How To Get A New Car Registration in North Carolina | (2023)

Motorists must apply for a new car registration in North Carolina when they obtain a motor vehicle, regardless of whether it has been used or is new. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) of the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NC DOT) mandates vehicle owners to have their cars registered and titled before operating them on public state roads. As part of the procedure, motorists will have to satisfy certain requirements that may vary based on the driver’s specific situation.

Apart from submitting the mandatory vehicle registration documentation and payment for the applicable fees to the NC DMV, applicants may also have to get their vehicles inspected and to obtain a minimum liability insurance coverage. To discover more information about how to register a car in North Carolina, continue reading the following sections.

North Carolina Car Registration Requirements

Before and during the North Carolina car registration procedure, motorists may be mandated to satisfy certain requirements and eligibility criteria. The requirements consist of providing the mandatory documentation, paying the applicable fees and taxes, and having the vehicles inspected according to the NC criteria.

Car Insurance Requirements for Registering a Car in North Carolina

When registering a car in North Carolina, motorists will have to provide proof of car insurance, as part of the NC DMV requirements. According to NC law, motorists must have an insurance coverage for uninsured/underinsured motorists, as well as minimum bodily injury and property damage limits. Moreover, the NC DMV requires drivers to provide the following minimum liability coverage:

  • $30,000 – bodily injury of one person
  • $60,000 – bodily injury of two or more people
  • $25,000 – property damage

Failure to obtain the minimum liability insurance coverage may result in revocation of the license plates and civil penalties, late fees, interest and collections.

Vehicle Inspection/Smog Inspection/VIN Inspection Requirements in North Carolina

Motorists who want to perform a North Carolina new car registration procedure must first have their vehicles inspected. Drivers need to have their vehicles pass an annual safety inspection before registering or renewing their registrations.

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The safety inspection will examine the vehicle’s brakes, signals, headlights, steering, windows and tires. Moreover, vehicles that are registered in certain NC counties may also need to pass an emissions inspection. This inspection is conducted simultaneously with the safety inspection. Failing to have their vehicles inspected may block their registration procedures until the inspection is conducted.

Registering a Vehicle in North Carolina

When registering a car in North Carolina, motorists may have to perform both a registration procedure and a title procedure at the same time, regardless of whether their vehicle is new or used. A new car registration and title process is performed through the NC DMV and drivers need to provide the following documents:

  • Valid NC drivers license or ID card
  • Signed and notarized vehicle title
  • Proof of car insurance
  • Completed Title Application (form MVR-1)
  • Completed Damage Disclosure Statement (form MVR-181) for vehicles less than five years of age
  • Completed Odometer Disclosure Statement (form MVR-180) for cars less than 10 years of age
  • Lien release, if applicable
  • Payment for the applicable plate fee and state tax

When performing a vehicle registration for a new vehicle, motorists may have to provide the Manufacturer’s certificate of origin (MCO) as the official transfer document. However, if the procedure is performed by a new NC resident or by drivers who have purchased an already registered vehicle, then they will have to submit a certificate of title. After providing the mandatory documentation, the motor vehicle may have to be inspected in order to receive tags.

How to Register a Car in North Carolina as a New Resident

The North Carolina car registration procedure for new residents will be the same as for a regular resident, with that difference that motorists who have recently moved to NC may have to submit additional documentation. In most cases, new residents who are wondering how to register a car in North Carolina need to provide their out-of-state driver’s licenses, as well as a North Carolina Temporary Driving Certificate.

Apart from that, non-residents who are currently in North Carolina may need to submit the following paperwork:

  • Driver’s license
  • Military ID for active-duty military members
  • Student ID for drivers enrolled in an NC college or university
  • Completed Affidavit of Military/Dependent or Principally Garaged Vehicle (form MVR-614), if applicable
  • Court-ordered sale of the vehicle
  • Registration for a motor home

For more information about requirements that are closely connected to their specific situation, new residents may contact the NC DMV beforehand.


Vehicle Registration for Military Members in North Carolina

Military members who are wondering “How and where to register my car?” will have to satisfy the same registration requirements as a regular resident when titling and registering a motor vehicle. They will only need to collect the needed documentation and send it via mail to the NC DMV along with a copy of their valid NC driver’s licenses.

Military members who want to obtain a North Carolina DMV registration for their motor vehicles obtained overseas will have to provide the following documentation upon their return to NC:

  • Foreign vehicle title
  • Foreign vehicle registration
  • Military registration card
  • Bill of sale and inspection documents, completed in NC before registering
  • Payment for the following taxes:
    • Three percent of purchase price for vehicles bought from a dealer or online
    • Three percent of purchase price not exceeding $250 for vehicles bought by a military personnel with military registration
    • Three percent of bill of sale for vehicles bought overseas without a registration

However, when drivers who are not residents of North Carolina but are on active duty in the state want to register car in NC, they may have to satisfy additional requirements to those for NC residents. For instance, they will have to provide their own active-duty Military ID cards, as well as a completed Affidavit of Military/Dependent or Principally Garaged Vehicle (form MVR-614), a court-ordered sale of the vehicle and a motor-home registration.

Temporary DMV Registration in North Carolina

When registering a car in North Carolina, new residents need to provide their out-of-state driver’s licenses as well as a North Carolina Temporary Driving Certificate. This certificate may be used for driving purposes only and is valid for 60 days, during which period motorists are supposed to receive their licenses, permits or ID cards.

The temporary driving certificate is needed when performing a car registration procedure along with an unexpired photo ID. For more information about the temporary driving certificate and DMV registration, motorists may always contact their local NC DMV office.

North Carolina License Plates

After titling and registering a car in North Carolina, motorists will obtain license plates, which they must place on their vehicles in order to legally operate them on public roads. Therefore, in order to get a license plate in NC, vehicle owners will have to first obtain car title and registration through the NC DMV and pass a safety inspection and an emissions testing, if needed.


After obtaining a DMV registration, drivers who are getting a license plate for the first time will be required to visit a local NC DMV license plate agency. The NC DMV issues standard license plate in two designs for private passenger cars and for private hauler vehicles. However, motorists may choose a specialty or personalized license plate type, according to their personal preference. Getting these plates requires you to pay additional fees.

North Carolina Car Registration Fees

The North Carolina car registration cost may vary based on the license plate type that drivers decide to obtain at the end of the procedure. Apart from the registration fees, motorists may also need to pay taxes and vehicle registration renewal fees. Therefore, drivers need to submit payments for the following fees:

  • $36 – passenger license plates
  • $66 – U-Drive-It passenger car license plates
  • $52 – certificate of title
  • $8 – Regional Transit Authority Registration Tax
  • $7 – County Vehicle Registration Tax

Related Forms

Note: DMV forms change regularly. The forms provided above are current based on the date of writing.

Last updated on Monday, March 9 2020.


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  • FAQs

    How do I get a new registration for my car in NC? ›

    NC drivers must visit their local NC DMV office to register their vehicle in person and present:
    1. A valid photo ID or driver's license.
    2. Proof of car insurance.
    3. A notarized vehicle title (A current out-of-state registration and odometer reading is required if a lienholder has the vehicle title.)
    Jun 15, 2021

    Can you register a new car online in NC? ›

    Registration renewals can be completed online at, or in-person at any NCDMV license plate agency, which includes 116 open driver license offices, 130 open license plate offices and 25 open mobile locations.

    What documents do I need for NC vehicle registration? ›

    Titling & Registering a Vehicle
    1. Vehicle title (or if held by a lender, a registration card)
    2. MVR-1 Title Application.
    3. MVR-180 Odometer Disclosure (if vehicle is less than 10 years old)
    4. A North Carolina driver license or a valid out-of-state driver license along with a North Carolina Temporary Driving Certificate.
    Aug 10, 2021

    How long does it take to get a NC registration? ›

    The NC DMV mails out the registration card and sticker approximately 7-14 business days after an online payment successfully processes.

    Do I need to get my car inspected before I get it registered in NC? ›

    Will my vehicle need to be inspected before I obtain my North Carolina license plate? ​You will be allowed to register the vehicle without an inspection. When your next annual registration renewal is due, you must have the vehicle inspected to renew your registration.

    How much is a replacement registration card in NC? ›

    o The ND Title Number and License Plate Number are required. SFN 61982 Application for Duplicate Credentials must be completed in full stating the reason for the replacements (lost, stolen, or mutilated), signed by the registered owner. Replacement fee is $3. How do I get a replacement registration card?

    How do I register my car in N.C. without a title? ›

    In order to transfer ownership of a vehicle without a vehicle title in North Carolina, you are required to apply for a duplicate vehicle title (Form MVR-4). You are required to have the vehicle's title in order to transfer the vehicle's title.

    How do I schedule an appointment for NCDMV registration renewal? ›

    Appointments can be scheduled online through NCDOT directly. To schedule an appointment online, visit the NCDOT website here. You cannot schedule an appointment online through myNCDMV at this time.

    Does N.C. require a car registration and insurance to be the same? ›

    ​​​​​All vehicles with a valid North Carolina registration are required by state law (G.S. 20-309) to have continuous liability insurance provided by a company licensed to do business in North Carolina. Out-of-state policies are not accepted.

    Can I go to NCDMV without appointment? ›

    Scheduled Appointments to be Limited to Morning Hours

    After noon, all customer services statewide will be provided on a walk-in basis. “We've heard from the public that they want more walk-in availability, so that's what we're aiming to deliver," said NCDMV Commissioner Wayne Goodwin.

    Can I drive while waiting for registration sticker North Carolina? ›

    Yep! They will know that the plate is current, but just does not have the sticker applied. However, they do have a right to stop the vehicle to remind the driver that the sticker must be attached as soon as possible.

    How long does it take for NCDMV to mail license plate? ›

    Once the NCDMV receives the plate, it is mailed to address listed on your registration record, along with a new registration card and validation sticker. This process takes about 6-8 weeks.

    Does the NC DMV take walk ins? ›

    Beginning Monday, May 1, all customer services statewide will be provided on a walk-in basis after noon. Appointments will only be available in the mornings through the 11 a.m. hour and can be booked at

    Can you sell a car in N.C. without registration? ›

    The seller is not required to furnish the registration, however, and the buyer won't need it in order to transfer the title after the sale. If there is no title and you can't get in touch with the previous owner to obtain one, you can still title the car in your name.

    How much does it cost to transfer drivers license to North Carolina? ›

    The NC DMV accepts different forms of payments, such as cash, money, or check, to pay the $38.75 NC plate fee, and all other state taxes.

    Why can't i renew my N.C. license online? ›

    You cannot renew online, and must renew in person, if you: Have a suspended license or outstanding debt with the DMV. Have a restriction other than “Corrective Lenses” on your license and/or “24” on your full provisional license.

    How do I contact the NCDMV? ›

    For additional questions or concerns, send a message or call the NCDMV Customer Contact Center at (919) 715-7000 from 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays.

    What happens if you don't register your car for a year in NC? ›

    What will happen if I don't pay the registration and vehicle tax by the due date? Interest will be charged on late vehicle property tax payments and registration renewals. Your vehicle could also be subject to fees from NCDMV and a citation if it is driven after the tags expire.

    Do I need a NC license to register my car in NC? ›

    Getting a driver's license is required before you can register your vehicle.

    Can you get tags without insurance in NC? ›

    You cannot register a car without insurance in North Carolina. Proof of insurance is required at the time of registration.. In North Carolina, you are required to have $30,000 in bodily injury liability coverage, up to $60,000 per accident, along with $25,000 in liability coverage for property damage.

    Why are there no appointments at the NC DMV? ›

    The N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles wants to make it easier to get served at a driver's license office without making an appointment. Starting May 1, the DMV will see customers by appointment only in the mornings; after noon, customers will see a DMV agent on a first-come, first-served basis.

    Do you have to have an appointment to get your driver's license renewed in North Carolina? ›

    You must schedule an appointment with the North Carolina DMV to complete your driver's license renewal. While visiting the DMV, you will have to produce two documents verifying your identity and SSN proof. You may also need to take the following tests.

    What is a N.C. real ID? ›

    The N.C. REAL ID is a REAL ID Act-compliant driver license that is just like a traditional license or ID but has a star at the top. Driver licenses and IDs without a gold star are noted "Not for Federal Identification."

    Does N.C. duplicate registration come with sticker? ›

    ​Please note: You are ordering a duplicate registration card only, a renewal sticker will not be issued.​ Need to replace your sticker or plate? Learn more.

    What is the best day to go to the DMV? ›

    If you want to get in and out of the DMV in the shortest time possible, go: Bright and early when the DMV opens. Before the lunch hour, before noon. During the middle of the week (Tuesday-Thursday)

    Do I have to turn in my N.C. license plate? ›

    The owner must return the valid North Carolina license plate or submit an affidavit (MVR18A)​ indicating that the North Carolina registration plate has been lost, stolen, or destroyed.​​​

    Why have i not received my N.C. registration renewal? ›

    If you have not received your renewal and cannot access it online, contact the NCDMV directly at 919.715. 7000 or with this online contact form for more information and next steps.

    How do I check the status of my N.C. license plate? ›

    MyDMV is the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles online portal that lets you view and manage details about your driver license and vehicle registration and conveniently complete NCDMV services anytime and anywhere – without ever having to wait in a line.

    How often does N.C. issue new license plates? ›

    If your North Carolina license plate is at least 6 years old, the Division of Motor Vehicles is going to give you a new one when your registration comes up for renewal starting Jan. 1.

    What is required to renew car registration in NC? ›

    License plate number. Last 5 numbers of the vehicle title number. Registration renewal fee.
    In order to renew your registration in person you will need to bring the following with you:
    • License plate number or renewal notice.
    • Proof of car insurance, which may be your insurance card, policy, or DL-123 form.
    • payment.

    Where do I send my N.C. vehicle registration? ›

    Online at
    1. At your local License Plate Agency.
    2. By mail: P.O. Box 29620, Raleigh, NC 27626.

    How much is N.C. property tax on cars? ›

    North Carolina policy states that all vehicles will be taxed at 100 percent of their appraised value. How much this tax will cost you depends on where you live since vehicle property tax rates vary by county. The DMV requires you to pay the property tax rate for where you currently reside.


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