Paperwork When Buying a Car in North Carolina

Documents Required to Buy a Car in North Carolina

Buying a car in North Carolina will require some paperwork. You’ll need to get documents from the seller, as well as complete some forms at the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

If you buy a car from a dealer, they will likely handle the paperwork for you. However, if you buy from a private seller, you are responsible for titling and registering the vehicle.

Read below for more information about the paperwork you need as a North Carolina car buyer.

Paperwork for North Carolina Car Buyers

When you buy a new car, there are several documents you need to secure from the seller:

  • A signed and notarized vehicle title, including:
    • Your name and address.
    • The date of sale.
    • The seller’s signature and hand printed name.
  • A completed Odometer Disclosure Statement (Form MVR-180), for cars under 10 years old.
    • It can be documented on the title instead if there is a space for it.
  • A completed Damage Disclosure Statement (Form MVR-181).
    • This can be included on the title instead if there is a space to document it.
  • A bill of sale:
    • Required for cars purchased from a dealer.
    • Optional but recommended for cars purchased from a private seller.

You may also need to get an inspection certificate if the car is due for a safety or emissions inspection.

For more information about transferring the title, see our page Title Transfers in North Carolina.

Missing Paperwork

The seller must provide you with a title certificate; if the title is missing, the seller must apply for a duplicate before selling the vehicle. You will only need the vehicle registration for cars bought outside of NC.

If you can't obtain a title, you can title the car in your name by filing an indemnity bond. Contact DMV customer service at (919) 715-7000 or contact a DMV customer representative online for the bond requirements and paperwork.

You must complete an Affidavit of Authority to Assign Titles (available at a NCDOT office) IF:

  • The owner is deceased.
  • You are the heir to the vehicle.
  • There is no estate administrator.

NC Title Transfer & Vehicle Registration

You’ll have some additional paperwork to do when you title and register your car with the NC DMV.

To title and register the vehicle, you’ll need to go in person to your local NC DMV office. Be sure to take:

For more information about vehicle registration, see our page Register a Car in North Carolina.

Transferring a Registration & Plate

You can transfer the license plate from your previous vehicle if it is registered in the same name or names as the vehicle you’ve bought.

You’ll pay a $15 transfer fee instead of the $28 new registration fee.

Vehicle History Reports

It can be very easy for a car’s exterior to cover up internal damage that could cost you money down the road.

A vehicle history report will tell you important information about a vehicle’s past, including whether it has been in any accidents, floods, or has been stolen.

With this information, you can make an informed decision about the car you are thinking about buying.

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