Georgetown Law
Georgetown Law Library

Virginia Research In-Depth

This State Guide provides an in-depth look at sources of law within Virginia.

Local Governments

Local governments in Virginia act as agents of the state, and do not have their own authority. The framework and laws for local governments are provided in Article VII of the Constitution of Virginiaand Title 15.2 of the Code of Virginia.

Counties, cities and towns can apply to the General Assembly to become municipal corporations. The charters of municipal corporations are their organic (constitution-like) laws. Legislative provisions are provided in a locality's ordinances. Localities may exercise only those powers granted expressly by statute or charter. Information about individual Virginia localities, click here.

Where to find Charters, Ordinances, Codes and Other Information

Charters and Ordinances

  • Charters of counties and independent cities are officially published in the Acts of Assembly the year they are enacted.
    • Print: The Acts of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia (Acts of Assembly), 4th floor, KFV2425 .A213.
    • Free Web: General Assembly's Bills and Resolutions -Searchable Database (Across Sessions) - Choose Chapter from the drop down menu (this will retrieve enacted laws only), and search the word "charter" for all charters created or amended since 1994.
    • Westlaw: VA-LEGIS-OLD
  • Charters are also included in a locality's ordinances.
    • Ordinances (General Code Publishers)
    • Ordinances ( Municipal Code Corporation)
    • Selected Codes of Ordinances are available in print in the library's collection. Do a keyword search in GULLiver on [Virginia and Ordinances].
  • Counties, Cities and Towns with Charters from the Virginia Legislative Service (list and links (unofficial))

Other Information