Virginia Bankruptcy Exemptions

Updated May 24, 2016

Like all states, Virginia has its own set of exemptions that you may use when filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Exemptions determine what property (such as a home, car, instrument, retirement account, etc.) you may keep in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and how much you must pay to certain creditors in Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Some states allow debtors to choose between the state exemption system and a set of federal bankruptcy exemptions – but Virginia is not one of them. In Virginia, you must use the state exemptions below. In addition to this list, you may also use any applicable amounts in the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions.

Unless noted otherwise, if a couple is married and filing jointly in Virginia, each spouse may claim the full amount of each exemption. This is informally called “doubling.”

To learn more about bankruptcy exemptions, including how they work, which state exemption system you should use, and special rules for the homestead exemption, see Bankruptcy Exemptions – What Can I Keep When I File for Bankruptcy? 

Virginia Bankruptcy Exemptions

Unless otherwise noted, all law references are to the Code of Virginia. 


34-4 - $5,000 plus $500 per dependent (if over 65 exemption is $10,000): Tenancies by the entirety are exempt without limitation as to debts of one spouse. Sale proceeds are exempt up to $5,000(34-20). Must file homestead declaration prior to filing for bankruptcy (34-6).

64.2-311 - Minor children may claim exemption if there is no surviving spouse. A surviving spouse may claim up to $15,000.

Personal Property

34-26 - Motor vehicles up to $6,000; wearing apparel up to $1,000; household furnishings up to $5,000; firearms up to $3,000; family portraits and heirlooms up to $5,000; burial plot; wedding and engagement rings, family Bible; animals owned as pets, provided they are not raised for sale or profit; and medically prescribed health aids.

34-28.1 - Personal injury recoveries and causes of action.

23-38.81 - Prepaid tuition contracts.

38.2-5604 - Health savings accounts and medical savings accounts.

64.2-310 - Surviving spouse (or minor children if there is no surviving spouse) may exempt up to $20,000 of deceased spouse's personal property.


34-29 - Greater of the following: 40 times the federal minimum hourly wage or minimum of 75% of disposable weekly earnings. Judge may approve more for low income debtor.


11 U.S.C. § 522 - Tax exempt retirement accounts (including 401(k)s, 403(b)s, profit-sharing and money purchase plans, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs, and defined benefit plans). 

11 U.S.C. § 522(b)(3)(C)(n) - IRAS and Roth IRAs to $1,283,025.

34-34 - ERISA-qualified benefits to the same amount as allowed by federal bankruptcy law.

51.1-124.4 - State employees.

51.1-802 - County, city and town employees.

51.1-200 - State police officers.

51.1-300 - Judges.

Public Benefits

3.1-1111.1 - Payments to tobacco farmers.

19.2-368.12 - Crime victims' compensation, unless seeking to discharge debt for treatment of crime-related injury.

60.2-600 - Unemployment compensation.

63.2-506 - General assistance and aid to blind, aged, and disabled.

65.1-82 - Workers' compensation.

34-26(9) - Earned income tax credit.

Tools of Trade

44-96 - Arms, uniforms and equipment of a military member.

34-26 - Tools, books, instruments, implements, equipment, and machines, including motor vehicles, vessels, and aircraft, necessary for use in occupation or trade up to $10,000.

34-27 - For farmer: tractor to $3,000, 1 wagon or cart, pair of horses, pair of mules with gear; fertilizer to $1,000; 2 plows, harvest cradle, 2 iron wedges, pitchfork and rake.


38.2-3122 - Life insurance proceeds, dividends, interest, loan, cash, or surrender value.

38.2-3339 - Group life insurance policy or proceeds.

38.2-3406 - Accident, sickness or industrial sick benefits.

38.2-3811 - Cooperative life insurance benefits.

38.2-4021 - Burial society benefits.

38:2-4118 - Fraternal benefit society benefits.

51.1-510 - Group life or accident insurance for government officials.


50-73.105 - Business partnership property.

34-4.1 - For disabled veterans, $10,000 of any property.

64.2-309 - Decedent's family allowance for surviving spouse or minor children, up to $24,000.

34-26(1); 34-28.2 - Unpaid spousal or child support necessary for support.


34-4.1 - $2,000 of any property of a disabled veteran who is a householder.

34-13 - Unused homestead.


Add any applicable Federal Nonbankruptcy Exemptions.

Confirming Exemptions

This list includes the majority of bankruptcy exemptions available in Virginia. However, it may not include all exemptions, and states often create exceptions to specific exemptions. In addition, Virginia may have changed the amounts since this list was last updated. Consider checking with your local bankruptcy court or a local attorney.

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