How to Renew Your Vehicle Registration in North Carolina?

Registration Renewal in North Carolina Guide
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Are you looking for information about an NC registration renewal? You’re in the right place! The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles recommends renewing registration by the date on your tag (yearly), though drivers have a 15-day grace period after expiration to get things done. Forgoing renewal may cause a suspended license, extra late fees, and/or penalties.

You’ll receive a notification 60 days before your vehicle’s registration expires.

Sometimes, this is an e-mail notice if you signed up for the service. The notice explains the expiration date, fees, applicable emissions info, and vehicle information you’ll use during the renewal.

Call 919-715-7000 if you did not receive your renewal notice.

What’s Needed to Renew a Registration in North Carolina?

Your vehicle must pass safety inspections and may require an emissions test. These are done 90 days before the expiration. Certain vehicles may have applicable vehicle property taxes during renewal, too.

Collect the following:

  1. Identification
    1. Driver’s license
    2. NC ID
  2. Vehicle essentials
    1. Renewal notice or license plate number
    2. The last five numbers of the vehicle’s title
    3. Vehicle insurance
    4. Safety inspection
    5. Conditional: emissions test
  3. Valid payment method
    1. Renewal fees
    2. Vehicle property tax
    3. Local taxes and fees

Renewal fees are paid at the time of renewal and vary by county and vehicle type. You cannot use credit/debit cards at physical NCDMV locations. You may use them with online registration, though.

A 10-day trip permit is available if there are issues with your registration renewal. You will talk with NCDMV officials to learn if this opportunity is available for your circumstances.

Is There a Grace Period for Expired Tags in N.C.?

Even though individuals are legally allowed to drive their vehicle up to 15 days after their registration expires (as indicated by the “valid through” date), the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicle imposes a late fee of up to $25 on all registration renewals paid after the license plate’s expiration date.

How to Renew Your North Carolina Registration?

The registration fees for most passenger vehicles cost $36, minus taxes/fees.

Your final price may also include the vehicle’s value and type. Heavier trucks cost $36 – $67+, while motorcycles run $24 during renewal. You may also pay a $13.60 safety inspection and $16.40 emission testing fee throughout the process.

Renewing N.C. Vehicle Registration Online

Renewing online is the easiest option (if you are living in a participating county):

  1. Visit the NC DMV site
  2. Fill in your personal information
  3. Enter your vehicle information
    1. Info on renewal form or license plate number
    2. The last five numbers of the title
    3. Safety inspection
    4. Proof of insurance
    5. Emission test (if needed)
  4. Confirm the details and pay the renewal fee
    1. Plus, vehicle property tax

After completing the online process, it shouldn’t take long to receive your renewal tags by mail.

Renewing N.C. Vehicle Registration In-Person

Head down to your local NCDMV (find one in our NC DMV directory), then:

  1. Renewal information
    1. Option: Renewal form
    2. Option: License plate number
  2. Proof of auto insurance
  3. Safety inspection certificate
    1. If applicable: Emissions test results
  4. Funds for the registration renewal fee

You’ll receive your tag renewal, letting you replace the old one in the parking lot. You’re not good at driving in North Carolina.

Renewing N.C. Vehicle Registration By Mail

Certain circumstances allow you to renew your NC vehicle’s registration by mail. The same documents brought to an NCDMV are sent by mail to:

Registration Renewals

P.O. Box 29620

Raleigh, NC 27626

Call the NCDMV to learn the availability of mail-in renewals.

What is the Fine for Expired Registration in N.C.?

In North Carolina, the fine for expired tags is based on the amount of time your vehicle registration has expired.

Less Than One Month$15.00
One Month or Greater$20.00
Two Months or Greater$25.00

The Division will waive the late fee for individuals who can demonstrate that they were deployed as members of the US Armed Forces during the registration period.

Can You Renew a N.C. Registration Without Inspection?

To renew the vehicle registration of a motor vehicle registered in North Carolina, the registered owner must ensure that it passes an annual safety inspection. This inspection can be conducted within 90 days before the license plate and registration expire. It is a crucial requirement to ensure the safety and compliance of the vehicle on the road. During the inspection, a licensed mechanic would examine the vehicle for the following:

HeadlightsAccessory lights
Directional signalsFoot brake
Parking brakeSteering
Rearview mirror​Windshield wipers
Exhaust systemEmission control components

Inspection Exemptions

Automobiles that are 30 years old or older may be eligible for an antique license plate. Owning a vehicle with an antique license plate exempts it from annual safety and emissions inspections. Antique plates are intended for vehicles primarily used for exhibitions, club activities, parades, and other public interest events.