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North Carolina License Plate Search: License Plate Lookup in North Carolina

North Carolina License Plate Search: License Plate Lookup in North Carolina
December 8, 2022

The state of North Carolina witnesses hundreds of car crash cases each year. Some of the vehicles involved in these cases are repaired, repackaged, and sold to unsuspecting customers at discounted prices. 

If you are a potential car owner searching for pre-owned vehicles in North Carolina, it is essential that you conduct a license plate lookup. 


You might be tempted to ask: what exactly is the importance of this exercise? 

Aside from saving you from unwanted expenses, a North Carolina license plate lookup is an excellent way to verify the history of your potential vehicle. 


For example, you can verify the car's ownership history, correct odometer readings, salvage history, if any, and liens. 

In addition, issues such as license fraud, purchasing stolen vehicles, wrong odometer readings, outstanding traffic offenses, and faulty engines can be avoided through a license plate lookup. 

a hand signing a paper with car keys on it

What is North Carolina License Plate, and Why is it Important?

Before going any further, we need to examine the meaning of North Carolina license plates. 


A North Carolina license plate is a rectangular piece of aluminum containing letters and numbers issued by the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles on behalf of the North Carolina Department of Transportation. 

Like most states on the east coast, North Carolina began issuing license plates at the start of the 1900s. 


Beginning in 1907, license plates were required on every automobile in the state, but the state did not issue them. Instead, all owners of vehicles were mandated to supply their own. 

The state only started issuing license plates in 1915, and the first set was made of porcelain; however, today, these license plates are made of aluminum. North Carolina is a one-plate state, meaning that vehicles are only mandated to have one license plate on the rear. 

This practice was introduced in 1952 and has remained up to this day. North Carolina license plates come in different colors, such as black, white, red, and green. 


The Division of Motor Vehicles issues colors according to the type of license plate in question. 

North Carolina license plates are issued after the completion of vehicle registration, and below are the types of North Carolina license plates:

Specialty license plates


The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles issues this class of plates to more than 100 interest groups. Examples include:

* NASCAR license plates
* Military license plates
* Collegiate and university license plates
* Civic clubs' license plates

a blank license plate on a car

Standard passenger plates


This license plate category is issued to every registered motor vehicle in North Carolina. 


The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles administers standard license plates in any of the following forms for a hauler or private passenger automobiles:

* "First in Freedom"- This commemorates the two major milestones of North Carolina during the American Revolution.

* "National and state motto"- This features the North Carolina motto "To Be Rather Than to Seem" and the United States motto "In God We Trust."

* "First in Flight"- This celebrates the first powered flight of the Wright Brothers in 1903 at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. 

Personalized or customized license plates


North Carolinians can apply to have their specialty or standard license plates customized at an extra cost. This process can take up to nine weeks after application. 

North Carolina license plates play a very crucial role in the life of a vehicle. First, it serves as a means of identification, as no two vehicles have the same license plates. 


It also helps in tracking offenders, such as traffic offenders, and the state's law enforcement agency can easily trace an offender using their license plate. 

This is why driving a vehicle without a license plate is an offense. Your license plate must be properly displayed and visible at every time. 

How to Conduct a License Plate Lookup in North Carolina 

When you purchase a second-hand vehicle, there is no going back, as most pre-owned vehicles do not have insurance coverage. 


Therefore, it is imperative for you to carry out due diligence research on your potential vehicle using a license plate lookup. 

a man's finger on a 3D illustration of a search bar


The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles has a publicly accessible online platform that allows interested parties to search license plate details. Below are steps on how to conduct a license plate lookup on the website:

Step 1: Find the License Plate Number

Looking up a license plate in North Carolina starts by searching for the vehicle's license plate number. The number is the primary search tool and must be retrieved before commencing any search.

Step 2: Visit the Website of the North Carolina DMV

Navigate to the site and open a myDMV account. After that, log into your account and click "License Plate Registration Status." Next, enter your license plate number alongside any other required detail. 

The search will only take a few seconds, and you will be provided with details, including accident history, title, VIN, liability challenges, mileage readings, lien and repossession history, etc.

Step 3: Take Action

Armed with the information at your disposal, you will be able to reject unfavorable deals, and you can protect yourself by employing any of these tips:

* Only opt for dealerships or sellers with limited warranties.
* Compare the current readings of the vehicle's odometer and the one you retrieved from the site.
* Take the car to a trusted mechanic, for further inquiries, even at extra costs. 
* Always cross-check the license plate data using a VIN lookup.


License plate lookup in North Carolina provides you with vital details about a car's history. 


Equipped with these details, you can make an informed decision when purchasing a pre-owned vehicle in the Tar Heel State.

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