North Carolina Car Window Tint Laws (Updated)

Keeping your car cool in the heat of summer in North Carolina is a task that requires help from all angles. If tinting your windows is the best way to protect your car and passengers from heat and UV rays, then keep reading.

Quick Answer

In the state of North Carolina, tint must be above the manufacturer’s AS-1 or the top 5 inches of your front windshield. Visible Light Transmission also known as VLT must be at 35% for front side windows and 35% VLT for back windows. The rear window must also be 35% VLT. These percentages apply to sedans. For the back and rear windows of SUVs and vans, any darkness can be used.

Because the tinting laws in North Carolina are very specific to the state, we recommend you do careful research before beginning and consult a car detailing company if available.

Window Tinting in North Carolina – What Does The Law Say?

The law restricts certain levels of tint in different vehicles. Depending on the state in which your car is registered, there will be rules and regulations around what you can and can’t do.

Can Windows Be Tinted in North Carolina?

Windows can be tinted in North Carolina as long as you obey the specifications for tinting. These rules are in place so that law enforcement officials can safely respond to emergencies.

You should not forgo tinting if it is necessary for your health or protection. Excessive UV rays that can be damaging to your skin or health, as well as privacy, are two of the main reasons people choose to tint their windows.

If you are ready to tint your windows, be sure to follow the guidelines listed below for window tinting in the state of North Carolina.

What Windows Can Be Tinted in North Carolina

North Carolina enacted rules and regulations for tinting your vehicle’s car windows in 2001. The two factors you’ll need to take into consideration when tinting your sedan or SUV are darkness and reflection for the different windows of your vehicle.

Front Windshield A major part of your car’s look and performance is in the front windshield. This is where you will probably have the most trouble if your window tint is not at its most optimal level for your needs. Tint Darkness is based on Visible Light Transmission also known as VLT. Tint is allowed on the top 5 inches of your windshield or above the manufacturer’s AS-1 line and should be no more than 20% reflective.

Back Windshield For SUVs and vans, tint on your back windshield can be any darkness while the back windshield of your sedan must allow 35% VLT. As your back windshield is vital when using your rearview mirror to keep safe distances, this tint allows for the best drive and protection. Reflective tint of 20% is allowed for both sedans and sport utility vehicles.

Driver Window The driver side window must allow at least 35% of light through, a fairly dark shade of tint. Because window tints can also be reflective, taking steps to reduce glare and heat may be necessary. When it comes to reflection regulations, driver-side windows for both sedans and SUVs must not be over 20% reflective.

Passenger and Back Windows For sedans, the front side passenger windows must allow at least 35% of light through while rear side windows must allow at least 35% of light to pass through. This is a slightly dark tint that you can still see through. Reflection rules are the same as those of the driver window which states no more than 20% reflective. Passenger and back window tint of SUVs and vans can be any darkness.

Restricted Colors If you are in the market to tint your car windows, you may have come across a variety of colors for tinting. Note that the state of North Carolina bans the colors RED, AMBER, and YELLOW in its current tint laws.

North Carolina Window Tint Law Medical Exemption

You may have medical reasons for needing to tint your car windows. If this is the case, you should understand that some but not all states allow tinting that’s darker than standard regulation.

Medical reasons for exemption: There are a few outstanding reasons why you might be exempt from tinting rules in the state of North Carolina. These may include conditions such as chronic actinic dermatitis/actinic reticuloid, dermatomyositis, albinism, lupus erythematosus, porphyria, xeroderma (pigmentosa) pigmentosum, severe drug photosensitivity, and photophobia. Any other condition or disorder that requires an individual to be shielded from the direct rays of the sun that can cause severe photosensitivity may also be exempt.

Medical exemption certification: If you have any of the above-mentioned exemptions, you will need to obtain a certificate. You should go to N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles and apply for a medical exception permit with the Medical Review Program. There you will receive detailed instructions on completing the form as well as where to send it.

Approval and Usage: Certain rules apply when obtaining and using your exemption permits which are valid for up to five years. An individual can not have more than two medical permits at the same time and permits are not interchangeable. They must be placed in the vehicle that it’s licensed to and displayed in the lower left‐hand corner of the rear window. If you do not do this properly the law states that a $200 fine may be given.

Frequently Asked Questions About North Carolina Car Window Tinting Laws

There are a few more questions you may have concerning the tinting of your car windows. Below are some FAQ’s about the rules and regulations regarding tint in North Carolina.

What Does VLT Mean According to North Carolina State Law? VLT or Visible Light Transmission is the percentage of light that tint film allows to pass through your car windows. With a higher VLT, you can assume more light can pass through. North Carolina is strict on VLT so be sure to confirm with the percentages listed in this article. 

How Much Does Car Window Tinting Cost in North Carolina? The state of North Carolina is large and you will find that in different areas and counties the cost of window tinting will vary. The cost of tinting your windows will also vary depending on what you want to do, the quality of the film, and labor. You should look to spend somewhere in the area of $200 (basic tint) to $500 (higher quality tint) for an average-sized vehicle.

 How Dark Can Your Windows Be in North Carolina? Referring to the percentages listed above you will be able to decide which darkness is both right for you and within the regulations for North Carolina. If you are looking at a 35% VLT, you are looking at a somewhat dark tint that you are still able to see through whereas if your VLT is 5% you would hardly be able to see through it. In North Carolina, the VLT is 35% making it a slightly dark tint that you can see-through.

 Is Reflective or Colored Tint Legal in North Carolina? While colors are allowed in NC according to the window tinting laws, reflective tints must not be more than 20% and not be the colors RED, AMBER, or YELLOW. Be sure to check with your local detailing shop for the most up-to-date rules on color and reflection tints.

Can You Get a Ticket for Tinted Windows in North Carolina? Law enforcement officials are free to question suspected activities if they choose to do so. Possible illegal VLT window tint is one reason why you may be stopped. If you follow the rules you should not get a ticket but if you disobey the tinting regulations you are looking at fines of around $50 plus court fines. These charges can end up being around $238 and it is unlikely to win window tinting disputes.

Wrap Up

There are several reasons you might have for needing window tint. Be sure to check North Carolina guidelines for more information on how to do this within the regulations of your state.

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