Below are common questions about the North Carolina Inspection Program. For answers to questions not addressed on this page, send a message to the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles or call (877) 421-0020.
How does North Carolina's electronic inspection program work?
When your vehicle is inspected, a record of your vehicle’s inspection is entered electronically into the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles' vehicle registration database within two hours, which is used by license tag agencies and law enforcement personnel.
Your next inspection will be due the same month your vehicle registration renewal is due and must be obtained no more than 90 days before your plate expires.
How will I get a license plate for a new vehicle I just purchased?
A new vehicle must be inspected before it is sold at retail in North Carolina. Upon purchase, you will be provided a receipt certifying inspection compliance. The inspection conducted prior to your purchase is valid until the license plate is due for renewal.
How will I get a license plate for a used vehicle I just purchased from a dealer?
A used vehicle must be inspected before it is offered for sale at retain in this state. Upon purchase, you will be provided a receipt certifying compliance. The inspection conducted prior to your purchase is valid until the license plate is due for renewal.
I purchased a used vehicle from an individual, not a dealer. How do I get my license plate?
A used vehicle acquired from a private sale in this state must be inspected before it is registered unless it has received a passing inspection within the previous 12 months.
I have an unregistered vehicle that I now wish to drive. What do I need to do?
An unregistered vehicle must be inspected before the vehicle can be registered.
If the registration cannot be issued until it is inspected – and I can’t drive it to the inspection station – how do I legally get the car in compliance?
The N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles may issue a 10-day temporary license plate that authorizes an individual to drive their vehicle for inspection and registration. You should contact an NCDMV license plate agency for the plate.
My vehicle is due for inspection, but I will be out of the state. What do I do?
In lieu of an inspection in North Carolina, an individual who is out of state may obtain an emissions inspection in the jurisdiction where the vehicle is located, if it meets the requirements of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (40 C.F.R 51).
I’m moving from a non-emissions county to an emissions county. Do I have to have my vehicle inspected again?
No. You will not have to get your vehicle inspected until its current registration expires.
I’m moving to North Carolina from another state. Will my vehicle need to be inspected before I obtain my North Carolina license plate?
You will be allowed to register the vehicle without an inspection. When your next annual registration renewal is due, you must have the vehicle inspected to renew your registration.
Does a heavy-duty vehicle require an emissions inspection?
A vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 8,500 pounds requires only a safety inspection.
I have permanent plates on my vehicle. When is my inspection due?
Permanent-plated vehicles must be inspected every year, but their inspections are not synchronized with registration renewal. The date of the inspection will not affect the vehicle’s registration, if the inspection occurs on a yearly basis.