How to Register a Car in North Carolina

North Carolina Vehicle Registration Guide

Your NC driver’s license gives you great freedom but with it comes responsibility.

One of these responsibilities is getting your vehicle registered for the road. Anyone driving in the state must register their vehicle else face the consequences (like a license suspension).

You may register your vehicle in-person at an NC DMV or by mail.

The registration process includes a:

  • Title application or lease agreement
  • Identification and proof of residency
  • Insurance and vehicle inspection
  • Paying applicable fees and taxes

Those coming from out-of-state will get a new NC license, then and proceed with the registration (including inspections) within 30-days. Keep reading to understand the step-by-step of how you’ll register a car or truck in NC.

North Carolina Car or Truck Registration: Step-by-Step

You will have to register your vehicle after its leased, purchased, inherited, or gifted. The registration is quick-and-easy when you have the necessary documents prepared.

What you’ll need to collect/bring

Gather and bring the following items when going to the DMV or registering by mail:

  • NC driver’s license or state ID
  • Proof of vehicle ownership
  • The vehicle’s title
    • Notarized
    • Lien release (if applicable)
  • Completed forms
    • Title Application
    • Damage Disclosure Statement
    • Odometer Disclosure Statement
    • Bill of Sale
  • Payment method

You may need to provide an emission inspection if registering a vehicle from out-of-state. Or, depending on your county. You need insurance when registering, so get this covered beforehand by comparing auto insurance quotes before you’re ready to complete the steps.

Do you need to register a vehicle like a motorcycle, boat, and other types? Check our Other Registration Guide for those details.

New Vehicle Registration

Dealerships will automatically submit title documentation to North Carolina’s DMV offices. But, you’ll still need to register the vehicle in-person.

What’s next?

  1. Go to the DMV office
  2. Show your proof of ID
    1. License
    2. NC ID
  3. Provide the Title Application (MVR-1)
    1. Plus: Lien release if applicable
  4. Provide the Damage Disclosure (MVR-181)
  5. Provide the Odometer Disclosure (MVR-180)
    1. Note: For vehicles less than 10 years old
  6. Show proof of insurance
  7. Show your bill of sale
  8. Pay the $36 plate fee

You may also need to pay applicable county taxes during this registration. Complete these steps and your new vehicle is now registered in North Carolina. Congrats!

Used Vehicle Registration

A used vehicle registration process is quick-and-easy — you will:

  1. Have the seller sign the title/registration in your name
  2. Bring ID, title, insurance, completed forms, bill of sale
  3. Submit your documents
  4. Pay the tax, registration, and plate fees

It’s the same as a new car registration – but with a title transfer between the parties. You may want to get a notarization when completing the transaction. Else, complete the transfer and registration in-person to eliminate any troubles and hassles.

Registration by Mail

Registration by mail sees you sending the documentation and payment to North Carolina’s Vehicle Titles location. This is a great option if you are out of the state (e.g. military personnel).

Send documents and payment to:

Vehicle Titles/Liens, Duplicate Registration

3148 Mail Service Center

Raleigh, NC 27697

North Carolina Vehicle Registration Fees and Taxes

Typical registration costs include:

  • Certificate of Title: $52
  • Plate Fee: $36
  • Plate Transfer: $20
  • Vehicle tax: 3%

See the full list on the NC DOT’s Registration Fee page. Payments are accepted via cash, check, or money order only.

Need a Registration Renewal?

The registration renewal process is very similar to what you’ve just learned. But, has a few different forms and fees. Use our NC Vehicle Registration Renewal Guide to learn what’s needed.