How to Register a Car in North Carolina – Everything You Should Know

How to Register a Car in North Carolina - Everything You Should Know Whether you’ve just got your license or you’re making a move to the Tar Heel State, it’s essential to have your vehicle properly registered. Because this varies from state to state, you may not know how to register a car in North Carolina. We have researched this for you, so you have all the answers.

When moving to North Carolina, you will have 30 days to register your car. There are a handful of other steps that are required, including the following:

  • Have the proper documents
  • Update your car insurance about your move
  • Have enough money for the additional fees
  • Schedule a full vehicle inspection

Several essential tasks come with moving states. The list above is a snapshot of what is required by the state of North Carolina. Below we’ll go into great detail to make sure that you’re able to legally drive your vehicle once you maintain permanent residence in North Carolina. Keep reading for this vital information!

What Documents Do I Need?

For new residents, you will need a handful of relevant documents before you can register your vehicle. Remember to bring these to your local DMV when you’re ready to register.

  • A current and valid North Carolina driver's license
  • Proof of active car insurance
  • A notarized vehicle title (more information on how to get a vehicle title later on)
  • A Title Application form that is filled out by all owners of the vehicle
  • A Declaration of Eligible Risk that is filled out by all vehicle owners
  • A legal license plate
  • Money for all fees

Updating Car Insurance

Car insurance agent checking for damages inflicted by car

When you move out of state, it’s time to update your car insurance. Below is a set of steps that you can follow to get the job done in no time!

  1. Talk with your car insurance company and let them know the updated information
  2. Find out the insurance requirements of North Carolina
  3. Once you know your deductible, choose an insurance plan
  4. If the price is higher than you’d like, compare quotes from multiple insurance companies
  5. Register your vehicle with your new state

How Much Does Everything Cost?

Unfortunately, registering your vehicle in a new state isn’t free. When you’re planning your budget for your move, it’s important to have plenty of extra savings for your car registration, especially if you have more than one vehicle.

Many people don’t know that there are different fees from county to county, and they range quite a bit, thanks to the Regional Transit Authority. Below you’ll find the averages for the entire state of North Carolina to give you a reliable range as to what you can expect to pay.

How Much Does It Cost To Register a Car In NC?

The base registration is around $36. This is for your standard vehicle, but if you drive an electric vehicle, you can expect to pay closer to $130. In addition to the registration fee, every new resident can expect a plate fee of $36 as well. You are more than welcome to transfer your plates, but it will cost you around $20 to do so.

How Much Does It Cost To Transfer a Car Title In NC?

You may be selling your car in North Carolina, or you may be buying one once you arrive. Either way, there will be a title transfer involved. If you’re selling your car, you could consider doing this for the buying and including the fee in the selling price.

If you’re a buyer, you may not always get someone kind enough to do that, which requires you to handle it yourself. You can get an instant title at the DMV for around $100, while a title transfer fee will put you out $52. This may not seem like a lot, but North Carolina is one of the more expensive states when it comes to transferring state titles.

How Much Are Taxes On a Car In NC?

When you first register your car in the Tar Heel State, you’ll have an RTA tax from the Regional Transit Authority. This fee is never more than $10. It’s important to note that this tax only applies to residents of Durham, Wake, and Orange Counties. If you live in Randolph County, you can expect an additional $1 fee.

There is also a highway use tax that makes your vehicle legal to drive on highways throughout the state. This will cost you about 3% of your total registration cost. In addition to all of these fees, there is also a yearly emissions inspection that comes with plenty of other fees.

Title Information

How To Register a Car Without a Title In NC

There are a few different routes you can take when it comes to registering your car without a title in North Carolina. For starters, you can reach out to who sold you the car. If you bought it from a small dealership, give them a call or stop in.

Make sure you have the proper paperwork, including receipts. If you bought it from a friend or someone off of an online marketplace, give them a phone call and ask if they can send you the title. If you don’t have access to the person who sold you the car, things can become a bit more complicated.

The next thing you could do is title the vehicle by reaching out to your local DMV. They will give you detailed information and the necessary paperwork to help you move forward.

The next thing that you could do is reach out to whoever sold you the car. If you bought it from a small dealership, give them a call or stop in. Make sure you have the proper paperwork, including receipts. If you purchased it from a friend or someone off of an online marketplace, give them a phone call and ask if they can send you the title. If you don’t have access to the person who sold you the car, things can become a bit more complicated.

Lastly, if you have the option, fill out the paperwork when you’re buying a car in the first place. This ensures that you have everything you need and will make registering your vehicle in North Carolina much easier.

How Do You Sign Over a Car Title in NC?

Signing over a car title in North Carolina follows the same protocol as most states. As you’ve read above, it’s essential to sign the title over when you’re buying or selling the car. When you do it immediately after a sale, it can save you a lot of future hassle, no matter if you’re buying or selling. If you are buying, you will need to get a lien release from whoever is selling you the car. They also need to provide the following:

  • Eligible Risk Statement for Registration and Certificate of Title
  • Damage Disclosure Statement
  • Odometer Disclosure Statement

Some suggest that you should wait to sign until you’re in front of a Notary. You can find the signature lines on the top right for the seller and on the back of the title as well.

Other Important Registration Information

NC Registration Calculator

North Carolina has a vehicle registration calculator to help residents get an estimate for their vehicle property taxes. This calculator only consists of a few steps from you, let’s see what they are:

  1. Enter the information for your vehicle. This includes the following:
  • Value of the vehicle (optional)
  • VIN number
  • Vehicle make
  • Vehicle body style
  • The year the vehicle was made
  1. In the next step, you enter in your North Carolina address
  2. Step three will give you an estimated tax amount for that vehicle.

It’s important to note that the calculator gives estimates and not exact amounts. Your final bill may be higher or lower than the number you receive in step three. You can find and use the calculator by clicking here.

Do I Need To Get My Car Inspected Before I Get It Registered In NC?

For your vehicle to be legal to drive as a resident of North Carolina, you must have it inspected before registration. This is something that is required once a year by the state of North Carolina.

This inspection included both safety and emissions inspections. You have 90 days before the renewal is required to get the inspections completed. Inspections will check several things to make sure your vehicle is safe to drive. One of the main things people forget to pay attention to is the tires on their vehicle.

Driving on bald tires is incredibly dangerous and can result in further damage to your vehicle, such as grinding down the breaks. The one exception to this is if your vehicle is 35 years old or more. If this is the case for you, your vehicle doesn’t require an inspection.

How Do I Get a New License Plate in NC?

If you’re interested in getting a new license plate when you move to North Carolina, there are a few steps that need to be completed beforehand. They are as follows:

Vehicle must have an up-to-date title

  • It must be registered with the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles
  • A safety inspection must be given and passed
  • If required, an emissions test will need to be passed as well

If all of this is completed, you will then visit a license plate agency or DMV to receive a new license plate. This does come with base fees and can include more charges for things such as customization.

Final Thoughts

Registering a car in North Carolina is a lot easier than many make it out to be. As long as you have access to a signed title and enough budget to pay the necessary fees, you’ll be set. It’s important to get your vehicle ready to pass the safety test each year. You few ways you can be proficient about it is by making sure you change your oil regularly, never drive on bald tires, and keep all the fluids at proper levels. You’ll have a full three months before registration to get this done, which is quite convenient.

These tests are done to make sure that you’re driving a safe vehicle and that it isn’t going to ruin the air quality of the county you reside in. Remember that you have 30 days to register your vehicle when you become a permanent resident of the Tar Heel state. Hopefully, that broke it down and made it a bit easier to digest. Moving is stressful enough already, don’t let registering your vehicle in North Carolina make it any more stressful than it has to be! Good luck!

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One comment

  1. Thanks for telling me that I have about 30 days to transfer my car title so I can register my car to my new home’s state. I just moved to another state about a week ago since I finally got to secure all the documents that I need to live in my new house, but I wasn’t aware that my car also needs a new registration as well. Perhaps there’s a title transfer service that I can hire to assist me with this since I’m not really familiar with how the process works.

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