All new residents who plan to drive must obtain an N.C. driver’s license within 60 days of establishing a permanent residence. Most newcomers, unless they drive commercial vehicles, will want a Class C license, which permits operation of personal cars and small trucks. If you drive a motorcycle, you’ll also need a motorcycle endorsement. Licensed drivers who are 16 or 17 years old must present proof of completion of a state-approved driver education course in their former state; otherwise, they receive a temporary license pending completion of the course here.
N.C. driver’s licenses are good for up to five years. To get a license, apply in person at a driver’s license office and take the vision, sign recognition and written tests. (It’ll help to study the “Driver’s Handbook,” available at DMV offices or check the website below.) Tests are available in seven languages – English, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, Spanish, French and Arabic.
When you apply, present your current out-of-state license or two other accepted forms of ID, as well as proof of liability insurance (for example, the original policy, original binder or Form DL-123 from your insurance agent) from an insurer licensed in North Carolina. You’ll also need to supply your Social Security number.
The cost of a license will depend on how many years the license is good for. A Class C license costs $2.50 per year. You must pass a road skills test on your motorcycle to receive the motorcycle endorsement.
For more information on N.C. driver’s license and motor vehicle registration rules, call DMV at 919-715-7000. You can access recorded information 24 hours a day using a touch-tone telephone. Or check the DMV Web site (www.dmv.dot.state.nc.us).
North Carolina Driver’s License Offices
8446 N. Tryon St., Charlotte 704-547-5786
6016 Brookshire Blvd., Charlotte 704-392-3266
2192 Kannapolis Highway, Concord 704-782-7214
905 Carolina Ave. N., Statesville 704-878-4220
533 Patterson Ave., Suite 100, Mooresville 704-664-3344
1450 N. Aspen St., Lincolnton 704-735-6923
1033 Smyre Farm Road, Newton 828-466-5516
Motor Vehicle Registration
You must register your vehicle before the reciprocity agreement between North Carolina and your former state expires (usually 30 days). Registration is renewed annually.
To register your vehicle, apply in person at a license plate agency and present your title (unless title is held by a lien holder) and a valid registration card from your former state. If your title is held by a lien holder, you must provide the lien holder’s name and address on a state form for title release. You also must present proof of vehicle liability insurance at or above minimum standards (see driver’s license information for the list of acceptable documents).
Payment due when you receive N.C. registration includes title fee, $35; registration fee, $20; and highway use tax, which is 3 percent of the value of your vehicle.
You also must get a vehicle safety inspection within 10 days of receiving your N.C. license plate. This costs $9.25 and can be done at any state-authorized inspection station. Inspection is required annually. Some counties also require an emissions inspection, which is conducted at the same time as the safety inspection and costs $30.
Although the state does not levy sales tax on motor vehicles, N.C. counties assess property taxes annually. Your car will be registered when you receive your license plate, and you’ll receive a bill in about three months.
North Carolina Motor Vehicle Registration Offices
6016 Brookshire Blvd., Charlotte
121 W. Water St., Statesville
125-3 N. Main St., Mooresville
759 Church St. N., Concord