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How to Renew a Driver License in North Carolina

As a resident, you must renew your drivers license in North Carolina before it expires in order to continue driving legally. You must complete a drivers license renewal since it is illegal to drive with an expired drivers license. Luckily, you can perform a driver's license renewal in a number of ways in the state. You can renew your license up to six months before it expires. You can also renew it up to two years after it expires.

Renewing your drivers license is a simple and easy process in North Carolina. How frequently you must complete a renewal depends on your age. If you are between 18 and 65 years of age, then your driver's license is valid for eight years. If you are 66 years of age or older, then your license is valid for five years. Younger drivers must complete the graduated license program. The sections below describe how to renew a drivers license in North Carolina.

North Carolina Driver's License Renewal Requirements

Can you renew your license online? North Carolina generally has more restrictions in place regulating who can renew a drivers license online or by mail than in person, which is considered the default method. The status of your driver's license will determine if you are eligible to renew by remote methods.

Generally, your driver's license should be within six months of its expiration. You can generally renew an expired drivers license up to two years after the expiration date. Additionally, you should have all the required documents on file. If your documents have expired or you wish to upgrade to a REAL ID, then you may need to provide additional documentation first.

Methods to Renew Your North Carolina Driver's License


Some North Carolina drivers are eligible to complete a drivers license renewal online from six months before expiration up to two years after it expires. Drivers are eligible for an online drivers license renewal if all of the following are true:

  • The driver has a current, active driver's license and no outstanding debt with the North Carolina DMV
  • The driver has no restrictions other than “corrective lenses” on his or her license
  • The driver does not have a commercial driver's license, Class A or B driver's license, provisional license or learner permit
  • The driver already has a document proving legal U.S. presence on file
  • The driver's address is up to date

If a driver is eligible for an online driver's license renewal, then he or she can visit the online driver's license renewal page. Drivers must provide their driver's license number, Social Security Number (SSN), email address and a method of payment for the drivers license renewal fee. After drivers submit their renewal request, they will receive their new documents within seven to 14 business days.

In Person

Drivers wondering where to renew a drivers license in North Carolina can visit any DMV license office in the state. Residents who also need to request a name change on driver license credentials should complete their driver's license renewal in person, as name change documents will need to be reviewed by a representative.

Drivers may be required to retake a vision test and are typically required to retake their driver's license photo. Drivers may need to complete the process in person if their photo is outdated or they last renewed their driver's license online.

By Mail

You can perform a driver's license renewal by mail only if you are temporarily living out of the state for 30 days or more or if you are on active duty and stationed outside North Carolina. To be eligible for license renewal by mail you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • You have a verified and permanent North Carolina address
  • You have a North Carolina Class C driver's license less than two years expired
  • You have a DMV photo on file taken within the last five years
  • You have an SSN or proof of legal U.S. presence on file

Licenses renewed by mail are temporary and expire 60 days after you return to North Carolina or the date on the license, whichever occurs first. You must, therefore, perform a DMV license renewal again as soon as possible.

Renewing Your North Carolina Driver's License in the Military

You can perform a North Carolina driver's license renewal up to one year before your document expires if you are a member of the U.S. armed forces. If you are temporarily out of the state when your license expires, then you may renew it by mail up to two times. Unlike standard renew-by-mail, driver's licenses renewed by mail for military members are permanent.

You will not need to perform the driver's license renewal again when you return to North Carolina. To complete the process, you need to complete the out-of-state driver's license renewal packet. You must send the documents requested in the packet to the following address:

North Carolina DMV
ATTN: Military/Internet Unit
3176 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27697-3176

NOTE: You must be no older than 72 years of age to request a driver's license renewal by mail as a military member.

Renewing Your North Carolina Driver's License While Out of the State

You can temporarily renew a North Carolina driver's license out of the state by mail if you are a civilian. However, this is a temporary document. You must replace the driver's license when you return to North Carolina or before the printed expiration date. To learn more, review the “By Mail” section above.

If you are a military member, then you can also renew a driver's license by mail. As a military member, you will receive a standard license, rather than a temporary license. You can renew your driver's license this way up to twice in your life. To learn more, review the “Renewing Your North Carolina Driver's License in the Military” section above.

What if you fail to renew your North Carolina driver's license?

In some cases, if you fail to renew your driver's license before it expires, then you must retake particular driving exams. If you are caught driving with a license that has been expired for a year or longer, then it is treated as though you are driving with no license. That incurs a three-point penalty on your driving history. If you incur too many points, then you could receive a driver's license suspension.