North Carolina car registration

General RequirementsCar-Registration

You must register your vehicle for the first time if you recently:

* Purchased a car
* Were given a car
* Moved to the state

Newly acquired cars must be registered immediately. New residents have 30 days, or upon acceptance of gainful employment (whichever comes first), to register their vehicles.

Get InsuranceCar-Registration

It is mandatory to have liability insurance to register your car.

Prepare the PaperworkCar-Registration

When you go to the DMV’s Vehicle & License Plate Renewal Office, bring the following:

* Title application. Do not sign until you are at the DMV and it can be notarized.
* Odometer statement. If the car is less than 10 years old, you and the seller must both have signed it. If you’ve transferred the car from out of state, simply record the odometer reading on the registration application.
* Title and lien release (if applicable)
* Bill of Sale if the car is new
* Damage Disclosure Statement if you bought the car from a dealer

If you’re still shopping for a car, be sure to get a vehicle history report to learn details of the car’s background.

Calculate the FeesCar-Registration

Registration and titling fees are based on the class of vehicle being registered. There is also a 3% Highway Use Tax each time the title is transferred. If you have a used car, the fee is based on the estimated value, not the amount you paid.

There is also a $5 Regional Transportation Authority Registration Tax for residents of Durham, Orange, and Wake counties.

There pay also be fees for an emissions check, license plates, and local fees.

Go to the DMVCar-Registration

Visit a Vehicle & License Plate Renewal Office with all the paperwork. If the vehicle was purchased from a dealer, you’ll need to declare all liens on a title application.

License Plates
You will be issued standard plates at the office, or you can apply for specialized plates.

Emissions Inspections
You have 10 days from receiving your plates to get an emissions or safety inspection, if required. The office will tell you if you need to based on your county and car’s year.

Affix Your StickersCar-Registration

Follow the directions included to apply the stickers to your plate so they don’t come off and aren’t stolen.

Get a Tax DeductionCar-Registration

You may be able to claim a portion of your registration fees as a tax deduction. The receipt will show a breakdown of fees and will say which part is based on the value of the car – that’s the portion that can be deducted.

Safely Get on Your WayCar-Registration

Put your mind at ease by joining a roadside assistance program to help out if your car breaks down or another emergency arises. It’s also a good idea to have a car emergency kit on hand.

An after-market warranty will save you big bucks if your car needs major repairs. Be sure to have a reliable mechanic to handle these repairs as well as routine maintenance.

There are several worthwhile accessories to have, as well. A hands-free headset for your cell phone is a good safety measure to take. And if you transport kids, b e sure to have an approved child safety seat.