A North Carolina drivers license is required for all residents of the state who want to drive on public roads. To get a DMV license in North Carolina as an adult, you simply need to pass the required tests and provide documentation proving you are who you say you are. However, the process is more extensive for minors.

If you are younger than 18 years of age, you will need to complete driver’s education and undergo periods of limited driving privileges. Only then will you be able to apply for full driving privileges. In this article, you will learn how to get a DMV drivers license in North Carolina no matter your age or residency. You will learn about the fees you will need to pay, the information you will need to provide on your application and more.

How to Apply for a Drivers License in North Carolina as an Adult (18 or Older)

If you are at least 18 years old, you will not need to get a permit before you can get your license. However, when it comes to North Carolina license requirements for adults, you need to be a resident of the state who is legally allowed to be in the United States in order to apply. Citizenship is not required, and all adults meet the age requirements for getting a license.

Furthermore, though you can renew your drivers license online in North Carolina, you need to go to a DMV office in order to get your initial license. This is because the DMV needs to look at your documentation and verify your identity.

Office hours vary from one location to the next, with most being open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Some locations open an hour early or open Saturday morning, so you will want to check with the DMV offices in your area if you cannot get your license during work hours. You cannot book an NC DMV schedule appointment online.

The North Carolina driving license application is also not available online, so you will need to complete it at the office. This form will ask you basic information about yourself, such as your name, address and Social Security Number.

What documents do I need to bring to get a North Carolina drivers license?

Once you have finished filling out the form, you must submit the documents needed for North Carolina drivers license requests to the DMV. Here is what you need to bring when you apply for a drivers license in North Carolina:

  • A document showing that you are allowed to be in the US
  • A document showing your SSN
  • A document showing you are a resident of North Carolina
  • A document showing you have vehicle insurance coverage

To prove that they are allowed to be in the US, citizens will often show either a US passport or a birth certificate. Applicants without US citizenship can show their Permanent Resident cards, foreign passports, Employment Authorization certificates or any other document that shows their ability to be in the US.

If you are a citizen, you will then need to provide Social Security documentation. This is often a Social Security card, though if you have a W-2, 1099 or another government-issued document that shows both your legal name and SSN, this may also be used.

The document showing your residency does not need to be issued by the US government. This means it can be bills, bank correspondence or insurance documentation. You may also use government documentation, such as a voter registration card.

The document showing that you have liability insurance can be either an insurance card or an FS-1 form. Your insurance plan need to be from a North Carolina-approved provider.

REAL ID Drivers License Requirements in North Carolina

These drivers license requirements will allow you to get your license, but what do you need to get your license in North Carolina if you want a REAL ID? REAL IDs are federally approved. Though you will be able to use a non-REAL ID compliant license for federal identification through September 2020, by October 2020, it will no longer be accepted as ID by federal agencies.

For most people, this will come up most frequently when trying to board a domestic flight. In order to get a REAL ID, you need to provide one additional document showing that you are a resident of North Carolina.

If you cannot determine whether or not your DMV drivers license is REAL ID compliant, you will need to look at your license. A REAL ID will have a star in the upper righthand corner. A drivers license that is not REAL ID-compliant will state “NOT FOR FEDERAL IDENTIFICATION”.

North Carolina Driving Test Requirements

Once you have submitted the required forms and documentation, there are four North Carolina driving tests you will need to complete:

  • Two written tests, one of which tests your knowledge of driving laws, the other of which tests your ability to recognize road signs
  • An eye exam, which determines whether you can drive without glasses
  • A skills test, which requires you to drive with an instructor and exhibit safe driving habits

You can prepare yourself for the NC drivers license test by taking a driver’s license practice exam online.

Getting a North Carolina Drivers License as a New Resident

Once you understand how to get a drivers license as a resident, you will essentially understand how the process works when you are moving to North Carolina and applying for a drivers license. Although you may be able to waive the required tests, waivers are granted at the discretion of the DMV employee you speak with at the office. You will still need to complete the application and provide the three documents explained above when you transfer your license to NC.

Once you have established yourself as a North Carolina resident, you have 60 days to get the state’s driver’s license. The DMV will perform a search for your name in the National Sex Offender Public Registry, unless you are a resident for 12 months before you apply for the license.

How to Apply for a Drivers License in North Carolina as a Teen (Younger Than 18)

Drivers license documentation requirements are similar for minors and adults, but minors are required to go through a graduated licensing program. This means that, along with driver’s education, they will need to have a permit and several limited licenses before they can get their adult drivers licenses. Learn about the requirements below.

What do you need to get your license in North Carolina as a teen?

Drivers license eligibility requirements include that you must be at least 15 years old in order to get your permit, though you may start a driver’s course when you are 14 and a half years old. You also need to be a resident of North Carolina who has completed a driver’s education course.

FAQ: Can you get your license at 17 without a permit in North Carolina? To obtain a full license when you are 17 years of age, you must have gone through the previous steps in the graduated licensing program, including maintaining a limited learner permit and limited provisional license. Find out more answers to frequently asked questions by visiting our North Carolina FAQ page.

Drivers Ed Requirements to Get a Drivers Permit in North Carolina

The most important drivers license services in North Carolina for minors are the driving license courses, because you must take one of these courses before you can get your official North Carolina learner’s permit. You will need to spend 30 hours learning material that will be covered in the written tests for a drivers permit. Once you complete a course, you will be given a Drivers Education certificate.

This is not to be confused with the Driving Eligibility certificate, which is used to show that a minor is enrolled in school, or that they are exempt from the enrollment requirements.

Steps to Get a New Drivers License in North Carolina (Younger Than 18)

Much of the drivers license information listed in the section titled “Applying for a New Drivers License in North Carolina as an Adult” applies to minors, as well. You will need to go in person to receive the application and fill out. This application will ask for basic information, such as your name and Social Security Number. You will not be able to make an appointment with the NC DMV online.

That said, there are a few important differences. The first is that the documentation requirements vary based on which permit or license you are getting. There are three different types of driving privilege you can apply for before you are eligible to get your full driver’s license at 18. They are:

  • The limited learner permit, which you can get once you turn 15.
  • The limited provisional license, which you can get once you have had your permit for a year.
  • The full provisional license, which you can get once you’ve driven with the limited license for six months.

To get a limited learner permit, you will need to provide proof of your SSN, North Carolina residency and your legal presence the US. You will also need to take an eye exam and knowledge tests.

Once you have driven with your permit for 60 hours, you will then be able to take the skills test required for your limited provisional license. You will also need to prove your liability insurance.

Additional documentation or testing will not be required to get a DMV license for minors, otherwise known as a full provisional license. You can get your North Carolina drivers license when you turn 18.

How much does it cost to get your license in North Carolina?

Drivers license cost in North Carolina vary based on the amount of time your license is valid for. Permits have a set rate that does not vary based on their validity period. Costs can be paid with cash, money order, check, debit card or credit card. They include:

  • $5 for every year a driver’s license is valid for.
    • This includes full provisional licenses issued to minors.
  • $20 for limited learner permits and provisional licenses.
Last updated on Tuesday, March 3 2020.