Buying and Selling FAQs in North Carolina

I can't find a certification label with my imported vehicle. How do I know whether it complies with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) standards?

Directly contact the vehicle's manufacturer. If you need assistance gathering contact information, look in your vehicle's owner manual or call the NHTSA's Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance at (202) 366-5291. It is also a good idea to read through the NHTSA's website, as importing a vehicle requires certain paperwork and you must also follow certain laws.

Can I import a car that's over 25 years old?

Even if the vehicle does not comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS), you can still legally drive it. However, you must provide documentation that the vehicle is at least 25 years old. A registration form or an invoice documenting when the vehicle was first sold will suffice as proof. If you can't find the proper documentation, the NHTSA will accept a statement from a certified vehicle historical society. When completing a Declaration (Form HS-7), be sure to check the first box.

Does the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) have anything to do with the state's Motor Vehicle Property Tax or the Highway Use Tax?

Motor Vehicle Property Tax rates are determined by the county in which you reside. The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) does however, handle the state Highway Use Tax (HUT). This tax is determined by vehicle type and takes the place of state sales tax. The Highway Use Tax (HUT) is levied when a title is transferred. Some vehicles are exempt from the Highway Use Tax.

Will my Motor Vehicle Property Tax be prorated if move to a different county?

The tax is not prorated between state counties. If you have questions about your Motor Vehicle Property Tax you can contact your county tax office.

Are there any vehicles that are exempt from the state's Motor Vehicle Property Tax?

Yes, and they include:

  • Manufactured homes.
  • Vehicles in confidential status.
  • Semi-trailers leased on a multi-year basis.
  • Mobile classrooms and offices.
  • Motor vehicles owned or leased by public service companies.

What costs, other than the asking price, can I expect to pay when buying a used vehicle in North Carolina?

Buying a vehicle costs a lot more than the final sale price. Generally, you should also be prepared to:

  • Pay a Highway Use Tax.
  • Pay a property tax to your county.
  • Pay a North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) registration fee.
  • Pay a license plate fee.
  • Pay a title transfer fee.
  • Buy a car insurance policy.
  • Pay for a vehicle inspection/emissions test.

Before you write a check and drive off with your new car, you should think about buying a vehicle history report or VIN check. Vehicle history reports can protect you from facing the burden of repairs shortly after a purchase. A vehicle history report typically provides you with information about a vehicle's prior accidents, major damages, and any major repairs. For more information on vehicle reports, please visit our Vehicle History Reports page.


US DOT Declaration Form
Fill out this form if you plan to import a vehicle to North Carolina from out-of-country. Used to disclose if vehicle meets federal safety and anti-theft standards.
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