When I moved from the Bay Area of California to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, I towed along my beloved motorcycle: a 2001 GSX-R600. I was trading the twisties of Northern California for even better (arguably) motorcycling country such as that offered by Deal’s Gap, The Blue Ridge Parkway, and other famed rides. However, I did not know how difficult it would be to register my CA-titled motorcycle in NC. Below, I’ve created a step-by-step guide of the process. Hopefully this will save you a lot of time and headaches.
Step 1: Get Your NC Drivers License
It’s a little-known law – and rather new NC DMV law – that you cannot register a vehicle in North Carolina without producing a valid NC drivers license, even if your out-of-state license is still valid (like mine was). Now, getting your NC drivers license is easier said than done. If you have a valid out-of-state license, you will be able to forgo the driving test, but you will have to pass a written examination. STUDY! Pick up the NC Drivers Handbook either online or at your local DMV office. The written drivers license examination is harder to pass than you might imagine. You must know road signs, DUI penalties, speed limits outside of cities, and a score of other answers. The same goes for the written examination you must pass to earn your motorcycle endorsement. Study the handbook!
Step 2: Get Your Motorcycle Inspected
In North Carolina, you cannot register any vehicle unless it has passed a safety and emissions inspection within the last 90 days. I believe that motorcycles are exempt from emissions testing; mine was, in any case. To get your motorcycle inspected, call local motorcycle dealerships to find out whether they offer this service. Typically it costs $13 to $15 to get the inspection done. In NC, your motorcycle must have:
This is by no means an exhaustive list of requirements. For many riders, these will not be problem. But if you plan to register a chopper, bobber, streetfighter, or other highly-customized bike, you may run into problems.
Step 3: Get Your Motorcycle Insured
To register your motorcycle in NC, you must show proof of motorcycle insurance. This is kind of a no-brainer, of course. Motorcycle insurance is obligatory in all but 3 states.
Step 4: Get Some Cash Together
Typically it will cost between $100 and $120 to register your motorcycle in North Carolina. Most DMV offices only take cash or personal checks, so don’t expect to pay via credit or debit card.
Step 5: Go to the Motor Vehicle License Tag Agency
Find the DMV office in your area that does license plates and registration. You will need to bring the following documentation:
So there you have it: how to register your out-of-state motorcycle in North Carolina.