How to register a car in North Carolina


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UPDATED: 2020-05-13T18:13:32.627Z
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A photo of a boardwalk to a beach in North Carolina.

North Carolina is one of the fastest-growing states in the country. With plenty of sun and fairly mild weather, the state is attractive to families and those looking to retire. Whether you already live there or you’re moving to North Carolina, you’re required to register your car.

Here is the information you need to get a North Carolina car registration quickly and easily.

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North Carolina car registration if you’re moving to North Carolina from another state

If you are permanently relocating to North Carolina and have a car that is registered in another state, there are several steps you’ll need to take.

The first step for new residents and non-residents who have recently purchased a vehicle, is to go through the process of getting a North Carolina title prior to registering.

The person who is applying for the title must have either a valid North Carolina driver’s license or, if the individual has just moved to NC from another state, they may bring their valid out-of-state license along with a North Carolina Temporary Driving Certificate.

In an effort to help stem the tide of identity theft, the state has instituted a centralized location and process for the issuance of driver’s licenses, state ID cards, and learner’s permits. This means that it can take a while to process the new NC license and have it mailed out. For the interim, those who apply for a North Carolina driver’s license will receive a Temporary Driving Certificate that is valid for 60 days. The Temporary Driving Certificate contains the same information that’s on a driver’s license and it may only be used for driving purposes.

To change your car’s title, in addition to your out-of-state license and North Carolina Temporary Driving Certificate, you’ll also need to bring the following: the out-of-state title, an MVR-1 Title Application, an odometer disclosure (MVR-180) form, and proof of North Carolina car insurance coverage.

Car registration for non-residents

Given that North Carolina has a large active-duty military presence, members of the military based in North Carolina are considered “non-residents” who must register their vehicles. North Carolina registration is also required for vehicles that are “garaged” in the state for at least six months out of the year, which may include retirees who live in NC for only part of the year (“snowbirds”).

For non-residents, in addition to bringing an out-of-state driver’s license to change a title, you’ll need to bring identification with you that verifies your non-resident status. For members of the military, bring your military ID card. A current student ID that shows enrollment at a North Carolina college or university demonstrates non-resident status for those still in school. Retirees who live in North Carolina for a portion of the year should bring a completed MVR-614 form, which affirms that a vehicle is “garaged” in NC for at least six months of the year.

How much is car registration in North Carolina?

There are North Carolina car registration fees that you’ll be required to pay to complete your registration. You’ll need to bring a method of payment for the taxes and fees. The amount of the North Carolina car registration fees will depend on what you need to do in order to complete the process.

For example, the registration fee for a private passenger vehicle is $36.00, while it will cost you $56.50 to register a private truck that weighs between 4,000 to 5,000 pounds. A certificate of title is $52.00 and you’ll pay a highway use tax that is assessed at 3 percent of the vehicle’s value. The highway use tax is capped at $250.00 for those moving to North Carolina from another state.

Is proof of North Carolina car insurance required to register your car?

No matter what your status is, military, college student, a part-time retiree resident, or a new full-time resident of North Carolina, in order to register your vehicle in NC, you must provide proof of insurance.

All vehicles operated and registered in North Carolina must have liability insurance coverage. Minimum NC coverage requirements also mandate uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage and bodily injury and property damage coverage.

The minimum coverage amounts are:

  • $30,000 for bodily injury of one person;
  • $60,000 bodily injury of two or more people; and
  • $25,000 minimum in property damage coverage.

Please keep in mind that although these coverage types and limits are the minimum coverage amounts required, you may need to purchase additional coverage if you lease or finance your car. Additionally, insurance agents may recommend you purchase more coverage than the minimum amount required, even if you own your car.

Insurance companies are required by law to notify the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles if a driver cancels liability insurance coverage on a vehicle, or if the coverage lapses.

If a lapse in insurance coverage is discovered, a notice is sent to the vehicle’s registered owner. In addition to facing an insurance restoration fee, the registered owner must also pay a penalty fee for not maintaining continuous liability insurance coverage.

If you are moving to North Carolina, going to college there, or if you’re stationed there at one of the military bases, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got the right car insurance. For more information about which insurers are highly rated by customers, visit Clearsurance’s car insurance rankings page to see the best and cheapest North Carolina car insurance companies.

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