The easy steps North Carolina driver’s license renewal

When was the last time you’ve renewed your driver’s license? If you live in North Carolina, chances are it was nearly eight years ago. That’s how long a standard NC license is valid for. 

Just looking at that photo from 8 years ago brings back memories. If you plan to continue driving, don’t let it expire. Driving without a license in NC is illegal and punishable with fines or even jail time, depending on the circumstances.

What are my options to renewing a license in NC

You’re eligible for license renewal 180 days before it expires. If you’re not keeping track of your expiration date, this might be a good reason to check it. Renewing a license in North Carolina will cancel any existing licenses from another state. Though the state makes sure to remind you 60 days before it expires, just in case. If you miss your renewal date, you have another two years to re-apply. Otherwise, you might be required to take the test again. There are three methods of renewal:

  • Online
  • In person
  • Via mail

What renewal method will work for me?

Each method has its own pros and cons, and circumstances that must be met:

MethodOnlineIn PersonBy mail
How?Follow the official link or get the myNCDMV mobile appVisit your local NCDMV officeFill this application and send to the NC DMV 
ProsFastest method, available 24/7Everyone is eligible for this methodFast, but only applicable to people justifiably out of state
ConsNot everyone can do it online (see below)You have to come during working hoursThe slowest method, only available for those out of state

Why you should probably renew in person

We know what you’re thinking. “I’m not gonna leave my house to stand in a long line for something I can do online”. We agree. However, if you answer “No” to any of the following, your only option will be to renew in person:

  • I’m a full-time resident and don’t require legal documents to stay
  • I haven’t changed my address or legal name since my last license was issued
  • My license is not suspended and I don’t have outstanding debt with the DMV
  • I don’t have a conditional restriction (other than vision correction) marked on my license

If you have a regular license, it’s the ideal time to swap to a REAL ID. This can only be done in person. As of October 2020, a regular license will no longer be a valid document for boarding domestic flights, proving residency, and entering some government buildings. Here are the documents you’d need to bring to apply for a REAL ID:

  1. One document proving your identity and date of birth
  2. One document with your full name and Social Security number (SSN)
  3. Two documents confirming you’re a North Carolina resident
  4. One document proving legal presence for non-U.S. citizens

If you’re unsure what documents these can be, check this link. You’d also need to submit a document confirming any legal name or address change from your current ones displayed on the license. 

To avoid waiting in lines, you can set up a fast DMV appointment using DoNotPay. Not only will our app set up the closest possible appointment, but it will also remind you what documents to bring. Access a web app for all browsers or an iOS app and schedule your appointment in less than two minutes.

Renewing online

If you have a different REAL ID document you like to use instead, a quick renewal online may be the best for you. You may submit your online renewal request six months in advance. Follow this link to the renewal page, or get the myNCDMV app for iOS or Android. You can not renew the license online if it has expired, it must still be valid at the time of the request.

Renewing by mail

Individuals with NC residency, who will temporarily be positioned out of state for 30 or more days, can use this method (also applicable to military personnel). These licenses are temporary last up to 60 days upon return or the noted expiration date, depending on which comes first. After that, you must visit your local DMV to get a full license again. Renewal by mail can only be used every other renewal cycle. To renew a driver’s license through mail, there are some requirements:

  • You must have a verifiable permanent address in North Carolina
  • You must not be older than 72 on the date of the request
  • The NCDMV must have a photo not older than 5 years on file
  • You must send a signed and dated vision statement
  • Only a regular C-class license can be renewed by mail
  • You must send a National Sex Offender Affidavit
  • The NCDMV must have a valid SSN document on file
  • The NCDMV must have a valid document confirming your legal presence

To apply for the renewal, fill out this form and send it along with the required documents to: 

  • NCDMV
  • Attn: Military/Internet Unit
  • 3176 Mail Service Center
  • Raleigh, NC 27697-3176.

How to renew your license if you’re in the military

Active members of the U.S. armed forces may renew their license before deployment at a local DMV office. To do so, they must bring a document confirming their future military orders.

Those that are already serving out of state may renew their licenses by mail. To be eligible, they must:

  1. Have a license not expired for more than one year
  2. Have a photo on file at the DMV
  3. Have a valid North Carolina address
  4. Have proof of SSN on file at the DMV
  5. Not be older than 72
  6. Send a copy of their military ID (both sides) and military orders

Fill out this form and send it with the required documents to:

  • NCDMV
  • Attn: Military/Internet Unit
  • 3176 Mail Service Center
  • Raleigh, NC 27697-3176.

How to renew my license if it was suspended?

If your license is currently suspended for any reason, it must first be reinstated to be eligible for renewal. The method of reinstating will depend on the type of suspension that was issued. After the suspension is lifted, you may use whichever method you’re qualified for to renew your license.

My license was lost/stolen/damaged and unreadable, how can I renew it?

Individuals that found themselves in any of the mentioned situations may get a new license both via online renewal or in person. Those who’ve changed their name in the meantime must come in person.

I changed my legal name/address, what should I do?

If you’ve legally changed your name and/or address, you must inform the NCDMV within 60 days. In the case of name changes, you will have to come in person and submit a document that verifies the change. In the case of an address change, you can notify the DMV through the online renewal process. In both cases, you will receive a replacement license with the updated information.

DoNotPay helps thousands and thousands of drivers study for their parking tests in these states:

What else can I do with DoNotPay?

Do not pay will help you set up a fast DMV appointment in any state, but it can also:

  1. Contest parking tickets in all states and cities
  2. Dispute speeding tickets
  3. Beat traffic citations
  4. Issue a virtual payment card, safe for registering on free trials
  5. Cancel any unnecessary service or subscription in a few clicks
  6. Wait in customer care phone queues until a person answers, then forwarding the call to you
  7. Help sue individuals and companies through small claims court
  8. File for compensation from flight delay/cancelation

Find more useful information at the DoNotPay learning center.