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North Carolina Driver’s License Renewal: How to Do It

  • Driver's License
  • Gerard Stevens
  • 8 minutes

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North Carolina has stricter requirements for obtaining a driver’s license than most other states. Then you may feel hassled when it’s time for your North Carolina driver’s license renewal. Although visiting a DMV may not be interesting, waiting too long to renew your license might have unfavorable effects. After all, you don’t want to pay a hefty penalty or spend some time in jail.  

You must complete several processes to renew your North Carolina driver’s license. Fortunately, the North Carolina DMV notifies motorists when renewing their NC driver’s license is time. You should get a card via mail reminding you to renew your license; however, you don’t need to wait until you receive this card. 

So, how can you renew a driver’s license in North Carolina? How much does it cost? Our blog will help you avoid the hassle of the renewal process. Keep reading!  

What documents do I need for a North Carolina driver’s license? 

When it’s time for license renewal, and you don’t have it with you, you must provide two documents to confirm your identification. You must provide both your full name and birthdate on the forms. 

Identity proof  

  • Your birth certificate and Social Security card 
  • Tax forms (W-2 or 1099) 
  • Your driving record in North Carolina  
  • Documents from school like a high school diploma or school transcriptions 
  • A legal passport or US military ID 
  • Marriage certificate 
  • Records from the court like adoption papers 
  • US government records 
  • North Carolina Limited Driving Privilege 

Social Security Number (SSN) proof 

You must produce your Social Security card or proof of your SSN if the North Carolina DMV does not already have it on file. One of these documents will help you to validate your SSN.

  • W-2 or 1099 form 
  • DD-214 form 
  • Records of payroll 
  • Social Security document that shows your SSN 
  • Military records that show your SSN 
  • A Medicare card that includes your SSN 

Find affordable auto insurance in North Carolina

When should you do the North Carolina driver’s license renewal? 

Drivers in North Carolina must renew their licenses every couple of years to drive legally in the state. The expiration date will differ depending on your age when the license got issued. A driver can renew their North Carolina driver’s license six months before the expiration date. You can find the expiry date of your driving license on the front side of the card, to the right, next to your birthdate (or DOB).  

The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will send you a reminder card 60 days before its expiration date. But, be mindful that you won’t get the reminder mail if you no longer reside at the address on your license. Moreover, you’ll have 180 days to finish your renewal before your license expires. 

How to do North Carolina driver’s license renewal 

Driver's license in North Carolina
Image courtesy: https://www.ncdot.gov

You can renew your driver’s license in North Carolina in three ways – online, in-person, and by mail. Irrespective of the renewal mode, you will need to wait at least 20 days to get the renewed license.  

How to renew the driving license online  

You do the license renewal online via the DMV’s website 

Eligibility for renewal 

  • You don’t owe debts to DMV or have a suspended license. 
  • The renewal is for a Class C license only. You can’t renew commercial licenses or driver’s permits.   
  • Your license doesn’t have restrictions other than corrective lenses.  

If you’re eligible, you can do the renewal process by providing information about your driver’s license number, birth date, and last four numbers of your SSN. Once you make the payment online, you’ll receive a temporary digital license. You will get the renewed license via mail within 20 days. You will have to go in person the next time if you choose to renew online right now. 

How to renew the driving license in-person 

You must schedule an appointment with the North Carolina DMV to complete your driver’s license renewal. While visiting the DMV, you will have to produce two documents verifying your identity and SSN proof. 

You may also need to take the following tests. 

  • Vision Test: To pass this for driver’s license applications and renewals, drivers in North Carolina must have a vision of at least 20/40. 
  • Knowledge Exam: The knowledge exam includes significant traffic regulations and road signage. The test involves 25 questions, and you must correctly answer 20 of them to pass with an 80 percent score.  
  • Driving skills road test (may/may not be required): This behind-the-wheel test demonstrates that you possess the abilities required to drive safely. 

After your appointment at the NC DMV, you have to pay a cost of $5.50 to renew your driver’s license. You have three options for payment: cash, money order, and cheque.  

How to renew the driving license by mail 

Only out-of-state and military residents with a permanent address in North Carolina may renew their driver’s licenses by mail in that state. In addition, you need to fulfill the following requirements to renew the license via mail. 

  • The driver’s age is below 72. 
  • The driver’s SSN is on DMV’s file.  
  • You’re not renewing a commercial driver’s license. 
  • You are away from the state for 30 or more days. 
  • The driver needs to submit an eye test. 
  • Your photo with the DMV is not older than five years. 

You must fill out an application to finish your registration by mail. Also, you must provide payment for the $5.50 renewal fee via cheque or cash. Then you can mail the application. 

Things you need to know 

Be aware that you can only renew your North Carolina driver’s license a few times via mail. Military personnel gets two renewals, although out-of-state residents get only one. Temporary licenses renewed by mail expire 60 days after your return to North Carolina. 

How long does it take for a North Carolina driver’s license renewal? 

You will receive a temporary driving certificate after renewing it, which you can use for 60 days. Probably, you should receive your new license within 20 days. Contact the North Carolina DMV if you don’t receive the license within 20 days.  

How much does it cost for a North Carolina driver’s license renewal? 

It will cost you around $5.50 to renew a driver’s license in North Carolina. But, the duration of your driver’s license and expiration date differs by age.  

  • A license is valid for five years if you are 16, older, or over 65. 
  • An NC driver’s license is valid for four years, beginning at age 17. 
  • A license is valid for eight years during the 18–65 age range. 

So, you need to pay the following total amount by adding the renewal fee. 

Age   Amount  
16  $27.50 
17  $22 
18-65  $44 
66 and above  $27.50 

How do I check the status of my driver’s license in North Carolina? 

You can check the status of your driving license via the DMV’s website. 

Is there a grace period for driver’s license renewal in North Carolina? 

After its expiration date, you have 180 days of grace to renew the license. If you’re between 18 and 65, renewing your license extends its validity for an additional eight years. Drivers aged 66 and older have their NC licenses renewed for the next five years. 

Where is the ID number on the North Carolina driver’s license? 

You can locate the eight or 10-digit ID number in the lower right corner of your permit or non-driver ID.  

Can a non-citizen get a driver’s license in North Carolina? 

Yes. Legal immigrants can apply for a North Carolina driver’s license. 

Do you need a driver’s license to buy a car in North Carolina? 

You will require an NC driver’s license, state ID, or learner’s permit if you intend to buy a car.  

Getting auto insurance in North Carolina

Have you received your North Carolina driver’s license? Are you planning to buy a new car? You need an auto insurance policy with a driver’s license if you want to drive on the state roads. Also, be aware that NC is an at-fault state.

Driving without insurance will earn you many penalties. So, the challenge is finding affordable auto insurance that provides you with ample coverage. That’s where Way.com can help you! First, visit the Way website, and you can find North Carolina insurance quotes from various insurers. Then, compare and buy the best policy for you!

Save more while buying a North Carolina auto insurance policy


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