In North Carolina, as with other states, there are certain requirements for different categories of drivers. People who are either moving from out of state or who purchase vehicles beyond state borders are subject to a special set of registration requirements for properly registering their vehicles in North Carolina. The laws to register out of state vehicle vary, and North Carolina’s are different from those of neighboring states. Unlike many states, which give new residents or those purchasing a car out of state a grace period of 30 for registration, people who have just moved to the state or just purchased a vehicle in another state have 60 days to register the car and transfer the title. The same time period is true for individuals relocating within the state. The registration clock starts ticking the day that a resident formally takes ownership of a new property and declares that place to be his or her new permanent address. What sets the state apart, however, is that anyone moving to the state must obtain a valid state driver’s license before they physically relocate.
As with many states, the process for registering an out-of-state vehicle depends on several factors. Whether or not the purchaser is a current resident affects the application process, as does the type of vehicle purchased (passenger car, bus, or truck). Regardless of whether or not the registration is undertaken by a current resident, the registration paperwork can be submitted to the state DMV office either in person or electronically. For current residents looking to renew a registration, the state typically sends a notice of renewal two months (60 days) before the registration is scheduled to expire. The courtesy notice includes basic information about the vehicle, including the make, year, and model. It also sets the date of the current registration’s expiration, and it notes any fees or taxes that the owner owners. People can choose to receive these notifications either electronically or via e-mail. What sets the state apart from most is that applicants can only renew their registrations online or in person. Mailed documents are not accepted. For both new and current residents, the process of registering a vehicle purchased out-of-state is relatively simple. All that’s required is basic vehicle information, including the license plate number, proof of the vehicle title, and proof of insurance. Applicants must also submit documentation showing that their car passed a smog and emissions test. In states where safety and emissions standards are below that of North Carolina, vehicles will have to be put through the state’s inspections tests. The fees for a general vehicle inspection test and an emissions test are $13.60 and $30, respectively. Proof that a vehicle has passed state test standards is required to get a certificate of registration. As an alternative, the state allows vehicles to be inspected in any location outside of the state that meets the US Environmental Protection Agency’s requirements for emissions, as federal emissions requirements are at least as stringent, if not more, than those of any individual state. A difference between new and current residents is that new residents are allowed to register their vehicles first without passing an emissions test. However, the state requires all vehicles to pass the emissions test before it will renew a registration certificate in the future. This generally gives owners a year to pass an emissions test.
North Carolina differs from many states in its policy for late registration, which grants applicants a 15-day grace period before they start accumulating penalty fees. In this state, applicants have 15 days after the registration expires to renew it without incurring a penalty. A warning notice is sent to notify residents of the impending registration sunset date. After the 15-day grace period, applicants may be charged a fee of up to $25 in late fees for failing to renew the registration.