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How to Register a Vehicle in North Carolina

North Carolina law requires that motor vehicle owners must register their vehicle with the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) before taking it on the road. Both new and second-hand vehicles must be registered, regardless of whether they are purchased from a dealer or an individual. In addition, new North Carolina residents who have registered their vehicle in another state must register their vehicle in North Carolina. The initial vehicle registration must be done in person, but renewal of your registration can be done in person, on-line or by mail.

If you are new to North Carolina, you must register your vehicle within thirty days of moving in to the state, or when you gain employment, whichever occurs first. When you buy a vehicle, you must register and title it immediately or risk a fine.


If you are registering a motor vehicle in North Carolina for the first time, you must complete the following steps:

  1. North Carolina requires you to show proof of insurance when you register your vehicle.
  2. Collect the necessary paperwork. Even if you bought your vehicle from a dealer you will need to collect the following papers:
  3. The vehicle title, which should be signed by the previous owner.
  4. An application for title form, which must be signed in front of the notary at the agency when you process your registration.
  5. If the vehicle is less than ten years old, you will need an odometer reading, which should be signed by both yourself and the seller.
  6. If you have purchased a new car, you will need a Bill of Sale.
  7. You will also need a Damage Disclosure Statement
  8. Visit your local DMV Vehicle and License Plate Renewal Office with your completed forms.
  9. You have ten days after collecting your license plates to obtain an emission inspection or safety inspection certificate, if one is required for your county/vehicle combination.
  10. You can claim a tax deduction for that portion of your registration fees that are based on the vehicle's value.


Registration fees in North Carolina are based on the class of your vehicle and whether you require specialized license tags. Remember that the initial registration fee will be higher than renewal, as you will need to pay the Highway Use Tax (3% of the vehicle estimated value) the first time you register a vehicle. If you are a resident of Durham, Orange or Wake County you will also be charged a $5 Regional Transportation Authority registration Tax.


Owners of motor vehicles in North Carolina are required to renew their vehicle registration annually, and can do so in person, online or by mail. See our Registration Renewal section for complete details.


Reviews of How to Register a Vehicle in North Carolina

Hello. I just purchased a new car in May of this year (2015). Our registration says it expired in either June or July. I didn't have the funds to renew it at the time because I had to pay almost $250 in property taxes. Well I finally had the money in November and paid the property taxes on November 13th of this year (2015).....I was told 2 different things. One person told me that I had to just wait to get my registration in the mail, but I have yet to receive anything and when I sign on to the NCDMV website and select the option that says 'Renew Registration' it says something about getting the car inspected. Not sure what is right, but I thought the registration was good for a year, why did it expire 3 months after purchasing the car? And if the car is only 7 months old why do I need to it inspected again so soon? Sorry this is so confusing I'm sure but I guess my question is, since I paid the property taxes what is my next step? What do I need to do in order to get my current registration?

We have a vacation house in NC, but live in MA. I'd like to buy a truck in NC and leave it at the house there. Can I get NC plates for the car down there? The site appears to say that a NC drivers license is required to get NC plates.

im a resident of north carolina and my tag lapsed i now have insurance back on the car but i was told i have to turn my tag in for 30 days but this is my only means of transportation to get back and fourth to work what can i do is there away around not having to wait 30 days or what please help

No. Unless you can prove it was their error. Or a medical reason. I lost mine too. It sucks.

If I've payed my registration and everything and I'm just waiting on the stickers to arrive in the mail can I still drive my car?

No, nc isstrict

I just moved to NC from MD and realized that my registration for MD expired 3 days ago. Will this effect my registration process for NC?


what do i do if i want to get a 10 day tag, because i had some work done to my car and my tags ran out last month and i have to drive for a few days to get the check engine light to go off, before i can inspect so what do i do plus i heard that if my tag expires like that i have to turn in my tag is that true and i cant get a new tag for 90 days i was wondering is that true.

You mention that state law requires it, but you don't mention which state law. as a private citizen I don't own a motor vehicle, it's private property, quite anther thing. Title 18 USC sec. 31 says that for it to be a motor vehicle it must be used in commerce.Please be clear about your statements and provide references.

Well, at least one person here seems to know and understand the law! :)

My car has been in storage for 3 years while I've been over seas. Now I'm coming back to NC and need to register it. Does anyone know what I have to do?

I had to drive my car to florida and forgot to register it in nc. I live in nc how can i register my vehicle if i am out of state so i can drive it back legally to nc.

I am a resident of North Carolina that drove to California, but at present I am in Australia and I will be in Australia when my registration is valid thru 3/15/2013. My vehicle is in storage and I am trying to determine if I need to have my vehicle shipped back to my residence or if I can get an extention on the inspection and registration for three months.

I just purchased a car in Florida two weeks ago, but I live in N.C. What is the process and estimated cost to complete my vehicle registration?

I need the answer to this question as well.

wish to see answer

I have to agree with the comment above. $225 is CRAZY. I also moved here but from Pennsylvania. Everything is more expensive here but paying $225 to register a car is HIGHWAY Robbery! We have three cars and it is unbelievable that I will have to put out $675 just to register them. Oh yes, and I live in Guilford County and had to pay $100 plus privlege tax on each car every year to drive the cars. Unbelievable!

I am having trouble trying to find out how to register a car that the bank has a title for. I have called the office but can't get someone to answer the phone. Can anyone out there tell me what I need to take and what I need to do?

I just move form Penns to NC also. I had to pay $425 for ONE CAR!!! I couldn't get hold of anyone either. The NCDOT website has been inaccessible for 2 months. I had to go there in person and wait in line for an hour! Then when they gave me the forms to fill out, I ad to come back and wait another 45 min.!! This should be illegal!!

I am moving to Guilford county also. Does that mean you paid $675 PLUS another $100 per car just to register?? We have 2 cars, a pickup truck, motorcycle and a camper.

I have moved to NC from Virginia. I am deployed to Missouri for FEMA. I need to register my car in NC. This internet program will not give me the form. I need to do this by mail or the internet as I am working on this disaster and this will need to be done before my 60 days time to do it are up. Please email me the form. I will then send in check - someone already told me it would be $225 (which I think is completely ridiculous).......wish I had not moved here.

you can have someoine do it for you if you write a letter giveing someone the ok to do it for you. thats what i have to do for my mother inlaw