How to Transfer a Vehicle Title in North Carolina?

Title Transfer in North Carolina
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Transferring your title in the state of North Carolina happens whenever you plan to change ownership of the vehicle. This could include transferring the vehicle to a family member through a gift or inheritance. Or, the more common purpose of a private auto sale. You’ll provide proof of ownership whenever buying or selling a vehicle. The title is what you exchange during this transaction. The title transfer process is quite easy.

How to Transfer a North Carolina Vehicle Title?

Title transfer is a crucial and legal process, especially in private car sales. This guide provides everything you need to know for a successful vehicle title transfer in NC.

The basic steps involve these items:

  • Signed/Notarized MVR-1 Title Application
  • Your driver’s identification
  • Vehicle insurance
  • Funds to pay title transfer fees

You’ll complete the title transfer process at your local NCDMV.

Let’s learn how it works.

Title Transfers in North Carolina: Step-by-Step

A title transfer is simple with both parties present, and the paperwork is ready. The transfer should happen within 28 days of the sale, else you’ll pay a late fee.

Don’t have the title? Follow the title replacement process.

Got the title in hand, or did the other party read it? Follow along.

The transfer includes:

  1. Exchange the signed & notarized Title
    1. Both parties record IDs
  2. File the Title Application (MVR-1)
  3. Show your personal documents:
    1. Proof of ID
    2. Proof of insurance (FS-1)
  4. Pay the $52 title transfer fee
  5. Pay the 3% highway use tax.
  6. Pay the registration fee(s)
  7. Pay any applicable taxes

Head down to NCDMV when you’re ready (click to find a DMV nearest to you).

How Does the Vehicle Transfer Process Work? (Private Seller)

When purchasing a vehicle in North Carolina, both the buyer and seller must meet in person to fill out and sign the physical certificate of title.

  1. During the transfer of ownership, both parties meet in person to complete and sign the title.
  2. The buyer completes the title transfer, registers the car, and applies for new plates at the North Carolina DMV.
  3. When you sell a car, you transfer ownership by signing the title over to the buyer once completed you should remove the license plates and return them to the NCDMV.
  4. When you buy a car from a private seller, you become the legal owner of the vehicle once the seller has transferred the title to your name. After this, you will need to finalize the process with the DMV to obtain the official title and registration in your name. In addition, you will need to obtain new license plates from North Carolina and purchase car insurance.

Transferring Title with Dealerships

Dealerships handle most of the paperwork and registrations with the title transfer. You may choose to bring documents from the dealer to register the vehicle, too.

Transferring a Vehicle with an Out-of-state Title

You’ll do the title transfer and vehicle registration if you move to North Carolina. You must get an NC driver’s license and state insurance before transferring the title.

  1. Your documents
    1. Driver’s license
    2. Auto insurance
  2. Vehicle documents
  1. Option #1: Notarized proof of ownership
  2. Option #2: Out-of-state registration documents
  3. Copies of each person’s ID or Power of Attorney doc
  4. Applications
  1. Title Application (MVR-1)
  2. Payments
    1. $52 title transfer
    2. 3% highway use tax

…and pay any other registration fees applicable to your transfer and registration.

You’ll then process the vehicle the same as the normal registration process.

Where Can You Go to Transfer an NC Vehicle Title?

You will be able to go to a few NCDMV locations to get your vehicle transferred.

NCDMVPhone NumberHours of Operation
Department of Motor Vehicles
27 Plaza Pkwy
Lexington, NC 27292
(336) 472-7334Monday-Friday (9 AM to 5 PM)
Saturday and Sunday (Closed)
Department of Motor Vehicles
1022 Randolf Street Ste 13
Thomasville, NC 27360
(336) 472-7334Monday-Friday (9 AM to 5 PM)
Saturday and Sunday (Closed)

Emission and Smog Check Requirement

As a vehicle owner in North Carolina, it is mandatory to ensure that your vehicle passes an emissions test within 90 days of the vehicle registration renewal deadline. If you reside in one of the designated 48 counties in NC that requires a vehicle safety and emissions inspection, and your vehicle fails to pass the test, the NC DMV will block your vehicle registration until you get your vehicle inspected and it passes the required inspections.

NC Smog Check Exemptions

In North Carolina, certain vehicles are exempt from smog checks. Below is the list of the vehicle that is exempt from the North Carolina smog check.

  • Farm Vehicles
  • A vehicle that was manufactured before 1995
  • Diesel Vehicle
  • New Vehicle that was manufactured within three years.
  • Motorcycles
  • Motor Homes
  • Kit cars
  • Plugin Hybrid Cars
  • Recreational Vehicles (RV)

Be advised that vehicles falling into the mentioned categories must pass a vehicle safety and tampering inspection.

Requesting a Duplicate NC DMV Vehicle Title?

You can replace your vehicle’s title at your local NC DMV office if your vehicle’s title is lost, stolen, or damaged, or you need to remove a lien from the vehicle title.

To apply for a duplicate vehicle title in North Carolina, you need:

Common NC Title Fees and Taxes

Your NCDMV accepts cash, check, and money orders only.

Typical fees include the following:

  • Certificate of Title: $52
  • Instant Title: $98
  • Plate Fee: $36

…plus applicable county and state taxes. You may also need to pay a $36 license plate fee. Check the NC DMV website or give them a call for your exact needs.

If you have recently purchased a car or are in the process of selling your car, you will need to transfer the title. The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles outlines the steps necessary to complete a title transfer. In order to avoid delays or problems, it is important that all required paperwork be completed accurately and in a timely manner.

NC DMV Title Transfer Questions and Answers

Our users often ask us questions. To help them out, we’ve compiled a list of common questions and answers below.

Do Both Parties Need to be Present for a Title Transfer in NC?

When transferring ownership of a vehicle in North Carolina, both the seller and buyer must be present to transfer the vehicle title.

Can I Gift a Car to a Family Member?

Yes! If transferring a vehicle between spouses, a parent and child, or a stepparent and stepchild, the recipient is exempt from the highway-use tax upon completion of the Highway-Use Tax Exemption Certificate (MVR-613).

The exemption is applicable to North Carolina residents transferring a North Carolina title to another North Carolina resident.

Is Right of Ownership Automatic in NC?

When a couple owns a property as ‘tenancy by the entirety’, and the property is not disposed of by a will or intestate succession statute, the surviving spouse automatically becomes the sole owner of the property. In North Carolina, spouses have the option of owning property by the entirety, which is similar to a joint tenancy. In this case, when one spouse passes away, the other spouse will immediately take ownership of the entire property.