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Vehicle Emissions Testing in North Carolina

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In North Carolina, a vehicle emissions test is required for many original registrations, as well as for annual registration renewals.


All motor vehicles operated on public North Carolina roads aside from exempt vehicles.


A record of your vehicle's inspection is entered electronically into the DMV vehicle registration database upon completion. Your next inspection will be due the same month your vehicle registration renewal is due and must be obtained no more than 90 days before your plate expires. A valid test is required to reinstate a suspended registration and to complete an original vehicle registration or registration renewal. Used car dealers are required to issue a valid emissions test for any vehicle they sell. Getting an emissions test is the buyer's responsibility when the vehicle is purchased from a private owner.


The following vehicle types are exempt from Safety Inspection requirements:

Vehicles 35 years old, or older    

The following vehicle types are exempt from On-Board Diagnostic Emissions Inspections:

Vehicles three years old and newer with fewer than 70,000 miles
Model 1995 vehicles, or older
Diesel-operated vehicles
Vehicles licensed under the farmer rate    


Any Authorized Emissions Inspection Station licensed by the State can test your vehicle, in the county that you live in. Look for the official sign issued by the Division of Motor Vehicles to authorized testing stations. The test standards and maximum fees will be displayed at the stations. Only select stations deal with light-duty diesel vehicles.


Safety & On-Board Diagnostic Inspections

On-Board Diagnostic Emissions Inspection: $30
Safety Inspection: $13.60    

See Emissions fees for details.


If your vehicle fails the emissions test/OBD (On Board Diagnostic), within four months, you must have the vehicle repaired, after which it must pass the after repairs emissions test. The vehicle can be repaired at the station or elsewhere. A $250 civil penalty is levied if this is not followed and the vehicle is not permitted to renew registration.

If your vehicle is unable to meet the emissions standard following the necessary repair work, you may be able to obtain a waiver prior to registration.

To find out more about waivers, contact the North Carolina DMV at (877) 421-0020


  • If you are out of state, or if your vehicle is otherwise unavailable for inspection, you can register your vehicle or renew your registration within 10 days of returning to North Carolina.
  • See also Vehicle History Reports.

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