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Motorcycle Registration in North Carolina

Once you've bought your dream bike, you'll need to register it with the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) before you can hit the roads with the wind in your hair.

We'll guide you through the process, including what to do as a new resident, as well as differences between dealer purchases and private transfers.

New to renew your motorcycle registration? Our NC Registration Renewals section has what you need!

New North Carolina Residents

Once you've established North Carolina residency, you'll have 30 days to title and register your motorcycle. Titling and registration are completed at the same time.

BEFORE registering, you must first apply for a North Carolina driver's license. Check out our guide to first-time licenses for help! The DMV will give you a Temporary Driving Certificate (TDC) that you will need to bring when you register your motorcycle.

To register your out-of-state motorcycle with the NC DMV, find your nearest branch office and submit the following:

  • A completed:
  • Your out-of-state title.
    • If your motorcycle has more than one owner:
      • Each signature on the title will need to be notarized.
        AND
      • You'll need to bring a black-and-white photocopy of the other owner's driver's license OR a Power of Attorney, if they cannot visit the DMV with you.
  • Your out-of-state license AND your DMV-issued TDC.
  • Proof of North Carolina motorcycle insurance.
  • Payment for the:

While emissions inspections are typically required for registration, as a new NC resident, you are exempt from an initial inspection. However, once your registration is up for renewal, you'll need to make sure you get your motorcycle inspected within 90 days of your renewal date.

Registering Your NC Motorcycle

Requirements for motorcycle registration vary depending on whether your motorcycle was:

  • Purchased at a dealership.
  • Bought from a private seller.
  • Leased.

Below we'll run through each of the scenarios and help you figure out the documents you need for a smooth, easy process.

Motorcycles Purchased from a Dealer

When you purchase a motorcycle through a North Carolina dealership, the dealer will usually register the vehicle for you, and must send your registration documents to the state within 10 working days. For a breakdown of the costs you'll pay, check out our section on motorcycle registration fees and taxes.

If your dealer does not register vehicles, see the section below to register it yourself.

Motorcycle Purchased from a Private Seller

When you purchase a used motorcycle from a private seller in North Carolina—or if your dealer does not register the vehicle for you—you'll need to register with the DMV yourself.

If the motorcycle's inspection certification has expired, the seller must FIRST have the bike inspected before transferring the title and registration over—see our guide to Vehicle Inspections for more.

Visit your local NC DMV office with:

Leased Motorcycles

If your motorcycle is leased, you may need additional paperwork on top of what is listed above. These include:

Contact the NC DMV for additional details about registering a leased motorcycle.

Motorcycle Registration Fees & Taxes

Here is a breakdown of the most common fees associated with motorcycle registration in North Carolina.

  • Motorcycle plate: $24.
  • County property tax: Varies by county—contact your local county assessor.
  • Inspection fees:
    • Safety: $13.60.
    • Emissions: $30.
  • Title: $52.
  • Registration transfer fee: $20.
  • Highway use tax: 3%.
    • The following counties charge an additional Regional Transportation Tax:
      • Durham County: $15.
      • Orange County: $15.
      • Randolph County: $1.
      • Wake County: $5.

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