How to Register a Car in North Carolina?

North Carolina Vehicle Registration Guide
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Are you a new driver who is thinking of moving to North Carolina? Or did life bring you here, and suddenly, you need to know how to register your car? Don’t worry—writing your vehicle in the state isn’t complicated. In this blog post, we’ll provide an easy-to-follow guide for registering vehicles in North Carolina, ensuring that when you take it out on the Tar Heel State’s roads or highways, it is safe and roadworthy.

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 or face the consequences (like a license suspension).

You may register your vehicle 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 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. 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 complete the steps.

Do you need to register a vehicle like a motorcycle, boat, or other type? 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 ten 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, and 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. 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 an excellent 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 the following:

  • 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 it has a few different forms and fees. Use our NC Vehicle Registration Renewal Guide to learn what’s needed.

Now that you know how to register a car in North Carolina, it’s time to get out there and do it! The process is quite simple and shouldn’t take more than a few hours of your time. Remember to bring all the required documents when you go, and be sure to have your payment ready. Once you’ve taken care of everything, you’ll be able to hit the open road and enjoy your new ride.