Get info on License plates, vehicle registration, drivers licenses and more.


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When moving to North Carolina from another state, you must register your motor vehicle by the expiration of time granted by an agreement with your previous state and North Carolina. In most cases, the deadline is within 30 days of establishing a permanent address.

In Gaston County, vehicle license tags may be purchased and registrations changed Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. at the:

License Plate Agency
Gaston Mall
401 Cox Road, Gastonia
Phone: 704-864-4856

To register your motor vehicle, you must first obtain a N.C. driver’s license. You must furnish the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles with the title — unless the title is in possession of a lienholder — and a valid registration card from the state of prior registration. When the title is held by a lienholder, you must furnish the lienholder’s name and address.

You must also certify to the DMV that your vehicle is covered by liability insurance by a N.C. licensed insurance company. The minimum amount of liability insurance required is $25,000 for injuries to any one person in a wreck, $50,000 for all personal injuries and $10,000 for all property damage in a wreck.

You must have the current mileage on your vehicle.  Registrations must be renewed yearly.

All new residents must pay a title fee of $35 and a registration fee of $20 for private passenger automobiles to obtain a license plate and validation decals.

Regular license fees are $20 for automobiles, $12 for motorcycles and $21.50 for trucks limited to 4,000 pounds.

Fees may be paid by cash or check with drivers license and another form of I.D.

North Carolina imposes a Highway Use Tax on vehicles in lieu of state sales tax. Residents moving to North Carolina from another state are subject to the tax. If the vehicle was taxed by another jurisdiction within 90 days of applying for an N.C. title, you would receive credit for that fax and pay only the difference between that amount and the N.C. tax. You must show proof that you paid such a tax. Such proof may be recorded on your bill of sale or registration.

If your vehicle is titled in another state, you will be taxed 3 percent of the vehicle’s value with a maximum of $150.

Personalized license plates are available for passenger automobiles, motorcycles, trailers and private trucks. You must pay the regular license fee plus an additional $20 personalized plate fee.

Applications for personalized plates must be submitted to the Division of Motor Vehicles about eight weeks in advance. The choice of words and letters selected to appear on the personalized plate cannot exceed eight spaces and is limited to two characters other than alpha and numeric symbols. Offensive words are not allowed.

North Carolina laws require all new state residents who plan to operate a motor vehicle to obtain a driver’s license within 60 days of establishing a permanent address. Residents are allowed 60 days to obtain duplicate licenses when changing addresses within the state.

There are two driver’s license offices in the county operated by the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles:

Highway Patrol Station
2560 W. Franklin Ave., across from Dixie Village Shopping Center
Phone: 704-853-5372

Creekside Shopping Center
785 W. Charlotte Ave., Mount Holly
Phone: 704-827-9486

The offices are open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. DMV holidays include New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, Good Friday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

A new state resident must successfully complete the required written, road sign recognition and vision tests. New residents who hold a valid license from their previous state of residence are usually exempt from the driving skill test.

License applicants must show proof of liability insurance coverage. Your insurance agency will provide you with a form which certifies coverage.

Most newcomers use their current license as a form of identification. Applicants who do not possess a valid or expired photo driver license are required to furnish two other forms of identification. Acceptable identification includes a certified birth certificate, official school record, U.S. passport, marriage license, military service discharge record, tax records, limited driving privilege, unexpired vehicle registration, authentic documentation from the U.S. Immigration office, out-of-state identification cards and Social Security cards.

Licenses are issued for four, five, six, seven or eight years, depending on your age and the year of issuance. The cost is $2.50 per year.

As of October 1997, anyone obtaining a license must show proof of Social Security number. Acceptable forms are: payroll check stub, income tax statement, bank statement, or a computer generated form.

If you change your address, you must obtain a duplicate license within 60 days. A lost or stolen license must be replaced immediately. The cost of a duplicate license is $10. To have a lost or stolen license replaced, you must present two acceptable forms of identification.

License fees may be paid in cash or by check.


State law forbids a driver from consuming an alcoholic beverage while driving or having an open container in the vehicle if the driver has been drinking. An open container of an alcoholic beverage is prohibited at any time in a vehicle.

North Carolina requires seat belts for drivers and front-seat passengers. Failure to wear required seat belts can result in a $25 fine. Driver is held responsible if unbuckled passenger is under 16.

Children under age 4 are required to ride in a crash-tested car seat and children ages 4 to 12 are required to wear a seat belt, regardless of where they sit in the car.

North Carolina requires that if weather conditions dictate that windshield wipers be used, then headlights must also be used.

The state requires all motorcyclists to wear a helmet and to burn headlights at all times.


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The Gaston Chamber of Commerce
601 W. Franklin Blvd.
Gastonia, North Carolina 28052

Phone: 704-864-2621
Toll Free: 1-800-348-8461
Fax: 704-854-8723


Copyright 1999-2000, The Gaston Gazette, The Shelby Star.
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