License Plates & Placards in North Carolina
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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.
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.
There are about 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 one 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
- 3155 Mail Service Center
- Raleigh, NC 27699-3155
To apply for antique plates, your vehicle must be at least 35 years old. Apply for the plates at your local DMV office. The plates cost $38.
To view antique and other specialized license plates, the DMV offers this website.
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:
- Complete an Application for Handicap Driver Registration Plate. Be sure that it's signed by a physician.
- Have proper identification.
- Visit your local DMV office with all required documents and proper payment (cash, personal check or money order) to cover the $28.00 fee.
Or, mail the application and payment to:
- N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles
- 3148 Mail Service Center
- Raleigh, NC 27699
The state requires North Carolina residents to return their license plates after relocating to another state. Learn more on our NC License Plate Surrender page.
Other Topics in This Section
- Register Car
- Registration Renewal
- Registration & Insurance
- Replacing a Lost Registration
- RV & Motorhome Registration
- Custom Built Car Registration
- Boat Registration and Licenses
- Title Transfers
- Replacing a Lost Title
- Salvaged Vehicles
- Special Vehicles
- Drivers with Disabilities
- License Plates & Placards
- Smog & Emission Checks
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