the first year of ownership.

Here are some examples:

  • A 2022 model year vehicle purchased new in 2022 is exempt through 2023. It needs inspection and sticker starting 01/01/2024.
  • A 2022 vehicle purchased new in 2023 needs inspection before 01/01/2024.
  • A used 2021 model year vehicle purchased in 2023 requires inspection/sticker right away.

So the vehicle calendar model year, not the ownership period, determines when an inspection is first required in Virginia.

What Happens If Caught Without Valid Inspection?

It is illegal to operate a vehicle on public roads in Virginia without passing the annual safety inspection and displaying the proper sticker. Drivers caught without a valid inspection sticker by law enforcement face the following consequences:

  • Civil penalty – $100 civil fine for the first offense, $200 for the second offense.
  • Misdemeanor – Third and subsequent offenses within 12 months are a Class 4 misdemeanor.
  • Non-traffic violation – Points are not assessed against the driver’s license.
  • Mandatory inspection – Vehicle must be inspected within 10 days of citation.

In addition to the penalties, the vehicle will not be allowed to operate further until properly inspected and sticker applied. Refusing inspection may result in the vehicle being impounded.

Importance of Proper Inspection for Safety

While an expired or missing inspection sticker may only result in a monetary fine, there are good reasons why Virginia requires annual vehicle inspections. Safety inspections help enforce minimum standards for vehicle equipment condition and performance. Key areas checked during inspection include:

Inspection Area Checks Performed
Brakes Brake pad/shoe thickness, rotors, brake fluid, hydraulic system leaks
Tires Tread depth, wear, damage, pressure
Lights Proper operation of all exterior lights
Windshield Cracks, damage, wiper condition, defrost operation
Suspension Shocks, springs, ball joints, tie rods, wheel bearings

Addressing any equipment problems or deficiencies found during the inspection helps keep vehicles safe for roadway travel. Vehicles with identified defects must have repairs completed and pass re-inspection before a sticker is issued.


The annual safety inspection and color-coded inspection sticker is an important program that promotes minimum vehicle equipment standards and helps remove unsafe vehicles from Virginia roadways. Understanding the yearly color cycle, proper display location, and requirements for new vehicles allows drivers to remain in compliance.

Displaying the latest annual sticker color is mandatory for all vehicles operated on public roads in Virginia, except within the initial 12-month exemption period for new vehicles. Drivers should ensure they get their vehicle inspected as required to avoid civil penalties and ensure the vehicle is safe to drive.

While an expired or missing sticker may result in a fine, the inspection process itself provides critical and potentially life-saving checks on vehicle equipment condition. Proper inspection and repair of any deficiencies improves safety for all motorists in Virginia.