I own several motorcycle registered as antique vehicles. What makes a motorcycle an antique? In Virginia if the model year of the motorcycle is more than 25 years old prior to January 1st of the current year, and you are not using it as a daily rider, you can register it as an antique and obtain antique plates for it.
There are a few benefits to registering a motorcycle as an antique vehicle. The first benefit is the antique license plates are permanent, which means they are valid for as long as you own the motorcycle. There is a one time $50 registration fee, you do not have to renew every year as you do with regular plates. Once registered as an antique you no longer have to pay personal property tax on the motorcycle. Motorcycles registered as antiques do not require the annual Virginia State Safety Inspection, instead it is your responsibility to certify the motorcycle is safe to be operated on Virginia roadways.
With the benefits there are a few limitations and restrictions. First off an antique motorcycle cannot be your primary general use vehicle or daily driver. Does this mean on a pretty day you cannot ride to work? No. The antique motorcycle just cannot be your primary, or only means, of transportation. You can ride the motorcycle to and from shows and events or use it for pleasure within 250 miles of the registered address. I am not really sure about how strict enforcement of these restrictions are, but if you violate them and get caught you could lose your ability to use antique plates for 5 years. Antique motorcycles, like any other vehicle registered in Virginia, must be insured with motor vehicle liability insurance or you will have to pay the uninsured motor vehicle fee.
If your motorcycle meets the age criteria to be registered as an antique, but you plan to use it as your daily rider then you have to register it with standard renewable plates and have an annual State Safety Inspection.
The process for registering a motorcycle for antique plates is pretty simple. The details of the process can be found here: Virginia DMV Antique Motorcycle Plates. The motorcycle has to be more than 25 years old prior to January 1 of the current year (for example in after January 1, 2021 any model year 1994 or older motorcycles are eligible for antique tags). There are 2 forms you have to complete: one is the license plate application (VSA 10) and the other is the Antique Vehicle Applicant Certification (VSA 10B). The Antique Vehicle Applicant Certification just states that you own or have access to another vehicle which has an active registration. If you have more than one antique vehicle you can use the same vehicle on multiple VSA 10B forms but you have to submit a VSA 10B for each antique registration.
Complete the forms and head to your local DMV or DMV Select (or make an appointment if your local DMV office is not allowing walk-ins yet). You will probably wait for a long time (it is the DMV) but once you are called to the desk the DMV clerk will review your VSA 10 and VSA 10B, enter your information on no less than 35 different screens, and ask what style antique tags you want. There are two choices for motorcycles: a black and white and a yellow. Samples are shown below:
You pay the $50 fee and will be issued a temporary tag (which usually expires in a month), the antique tag will be mailed to you. I have always received mine within about a week of submitting the application at the DMV.
This is pretty much how it goes in Virginia. I am sure the process, requirements, benefits, and limitations will likely vary from state to state, so if you are not in VA check your state’s DMV site for how to register an old motorcycle as an antique.
If you have an older motorcycle, which you just use for occasional rides for pleasure or to events or shows, registering it as an antique is pretty simple and can save you a few bucks on fees, inspections, and taxes. Enjoy.
Build. Tinker. Ride.