All new residents who plan to drive must obtain an N.C. driver’s license within 60 days of establishing a permanent residence here. Most newcomers, unless they drive commercial vehicles, will want a Class C license, which permits operation of passenger cars and small trucks. If you drive a motorcycle, you’ll also need a motorcycle endorsement. You must pass a road skills test on your motorcycle to receive it. Licensed drivers who are 16 or 17 years old must present proof of completion of a state-approved driver education course in their former state.
For more information on N.C. driver’s license and motor vehicle registration rules, call DMV directAccess at 919-715-7000. You can access recorded information 24 hours a day using a touch-tone telephone and following the prompts. Or check the DMV Web site (www.dmv.dot.state.nc.us).
6407 Idlewild Rd., Charlotte
3704 Central Ave. Suite 1, Charlotte
8446 N. Tryon St., Charlotte
201-A W. Arrowood Rd., Charlotte
6016 Brookshire Blvd., Charlotte
2192 Kannapolis Hwy., Concord
905 Carolina Ave. North, Statesville
533 Patterson Ave. Suite 100, Mooresville
3122 U.S. 74 West, Monroe
2560 W. Franklin Ave., Gastonia
785 W. Charlotte Ave. Unit 2 Mount Holly
You must register your vehicle before the reciprocity agreement between North Carolina and your former state expires (usually 30 days). Registration is renewed annually.
To register your vehicle, apply in person at a license plate agency and present your title (unless title is held by a lienholder) and a valid registration card from your former state. If your title is held by a lienholder, you must provide the lienholder’s name and address on a state form for title release.
You also must present proof of vehicle liability insurance at or above minimum standards (see driver’s license information for the list of acceptable documents).
Fees due when you receive N.C. registration include title fee, $35; registration fee, $20; and highway use tax, which is 3 percent of the value of your vehicle. DMV registration offices accept checks.
You also must get a vehicle safety inspection within 10 days of receiving your N.C. license plate. This costs $9.10 and can be done at any state-authorized inspection station. Inspection is required annually. Some counties also require an emissions inspection, which is conducted at the same time as the safety inspection.
Although the state does not levy sales tax on motor vehicles, N.C. counties assess property taxes annually. Your car will be registered when you receive your license plate, and you’ll receive a bill in about three months.
6016 Brookshire Blvd. Charlotte
6058 E. Independence Blvd. Charlotte
4200-H South Blvd. Charlotte
759 Church St. N. Concord
4612 Hwy. 49 S. Harrisburg
121 W. Water St. Statesville
1509 Dale Earnhardt Blvd. Kannapolis
125-3 N. Main St. Mooresville
622-E W. Roosevelt Blvd. Monroe
401 Cox Rd. Gastonia
Newcomers who plan to operate motor vehicles must obtain an S.C. driver’s license within 90 days of becoming a permanent resident. Most newcomers, unless they drive commercial vehicles, will need a class D license, which allows the operation of passenger cars and small trucks.
If you hold a commercial license, you must obtain an S.C. commercial license within 30 days. If you operate a motorcycle, you’ll also need a motorcycle endorsement. Additionally, newcomers who operate motorcycles or mopeds exclusively may obtain licenses covering only those vehicles. A conditional license allows residents 15 years old to drive alone during daylight hours or at night under adult supervision until they reach the age of 16.
For more information, call the Motor Vehicle Services Division of the state Department of Public Safety’s toll-free line, 800-442-1368, or check the Web site at www.scdps.org.
Driver’s License Offices
305 Hands Mill Rd.
Rock Hill 803-329-6332
1070 Heckle Blvd. Suite 100
Rock Hill 803-909-7161
Motor Vehicle Registration
You can register your motor vehicles at any of the driver’s license offices listed in the Driver’s License section.
You must register your car or truck within 45 days of moving to South Carolina. To obtain a license plate, you will need your vehicle’s title or current registration and proof that you have liability insurance. Additionally, you will have to pay the property taxes on your vehicle and furnish the registration office with a receipt issued by the tax office in the county where you live. After this initial registration, the county auditor will mail you a tax notice each year about a month before your registration expires.
The registration fee is $24 ($20 if you are 65 or older). The fee covers two years, but validation stickers for your license plate must be obtained each year.
South Carolina has no mandatory annual vehicle safety inspection law. However, the state still has minimum standards for safety-related equipment, such as tires, lights and glazing, and these standards are enforced by state troopers.
Rules of the Road
• Speed limits range from 55 mph to 70 mph on interstates and from 55 mph to 65 mph on open highways; the limit is 35 mph inside municipal corporate limits unless otherwise posted.
• Motorcyclists must wear helmets and drive with lights on at all times.
• Seat belt use is mandatory for driver and front-seat passengers. Approved child-restraint systems are required for children 8 years and younger or under 80 lbs; all children 16 and younger must be buckled up no matter where they sit in the vehicle.
• Right turn on red is permitted after complete stop unless otherwise posted. Left turn on red is not permitted.
• Drunken-driving rules are strict. A motorist is guilty of driving while impaired (DWI) if his blood alcohol level meets or exceeds 0.08 percent or if he is under the influence of or affected by alcohol and/or other drugs. Penalties can include fines, imprisonment and license revocation. The best rule: Don’t drink and drive.
• Speed limits are 55 mph on interstate highways, though many stretches of interstate in South Carolina are posted at 65 mph or 60 mph. The maximum speed limit on other rural highways is 55 mph, and the highest unposted limit in urban areas is 30 mph. However, many streets and highways in urban areas are posted for both higher and lower speeds. Always check speed limit signs when you drive.
• All front-seat passengers must wear seat belts. In the rear seat, passengers up to 4 years old must be restrained by a lap belt or approved safety seat. An approved safety seat is required for children under 1 year of age regardless of the child’s position in the vehicle and for children between 1 and 5 who are riding in the front seat.
• Motorcyclists and motorcycle passengers under 21 must wear approved safety helmets and either goggles or face shields attached to their helmets. Motorcyclists must burn their headlights at all times when on public streets or highways. Motorcycles with 5 horsepower or less are not allowed on interstate highways.
• Driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs can result in prison time, heavy fines, suspended driver’s licenses and much higher insurance rates. South Carolina has an implied consent law, meaning that by driving on public streets and highways, you give your permission for law enforcement officers to administer tests for intoxication. You will be considered intoxicated if your blood alcohol level is 0.08 percent or higher. If you drink, don’t drive.
To be eligible to vote in either North Carolina or South Carolina, you must be 18 or older, a U.S. citizen, a legal resident of the state and county where you register, and a resident of your precinct for at least 30 days prior to the election you wish to vote in.
To register to vote, pick up a registration form from the offices listed below, fill it out completely and mail it to the address on the form.
The Web site for the N.C. Board of Elections is www.sboe.state.nc.us. In York County, S.C., you can obtain a form online at www.yorkcountygov.com or at www.state.sc.us/scsec.
Mecklenburg County Board of Elections
741 Kenilworth Ave. Suite 202, Charlotte
Cabarrus County Board of Elections
53 Corban Ave. SE, Concord
Iredell County Elections Office
233 Stockton St. B-1, Statesville
Union County Board of Elections
316-E East Windsor St., Monroe
Gaston County Board of Elections
810 W. Mauney Ave., Gastonia
Cleveland County Board of Elections
215 Patton Dr., Shelby
Lincoln County Board of Elections,
115 W. Main St., Lincolnton
Rowan County Board of Elections
130 W. Innes St., Salisbury
All DMV offices, libraries and high schools.
York County Board of Elections
E.C. Black Building,
13 S. Congress St., York
Lancaster County Board of Elections
101 N. Main St., Lancaster
Many public libraries, post offices, government social service offices and all driver’s license bureaus.
Online at www.yorkcountygov.com.