March 1, 2016

Park Service makes it easier, cheaper to get ORV permit online

Cape Hatteras National Seashore officials have announced that they are making changes in how and where the seashore issues its off-road vehicle permits -- changes that will make it easier and cheaper for visitors to get their permits online.

"The changes are being made to increase user convenience, provide new options for park visitors wishing to purchase an ORV permit, and increase efficiency by reducing the cost associated with collecting permit fees," the Park Service said in a news release.

First, the seashore will move ORV permitting operations out of temporary trailers and into visitor centers at the Bodie Island Lighthouse, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, and on Ocracoke Island.

The Bodie Island move into the visitor center began today.  Ocracoke Island ORV permitting will move into the visitor center on Friday, March 4, and the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse move will on March 11.

All three visitor center are open seven days a week from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Beginning Wednesday, March 16, the park will implement a print-at-home permitting system that will allow visitors to obtain educational materials and print their seven-day ORV permits directly from the website through  

Weekly permittees will print their permit and affix it, using tape, to the inside of the driver's side windshield. It must be displayed at all times that the permittee wishes to access the beach with an ORV.

Visitors who want annual permits can apply online and print out a temporary copy -- good for up to 30 days -- to use until their permanent decal arrives in the mail, usually seven to 10 days.

"The print at home option offers increased convenience," the Park Service says. "Permits can be obtained 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year."

In addition, purchasing an ORV permit through will cost less than it has for the past two years that the option has been available.

Visitors applying for permits will no longer be charged an additional $4.50 reservation fee or $6.50 shipping fee. The online cost for a seven-day permit will be $50, and the annual permit will cost $120 -- which is the same as the permit costs if it is bought at a visitor center.

Over time, the seashore said it expects the print-at-home system and elimination of ORV office trailers, will reduce costs associated with collecting ORV permit fees. 

"This will allow more revenue to be spent on improving and maintaining beach access facilities, enforcement, and monitoring," the seashore said in the news release.

(From Cape Hatteras National Seashore website)

What are my options for obtaining an ORV Permit?

If you have access to a printer, you may obtain a permit at any time via the web by visiting Permits will be available immediately. You can also call 1-877-444-6777 to be connected to a representative.

To obtain a permit in person, visit one of our three permit offices. They are open seven days week, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Here are the locations of each office:
  • Bodie Island Lighthouse Visitor Center (8210 Bodie Island Lighthouse Road, Nags Head, NC 27959)
  • Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Visitor Center (46368 Lighthouse Road, Buxton, NC 27920)
  • Ocracoke Island Visitor Center (40 Irvin Garrish Highway, Ocracoke, NC 27960)

What is a print-at-home permit?

A print-at-home permit is an off-road vehicle permit that you can obtain through After you purchase the permit online, you will receive a digital copy of your permit registration, the rules and regulations, and a proof of permit windshield tag.

Weekly permittees will print their permit and proof of permit directly from The permit will be kept in the vehicle and the proof of permit will be affixes, using tape, to the inside of the driver's side windshield. The proof of permit will be displayed at all times that the permittee wishes to access the beach with an off-road vehicle.

Do I have to print the permit, or can I keep it digitally on my smart phone?

You must print all three pages of the permit.

Page one of the printed permit is the registration form. It should be secured in the glove box of the permitted vehicle while driving on Seashore beaches. The signature block on the permit form must be signed in order for the permit to be valid.

Page two of the printed permit contains all the beach driving rules and regulations.

Page three of the printed permit is the visible proof of permit that must be affixed (taped) to the bottom of the driver’s side windshield. The visible proof of permit must be affixed and displayed properly, in order for the permit to be valid.
If I buy a print-at-home permit, do I still need to come into the permit office for anything?

No. Your requirements for obtaining a permit will be complete. At the end of the transaction you will be able to print your permit. Annual permit holders will be mailed their permanent decal within 7-10 business days. Annual permit holders can use the printed temporary proof of permit for up to 30 days as they wait for their decal to arrive.

I purchased an annual permit; will I get an annual decal?

Yes. Annual permit holders can start using their permits immediately with the print-at-home permit. The printed temporary proof of permit can be used for up to 30 days as you wait for your decal to arrive. A permanent annual decal will be mailed to the address listed in The decal must then be affixed to the vehicle within 30 days of the date of purchase. If you need assistance regarding the shipping of the annual decal, please contact us directly at 252-475-9054.

Can I switch my permit from one vehicle to the next?

No. Permits are non-transferable to another vehicle.

I need assistance with a problem I have with an online permit order. Who do I contact?

If you need assistance with ordering an ORV Permit, please contact directly. You may contact the customer service department by phone, email, and chat. Here is the information that you will need:

  • Email or Chat: (They will respond to your email inquiry within 24 hours)
  • Reservation Line:1-877-444-6777
  • Customer Service Line: 1-888-448-1474

What if I don’t have access to a printer?

Just come into any one of our three permit offices with your confirmation number and we can print it for you.

If I misplace my permit, or lose it, can I print another copy?

Yes. Here are the instructions:

1. Login to your account.
2. Click on "Print Tickets and Permits" link that is located on the left side menu.
3. Click on the "Print Permit" button listed under the reservation.
4. Acknowledge the rules and regulations for the permit.
5. Click on "Proceed with Printing."
6. Click on "Print this page" to send the print command to your printer.

For more information, go to

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