A North Carolina DMV license plate displays that a vehicle has been properly registered with the state. In addition, vehicles bearing valid car registration plates present proof that they have undergone certain state-mandated tests and are deemed road-worthy. Furthermore, law enforcement officers can quickly identify a vehicle and its driver by running a DMV car tag number through their computers.

Overall, new registration plates in NC are processed by the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) of the state’s Department of Transportation (DOT). Vehicle owners may choose from a variety of types of car tags, such as standard or personalized license plates. Then, motorists must be mindful of when to renew, replace or transfer these credentials. Learn more about how to get a license plate by reading the sections below.

Types of License Plates in North Carolina

Depending on which type of new registration plates you need, you may be able to choose from several types of car tags for your vehicle. Some of the most popular North Carolina car registration plates include the following:

  • Temporary plates are generally issued by car dealerships, and are sometimes referred to as transit permits. These car tags allow you to drive your car up to 30 days, or until your permanent tags arrive in the mail.
  • Standard car registration plates are permanent credentials that are most often seen on vehicles registered in North Carolina. However, there are two standard DMV license plate choices in the state. One option, called the “First in Flight” tag, is a more traditional license plate. The other option, called the “First in Freedom” tag, is the newer version of a standard plate.
  • Specialized and personalized plates come in nearly 200 designs representing a wide range of interests, groups, affiliations and academic institutions. You may also get license plate numbers and letters configured into names or sayings, thus further customizing your car tag.
  • Disability parking plates are issued by DMV agents to individuals with disabilities, who must file a specific application form. Moreover, this particular document must be certified by a physician. These permanent plates help people with disabilities by allowing them to park in designated handicapped parking spots.

How to Apply for a License Plate in North Carolina

New registration plates in North Carolina are available either from a licensed car dealer or from a license plate agency. If you purchase a vehicle from a dealership, the dealer will initiate the registration process on your behalf and should assist you in securing the title and plates. Generally, a dealer will provide you with temporary car registration plates, which you may use until your permanent credentials arrive in the mail. If you bought your vehicle in a private sale, you must have it titled and registered in NC before a DMV license plate can be issued. When visiting a license plate agency, you must provide your title number, vehicle identification number (VIN) and proof of liability insurance.

How to Renew License Plate Tags in North Carolina

You must renew license plate tags based on the date sticker on your tag, or on the date displayed on the car registration renewal notice sent to you by the DMV. Overall, an NC license plate renewal can happen in person or by mail up to 90 days before your car tag expires. In order to request a renewal, you must have a valid auto insurance policy and a current safety and emissions inspection certificate.

On the other hand, renewing license plate tags is not possible if your vehicle’s property taxes are unpaid, or if you have any holds on your registration that were not yet cleared. If you are wondering how to renew license plate tags online, you may do so by accessing the official North Carolina DMV portal and providing the website with the last five characters of your title number, as well as your license plate number. If approved, you must proceed to fill in the necessary information. Then, you must pay with an acceptable method of payment for the applicable fees.

How to Replace License Plates in North Carolina

You may replace license plate tags that were lost or stolen at your local NC license plate agency, but only as long as the plate is not expired. To do so, you must complete an application form and submit it along with your insurance company name and policy number. If you are wondering how to replace license plate tags online, note that it is not a service currently offered by the North Carolina DMV. Conversely, replacing license plate and registration documents is possible by mail if you are out of state at the time that your tag is lost or stolen. In order to submit this request via mail, you must send your application form and a check or money order for the amount of the service fee to a designated DMV mailing address.

How to Transfer License Plates in North Carolina

Transferring a DMV car tag in North Carolina is an easy process if you meet the requirements established by the state. For instance, the vehicle receiving a car registration plate must have a valid inspection certificate and a valid insurance policy. Moreover, the name on your drivers’ license and title must match exactly. In any case, if you need to get license plate tags transferred, you must do so in person at an NC DMV office.

North Carolina License Plate Fees

Most private vehicles in North Carolina will pay a standard fee for a new car tag. Furthermore, the cost of renewing a license plate each year is generally the same as obtaining a new one. On the other hand, there are other fees associated with replacing or transferring a license plate. In general, these services cost less than a renewal.

License Plate Lookups in North Carolina

The North Carolina DMV offers an online lookup service where you may research your personalized car registration plate idea and see if anyone else has used it yet. Moreover, you may order your own driving record through the DMV.

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