North Carolina driver's license renewal

North Carolina Driver’s License Renewal: All You Need to Know

by Zutobi · Updated Jan 03, 2022

Every couple of years, drivers in the state of North Carolina are required to renew their driver’s license in order to continue driving legally throughout the state. The expiration date on your license will vary depending on your age when it was issued:

  • 16 years old or 65+ = 5 years
  • 17 years old = 4 years
  • 18-65 years old = 8 years

You will receive a renewal notice 2 months before your driver’s license expiration date as a courtesy reminder. Additionally, you’ll have 180 days before your license expires to complete your renewal.

How to Renew Your NC Driver’s License

Going through all the options for renewing your North Carolina driver’s license can be difficult, but there’s no need to worry. The state allows drivers to complete their renewal in one of the following three ways.

  1. Renewal By Mail
  2. Renewal Online
  3. Renewal In Person

Online Renewal

Renewing your driver’s license online is a convenient way to complete the process without spending too much time at your local DMV. You’ll be able to skip all the lines and complete the process directly from the comfort of your home.

To qualify for online renewal in North Carolina, you MUST a US citizen and cannot have any of the following:

  • Have a suspended license or outstanding debts with the DMV
  • Have a restriction other than “Corrective Lenses” on their driver license
  • Have to renew a commercial driver license, regular Class A or B driver license,​ limited provisional license, limited learner permit, learner permit, or state ID

If you are eligible to renew online based on the above guidelines, visit the NC DMV website and follow the required steps. Keep your valid driver’s license handy, as well as your Social Security number and email address – you’ll need it to complete the renewal.

In-Person Renewal

To complete your driver’s license renewal in person, you’ll need to first set up an appointment with the North Carolina DMV. From there, you’ll need to gather the appropriate documents.

  1. On your visit to the DMV, you will be asked to provide the following.
  1. You will also be asked to take the following tests.
    • Vision Exam – North Carolina requires drivers to exhibit at least 20/40 vision to pass the vision exam portion of both new license applications, as well as license renewals.
    • Knowledge Test – The knowledge test covers important road signs and traffic laws. There are 25 questions on the test and you must answer 20 correctly, for a passing score of 80%.

Zutobi provides an interactive platform for adults looking to pass their knowledge exam for their NC driver’s license renewal. We have an easy-to-understand driver’s handbook and online practice tests, allowing you to fully prepare before your DMV appointment. Furthermore, drivers are recommended to regularly refresh their knowledge of the rules of the road and driving safety practices to stay safe on the roads.

  1. A driver’s license renewal fee will be assessed at the end of your appointment at the NC DMV. You can make this payment by check, cash, and money order.

Renewal By Mail

In North Carolina, driver’s license renewal by mail is only available for out of state and military residents who hold a permanent address in the state.

You will need to meet the following requirements in order to renew by mail:

  • You are under the age of 72
  • You are not renewing a commercial driver’s license
  • You must be away from North Carolina for 30 or more days
  • Your picture with the DMV cannot be older than 5 years
  • You must submit an eye test
  • You must have a social security number on file with the DMV

You will need to first contact the NC DMV and request a mail kit. You can also give them a call at the number listed on their website. You’ll need to provide a valid out of state address in order to receive and complete the necessary documents.

NC Driver’s License Renewal Cost

The cost of renewing your driver’s license in North Carolina is dependent on how long your license will be active. The DMV charges $5 per year, equating to $40 for the majority of drivers.

Renewing an Expired License

You are able to renew your NC driver’s license for two years after it expires. It is recommended to complete this renewal online. Otherwise, you must renew in person at the DMV.


North Carolina residents will need to become REAL ID compliant by October 1st, 2021 in order to board commercial aircrafts and enter certain federal buildings. Luckily, all residents can upgrade to a REAL ID with ease.

To do so, you will need to visit the NC DMV and provide the following documents:

  • Proof of legal name
  • Proof of US citizenship or legal presence
  • Proof of North Carolina residency
  • Proof of Social Security Number

There are no additional requirements or fees for upgrading to a REAL ID.

Military Drivers

If you are in the military, you have a few other options for renewing your license. Instead of the standard 180 days, you’ll have one year before the date your license expires to renew. If your license expires while on active duty, you’ll automatically be given an extension by the DMV.

You must meet the following requirements to renew your license as a military driver:

  • Must provide proof of NC address
  • Must have social security number on file, or proof of legal presence
  • Cannot be over 69 years of age
  • Must have picture registered with DMV that is no older than 8 years
  • Have a license that expired less than two years ago

Contact the NC DMV requesting renewal by mail for military purposes. You will be asked to provide a copy of both sides of your military ID, as well as a copy of your military orders. The DMV also accepts phone calls.

That’s It

That’s all there is to renewing your driver’s license in North Carolina. If you need help studying for your exams or staying on top of new traffic laws, we’ve got your back!

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