Residents must submit an NC drivers license renewal application every eight years if they are between the ages of 18 and 65. Applicants over the age of 65 must renew their licenses every five years. In addition, NC driver’s licenses expire on the applicant’s birthday and must be renewed within two years of the expiration date. The NC DMV allows residents to apply for renewals online and in person.

A DMV license renewal application may be submitted by mail if the applicant is outside of the state. Additional restrictions apply. If you are outside of NC when you submit a renewal application, you may be required to have a temporary license and visit the DMV when you return home.

Eligibility for Drivers License Renewal in North Carolina

North Carolina Drivers License

Note: The North Carolina drivers license expiration date is listed under the card holder’s date of birth on the front of their credential. Reference your official NC driver’s license card to verify the date of expiration.

The state’s drivers license renewal requirements must be met in full before a new card can be issued. Not all applications are eligible for renewals online.

The follow requirements must be met before a DMV license renewal application may be submitted using the state’s online system:

  • The license must be valid or expired for less than two years.
  • The applicant’s social security number must be submitted.
  • A valid email address must be provided.
  • A valid debit or credit card must be used for payment.
  • The applicant cannot be applying for a REAL ID card for the first time.

Instances When You Cannot Renew Your Drivers License in North Carolina

Drivers license renewals cannot be performed if the license has been expired for more than two years or if a license has been suspended. Additional restrictions are placed on applicants renewing their licenses using the state’s online system. Residents cannot renew drivers licenses online if they have a restriction listed on the card. Exceptions may apply. Furthermore, applicants cannot renew any of the following licenses online.

  • Commercial Driver License
  • Regular A or B Driver License
  • Full or Limited Provisional License
  • Limited Learner’s Permit
  • Learner’s Permit
  • State ID Card

How early can you renew your drivers license in North Carolina?

The North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles issues drivers license renewal reminders to all eligible residents. These reminders are mailed 60 days before the license is set to expire. However, residents do not have to wait to receive a renewal notice to submit an application. Eligible drivers may apply for an NC license renewal up to six months or 180 days prior to the card’s expiration date.

North Carolina DMV License Renewal Options

The state of North Carolina allows eligible applicants to renew drivers licenses online and in person at local DMV offices. Depending on the circumstances, you may only be eligible to apply in person.

How to Renew Your Drivers License Online

If you meet the above-mentioned drivers license renewal requirements for eligibility, you may submit an application using the state’s online system. Follow the below steps to complete the process:

  1. Accept the identity statement.
  2. Confirm that no changes have occurred to your eyesight within the last six months.
  3. Accept the information accuracy statement.
  4. Accept the terms and conditions.
  5. Login to the online portal using your drivers license number, date of birth and Social Security Number.
  6. Confirm that you still live at the address on file at the DMV.
  7. Pay the drivers license renewal fee.

Once you have submitted the application, your new driver’s license will be mailed to you within seven to 14 business days. Depending on the age of the applicant, the license will be valid for five to eight years.

How do I renew my license in person?

Drivers license offices across the state accept renewal applications from eligible residents. In all cases, an applicant’s vision must be tested when renewing in person. If you have corrective lenses, you must wear them for the test and at all times when driving. Complete the following steps to renew your credentials in person.

  1. Visit your local drivers license office.
  2. Take and pass the vision test.
  3. Take and pass the traffic sign test.
  4. Present your current drivers license. If you do not have your current license, you must provide two forms of ID, such as a United States passport or birth certificate.
  5. Pay the drivers license renewal

Applicants do not need to present their reminder notices when renewing their licenses in person.

Military & Out of State Renewal in North Carolina

Eligible applicants may apply for a drivers license renewal by mail if they are temporarily out of state. Residents must be living outside of North Carolina for at least 30 continuous days or be active members of the military to qualify. Both parties must adhere to similar guidelines when applying by mail.

The following DMV renewal requirements must be met before an application can be submitted:

  • Applicants must have a permanent residence in North Carolina.
  • Applicants must hold a valid drivers license, or one that has not been expired for more than two years. In addition, they cannot submit a DMV license renewal by mail if they used the same method during the last cycle. Licenses with a military designation are restricted to two drivers license renewals per lifetime.
  • Applicants must have a valid photograph taken in the last five years on file at the NC DMV. Members of the military may use a photograph taken in the last eight years.
  • Applicants must have evidence of their Social Security Number or legal presence already on file at the DMV.
  • Applicants cannot be older than 72 years of age to submit a DMV license renewal application by mail.

Non-military members will be issued a temporary license and must visit the DMV within 60 days of returning to North Carolina or when the license expires, whichever comes first.

Military members do not need to visit the DMV upon returning to the state, unless their licenses have expired. Furthermore, service members have the option to apply for a DMV license renewal up to one year prior to the expiration date if they present their military orders before they leave.

If a DMV renewal by mail is required, members of the military and those temporarily residing outside of North Carolina must complete the following steps to renew their licenses:

  1. Complete the drivers license renewal
  2. Include your military orders, if applicable.
  3. Include a photocopy of your military ID (both front and back), if applicable.
  4. Provide your permanent North Carolina address.
  5. Provide a temporary out-of-state mailing address.
  6. Provide a temporary out-of-state residential address.
  7. Include a signed vision statement. Members of the military may request a waiver if they are in an active war zone.
  8. Include a check or money order for the drivers license renewal made payable to NCDMV.
  9. Include a signed and dated sex offender affidavit.

The application form must be completed and retuned within 60 days. Spouses and dependents of military members may also renew by mail.

North Carolina REAL ID Drivers License Renewal

REAL ID cards are available at NC drivers license offices across the state. REAL ID compliant cards are not mandatory. However, they will be the only form of license accepted on domestic air travel after 2020. Although REAL ID license renewals do not incur additional costs, applicants must apply in person. Complete the following steps to renew a REAL ID card.

  1. Visit your local drivers license office. Appointments may be made by calling 919-715-7000.
  2. Take and pass the vision test.
  3. Take and pass the traffic sign test.
  4. Provide proof of your full name, date of birth and legal presence, such as a United States passport or birth certificate.
  5. Provide proof of your Social Security Number, such as a Social Security card or W-2 tax form.
  6. Provide proof of residency in two forms, such as a document from the United States government, a pre-printed bank statement or a NC vehicle registration card.
  7. Pay the drivers license renewal fee.

North Carolina Drivers License Renewal Fees

Drivers license renewal fees must be paid in full at the time of the application. The NC DMV accepts cash, checks, money orders, debit cards and credit cards at all office locations.

See below for a breakdown of DMV licensing costs.

  • Class A License $5 (per year)
  • Class B License $5 (per year)
  • Class C License $5 (per year)
  • Duplicate License $13 (A, B, or C)
Last updated on Tuesday, March 3 2020.