New to NC or Moving?
New to NC or Moving?
Detailed up-to-date information regarding the "steps to getting" a NC Driver License or Learner Permit can be found in the:
Welcome to North Carolina!
When moving to North Carolina you must obtain a North Carolina driver license BEFORE you can register a vehicle.
Step 1, Apply for a Driver License
All new residents of North Carolina who plan to operate a motor vehicle in this state must obtain a driver license within 60 days of establishing a permanent residence. To apply, you must appear in person at one of the state's driver license offices and take the required tests. New residents are encouraged to become familiar with North Carolina license requirements and traffic laws by reading the N.C. Driver’s Handbook. They must successfully complete the road sign recognition and vision tests to obtain a North Carolina driver license. The written and road tests may be waived if a valid license from another state is surrendered.
Each state has different laws and regulations regarding highway safety. It is important to know these laws to keep North Carolina highways safe for pedestrians, licensed drivers and for those transferring to our state. The knowledge (written) and road tests are given to anyone applying for an original North Carolina driver license or to anyone whose license has expired for more than two years. The information covered on this test requires that drivers understand the state's traffic laws and safe driving practices.
North Carolina issues driver licenses from a central location and mails them to applicants for learner permits, renewal and original driver licenses, and identification cards. After you pass the required tests and have your photo made, you will receive a Temporary Driving Certificate, which should be used for driving purposes until your license arrives. Most people receive their new North Carolina driver license or ID card within 20 days.
International Driver License
The law enforcement authorities in North Carolina do not honor an International Driver License. A valid license issued by a government agency from a home state or country is required to legally drive in this State. In the United States, the American Automobile Association (AAA) issues an International License because some countries around the world require such issuance. You may locate your nearest AAA location by visiting their website, www.AAA.com.
Step 2, Vehicle Emissions and Safety Inspection
If you’re moving to North Carolina from another state, you will be allowed to register your vehicle without an initial inspection. When your next annual registration renewal is due, you must have the vehicle inspected up to 90 days prior to the plate expiration date.
Step 3, Title and Register a Vehicle
Upon moving to North Carolina from another state, you must register your motor vehicle at the expiration of the time granted by the reciprocity agreement between North Carolina and your prior state of residence (usually 30 days) or when gainful employment is accepted, whichever occurs first. You should obtain a North Carolina driver license prior to registering a vehicle.
Moving within North Carolina
Update Your Driver License and Vehicle Registration
When you move to a new address within North Carolina, you will need to update both your driver license/ID card and vehicle registration within 60 days. Use our convenient online tools to update the physical address on your driver license and vehicle registration. If you have changed only your mailing address, please call 919-715-7000.
You can also use these tools if your driver license/ID card or registration has been lost, stolen or destroyed.
Obtain an Emissions Inspection
If you move to a county that requires “emissions inspections,” your vehicle will need to undergo a safety and emissions inspection up to 90 days prior to the next plate expiration date. For more information on North Carolina vechicle inspections visit our Vehicle Emissions & Safety Inspection page.
A resident of North Carolina who has been residing outside the state for at least 30 continuous days may renew his/her license by mail. This is a temporary license which expires 60 days after the person returns to North Carolina or on the expiration date shown on the face of the license, whichever comes first. Check the N.C. Driver’s Handbook for additional information.
Leaving North Carolina
Step 1, Getting a New License From Another State
- Apply for a driver license in your new home state of residence.
- Surrender your North Carolina license or identification card to the proper authorities in your new home state of residence.
If the issuing state does not accept identification cards, forward the card to the NC DMV Driver License Section:
- Mail Us:
NC Division of Motor Vehicles
3120 Mail Service Center
Do Not Cancel Your Insurance
North Carolina law requires you to have liability coverage in effect on your vehicle during the entire time it is registered and the license plate is in your possession.
Step 2, Returning Your License Plate
- Return the plate to the NC DMV Vehicle Registration Section at the address below.
- Contact the Vehicle Registration Section at (919) 715-7000 to request a free printout of your receipt to be mailed to you.
- Mail us:
NC Division of Motor Vehicles
3148 Mail Service Center