North Carolina Moped Laws

Mopeds and scooters are classified by the same definition according to North Carolina's Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Before operating a scooter, an individual should educate themselves on what is required by law. Information can be found on the North Carolina General Assembly website.

Operating Requirements

In order to ride, you must be at least 16 years old. Owning a driver's license is not required, but wearing a helmet is, regardless of age.


To qualify as a moped and/or as a scooter, your bike cannot exceed 30 miles per hour on a level service and it cannot possess an engine larger than 50 cubic centimeters. If your moped/scooter exceeds these standards, you must register it as a motorcycle.

Blue MopedMoped Definition

A vehicle with two or three wheels with a motor of no more than 50 cubic centimeters of piston displacement and no external shifting device. Legally, a moped's top speed cannot exceed 30 miles per hour on a level surface. Although some mopeds on the market have top speeds higher than the 30 mph limit, they are illegal for use in North Carolina. If a moped does not fit the above requirements, it must be registered as a motorcycle under North Carolina law.

Gold MopedIn 2001, a change to the moped definition in North Carolina was considered, but no legal action was taken. In 2002, the North Carolina Department of Revenue changed the definition of a moped. The general assembly approved a change in the maximum speed of a moped from 20 mph to 30 mph.

Moped Registration & Insurance

As of July 1, 2015, the new law requires registration for all mopeds operated on a state-maintained road. However, mopeds are not required to have an annual inspection.

Mopeds shall be registered with the Division. The owner of the moped shall pay the same base fee and be issued the same type of registration card and plate issued for a motorcycle. In order to be registered with the Division and operated upon a highway or public vehicular area, a moped must meet the following requirements:

  • The moped has a manufacturer's certificate of origin.
  • The moped was designed and manufactured for use on highways or public vehicular areas.

As of July 1, 2016, North Carolina law requires that all registered mopeds have liability insurance coverage with limits no less than $30,000/$60,000/$25,000. Failure to maintain liability insurance coverage constitutes a lapse and may result in the revocation of your valid North Carolina license plate.

Motorcycle Registration

If your moped does not meet the requirements to be classified as a moped, it must be registered as a motorcycle. To apply for your vehicle title and registration you will need to obtain your North Carolina Driver's License. Registration fees include a Certificate of Title for $40, an Instant Title for $75, license plate registration fee for private passenger vehicles for $28, a transfer of plate fee of $15, and a highway use tax of 3%.

The Regional Transportation Authority Registration Tax ($5) applies to vehicles registered in Wake, Durham, and Orange Counties. Residents applying for title and license in Wake, Durham and Orange Counties must pay an additional $5 for funding of the Regional Transportation Authority.

During registration, among other requirements, you will have to complete Title Application (MVR-1), declaring all liens, signed in the presence of a notary. If the vehicle is less than 10 years old, you must supply an odometer disclosure statement signed by both the seller and the buyer. A Damage Disclosure Statement (MVR-181) may be required also. The minimum requirements of liability insurance for a private passenger vehicle are $30,000 for bodily injury for one person; $60,000 bodily injury for two or more people and $25,000 property damage. North Carolina law requires each company to notify the DMV when coverage has been canceled.

Other Moped Rules

  • No person shall operate a motorcycle or moped upon a highway or public vehicular area unless the operator and all passengers thereon wear safety helmets of a type approved by the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles
  • A moped should travel using the right–hand side of the lane - To pass a moped; you must stay at least two feet to the left.
  • The same DWI laws that apply to the drivers of other motor vehicles also apply to moped operators
  • Stay out of traffic, as much as possible.
  • Do not share lanes with other vehicles.
  • Make sure other drivers can see you - wear light or brightly colored clothing.
  • At an intersection, never squeeze between parked cars and moving traffic.
  • If possible, install electric turn signals on your moped. Otherwise, be sure to use hand signals when you turn or stop.
  • Operating motorcycle without proper license endorsement, or knowingly permitting an owned vehicle to be so operated, or violating restrictions on graduated licenses will result in a fine of at least $50.
  • Failure to wear helmet or having too many passengers on a motorcycle or moped will result in a fine from $25 to $75.