North Carolina

How to Renew Car Registration in North Carolina

Applying for a North Carolina car registration renewal is an action you must take once per year before your vehicle’s license plates expire. As part of the state’s Tag and Tax Together program, you must renew your vehicle’s license plates and pay vehicle property taxes at the same time.

To complete the DMV registration renewal process before your vehicle’s license plates will expire, you can choose between one of three available methods: online, in person and by mail. As a reminder to apply for a tag renewal each year, the NCDMV will send you a renewal notice about 60 days before your license plates are scheduled to expire.

It will include specific information about the steps you must take to renew your registration credentials, as well as a list of the fees you must pay. To learn more about how to renew your license plates, review the sections below.

Requirements for a DMV Car Registration Renewal in North Carolina

Before you attempt to renew registration online or through another application method, you must complete a safety and/or emissions check within 90 days of the license’s expiration date.

As part of the vehicle’s annual safety inspection, a licensed mechanic will examine its brakes, headlights, windows and several other components to ensure that the automobile is in good working order.

There are 22 North Carolina counties that require motorists to also complete an annual emissions inspection before applying for the license plate renewal in NC.

To perform a car reg check and safety inspection prior to renewing the vehicle’s registration credentials, you must visit a participating inspection station. If your vehicle does not pass its annual inspection, you may qualify for a repair waiver.

Download our comprehensive guide to find out which counties require the emissions inspection and to learn more about the process.

How to Apply for an Auto Registration Renewal in North Carolina

Once you pass the vehicle inspection and meet any other requirements for the renewal, you can start the renewal process online, in person or by mail. Learn more about each of these application methods in the sections below.

Note: If your registration has been lost and is not expiring soon, you may be able to order a car registration replacement instead.