North Carolina Metal Scrap Statute

North Carolina
The State Metals Theft Laws summaries are not intended to provide or be relied as a legal advice. This material is provided to serve as a reasonable compilation of the most current state scrap laws and is intended to be a resource or supplement to, and provide ideas for, compliance with all applicable laws. The ISRI State Scrap Laws are subject to change and readers should visit to make certain they are reading the most recent version of ISRI's summaries of the State Metals Theft Laws
Overview of Provisions (use the section titles to travel directly to that section)

Please Note: Amendments by 2013 North Carolina SB 583 / S.L. 2013-169 are included and noted in this summary.

Materials Covered & Other Definitions

"Regulated Metals Property" means all ferrous and Nonferrous Metals.

"Nonferrous Metals" means metals not containing significant quantities of iron or steel, including but not limited to Copper, aluminum other than aluminum cans, aluminum copper mixtures, catalytic converters, lead-acid batteries, and stainless steel beer kegs or containers. Excludes precious metals as defined in the Precious Metal Business Act; Section 66- 406.(3).

(added by SB 583) "Copper" means Nonferrous Metals, including but not limited to copper wire, copper clad steel wire, copper pipe, copper bars, copper sheeting, copper tubing and pipe fittings, and insulated copper wire. Excludes brass alloys, bronze alloys, lead, nickel, zinc, or items not containing a significant quantity of copper.

"Cash Card System" means a system that provides payment in cash or another form, that captures a photograph of the Seller at the time of payment when providing payment in cash, and uses an automated cash dispenser, including but not limited to an ATM. (amended by SB 583 to only require photo with cash and require an automated cash dispenser)

"Nonferrous Metals Purchaser" is defined as a Secondary Metals Recycler who purchases, gathers, or obtains Nonferrous Metals.

"Secondary Metals Recycler" means an entity engaged in gathering or obtaining metals that have served their original economic purpose, or engaged in converting such metals into raw material products by specified methods not including the exclusive use of hand tools.


Exempts purchases of Regulated Metals from a manufacturing, industrial, government, or other commercial vendor that generates or sells such in the ordinary course of its business. Exempts purchases that only involve beverage containers from all but the hold provisions.

Receipt and Fingerprinting

Recyclers must provide a receipt for all purchases of Regulated Metal, issued to and signed by the Deliverer. The Recycler must be able to provide documentation on the employee who completed the transaction.

For transactions involving catalytic converters detached from a vehicle or central air conditioner evaporator coils or condensers, the Deliverer shall place a clear ink index fingerprint next to their signature on the receipt. A Recycler may elect to obtain the fingerprint electronically. If the Recycler has a copy of the Deliverer's index fingerprint on file the Recycler may reference the copy after examining the Deliverer's photo ID.


Recyclers must collect the following information for any purchase of regulated metals property by the Recycler:

  • The name and address of the Secondary Metals Recycler;
  • The name, initials, or other ID of the individual entering the information;
  • The date of the transaction;
  • The weight of the regulated metals property;
  • The description of the property in accordance with the custom of the trade;
  • The physical address where the Seller obtained the property;
  • The date when the Seller obtained the property;
  • A statement signed by the Seller or the Seller's agent certifying they have the lawful right to sell and dispose of the property;
  • The amount paid for the property;
  • The name and address of the Vendor of the property;
  • The license plate number, make, model, and color of the delivery vehicle;
  • A photocopy or electronic scan of the government-issued photo ID of the Deliverer. If the Recycler has a copy of the valid photo ID of the Deliverer on file, the Recycler may reference the copy after verifying the photo ID has not expired.
  • A copy of the transaction receipt (or the original receipt if a copy is not legible).
  • Video or digital photo of the Seller with the property delivered by the Seller.
Retention & Secure Disposal

Records must be retained for 2 years. Records must be securely maintained and destroyed in a manner that protects the identity of the property owner, seller, and purchaser.


During usual and customary business hours a law enforcement officer may inspect purchased Regulated Metals in the Recycler's possession and any records required by law.


If requested by the sheriff or chief of police of the county or municipality where the Recycler is located, a Recycler shall make the required receipts available for pickup each regular workday. Law enforcement may also request receipts be electronically transferred directly to the law enforcement agency.


15 calendar days hold on Nonferrous Metal upon receipt of a written hold notice from a law enforcement officer specifically identifying those items that are believed stolen and subject to the notice. The law enforcement officer may release the metals early or renew the hold for an additional 30 days.

Automatic 7 day hold on Nonferrous Metals purchased by a Recycler convicted of a felonious violation of this article, N.C.G.S. Section 14-71 (receiving stolen goods), Section 14-71.1 (possessing stolen goods), or Section 14-72 (larceny of property).

Prohibited Activities and Transactions

A Recycler shall not purchase (see Exemption section for exempt Sellers):

  • Nonferrous Metals unless the Recycler holds a valid permit;
  • Regulated Metals Property the Recycler knows or reasonably should know is stolen;
  • Any Regulated Metal marked with the initials or other identification of a telephone, cable, electric, water, or other public utility, or any brewer;
  • Any utility access cover;
  • Any street light pole or fixture;
  • Any road or bridge guard rail;
  • Any highway or street sign;
  • Any water meter cover;
  • Any metal beer keg, including any made of stainless steel that is clearly marked as being property of the beer manufacturer;
  • Any traffic directional or control sign;
  • Any traffic light signal;
  • Any Regulated Metal marked with the name of a government entity;
  • Any railroad track components or signs, and any property owned by a railroad and marked and otherwise identified as such;
  • Any historical marker or any grave marker or burial vase.
HVAC & Catalytic Converters

A Recycler may not purchase central air conditioner evaporator coils or condensers, or catalytic converters that are not attached to a vehicle, except from a company, contractor, or individual in the business of installing, replacing, maintaining, or removing such items.

Transport of Copper

It is unlawful to transport more than 25 lbs. aggregate of Copper unless one of the following applies: the vehicle is used in the ordinary course of business for transporting Nonferrous Metals; the person transporting or possessing the Copper possess and presents a valid bill of sale for the Copper; or a law enforcement officer determines the Copper is not stolen and the person has rightful possession.

Payment Restrictions

No cash for Copper, or for purchases of Nonferrous Metal exceeding $100 per transaction. A Nonferrous Metals Purchaser may only make one cash payment per day to any individual, business, corporation, or partnership. For transactions exceeding the cash thresholds, payment must be by check, money order, or a Cash Card System. Recyclers may not operate a business that cashes checks at a fixed site where the Recycler purchases Regulated Metal Property.


A Recycler must receive an annual nonferrous metals purchase permit from the county sheriff for each fixed site at which Nonferrous Metals are purchased. An applicant must have a fixed site in the county, declare on a form that the applicant is informed of the law and will comply, does not have a permit that has been revoked due to noncompliance, and has not been convicted of more than 3 violations of the law. The sheriff shall not charge a fee for the permit. A permit is valid for 12 months.


Unless covered by another provision of law with a greater punishment, knowing and willful violation is: for a 1st offense, a Class 1 misdemeanor; for a 2nd or subsequent: a Class I felony. If the owner or the employees of a fixed site are convicted in aggregate of 3 or more violations within a 10 year period, the permit associated with that fixed site shall be immediately revoked for 6 months. Any attempt to circumvent by procuring a permit through a family member shall extend the revocation period for an additional 18 months.

The court may order a defendant to make restitution to the Recycler or property owner as appropriate for any damage or loss caused by a defendant arising from certain violations.

Vehicles used or intended for use to convey, transport, or facilitate such for unlawfully obtained Regulated Metals Property are subject to forfeiture according to the provisions of Section 66-431 if the violation involved is a felony.


A county or municipality shall not enact any local law, ordinance, or regulation regulating Secondary Metals Recyclers or Regulated Metals Property that conflicts with the law. Existing conflicting local laws are preempted.

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This summary of State Metals Theft Laws is being viewed on this website under license and is owned and copyrighted by Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. ("ISRI"),1615 L Street, N.W., Suite 600, Washington, DC 20036.