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North Carolina Buying a Vehicle

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Obtaining a Title and Registration For a Vehicle Bought from a Car Dealership

Before you can register your vehicle you’ll need a title. For new vehicles, the manufacturer’s certificate of origin is the official transfer document. You also need a bill of sale, title application, odometer disclosure statement, and, if the vehicle is five years old or older, a damage disclosure statement. If you’ve obtained a loan to buy the car, the title will be sent to the lienholder until the loan is paid. To register the vehicle, you’ll need to be a licensed driver and show proof of insurance. You can obtain your registration in person or by mail at:

Vehicle Titles/Liens, Duplicate Registration 3148 Mail Service Center Raleigh, NC 27697-3148

The state collects a highway use tax of 3 percent unless the vehicle is exempt.

Obtaining a Title and Registration For a Vehicle Bought from a Private Party

You’ll need to bring the vehicle title and release of lien form. You’ll also need a title application, odometer disclosure statement, damage disclosure statement, and, if bought from a family member, a highway use tax exemption certificate. All signatures on the required documents must be notarized and accompanied by a black-and-white copy of the alternate owner’s valid driver’s license or ID. You can complete this transaction in person or by mailing the documents to:

Vehicle Titles/Liens, Duplicate Registration 3148 Mail Service Center Raleigh, NC 27697-3148

The state collects a highway use tax of 3 percent unless the vehicle is exempt.

Filling Out The Title

North Carolina titles must be notarized, so the parties wait until they are before a notary to sign. The seller signs on the back of the title, at the top right by Seller’s Signature. Below that, the seller handprints their name. All owners listed on the front must sign.

The name of the buyer also is written on the back of the title. If the title indicates a lien or bank name on the front, then the lienholder must sign off on the transaction or provide a lien release letter.

Instant Title

Generally, title applications are processed in 10 days, however, North Carolina offers the option to obtain an instant title. In this case, the title is issued the same day or the next business day. The fee is $105.75 and instant title transactions are done in person at select offices. The list of offices that process instant titles is here.

Registering the Purchased Vehicle

After you are done purchasing the vehicle and filling out the title application, you can then register it. Your vehicle must pass an inspection and emissions inspection first. You also must have liability insurance.

Registration can be done by mail or by visiting a plate and vehicle location. Renewals can be done online. The mailing address is:

Plate and Vehicle Location. P.O. Box 29620 Raleigh, NC 27626

Submitting Payment

The registration fee is $35 to $67, depending on weight. The title fee is $52. The fee for an instant title is $105.75. Online transactions require a credit or debit card for payment. In-person transactions are paid by check or credit/debit card.

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Last Verified:
Aug 26, 2022