Got your re-entry decal? A town-by-town guide to getting your pass back home after a storm

Updated: Jun. 2, 2021 at 3:22 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - As Atlantic Hurricane season kicks off, now is the time to prepare for the possibility of a storm hitting our region.

Food, water and supplies are critical parts of any hurricane kit, but so is putting aside important documents and making sure you have re-entry decals for your car.

While counties and inland towns do not regulate who is allowed to enter the area after a storm, islands may only allow residents back following an emergency.

Each beach town has a different procedure for getting a resident decal for your car. They’re required in most places and some towns have deadlines you don’t want to miss.

Carolina Beach

During emergencies, re-entry to Carolina Beach may be restricted to property owners and permanent residents. Re-entry could be limited to cars with a current, permanently affixed town identification decal. People without a decal will be directed to an off-site location where, with proper documentation, temporary re-entry permits will be issued in accordance with the Carolina Beach Emergency Operations Plan.

Carolina Beach resident parking decals also serve as your re-entry permit, and re-entry permits can be purchased by people that do not wish to have a parking decal. Click here to order one.

Kure Beach

The vehicle re-entry decal is mandatory whenever bridge access is restricted due to an emergency situation. Residents or property owners that do not have a vehicle re-entry decal with them may obtain one with appropriate proof of property ownership or residency at a location to be designated.

Effective January 2019, you will no longer come to Town Hall to buy your vehicle re-entry decal because the process has changed. Two vehicle re-entry decals will be mailed January/early February 2020, with the mailing of the January utility bill.

The color of the vehicle re-entry decal will change each year and will show the Town logo. Any resident/renter/property owner that wants more than two vehicle re-entry decals may purchase them for $20 each.

Wrightsville Beach

Vehicle Tax Decals are required by the Town’s code of ordinances. The decals also serve as a means of identification for re-entry following a hurricane evacuation. Decals are issued by Pivot Parking at 321 Causeway Drive for $15 prior to April and $30 after that date. The decal must be placed on the lower left-hand corner of the windshield. People are encouraged to purchase the decals early to avoid long lines when a hurricane threatens Wrightsville Beach.

The town also includes directions on how to get caretaker passes, marina passes, emergency personnel passes and contractor passes through the police department on its website.

Ocean Isle Beach

Property Owner Vehicle Decals, used for re-entry to the island after an evacuation, will not be issued after June 1st, 2021. For more information visit or call (910) 579-2166.

Sunset Beach

The Hurricane Re-Entry Passes Program applies to Island Property Owners only. During emergency events such as hurricanes, the Town will close the bridge to the island for public safety and the safety of emergency responders. Once the bridge is closed, access to the island will be blocked and manned by a police officer. After the event, Town officials will inspect the island to ensure safety before property owners will be allowed to inspect their property. When the bridge re-opens, only pass holders will be allowed on the island first followed by the general public.

Passes will be mailed only to island property owners each year in early April in advance of Hurricane season. Only new island property owners will be allowed to get passes from Town Hall. Documentation verifying new ownership will be required.

Oak Island

The town offers parking decals as a perk for homeowners, but decals are NOT required for re-entry on to the island following a storm.

If the bridges are closed, checkpoints may be set up to control re-entry to the island. If the amended declaration limits re-entry to residents, property owners, property managers, and contractors, the following procedures will apply:

At the checkpoint, a person in the vehicle will need to produce proof of residency (such as a valid driver’s license with an Oak Island address for the island portion of town) or property ownership (such as a recent tax or utility bill) and a photo ID to gain access to the island (names on property ownership documentation and photo ID must match).

Business owners, property managers and contractors will need to show proof of property ownership and a photo ID to be allowed access to the island (names on property ownership documentation and photo ID must match).

Topsail Beach

Police will be located at each bridge to the Island, to check Re-Entry Decals or identification indicating property ownership or residency.

New re-entry annual decals are mailed to residents and property owners to the mailing address on their water bill. Decals issued before the current year will not be honored for re-entry. New residents who need a sticker should contact Town Hall. If you do not have a decal, reasonable identification will be accepted as a re-entry pass, such as a driver’s license, recent water, tax, or electric bill indicating local ownership or residency. Additionally, there is an “Agent Authorization” form should you choose to designate someone to act on your behalf following a storm.

Surf City

Island homeowners are required for residents to be allowed back on to the island if a mandatory hurricane evacuation is issued. Decals will be placed on car windshields to assist in a more efficient island re-entry process. Residents may be provided re-entry decals without requesting or purchasing resident seasonal parking passes.

You can apply for a re-entry decal online here.

North Topsail Beach

The Town encourages everyone to get their passes as early as possible, preferably before hurricane season begins. If the storm is on its way, it’s too late to get a pass. The Town will not issue passes within 72 hours of predicted landfall. Passes are issued at Town Hall Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Passes issued in 2019 or prior are no longer valid. New passes have been issued in 2020 and are valid through 2023. Passes are issued on a 3-year cycle

A re-entry pass may not be needed each time the Town of North Topsail Beach is evacuated. Emergency responders will assess the conditions of the Town after an event, and Town officials will determine when conditions are safe enough for re-entry. There are three priority groups that are considered during re-entry:

Priority One Group: Essential personnel for law enforcement, public officials, emergency medical services, fire services, utilities, and damage assessment teams.

Priority Two Group: Property owners, long-term renters, and property managers who are eligible for a re-entry pass.

Priority Three Group: Visitors and general public, including contractors.

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