Automobile salvage yards, or junkyards, receive and can provide a ready source for spare parts. The North Carolina General Assembly recognizes salvage yards as legitimate and useful enterprises. However, neighbors of these yards and government officials regard them as unsightly. Also, unscrupulous types may deposit stolen vehicles in these yards, either with or without the yard owner's knowledge. As a result, North Carolina and its local governments enact and enforce numerous laws, ordinances and regulations to address the aesthetic, safety and criminal risks posed by junkyards.

Things You Will Need
  • Property or proposed site address

  • Computer

  • Internet

  • Junkyard permit

  • Zoning permit

  • Building permit

  • Opaque or wooden fencing or screening

Determine if the county or municipality (city or town) for your site has a zoning or land-use ordinance. Contact the local government offices. You can find your local government either in the blue pages of your phone book or go to the "State and Local Government on the Net" site and click on your county or city.


scrap yard image by hazel proudlove from

Verify that your local government has zoned, or classified, your property to allow salvage yards. Go to the Geographic Information Systems online map for your local government. Enter the property address. Look for the zoning classification listed in the property information. Consult your zoning ordinance to determine if your classification allows a junk or salvage yard. Also, you may check with your local zoning office. Request that your local government change your property's classification if necessary.

Apply for a “Conforming Junkyard Permit.” Contact the District Engineers’ office that serves your county for an application or more information. Look in the blue pages of your phone book under North Carolina Department of Transportation or Division of Higways. Alternatively, go to the Division of Highways website and click on your county.


highway #1 image by Olegs Mareida from

Locate the yard at least 1,000 feet away from the edge of the right-of-way of an interstate, United States, or North Carolina Highway. Numbered North Carolina Highway signs will have the number inside a diamond shape. The 1,000-foot buffer does not apply if your site is zoned for industrial use, is located in an industrial area in a county without any zoning regulations or if you fence or screen the salvage yard so that it becomes very obscure.

Verify that someone providing you a junked vehicle owns the vehicle or is allowed to present it to you. Obtain a certificate of title from the person that presents you a vehicle that is junked or that you intend to dismantle for parts. The certificate is not required if the vehicle is at least ten model years old and you keep records concerning your purchase, a photo driver’s license of the seller, and information on the vehicle being sold to you for scrap.


Many counties and muncipalities publish their zoning or salvage yard ordinances online. Download and save a copy for continuous reference. Contact a lawyer if you desire or need to change the zoning classification of your property, obtain permits to operate an automobile graveyard or salvage yard, or to assist you in establishing and operating your salvage yard business.


Many North Carolina municipalities and counties require a special use permit to operate an automobile graveyard or a salvage yard. A special use permit requires that the yard operator meet certain conditions, which may include fencing and screening and minimum acreage requirements. Obtain electrical and building permits from your local inspections department if you plan to erect a building or have electrical service to your salvage yard. Failure to keep records as required by North Carolina General Statutes Section 20-62.1 may result in criminal prosecution, fines and jail.