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  • License Plates & Placards in North Carolina

    When you register your vehicle in North Carolina, you will receive a license plate to put on the back of it. License plate fees are charged when you register a vehicle, and you will receive validation stickers to put on your plate, showing the month and year that your registration expires. For a complete how-to on registering a vehicle, please see our page on Registration and Titling.

    Personalized (Vanity) License Plates

    In North Carolina, you can get a personalized license plate for an extra $30. Personalized plates are usually the standard North Carolina license plates with a personalized message on them. (You can also personalize specialized plates, though, so see "Specialized License Plates" below.)

    Unless your personalization is offensive or is already taken by someone else, it will most likely be approved. Your plate can have up to eight letters, numbers, and/or specialized characters.

    You can also check the availability of your desired personalization online.

    When you order your plate, the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will let you know if the personalization is acceptable. If so, they will place your order to have the plate made. As a general rule, the DMV places orders weekly and will receive the plates in about two weeks. Then, you can pick up your plate and put it on your vehicle.

    Specialized License Plates

    There are over 100 types of special-interest license plates available that let you promote your cause or yourself. Most of these can also be personalized. Some examples include: litter prevention, kids' advocacy, handicap, and military veterans. Each plate has its own special requirements, and some you may have to qualify for.

    Ordering Personalized and Specialized License Plates Online

    You can order your personalized and specialized plate online if your vehicle has been registered. You will need your current plate number and registration card.

    Ordering Personalized and Specialized License Plates by Mail

    To order by mail, simply download and complete the Application for a Personalized Plate. Each specialized plate has its own requirements and its own application. If ordering one, choose the plate you want and complete the appropriate application. The information page about each plate will include special requirements and application processes.

    Next, mail your application(s) and fee to:

    • NC DMV, Special License Unit
    • 3148 Mail Service Center
    • Raleigh, NC 27699

    Handicap Placards & Plates

    North Carolina handicap dashboard placards allow you to park in designated "handicapped only" parking spaces. In order to be able to park in handicap spots, you will need to complete a form and have it signed by your physician, plus pay a small fee. See our page on drivers with disabilities for more information.

    To order a handicap plate:

    Or, mail the application and payment to:

    • N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles
    • 3148 Mail Service Center
    • Raleigh, NC 27699

    Surrendering Your North Carolina Plates

    The North Carolina DMV requires you to return your license plates after relocating to another state. If you need to cancel your insurance policy on the vehicle, be sure to do so after you surrender your license plates.

    To surrender your plates, mail them to:

    NC Division of Motor Vehicles
    3148 Mail Service Center
    Raleigh, NC 27699
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