Beyond the Border: Renewing NC Registration While In Canada

shutterstock_165562676Last summer, when I drove my car up the east coastline, into Canada, I was so happy to have my car and the implicit freedom that it brought. I was not thinking about my registration’s yearly expiration date.

So, as the deadline approached, I started to worry. As it turns out, this issue is easily remedied.

I called the NC DMV Customer Contact Center two months prior to my license plate sticker expiry and spoke to a representative about my situation: I was still a North Carolina resident, but my car would physically be in Canada at the time of registration renewal. I spoke with a super-helpful vehicle registration agent who let me know that I would need to file what is called a “One Year Exemption” prior to my expiry date.

I was instructed to go to any garage and have some kind of work officially done. For this, an oil change was sufficient, but I wound up needing a new battery, so that’s what I had on my paperwork. The guys at my neighborhood Mr. Lube did an excellent job when I told them why I was coming in.

The printout would need to display:

  • license plate number
  • VIN number
  • make/model
  • date when seen
  • the physical address of the garage I visited (which would reflect that my car was in Canada)

Note: All of this information usually comes standard on the print-out summaries that garages hand you after work is done on your car.

So, as instructed, I scanned this document into a .pdf file and emailed it to the NC DMV representative with “Exemption NC License #___-____” in the subject. I let him know that I had paid my owed taxes that week and would like to file for my exemption. And he turned it around within about a day. How quick was that! I was able to log onto the NC DMV website and order my new registration and license plate sticker to be sent to me via snail mail two days later (which was very nice because mail takes about a week to reach me from my hometown to my current residence).

But, that. was. it.

I am not sure what differences might exist according to different states’ DMV offices, and I’ve only done this once in my life, so my advice would be to call your state’s Customer Contact Center two months or so prior to your registration expiry date. Talk to them to see what all they require for documentation. And, make sure to pay any owed car taxes as soon as you can. These usually come through the mail or can be accessed/paid online through the state’s DMV website.

Did you find this story helpful?

Do you have any similar stories of maintaining a vehicle while out of country?

Let me know in the comment below!

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