Vehicle Registration Renewal

In the state of North Carolina, the law dictates that drivers must have their vehicle registration in the car with them at all times, that the registration be presentable to an officer in the event that you get stopped or pulled over, and that the registration remain up to date. If you fail to get your vehicle registration renewed before it expires, the consequences can be steep, including large fines and/or the revoking or suspension of your driver’s license. This article will explain the steps to applying for a vehicle registration renewal, along with explaining when you should renew your registration.


How do I know when I should renew my vehicle registration?

Finding out when you should have your vehicle registration renewed is simple: the expiration date can be found at the bottom of the first page of the paperwork. In addition, the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will mail you a reminder about renewing your vehicle registration around two months (60 days) before the registration expires. This provides more than ample time to have the vehicle registration renewal completed. If you would like to have this notice e-mailed to you instead of sent to you by traditional mail, you can do that, as well, by presenting the DMV with written authorization to do so.


Vehicle registration renewal grace period

Although the time between a delivered notice and registration expiration is ample, North Carolina provides a grace period of 15 days after the registration has expired to have it renewed with no legal consequences.

However, you will still want to avoid this grace period if at all possible, as it will result in a fee of $15.00 applied to the registration renewal. It should also be noted that this fee will increase to $20.00 after 15 days since expiration, and $25.00 after 30 days. In these cases, these fees will be applied alongside the aforementioned consequences.


Vehicle registration renewal process

The renewal process can take place in one of two ways: online, or in person.

If you would like to use online renewal registration, you’ll need to visit the website of the North Carolina DMV. When there, locate the registration renewal section and fill out all required information specified on the page. This will include your vehicle registration number (last five digits only), the entirety of your license plate number, along with basic info, such as your full name and contact information (phone number and residential/mailing address).

In-person registration renewal is done similarly. You can visit your local NC DMV. While there, you’ll need to prove that your vehicle has remained insured (car insurance cards or policy paperwork is accepted, along with a DL-123 form). Additionally, you’ll need to provide the reminder sent to you about renewing. If you are renewing your registration ahead of the renewal before receiving the reminder, you can simply provide your license plate number.


In addition to the above requirements, registration renewal being done with either method also requires that you schedule and pass an inspection, largely focusing on vehicle safety. If the vehicle is over 10 years old, it will also need to pass an emissions test.


Registration renewal fees

The standard renewal fee for any passenger vehicle, or a truck weighing less than 4,000 pounds, is $36. However, the fee progressively increases with weight. Trucks weighing up to 5,000 pounds will incur a fee of $56.50, and the fee will be $67.00 if the truck weighs up to 6,000 pounds. The renewal for motorcycles is $24.

The standard vehicle safety inspection fee is $13.60. If an emissions test is needed, it will cost $30.

All applicable fees can be paid with a check, cash, or money order. All major credit and debit cards are also accepted (you’ll need to use one and provide its information if renewing online).

Upon completing the renewal process and paying all required fees, your updated registration paperwork should arrive by mail in just a few business days.