Selling a Car in North Carolina

When you’re selling a vehicle in North Carolina, there are some requirements that you must meet. We’ve collected the appropriate information here on these requirements so you can know exactly what it will take to have a smooth, painless vehicle sale in the state.

1. Title Information

In North Carolina, you can only sell a vehicle if you have absolute ownership of it. In other words, any “lien” (loan) on the vehicle must be paid off before you can sell the vehicle. If you have paid off a lien, double-check your title to make certain that the lien has been released. If not, have the lienholder submit a lien release to the state. You will not be able to sell the vehicle until the lien release has been accepted by the state.

You should also make certain that you have the actual title. If you cannot find the title, you’ll need to request a replacement title from the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You will need the physical title so that you can fill out the necessary information for the buyer as proof of the transfer of the vehicle. Both your signature and the buyer’s signature will be necessary and are required by law to be notarized.

2. Bill of Sale Requirements

When you sell a vehicle in North Carolina, the state requires you to submit a Bill of Sale only if the vehicle does not have a title. If you need to make a Bill of Sale, be sure it includes the following:

  • The new owner’s name
  • The full address of the new owner, which cannot be a P.O. box
  • The seller’s name
  • The full address of the seller, which cannot be a P.O. box
  • The date of the sale
  • The sale price
  • A full and detailed vehicle description, including the vehicle’s make, model, year, series number (if applicable) and body type (2-door, 4-door, sedan, etc.), as well as the vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • The vehicle odometer reading at the time of sale
  • The signature of the seller
  • The signature of the buyer

You are also required to fill out a Damage Disclosure Statement, which focuses on revealing any known mechanical issues.

3. Inspections

North Carolina requires safety inspections to be done on most vehicles every year. Even if you have purchased a new vehicle, it will get a safety inspection the first year. In 48 counties within the state, emission testing is also required on most vehicles every year. If you are selling a vehicle and it is registered in one of these counties, you will have to get an emission test even if the vehicle is only two years old. The only vehicles exempt from inspections and emission testing are those older than 35 years.

You are responsible for making certain that the emission certification and inspections are current before you sell your vehicle.

4. License Plates

In North Carolina, when you sell a vehicle, the license plates stay with you and not with the vehicle. Transferring the plates is entirely legal within the state and is possible as long as the new vehicle is registered in the same name as the plates. If you are not going to transfer the plates to a new vehicle, make sure you return them to a DMV office before you cancel your insurance or you could face unintended fines or liability for the vehicle after you’ve sold it.

5. Odometer Disclosure Requirements

In North Carolina, you must formally disclose the vehicle odometer reading when you sell a vehicle that is 10 years old or newer. The state requires you to use a specific form to disclose this information.

6. Other Information

If you have questions or want more details regarding vehicle selling, check out the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles website.