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  • New to North Carolina

    With a population of over 9 million people and growing, North Carolina is a family-friendly, economically healthy place to live or just visit. A favorite vacation spot, North Carolina offers diverse activities and cultural offerings. Whether you like the ocean, mountains or lakes, forests or rolling hills, you'll find it all in North Carolina's varied terrain.

    The western part of the state has two mountain ranges coursing through it, the Appalachian Mountains and the Great Smoky Mountains. Many of these mountains are covered with hardwood forests, and some areas see more than 30 inches of snow per year, making it a choice location for winter sports.

    The Piedmont, the middle part of the state, covers half of the state's area. It boasts the state's largest cities and some of the country's most dynamic economies. You'll find research universities, textile and furniture factories, historic sites, and large shopping centers in this area. Temperatures are mild year-round, although there are four separate seasons.

    North Carolina's coast is a favorite place for vacationing, offering miles of white sand beaches, wetlands, and abundant animal and plant life. The barrier islands known as North Carolina's Outer Banks are rich in history and outdoor opportunities. You'll find history dating back to the 16th century in eastern North Carolina, including the first English settlement in this part of the world, which quickly vanished.

    First Stop: Division of Motor Vehicles

    If you are a new resident and plan to operate a motor vehicle, we've got the information you'll need to apply for a driver license and register a vehicle. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will be a necessary stop, so take a look at their various locations and office hours.


    Examples of some of the North Carolina traffic laws that may be different from where you used to live are listed here. The Newcomer's Guide lists many more, in language that is easy to understand.

    • Electrical, radar, and vascar are used by State Highway Patrol, DMV License and Theft Bureau (enforcement), and the local police.
    • Children less than 5 years old and less than 40 pounds in weight must sit in child safety seat in the rear of the car.
    • In vehicles with active passenger-side airbags that have rear seats, a child must be properly secured in the rear seat, or you face fines and court costs.
    • Seatbelts are mandatory for driver and front seat passengers. All children under 16 years old, in the front or back seats, must wear seatbelts or be secured in child safety seats.
    • You must stop for school buses loading or unloading. On divided highways, if you are on the opposite side of the median, you do not have to stop.
    • Emergency vehicles such as police cars, ambulances, fire engines, and rescue squad vehicles always have the right of way. If you see flashing lights or hear sirens, pull over to the right-hand edge of the road and come to a full stop.

    Further Information

    You can learn more about North Carolina at these websites: