Applying for Special Plates in North Carolina

SUMMARY: Apply for a North Carolina Specialty License Plate

North Carolina drivers can apply for special and personalized plates online, by mail, or in person. These plates get renewed along with your vehicle registration, and may be replaced for a small fee. If you should sell your vehicle, you may transfer your plates to another vehicle you own.

The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offers a number of special plates, as well as plate personalization.

Applying for Special Plates in North Carolina

North Carolina provides a variety of special license plates, which you may also personalize for an additional fee.

You may order a NC special and/or personalized plate:

  • Online.
  • By mail.
  • In person.

You may ONLY order your special plates online or by mail IF your vehicle is currently titled and registered in the state. If you are a new resident, you can apply for your plates in person when registering your vehicle.


To order your special plate online:

  • Visit the NC DMV's online plate service.
  • Choose your plate.
  • Enter the message/number if you want to personalize.
  • Be able to provide your:
    • Vehicle title number.
    • Current license plate number.
    • E-mail address.
  • Pay your plate fee.

Certain plates have eligibility requirements. By ordering online, you certify that you meet those requirements and can show proof upon request.

By Mail

To order your plates by mail:

  • Complete the appropriate application:
  • Gather any required signatures or meet any other eligibility requirements listed on the form.
    • Example: The Fire Department or Rescue Squad plate must be signed a fire department or rescue squad chief certifying the applicant's paid or volunteer service.
  • Provide payment for your fee.

Mail the above to:

NC Division of Motor Vehicles
3155 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27697

In Person

You may also apply for your NC special plates in person.

Head to your local license agency with:

  • The appropriate application.
  • Any supporting documents and/or proof of eligibility.
  • Proof of ID (driver's license, Social Security card, passport, etc.)
  • Payment for your plate fee.

NOTE: You must order in person if your car is not yet registered and titled in the state.

Renewing NC Special Plates

Special plates are renewed along with your vehicle registration renewal.

You should get a renewal reminder card in the mail with your registration expiration date and any renewal requirements, such as a vehicle inspection.

You will be required to pay your special plate fee in additional to your regular renewal fees.

For details, visit our page on registration renewal.

Replacing Special Plates

The steps for replacing NC special plates are the same as those for standard plates, UNLESS your plate was personalized.

If your personalized plate is lost or stolen, the Division of Motor Vehicles requires that you wait until your plate expires to apply for a duplicate plate. This is to avoid duplicating a plate that may be in use illegally.

Further details are on our License Plates and Placards page.

Transferring NC Special Plates

If you no longer need your special plates on your vehicle (ex. you sell your car), you can transfer them to another vehicle you own in person at your local license plate agency for a $21.50 fee.

Your title and license must show the same name in order to transfer your plates. You must also show proof of auto insurance for the vehicle to which you are transferring your plates.

NC Special Plate Fees

  • Personalized standard plate: $30.
  • Personalized special plate: $30 + special plate fee.
  • Special plates: Fees vary; check your plate.
DMV.ORG BBB Business Review