What is a regulation?

A regulation is a law adopted by a state government agency. The General Assembly must pass a law authorizing or mandating a state agency to write regulations. Over half of Virginia's codified law is written by state agencies. Unlike statutes in the Code of Virginia, which change only per actions of the General Assembly when it is in session, regulations change throughout the year.


What are the purposes of administrative regulations?

An administrative regulation serves two purposes: a properly enacted administrative regulation has the binding effect of law and an administrative regulation is the formal document an agency uses to inform citizens of its actions and business.

Therefore, a regulation affects our lives as much as a statute passed by the legislature and knowing an agency has passed a regulation provides citizens the opportunity to respond via public comment or some other manner. Administrative regulations provide insight into how state government operates, including details as to how the public may access records and services, and how to appeal administrative decisions.


What is meant by the "effective date" on a regulation?

This is the date that a regulation goes into effect and upon which it must be followed.


What is a regulatory action?

A regulation is created, amended, or repealed through a regulatory action. A typical regulatory action goes through a three-step process, which is specified in the state law commonly referred to as the Administrative Process Act. The length of time required to complete the process of a given regulatory action varies, but 18 months is average.


What is the Virginia Administrative Process Act (APA)?

The APA is the set of Virginia laws that provide the basic framework for regulatory actions in Virginia and is found in Chapter 40 (§ 2.2-4000 et seq.) of Title 2.2 of the Code of Virginia. The APA is designed to give state decision makers, businesses, and the public the opportunity to participate in creating regulations by providing recommendations and feedback. Article 2 of the APA (beginning with § 2.2-4006), in particular, sets out the steps of the regulatory process. This article includes requirements for (i) public notice and comment; (ii) public participation, including guidelines on how the public can be involved in the rulemaking process; and (iii) publication by the Governor of procedures for executive review of regulations.


What is the Virginia Register of Regulations?

The Virginia Register of Regulations is Virginia’s official state publication of regulations. All regulations must be filed with the Registrar of Regulations to become law. The Virginia Register provides a snapshot of all regulatory activity happening in Virginia. The Virginia Register also includes general notices of state agency activity such as an administrative letter of the State Corporation Commission, a director's order of the State Lottery Department, or a consent order with the State Water Control Board.


What is the legal mandate for the Virginia Register?

The Virginia Register of Regulations is published pursuant to § 2.2-4031 and Chapter 41 (§ 2.2-4100 et seq.) of Title 2.2 of the Code of Virginia.


How do I obtain a print or electronic copy of the Register?

The official Virginia Register is the pdf version posted online, available to the public at no charge. Information regarding the purchase of an annual subscription (26 issues) of the print version or individual print copies is available under print subscription information.


How often is the Virginia Register published?

The Virginia Register of Regulations is published on schedule every other Monday.


How do I sign up for notification from the Virginia Register?

You can subscribe to the Virginia Register's RSS feed to receive notice of availability of each issue.


How is the Virginia Register organized?

The Virginia Register is cited by volume, issue, page number, and date. For example, 28:2 VA.R. 47-141 September 26, 2011, refers to Volume 28, Issue 2, pages 47 through 141 of the Virginia Register published on September 26, 2011. A new volume starts after the publication of 26 issues for the prior volume. The first volume and issue of the Register was published on October 15, 1984.

The Virginia Register is divided into sections--the most common sections are: Petitions for Rulemaking, Notices of Intended Regulatory Action (NOIRA), Regulations (Proposed, Final, Fast-Track, and Emergency), Guidance Documents, Governor, and General Notices.


I have a question/comment about a regulation listed in the Virginia Register. Who do I contact?

Each regulation printed in the Virginia Register lists the name, address, telephone and fax numbers, and email address of an agency contact person. You can contact the agency directly with questions and comments. You can also find contact information on the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall.


What is the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall?

The Virginia Regulatory Town Hall (Town Hall) is a website managed by the Department of Planning and Budget. Through this website, executive branch agencies submit regulations for review and approval of the Governor. Once through the review process, the regulation is sent to the Virginia Register for publication.

The Town Hall is another resource for tracking the progress of a regulation. You can sign up to be notified by email of regulatory activity and comment on regulations using the public comment forum.

However, not all regulations are found on the Town Hall. For example, the regulatory activity of the State Corporation Commission or the Marine Resources Commission is not on the Town Hall.


The Virginia Register has a section "Guidance Documents." What is a guidance document?

A guidance document is written by a state agency to interpret or clarify a regulation or statute. Unlike a properly promulgated regulation, a guidance document does not have the force and effect of law. To see if an agency has any guidance documents, go to the Virginia Register Guidance Document web page for more information. Guidance documents for many agencies are also posted on the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall.

Agencies are required to maintain a complete, current list of all guidance documents and make the full text of such documents available to the public.


What is an emergency regulation?

Regulations promulgated in emergency situations, after consultation with the Attorney General and approval of the Governor, are called "emergency regulations." Agencies may also adopt an emergency regulation when Virginia statutory law or the appropriation act or federal law or federal regulation requires that a regulation be effective in 280 days or less from its enactment.

Emergency regulations are temporary in nature and may be effective for only 12 months (this timeframe changes to 18 months beginning July 1, 2013) unless extended by the Governor for an additional six months. Emergency regulations are effective upon filing with the Registrar of Regulations unless the promulgating agency specifies a later date. Typically, public comment is not solicited on emergency regulations.


Where can I find emergency regulations?

To see emergency regulations currently in effect, go to the Virginia Register Emergency Regulations web page. Emergency regulations are usually posted on the website within two business days of the effective date.

Emergency regulations are published in the Virginia Register; however, since these regulations have limited duration, they are not included in the Virginia Administrative Code.


What is the Virginia Administrative Code (VAC)?

The Virginia Administrative Code is the compilation of permanent regulations for the Commonwealth of Virginia that have the force of law. The text of the original regulation is updated with later additions to or deletions from the original regulation to keep it current. The Virginia Administrative Code contains the permanent regulations for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Regulations have the force of law and are written and administered by state agencies as authorized by the General Assembly. The Virginia Administrative Code online is updated daily.


How is the Virginia Administrative Code organized?

The Virginia Administrative Code consists of 24 titles organized by subject matter. Each title is divided into sections, one for each state agency. Under each agency is a list of chapters. The following illustrates how regulations are labeled:

For example, 4 VAC 5-30-10:

4=Title--Conservation and Natural Resources
5=Agency--Department of Conservation and Recreation
30=Chapter--Virginia State Parks Regulations
10=Section--Definition of terms


Where can I find a copy of the Virginia Administrative Code?

Official print copies of the Virginia Administrative Code are available in most Virginia public library systems ( The online Virginia Administrative Code can be found at


How can I find a section of the Virginia Administrative Code if I don't know the section number?

Go to then use the search feature to search by subject or key word.


Are the regulations on the Virginia Administrative Code website up to date?

The Virginia Administrative Code updates daily, so regulations that become effective today are included, with the following exceptions:

1. Certain exemptions allow a regulation to become effective prior to being published in the Virginia Register. Actions are updated within two business days of the effective date.

2. Final regulations published in the Virginia Register are not included in the Virginia Administrative Code until their effective date.

3. Because of their temporary nature, emergency regulations are not included in Virginia Administrative Code, but are available on the website within two business days of the effective date.


What should I do if I need an older version of a regulation?

Contact the Office of the Registrar of Regulations at (804) 698-1810.