All North Carolina drivers are required to register their vehicle(s) with the North Carolina DMV. The North Carolina vehicle registration process is important because it is a safety measure for the car owner and their cars and other drivers.

With this registration information, the North Carolina DMV can keep track of who owns the car, and it helps prevent liability if the car is used irresponsibly by another driver, or if the vehicle is stolen. Cars in North Carolina are required by law to be registered before they can be driven.

Step by Step North Carolina Car Registration Guide

North Carolina drivers can register their vehicles with the North Carolina DMV by mail or in person. Drivers who choose to use the online registration renewal process can expect to pay an additional $3 fee for each online transaction because of the Paylt payment service the NCDMV uses. Answers to commonly asked questions about this payment system can be found here.

Registering New and Used Cars in North Carolina

Drivers in North Carolina must perform the registration and title process at the same time, whether the vehicle is new or used. The NC car registration and title process are performed through the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles.

Required Documentation for Registering New Cars in NC

NC drivers must have the following documentation to register their new car in North Carolina:

  • Valid photo ID or NC driver’s license
  • Vehicle title that is notarized and signed
  • Proof of a valid car insurance policy
  • Completed title application (Form MVR-1)
  • Completed Damage Disclosure Statement (Form MVR-180) if the car is less than 10 years old
  • Release of lien (if applicable)
  • Payment for the plate and sales tax fees

NC motorists may have to provide the Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin (MCO), (Form MVR-28) to suffice as the official transfer document when registering a new NC vehicle.

Registering an NC Car as a New Resident

New residents of NC must provide the same documentation as current NC residents to register their vehicle, and additional documentation may be required. Out-of-state drivers who are new to North Carolina need to provide their:

  • Valid out-of-state driver’s license or photo ID
  • Temporary North Carolina Driving Certificate
  • Military ID (only for active-duty members)
  • Student ID (only for drivers who are enrolled in an NC university or college)
  • Completed Military/Dependent Affidavit or Principally Garaged Vehicle (Form MVR-614) (if applicable)
  • Court-ordered sale of the vehicle

More information regarding vehicle registration for military members in NC can be found here.

New residents of North Carolina have 30 days after establishing residency to get their title, registration, and driver’s license. Approximately 60 days before the vehicle’s registration expires, the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles will issue a renewal notice through the mail to the address on file. Here is more information about NC registration renewals.

Registering an NC Vehicle in Person

NC drivers must visit their local NC DMV office to register their vehicle in person and present:

  • A valid photo ID or driver’s license
  • Proof of car insurance
  • A notarized vehicle title (A current out-of-state registration and odometer reading is required if a lienholder has the vehicle title.) For situations that involve a lienholder, all required documents must be completed for both owners or presented for both owners.
  • A lien release (if necessary)
  • Completed forms
    • Damage Disclosure Statement (Form MVR-180) if your vehicle is less than 10 years old
  • The bill of sale

NC drivers need to make sure they bring ALL required documentation to prevent delays in the registration process.

Registering an NC Vehicle by Mail

NC drivers can also register their vehicles by mail. Drivers will need all the documentation they would provide in person, and a copy of their valid driver’s license needs to be made and mailed to:

                  Vehicle Titles/Liens, Duplicate Registration

                  3148 Mail Service Center

                  Raleigh, NC 27697

Registration Stops

The state of North Carolina can prevent NC drivers from completing the registration process for various reasons, including:

  • Debt to the DMV – all debts to the DMV must be paid before registration is issued, or a registration is renewed.
  • Credit Warning – if you’ve given a bad check to the NCDMV, call (919) 715-7000 to resolve the registration stop.
  • Unpaid Child Support – any NC driver that has failed to pay child support needs to contact the Department of Health and Human Services at (919) 855-4800.
  • Issues with Vehicle Documentation – The North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles will hold an NC driver’s registration if there are problems with the vehicle’s title, application, loans, vehicle, or vehicle identification number (VIN).
  • Unpaid County Taxes – county taxes need to be paid before NC drivers can receive their registration.
  • Drunk Driving Charge – any NC driver who has lost their license because of a driving while impaired (DWI) charge needs to contact the Administrative Office of Courts at (919) 890-1000.
  • Lack of Auto Insurance – all NC driers must have proof their car is insured on a valid auto insurance policy.
  • Stolen Vehicle – any NC driver that has reported their vehicle stolen must contact the DMV License and Theft Bureau at (919) 861-3141 to resolve the situation.

NC Vehicle Inspections

Drivers who wish to register their vehicle with the NC Department of Motor Vehicles need to pass an annual safety inspection before it can be registered or have the registration renewed. The safety inspection needs to be completed within 90 days of vehicle renewal.

There are 22 counties in North Carolina that require drivers in NC to pass an emissions test, also called a smog test or inspection, in addition to the safety inspection. If a vehicle is not inspected or fails to pass inspection by the due date, the vehicle’s registration will be blocked until the vehicle passes inspection.

Inspection Exemptions for NC Drivers

NC inspection exemptions are only granted to NC drivers who submit a vehicle maintenance receipt. These maintenance receipts can include a tire rotation, an oil change, or other vehicle maintenance.

The invoice for these services needs to include the name of the driver, their address, phone number, and the name of the company who performed the service. Other information that must be present on this service invoice is the vehicle’s make, model, year, and vehicle identification number (VIN).

A recent date of service or out-of-state inspection must be included with the above-stated information. The date of the maintenance documents must not exceed four months when it is received.


NC Vehicle Title and Registration Fees

Title Fees

Certificate of Title$56N/A
Certificate of Title – Mobile Home$56N/A
Corrected or Substitute Certificate of Title$21.50N/A
Duplicate Certificate of Title$21.50N/A
Duplicate Certificate of Title & Removal of Lien(s) or Duplicate Certificate of Title with Correction$21.50N/A
Duplicate title with reassignment$77.50N/A
Highway-use tax3% of vehicle value (not to exceed $250 for new residents moving to North Carolina)North Carolina collects a highway-use tax on vehicles instead of a state sales tax. The tax is assessed each time a title is transferred.
Instant titles$105.75 (may be additional fees)Expedited titling service
Late penalty fee$20Owner is subjected if a buyer or recipient fails to submit a request for title transfer within 28 days from the date of delivery or notary date (whichever is later)

Registration Fee

House trailer and/or camping trailer$15N/A
Moped$25.50Includes the license plateAdditional regional transportation and county registration taxes​ may apply ​
Permanent and state-owned vehicle$6N/A
Private bus (16 passengers or more)$43.25N/A
Private passenger vehicle$38.75N/A
Private truck 4,000 pounds$38.75N/A
Private truck 5,000 pounds$56.75N/A
Private truck 6,000 pounds$67.25N/A
Trailer or semi-trailer$27N/A
U-Drive-It car$71.25N/A

Registering a Motorcycle in NC

NC motorcycle owners need to register their bike with the NC Division of Motor Vehicles before it can be driven on the street.

New Residents of NC

Once drivers have established themselves in North Carolina, they have 30 days to register and title their motorcycle. The titling and registration process for motorcycles in NC are completed at the same time.

Before drivers can register their motorcycles, they need to apply for an NC driver’s license. Use this first-time license guide for more information. Once NC drivers apply for the license, the NC DMV will provide a Temporary Driving Certificate (TDC) drivers need to bring with them to register their motorcycles.

Required Documents to Register a Motorcycle in NC

Drivers wanting to register their out-of-state motorcycle with the DMV in NC need to locate their local branch office and submit specific documentation, including:

  • A completed title application (Form MVR-1) that is notarized. Drivers need to make a note of any liens on the bike.
  • A completed Odometer Disclosure Statement (Form MVR-180) if the motorcycle is less than 10 years old
  • Out-of-state title
  • Out-of-state license and DMV issued Temporary Driving Certificate
  • Proof of a valid NC motorcycle insurance policy

Motorcycles that have multiple owners need:

  • Each owner’s signature on the title and it must be notarized
  • A black and white photocopy of each owner’s signature on the title, and it must be notarized. All owners must also provide a driver’s license or power of attorney if one or multiple owners can’t be present in person at the DMV.

New NC residents are exempt from an initial emissions inspection. When it’s time to renew the registration, NC drivers have 90 days from the renewal date to complete and pass an emissions test.

Registering an NC Motorcycle Purchased from a Dealer

Drivers who purchase a motorcycle in NC from a dealership need to send the registration documents to the State of North Carolina within 10 business days. In most situations, the NC dealership will register the vehicle for drivers.

Motorcycles Purchased from a Private Seller in NC

Motorcycle drivers in North Carolina who purchase a motorcycle from an NC private seller need to register the motorcycle with the NC DMV. If the motorcycle’s inspection certificate has expired, the bike must be inspected before the title can be transferred to a different owner. NC motorcycle drivers can also register the motorcycle themselves by completing:

  • A title application (Form MVR-1) that’s notarized
  • An Odometer Disclosure Statement (MVR-80) if the motorcycle is less than 10 years old
  • A Damage Disclosure Statement (Form MVR-181)

Registering a Leased Motorcycle in NC

Leased motorcycles need all the paperwork listed above and additional paperwork, including:

NC Motorcycle Registration Fees

The most common fees for NC motorcycle drivers are as follows:

  • Motorcycle plate – $25.50
  • County property tax – varies according to the county (contact local county assessor)
  • Inspection fees:
    • Safety inspection – $13.60
    • Emissions inspection – $30
  • Title – $56
  • Registration transfer fee – $21.50
  • Highway use tax (these counties heave additional Regional Transportation Tax):
    • Durham County – $8
    • Orange County – $8
    • Wake County – $8

Registering a Boat in NC

All boats are registered and titles through the Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC). The following types of boats are required to be titled:

  • Motorized boats
  • Sailboats that are 14 feet or exceed 14 feet
  • Personal watercraft (jet skis and similar watercraft)

Boats and other vessels that are required to be registered with the WRC include:

  • Motor-powered watercraft (jet skis, trolling motors)
  • Boats that have an out-of-state registration that is being used in NC for more than 90 days
  • Documented U.S. Coast Guard vessels that are being used in NC for more than 90 days
  • Sailboats that exceed 14 feet long

Boats that are exempt from registering with the WRC include:

  • Boats that are solely powered by oars or paddles (canoes, rowboats, rafts)
  • Ship lifeboats that are only used for emergency purposes
  • All boats used only on a private pond
  • Boats registered in another state or with U.S. documentation with the U.S. Coast Guard, and not kept in NC for over 90 consecutive days

NC boat owners who have questions or concerns regarding title and registering their boat can contact the NC Wildlife Resources Commission at (800) 628-3773.

To title or register a boat in NC, individuals can do so in person or by mail.

Registering an NC Boat in Person or by Mail

Boat owners who are registering their boat in person or by mail need to submit the following documentation to the NC WRC:

  • A completed NC vessel Registration and Title application (Form VL-1)
  • Proof of ownership, which can include:
    • Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin
    • Bill of sale from the dealer
    • The original NC title for the vessel
    • Notarized bill of sale
    • Out-of-sale boat registration or title
    • A certificate of documentation with the U.S. Coast Guard

Registering an NC Boat by Mail

The same documentation that’s required to register a boat in person is necessary to register by mail. Send the completed forms to:

North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission
Transaction Management
1709 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699

NC boat registrations are valid for 1 or 3 years depending on the option you select on the application.

NC Boat Registration and Title Fees

Vessels That Are Less Than 14 Feet (Excluding Personal Watercraft)

1 year without title$35
1 year with title$70
3 years without title$95
3 years with title$130

Registration Renewal

1 year$33
3 year$93

Vessels a Minimum of 14 Feet and a Maximum of 25 Feet AND All Personal Watercraft

Original Registration

1 year with title$70
3 years with title$130

Registration Renewal

1 year$33
3 years$93

Vessels That Exceed 26 Feet

Initial Registration

1 year with title$90
3 years with title$190


1 year$53
3 years$153

Replacement Boat Title

With a lien$15
Without a lien$15
Vessel registration$8

Before heading to the North Carolina DMV, drivers need to make sure they have the necessary paperwork to register their vehicles to avoid unnecessary fees and penalties.

Leave a Reply