North Carolina Emissions Laws

Last updated on March 16th, 2021

North Carolina Emissions Laws

North Carolina requires inspections if you live in particular counties. There are two parts to the North Carolina inspection process, a vehicle safety inspection, and one board diagnostic emission inspection. When you have your vehicle safety inspection, you will be able to have it completed at any one of the 7500 inspection stations that are located throughout the state. These are required for all vehicles that are younger than 35 years old.

The North Carolina emissions inspection is required as part of North Carolina’s way of fighting ozone-forming emissions from gasoline operated cars or light-duty trucks. These inspections can be conducted using vehicles onboard diagnostic system which has been computerized installed on all vehicles since the year 1996.

There are some exemptions when it comes to having an emissions inspection and the following types of vehicles are not required to have an inspection:

  • Vehicles that are 35 years or older
  • 1995 vehicles or other
  • Diesel operated vehicles
  • If the vehicle is licensed under the farm rate


  • Onboard diagnostic and emissions inspection
    • $30
  • Safety inspection
    • $13.60

You can learn more information through the license plate registration renewal offices or by visiting inspection station locations.

Electronic inspection program

These inspections are now kept track of online and you have not issued a sticker to be placed on your vehicle when it is inspected. However, you will be given a receipt showing the date that the inspection was completed as well as the station and the results of your inspection so that you can keep a record of it yourself. A copy will also be submitted to the DMV’s vehicle registration database.


If you do find that your vehicle has failed inspection, you are expected to repair your vehicle and have it re-inspected. However, if your car passes a safety inspection that is not able to pass emission inspection you may be able to receive a waiver. Check with your local DMV to learn more about this waiver.

When To Get Tested

If your vehicle is driven mainly in urban or densely populated areas and runs on gasoline, you will be required to have an emissions test completed. This test will be required for original registrations as well as annual renewals for your vehicle.

These emissions tests are valid for 10 days after receiving your license plate for vehicle and you are required to have a test completed if you are renewing a suspended registration, completing an original registration, or renewing a registration.

There are exemptions that may apply where you are not required to have an emissions test, such as if it is a new vehicle wherein the first or second registration periods, if it’s a hybrid that is less than five years old, is older than 35 years old, if it is a motorcycle or moped, or is an alternative fuel vehicle.


It is important that you adhere to the policies set forth by the state of North Carolina in order for your vehicle to be compliant with the state. These roles of incidents place in order to protect you as a driver as well as others on the road and your passengers.

Filed under: North Carolina, Articles, State Emissions Testing

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