North Carolina residents need to apply for driving licenses in order to legally drive a motor vehicle on the public roads and highways in the state. If they meet the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles requirements, they can get drivers licenses. First-time learners permit applicants are required to pass several exams and provide certain documentation while applying for drivers licenses.

NOTE: Drivers license applicants are required to take a written drivers test as part of the application process. Get prepared to pass the exam on your first try by using our learners permit practice tests.

How to Apply for a North Carolina Learner’s Permit:

  • Be at least 15 years old.
  • Pass a drivers ed course.
  • Pass the written and the sign exams.
  • Take a vision test.
  • Present the required documentation.
  • Pay the NC learners permit fees.

Applying for an NC Learners Permit

New applicants for North Carolina drivers licenses are required to complete a Graduated Driver Licensing program. The first step of this program is the limited learners permit, after which follow the limited and full provisional licenses.

What is the Graduate Driver Licensing Program in North Carolina

The North Carolina Graduated Driver Licensing program consists of phases you must complete in order to get an NC drivers license. Each consists of the following:

  • Limited learner permit.
  • Limited provisional license.
  • Full provisional license.

Certain restrictions must be followed, along with a list of NC DMV requirements, in order to move on to the next stage of the Graduated Driver Licensing program. By completing the program phases, you will be able to legally drive a motor vehicle on the public roads in North Carolina.

How To Get An NC Learners Permit

Learners Permit Requirements in North Carolina

The first step of obtaining your driver’s license requires you to fulfill set criteria for getting a North Carolina learners permit. Eligible applicants must meet the following:

  • You must be at least 15 years of age.
  • Complete a driver’s education course.
  • Pass the written and the sign tests.
  • Pass the vision exam.
  • Provide a Driving Eligibility Certificate or a high school diploma.
  • Complete a Driving Log to Advance to Level 2 Limited Provisional Driver License form.
  • Pay the applicable fees.

Preparing for a North Carolina DMV Written Exam

New North Carolina drivers are required to pass written and sign exams in order to get an NC learners permit. The written exam consists of questions about the traffic laws and safe driving, while the sign test consists of questions about the traffic signs and their shapes and colors. A total of 25 questions are part of the written test, out of which you need to answer 20 correctly.

Get fully prepared for the DMV written exam by using our online practice driving tests. These learners permit practice tests will give you a chance to see what type of questions you may be asked on the actual exam day.

You can take the written exam at any North Carolina DMV location. Click here for a list of all DMV offices within the state and choose the nearest to you.

Be prepared! Study with our DMV practice test and we guarantee you’ll pass!

NC Drivers Education

Completion of an approved drivers ed program is required for teen motorists between the ages of 15 and 18 to receive a limited learner’s permit. A North Carolina drivers education course requires applicants to be a minimum age of 14 ½ years. For motorists under 18 years of age, submitting a drivers ed certificate from an approved course qualifies as proof of enrollment and completion of a program in order to obtain a provisional license.

Although an NC drivers ed online program does not satisfy state requirements, taking such a course can supplement a teen drivers learning prior to receiving behind-the-wheel training. First-time drivers can enroll in an online class for supplementary material through a trustworthy, third-party service here. Participating in an online driving course can enhance a motorist’s understanding of the curriculum material and increase his or her chances of passing the exams on the first try.

The North Carolina drivers ed curriculum consists of approaches to defensive driving, state traffic laws and DUI rules. A state-approved driving course contains 30 hours of classroom instruction that must be completed prior to training behind the wheel.

North Carolina Learners Permit Restrictions

North Carolina learners permit holders are allowed to operate a motor vehicle only under certain restrictions. A supervising driver must accompany you while driving on public roads in the state. You will not be allowed to drive from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. without a supervising driver during the first six months. Moreover, usage of cell phones while operating a motor vehicle is strictly prohibited for learners permit holders.

NOTE: In North Carolina, you can apply for a limited provisional license only if you hold a learners permit at the moment of application.

North Carolina Provisional Licenses

Two types of provisional drivers licenses are available in North Carolina: the limited provisional license and the full provisional license. Both of the provisional licenses are part of the Graduated Driver Licensing program. Therefore, the limited provisional license requirements are the following:

  • You must hold a limited learners permit for one year.
  • You must not be less than 16 years of age.
  • You must not have convictions of moving violations in the last six months.
  • You must pass a road skills test.
  • You must provide proof of liability insurance and a completed Driving Log to Advance to Level 2 Limited Provisional Driver License form.

Once you get a limited provisional license, you can move on to the next level of the Graduated Driver Licensing program. The requirements for a full provisional license are fewer:

  • You must hold a limited provisional license for six months.
  • You must not have convictions of moving violations in the last six months.

A North Carolina full provisional license allows you to operate a motor vehicle unsupervised, any time of day.

NC Provisional License Driving Restrictions

Since two types of provisional drivers licenses are available in North Carolina, two sets of driving restrictions apply. On the one hand, holders of limited provisional license have the following restrictions:

  • You may drive unsupervised from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • You may drive unsupervised when driving to or from work.
  • You may not transport more than one passenger less than 21 years of age when driving unsupervised.
  • You must not use a mobile telephone or other electronic while driving.

On the other hand, holders of full provisional licenses have only one restriction: the prohibition of using mobile telephones or other electronic while operating a motor vehicle.

Replacing an NC Learners Permit

You can replace your North Carolina learners permit if it has been lost or stolen. Apply for a duplicate learners permit either online or in person at any NC DMV office. For more information about the process for learners permit replacement, click here.

Locate a North Carolina DMV

Browse through our website and find out our list of North Carolina DMV locations. Search for the nearest DMV office to you and either visit them during office hours or call them on the given phone numbers.

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