Late Fees for Vehicle Registration Renewals in North Carolina Are Still Surprising Drivers
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Late Fees for Vehicle Registration Renewals in North Carolina Are Still Surprising Drivers

The fees for being late when renewing your vehicle registration range in amount from $15 to $25, but some drivers don't know when the fees kick in

February 25, 2020

Since 2016, drivers in North Carolina have seen unexpected late fees when renewing their vehicle registrations. While late fees were planned by the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (NCDMV) for some time, it has caused a bit confusion. Some drivers still think that there is a grace period or that the vehicle's registration expires fifteen days after the date on the license plate's sticker.

No grace period

The confusion seems to stem from a conflict between the old registration cards and the old registration stickers. On the older registration cards, the registration expiration date was listed as the 15th day of the month following the month on the registration sticker, which included a grace period. For example: If the license plate sticker was for January, the registration expired on the 15th of February. That changed with the implementation of these late fees. If your registration sticker is for January, your registration expires on the last day of January. New vehicle registration cards show the correct date without a grace period.

When Can I Renew My Vehicle's Registration?

A renewal notice isn't required to renew a vehicle registration. You can renew your vehicle's registration up to ninety (90) days before it expires provided your vehicle has passed a state inspection and has maintained the minimum insurance required. You can view information about exemption from emissions inspections here or information about the items inspected here. You can also renew the registration after the expiration date, but you will be assessed a late fee. The registration expiration date can be found on your vehicle registration card. About sixty (60) days before it expires, the NCDMV will send a reminder notice to your last address on record, which includes the registration renewal fee and the property tax amount due.

If you move

If you move and do not notify the NCDMV of your address change, you are still responsible for getting your vehicle inspected and your registration renewed on time. Remember that you are legally required to notify the NCDMV of an address change within sixty (60) days of moving and to request a new license/ID card and new vehicle registration card. If you are moving to another state, you are required to surrender your license plate and license.

Late Fees for Expired Registrations

If the vehicle registration expires and has been expired for less than one month, a late fee of $15 will be charged. If the license plate sticker reads "01/18," you will be charged this fee if you renew during February.

If the registration has been expired for one month, but less than two months, a late fee of $20 will be charged. If the license plate sticker reads "01/18," you will be charged this fee if you renew during March.

A late fee of $25 will be charged for registrations that have been expired for two months or greater. If the license plate sticker reads "01/18," you will be charged this fee if you renew during April or later.

How To Pay For Your Registration Renewal

North Carolina vehicle registration renewals may be paid in person at any license plate agency, by mail, or online at ncdot.gov/dmv/online. You will be required to pay your vehicle's property taxes at the same time.

Vehicle Tax Values & Appeals

Questions regarding vehicle values and appeals on tax values must be directed to the tax assessor in the county where the vehicle is registered.

Will I Be Ticketed If I didn't get My New Card and Sticker yet?

When paying in person, you will receive your new registration card and sticker at that time. If paying online, you will receive your new registration card and sticker by mail within 7-10 business days. When you renew your vehicle's registration, that information is updated in the state's computer system. If a law enforcement officer accesses your registration, it will respond with the new expiration date. While it is technically against the law to operate a vehicle without displaying a current registration sticker, most law enforcement officers will not stop or ticket you if your registration was renewed but you are displaying an old sticker, especially if the sticker is for the previous month. They known that it's possible that your registration was just renewed and the sticker is in the mail.

If you have questions

You can contact the NCDMV directly with any questions or concerns. We regret that we are unable to offer any additional information beyond the content of this document.