How to Renew Your Driver's License in North Carolina

Renew your North Carolina driver’s license online, in person, or by mail for $5.
Written by Veronica Manning
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
There are three options for driver’s license renewal in North Carolina: online, in-person, or by mail. Regardless of how you choose to renew, you’ll have to pay a $5 fee and wait about 20 days for your new license to arrive. 
Renewing your license is an essential part of life. While it might be tempting to skip the hassle of dealing with the DMV, procrastinating on license renewal can have serious consequences. Driving with an expired license can lead to fines or even jail time. 
As if that wasn’t stressful enough, every state has different rules about how to renew your license, making the process even more complicated. Luckily for you,
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When to renew your driver’s license in North Carolina

The expiration date for your license is listed on the front of the card. You can find this number on the right side of your card, directly beneath your date of birth (or DOB.)
Drivers can renew their license up to six months before the expiration date
Of course, not everyone is marking their license expiration date in their calendar. That’s why the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles will also mail you a reminder card 60 days before it expires. Keep in mind that you may not receive this if you no longer live at the address listed on your license. 

How to renew your driver’s license in North Carolina

Drivers have the option of renewing online, in person, or by mail—with some limitations. 

Renew your license online

Online renewal is available from the
North Carolina DMV website
. You are eligible to renew online if: 
  • You have no outstanding debts to the DMV
  • You have no restrictions aside from “corrective lenses on your license
  • You are renewing a Class C license only- no driver’s permits or commercial licenses are allowed
To complete your renewal, you’ll need to have a few pieces of information on hand: 
  • Your driver’s license number
  • Your date of birth
  • The last four digits of your social security number
After paying online, you’ll be emailed a receipt and a digital temporary license which you can print. Your updated license will arrive in the mail within 20 business days. 
You can only use the online portal for every other license renewal. If you decide to renew online now, that means you’ll have to go in person next time. 

Renew your license in person

You may also complete your renewal by visiting your local DMV. At the DMV, you will: 
If you want to upgrade your driver’s license to a REAL ID-compliant license, you’ll have to provide additional identification like proof of your social security number and North Carolina residency. 
After completing your renewal, you’ll get a temporary paper license. Your updated copy will be mailed to you later.
Be aware that not every North Carolina DMV location follows the usual 8-5 hours. It’s recommended to call ahead to confirm what times they are open before you go. 

Renew your license by mail

In North Carolina, few people are eligible to renew by mail. You can only renew by mail if:  
  • You’re under the age of 72
  • You’re a member of the military stationed outside of North Carolina OR you are an out-of-state resident
  • You’ve been away from North Carolina for more than 30 days
  • You’re not renewing a commercial license
  • You have a picture on file with the DMV that’s less than 5 years old
  • You have your social security number on file with the DMV
  • You submit an eye test.
To complete your registration by mail, you’ll need to fill out an
official application
. You’ll also need to enclose a check or cash that covers the $5 renewal fee. You can send your application to: 
Military/Internet Unit 
3176 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27697-3176
Keep in mind that you have a limited number of mail renews per lifetime. Out-of-state residents only get one, but military personnel are allowed to have two. Licenses renewed by mail are temporary and expire within 60 days of your return to North Carolina. 

How long does it take to renew a North Carolina driver’s license? 

After you renew, you’ll get a Temporary Driving Certificate that is valid for 60 days. Your new license should arrive by mail within 20 businesses at most. 
If you still haven’t received your license after the 20-day waiting period, you should get in touch with the North Carolina DMV. Call them at 919-861-3555 to let them know that your new license has not arrived. 

How to save money on car insurance in North Carolina

Smart drivers know the importance of regularly renewing their license to avoid problems later. Why should car insurance be any different? Comparison shopping on a regular basis is the best way to reduce your insurance costs.
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Drivers between the ages of 18-65 have to renew their license every 8 years. Drivers who are 65 and older must renew their license every five years.
Yes. You’ll have 180 days to renew your license after the expiration date has passed. However, it’s always a bad idea to drive with an expired license, so make sure to complete your renewal as soon as possible.
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