The CDL renewal process in North Carolina is different from the renewal process of a standard driver’s license. A CDL, which stands for a commercial driver’s license, allows drivers to operate heavy, large or hazardous materials vehicles. There are several types of CDLs that allow drivers to operate specific vehicles. Likewise, drivers may add endorsements to expand their operational ability. Just like standard licenses, motorists must renew commercial drivers license documents in order to stay current and practice safe driving habits. Renewing a CDL in North Carolina requires drivers to submit specific documents, take certain examinations and meet all the legal requirements.

It is important to note that CDL renewal requirements differ from the requirements set for CDL permits, which motorists must receive before applying for a license. Furthermore, the requirements in North Carolina are different than those in other states. It is important that all drivers understand the renewal process in the state, so they comply with legal regulations. To learn more about the renewal process, including testing requirements, forms and fees, continue reading the sections below.

When to Renew Your CDL License in North Carolina

The CDL expiration grace period for most CDL types is 1 year. Drivers caught operating with a CDL that is expired for more than one year face up to four points on their driving records. Most CDLs in North Carolina are valid for a period of 5 years, which means drivers must renew their documents every 5 years in order to maintain active licensure status.

Certain endorsements, such as school bus or passenger vehicle endorsement, require renewal every 3 years. CDLs expire on the motorists’ date of birth. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) sends notices to drivers when their CDL is about to expire roughly 60 days before the exact expiration date.

CDL Renewal Testing Requirements in North Carolina

If you are wondering, “What do you need to renew your CDL license?”, you are not alone. The renewal process can be confusing, but it is nowhere near as in-depth as the initial CDL application process.

All motorists must take the vision and road signs tests while they renew their CDL to ensure they can still safely operate the specific type of vehicle for which they applied. Motorists who wear corrective lenses must wear them during the vision test.

Those who have certain endorsements attached to their CDL must also take knowledge tests each time they renew their licenses. These knowledge tests ensure they are fully informed of all requirements and regulations pertaining to their endorsements. Read more about these renewal requirements in the hazardous material section.

The CDL renewal process does not usually include a retake of the driving test. However, it is up to the discretion of the examiner. For example, a motorist whose CDL expired years prior may be required to retake the road skills test.

What do you need to renew your CDL in North Carolina?

To renew commercial drivers license documents, motorists must submit the required documents. All drivers must bring proof of their Social Security number along with their current or expired CDL with them during their renewal appointment. Those with lost, stolen or misplaced CDLs must bring an accepted alternative form of identification from the following list:

  • Birth certificate
  • Valid U.S. passport
  • Motor vehicle driver’s record
  • North Carolina school transcript
  • Military ID card

Drivers must bring a form of payment for the renewal fee. Fees vary and depend on the specific type of license for which they have applied.

The CDL license renewal process in North Carolina also requires certain drivers to maintain a certified medical status with the Department of Transportation (DOT). Two of the four CDL types require drivers to receive and maintain this status, including interstate and intrastate non-excepted.

Drivers who participate in one or more of the following driving activities hold excepted CDLs and are not required to maintain a certified medical status:

  • Transporting school children/staff between home and school.
  • Operating as federal, state or local government employees.
  • Transporting sick or injured people.
  • Transporting corpses.
  • Operating fire trucks or rescue vehicles.
  • Transporting heating fuel in response to an emergency condition.
  • Operating a vehicle in response to a pipeline emergency.
  • Transporting farm machinery and supplies used in harvesting.
  • Transporting harvested crops to storage facilities or a market.
  • Transporting bees in season.
  • Transporting agricultural products, farm machinery or farm supplies (no hazardous materials) to and from a farm and within 150 air-miles of the farm.
  • Operating as private motor carriers of passengers for non-business purposes.
  • Transporting migrant workers.

CDL Renewal Process in North Carolina

To renew a CDL in North Carolina, drivers must appear in-person at their local NC DMV office. Unlike other states, North Carolina does not allow motorists to renew documents by mail or online. To complete a CDL renewal, drivers must locate their nearest DMV branch and schedule an appointment.

While the CDL expiration grace period may extend up to a year, it is always recommended that motorists begin the renewal process well in advance. Since they cannot renew by mail or online, it may take a while to schedule an appointment. Also, DMV branches tend to get extremely busy during certain times.

Motorists who must renew during these busy times may wait a long time for an appointment. It is best to begin the process at least 30 days prior to the expiration date.

North Carolina CDL Permit Renewal Requirements

The CDL permit renewal process in North Carolina differs from CDL license renewals. Before obtaining a CDL license, drivers must apply for and hold a CDL permit. Motorists must hold a commercial permit for at least 14 days before applying for the CDL license.

How long is a CDL permit good for?

In North Carolina, the permit is valid for a period of 180 days. During these 6 months, commercial drivers learn how to safely operate various heavy or large vehicles. They can only operate their vehicles while a licensed commercial driver operator of the same class (or higher) accompanies them in the front seat.

Can I renew my CDL permit after it expires?

Motorists in North Carolina may renew their CDL permit once after it expires. The renewal is valid for an additional 180 days, after which drivers must test for the CDL license. The CDL permit expiration in North Carolina is 30 days. If motorists do not apply for the CDL license within 30 days after the CDL permit expires, they must repeat the permit process.

Hazardous Material Endorsement CDL Renewal Requirements in North Carolina

The CDL renewal process in North Carolina is different for drivers with endorsements. The hazardous material (hazmat) endorsement allows motorists to operate vehicles carrying hazardous materials. As they renew their license, they must complete additional steps.

Motorists must take the hazardous material knowledge test each time they renew their license. This test includes information about placards, different types of materials, explosives and more. Furthermore, they must submit to fingerprinting and a background check.

CDL Renewal Fees in North Carolina

The CDL renewal price in North Carolina depends on the type of license a driver is renewing. See the following list for information about renewal costs.

  • Class A, B and C CDL
    • $20 per year
  • Endorsements
    • $4 per endorsement, per year

Drivers can pay their renewal fees with cash, money orders or personal checks. Some offices may accept credit or debit cards, but drivers must verify this with the branch they plan to visit.

Last updated on Friday, March 6 2020.