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How to Register a Vehicle in North Carolina

Vehicle Registration Online Services Guide

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.

INITIAL REGISTRATION

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

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.

RENEWING YOUR VEHICLE REGISTRATION

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.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

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