Inspections, renewals, and vehicle registration during COVID-19

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio | RRD

#Answered: How do I get a car inspection safely during the pandemic + what rules around inspections and renewals have changed? 

We’ve heard this question from a few readers, so today we’re giving you the scoop on all things license, registration, and inspection related — so when it’s finally safe to take that road trip, here’s what you need to know to be prepared as you’re driving off into the sunset. 

Earlier this month, Governor Roy Cooper extended expiration dates for North Carolina DMV credentials. Here’s what you need to know.

Renewals + Expirations 

  • Anyone whose credentials (aka driver’s license or vehicle registration) expired or will expire between March 1 and August 1 has been given a one-time, five-month extension to renew.
  • Fines + fees related to expired credentials are being temporarily waived. If you already paid a $15 late fee in March or April, you will be reimbursed.
  • Since this is a one-time extension, next year’s expiration date will revert back to the original date. So, if your expiration date is May 31, your new date for 2020 only will be October 31 and for next year, it will be May 31, 2021

Vehicle Inspections

Already completed your inspection?

  • An inspection is valid for 90 days, so if you do not complete your registration within that period you will need to get another inspection. Note: Residents of Wake + Durham counties (plus 20 other NC municipalities) are required to complete an emissions inspection as well as a safety inspection. Both are done at the same time. 
  • Following your inspection, you can complete your registration online​

Ready to get your inspection? 

  • Repair shops + inspection stations are open. Check out DMV-certified inspection stations here
  • The NCDMV does not advise people who are high risk for complications due to COVID-19 — or who are self-quarantining — to get inspections at this time. Someone else can take your vehicle in for an inspection as long as they have your most recent registration card. ProTip: Many inspection stations are offering no-contact inspections + you can call ahead to make an appointment. 

Expired Plates

  • You can drop off the plate at a local DMV tag office or mail it to: DMV Vehicle Registration, Section 3148 Mail Service Center, 1100 New Bern Avenue, Raleigh, NC, 27699-3148. Include a note about why the plate is being returned and ask for a receipt.

New Drivers

  • Road skill tests are still required to get a limited provisional license or a first-time driver’s license, but will not be offered until the DMV deems them safe.

Here’s the full list of credentials affected by this extension — it includes info on driver licenses, vehicle registration, dealer license plates, and more. The DMV is also offering these online services:

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