Register a Car in North Carolina
If you've registered the car in this state before, call the NCDMV for instructions
If you have recently
Purchased a car
- Been given a car
- Moved into the state
Then you’ll need to get the car registered.
If you’re new to the state, you must register your car at the end of 30 days or when you accept gainful employment (whichever occurs first).
You must register and title newly-acquired cars right away, or risk a citation.
The state requires you to have liability insurance in order to register your car.
Prepare the Paperwork
Probably the most important piece of paperwork to have at hand is the title, which the previous owner should have signed over to you. If you purchased your vehicle from a dealership, make sure you get the title before you leave. If your title is lost, get a replacement.
Before you go to the DMV's Vehicle & License Plate Renewal Office, have these documents ready:
- A Title Application. Do not sign until you get the DMV; it needs to be notarized.
- The odometer statement, if the car is less than 10 years old. Make sure both you and the seller signed it. If you’re transferring your car from out of state, you can simply note the odometer reading on the registration application.
- Title and lien release, if applicable.
- A Bill of Sale, if it’s a new car.
- A Damage Disclosure Statement if you bought the car from a dealer.
Getting a Vehicle History Report for your car is essential if you’re still at the shopping stage. This will tell you the car’s history and whether you’re getting a fair deal.
Calculate the Fee:
The DMV bases registration and titling fees on the class of vehicle you are registering. Additionally, there’s a 3% Highway Use Tax every time the title changes hands. If you have a used car, this fee is based on the estimated value, and not what you paid.
Residents of Durham, Orange, and Wake counties must also pay a $5 Regional Transportation Authority Registration Tax.
You may also have to pay for an emissions check, license plate fees, and local fees.
Go to the DMV
Bring all your paperwork to your Vehicle & License Plate Renewal Office. If you haven't done so, they’ll have you fill out a Title Application, and sign it in the presence of their notary.
If the vehicle was purchased from a dealer, you must declare all liens on this form.
You’ll get a license plate in the office, or you may apply for a specialized plate. There are many available. For instance, if you’re a NASCAR fan, you can get a NASCAR plate. You can even personalize your plates with your nickname or favorite saying¯just be sure to keep it clean.
After you get your plate, you have 10 days to get an emissions inspection or safety inspection, if applicable. The office will tell you whether it’s required based on your county and car year.