North Carolina Year of Manufacture Tag Law

One of the little known facts about displaying a license plate in North Carolina is that if your vehicle is old enough, you can display the tag that was issued the year the vehicle was made instead of the one assigned to the current vehicle registration.  In general, you have to have the current tag available to show to somebody when they ask for it (put the tag in the glovebox, trunk, or under the seat), your vehicle has to be at least thirty-five years old, and the tag that you use has to have the year stamped into the metal and this year has to be the same as the year the vehicle was manufactured.

The complete text of G.S. 20-63(d) reads:

"Registration plates issued for a motor vehicle other than a motorcycle, trailer, or semitrailer shall be attached thereto, one in the front and the other in the rear: Provided, that when only one registration plate is issued for a motor vehicle other than a truck-tractor, said registration plate shall be attached to the rear of the motor vehicle. The registration plate issued for a truck-tractor shall be attached to the front thereof. Provided further, that when only one registration plate is issued for a motor vehicle and this motor vehicle is transporting a substance that may adhere to the plate so as to cover or discolor the plate or if the motor vehicle has a mechanical loading device that may damage the plate, the registration plate may be attached to the front of the motor vehicle.

Any motor vehicle of the age of 35 years or more from the date of manufacture may bear the license plates of the year of manufacture instead of the current registration plates, if the current registration plates are maintained within the vehicle and produced upon the request of any person.

The Division shall provide registered owners of motorcycles and motorcycle trailers with suitably reduced size registration plates."

It is a good idea to keep a copy of this paragraph of the general stature handy in your vehicle along with the tag of current registration just in case somebody isn't up to date and tries to give you a hard time about the one that you have bolted onto the vehicle.   Having the year of manufacture tag not only can help provide the correct "look" for an antique, it can serve as a subtle way to answer that question of "what year is it?". 

The complete text of all of the North Carolina General Statutes (including the motor vehicle chapter 20) may be found at: