North Carolina Driver’s License Renewal (A Complete 2024 Guide)

North Carolina Driver’s License Renewal

Before you know it, 8 years have passed…

And it’s time to renew your North Carolina driver’s license. 

If you’re not sure how to renew it, what documents to bring, and all that – don’t worry. 

Today, we’re going to walk you through a complete step-by-step guide on the North Carolina driver’s license renewal process. 

We’ll mention all the channels, all the steps, all the requirements, and all the details. 

So are you ready? 

Let’s begin!

How to Renew A Driver’s License in North Carolina

You’ll be happy to know that, in North Carolina, there are 3 renewal channels. These are: 

  • Online
  • In Person
  • By Mail

However, not everything will be available to you all the time. Let’s explore each of these further to see what we mean. 

How to Renew an NC Driver’s License Online

Undoubtedly, the most convenient way to renew your driver’s license is online. You can do it from anywhere — all you need is access to the internet.

But, you must first ensure you’re qualified for an online renewal. 

Below are some scenarios that may apply to you. If you can check all the boxes, then you are eligible for online renewal. 

  • You didn’t complete your last renewal online.
  • You don’t mind paying a transaction fee on top of the renewal cost.
  • You have full driving privileges (no restrictions or license suspension).
  • You don’t have an outstanding debt with the DMV.
  • You are not renewing any of the following:
    • A commercial license
    • A regular Class A or Class B driver’s license
    • A limited provisional license
    • A learner’s permit (limited or not)
  • You do not need to present a document proving legal presence

Passed the eligibility requirements?


Here are the steps:

  1. Create an account or log in to MyNCDMV
  1. Ready a valid email address and your Social Security’s last four digits.
  1. Follow the prompts on the screen.
  1. Pay the required fee of $47 ($5.50 per year + $3 transaction fee).
  1. Receive the following
    1. A temporary certificate through your email. This can be used as a temporary driver’s license.
    2. Your new driver’s license through the mail within 20 days.

It’s as easy as that!

How to Renew an NC Driver’s License In-Person

Since you can only use the DMV’s online services for every other renewal, you still have to undergo in-person renewals. 

It’s also your only option if:

  • You don’t meet one of the online eligibility requirements 
  • You’re upgrading your regular driver’s license to REAL ID-compliant
  • Someone stole your license (or you lost it), and you want to renew (and replace) it

Here are the steps to in-person renewal:

  1. Schedule your DMV visit by making an online appointment.
  1. While there, bring and present your current NC driver’s license. 
  1. Bring and present the following documents if you are upgrading to a REAL ID-compliant credential:
    1. One document proving your identity and age (for US citizens)
    2. Proof of legal presence (for non-citizens)
    3. One document showing your Social Security Number 
    4. Two documents confirming your North Carolina residence
  1. Bring and present the following documents if renewing a lost or stolen driver’s license:
    1. Two documents confirming your identity
    2. One document proving North Carolina residence

Click here to access a list of all acceptable documents.

  1. Pass the following tests:
    1. Vision screening
    2. Road sign recognition (if applicable)
  1. Have your photo taken. 
  1. Pay the renewal fee:
    1. For an 8-year license – $44 ($5.50 per year)
    2. For a 5-year license for seniors 66 and above – $27.50 ($5.50 per year)
  1. Receive your temporary license from the DMV. The official one will arrive by mail within 20 days.

Even though it’s less convenient than an online renewal, the steps are still very simple. 

How to Renew an NC Driver’s License By Mail

In North Carolina, you can only renew your driver’s license by mail under specific circumstances. 

If you do not hold a provisional or commercial license, and you are able to check off one box below, you can renew by mail. 

  • You’ve never renewed your driver’s license by mail before
  • You are currently living outside of North Carolina and will be there for at least 30 consecutive days
  • You are serving in the military and have renewed your license by mail only once before

If so, here are the steps to renewing your NC driver’s license by mail: 

  1. Ensure the following:
    1. You have a verifiable permanent address in North Carolina
    2. Your license didn’t expire more than two years ago
    3. The NC DMV has your photo on file taken within the last eight years
    4. The NC DMV has your Social Security number or documents indicating your legal presence in the US on file
  1. Download the OSR Packet and fill it out with the required information.
  1. Go to a licensed physician, undergo a vision test, and have them sign the vision application (you’ll find it in your packet).
  1. Sign the Sex Offender Affidavit, which is also found in the packet.
  1. Provide all the necessary documents asked for (check the packet).
  1. Enclose a check or a money order payable to the NC DMV.
    1. $44 ($5.50 per year) if below 66 years old
    2. $27.50 ($5.50 per year) if 66 years old and above
  1. Send everything to the NC DMV. 
  1. Once approved, the DMV will mail your license to your out-of-state address.

NOTE: Your mail-in credential is only temporary. It will show an expiration date or will expire 60 days after you return to North Carolina.

Remember that you can only renew by mail once in your lifetime (twice if you’re in the military), so you must be 100% sure if you want to use this channel.

FAQs About North Carolina Driver’s License Renewal

Need more information about North Carolina driver’s license renewals? Then let’s answer some frequently asked questions below. 

When does my North Carolina driver’s license expire?

Generally, driver’s licenses in North Carolina remain valid for 8 years. However, after you turn 66 years old, you will need to complete the renewal process every 5 years.

When can I renew my driver’s license in NC?

You can renew your NC driver’s license as early as 6 months from the expiry date. 

Do you have to take a test to renew your driver’s license in NC?

Yes, you will need to pass a vision test to renew your NC driver’s license. There are times when someone will be asked to take the road sign recognition test or driving test when they renew in person. 

Does NC have a grace period for an expired driver’s license?

Yes, you have a 180-day grace period in North Carolina. 

Do seniors have to take a driving test in North Carolina?

Typically, no. However, if there are reports from law enforcement, family members, or physicians that the senior is showing signs of driving impairment, the DMV may require it.

Do I need a new photo when renewing my driver’s license in NC?

If you’re renewing online, the DMV will reuse the photo you have on file. But when you renew in person, you have to take a new photo. 

The Wrap Up

There you have it — your ultimate guide to North Carolina driver’s license renewal. 

Now that you know all you need to know, what are you waiting for?

See if you are eligible for online renewal. And if so, you can complete the renewal process in just a few minutes. 

If not, then don’t fret – renewing your NC driver’s license in person is so simple, too. 

Are you out of state or on military duty? Then you have the option to renew by mail. 

Good luck!

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