How to Get a Driver's License If You're a New North Carolina Resident

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Moving to a new state can be an exciting adventure that includes a new job, new house, new friends, and new places to explore and discover. North Carolina has huge appeal, with the Great Smoky Mountains, the Outer Banks, and the urban excitement of the Charlotte and Raleigh areas. But moving has its downside, and one of those negative issues is having to get a new driver's license. Here's the inside skinny on how to do that as painlessly as possible in North Carolina.

New residents have 60 days to apply for a North Carolina driver's license. Licenses in North Carolina are valid for five to eight years depending on your age. Those who are 18 to 65 get a license that is good for eight years; those 66 and older get a five-year license. New drivers under 18 are licensed in a graduated manner with provisional licenses.


If you are a new resident age 18 or older and applying for the first time for a North Carolina driver's license, you will need the following documents:

  • Proof of residency: You will need one document that proves your residency, like a voter registration card, a North Carolina vehicle registration, or correspondence from the Social Security Administration. 
  • Proof of age and identity: You will need two documents that prove your age and identity. One of those documents must be a Social Security card or documentation issued by the U.S. government indicating legal presence. If you are not eligible for a Social Security card, you must provide documentation issued by the U.S. government indicating your legal presence in this country. The other document can be your driver's license from another state or your birth certificate.
  • Proof of liability insurance: You will need one document that proves that you have liability insurance. Most people provide their insurance card or policy for this.
  • When applying for your driver's license you will be also asked about organ donation, voter registration, and selective service registration.

Required Tests

Everyone must take four tests to get a new driver's license in North Carolina. They are:

  • Driving knowledge test
  • Vision test
  • Traffic signs recognition test
  • Road test of your driving skills

Since you are a new resident, studying North Carolina's driving rules and laws before you apply for your license is a good idea.

Getting Your License

After you submit the required documentation and pass the tests, you're in the home stretch. Your picture will be taken, and you will be charged the appropriate fees. Payment for transactions at Department of Motor Vehicle offices can be made in cash or money order or with personal checks, Visa, MasterCard, and Discover credit and debit cards. North Carolina issues driver's licenses from a central location in Raleigh, and you will receive a temporary permit while you wait for your license to arrive in the mail.

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