Applying for a New License (Drivers 18+) in North Carolina
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In order to operate a motor vehicle in the Tar Heel State, you'll need to hold a valid driver's license. First-time drivers and new residents to the state should know that North Carolina offers several types of licenses:
- Regular license (class A, B, C)―Most drivers only need a Class C license
- Commercial license (class A,B,C)
- Graduated license (provisional, limited learner, Level Two limited provisional, Level Three full provisional)
Younger than 18―Everyone in this age group must successfully pass a driver education class in order to get a license.
Driver's Preparation Course
18 and Older―Drivers in this age bracket are not required to attend a driver education course, but a Drivers Preparation Course is advantageous in several ways. The classes offer valuable information that could make you a more aware, safer and better driver.
To obtain a permit, you'll need to pass a written test about driving rules and safety practices. Studying the state's driver manual is the best way to prepare for this. And, don't forget to see how you'll score by taking a couple of practice tests.
When test day arrives, be prepared to:
- Provide proof of residency.
- Present your Social Security card (unless exempted).
- Show your driving eligibility certificate, high school diploma, or GED certificate.
- Provide proof of liability insurance.
- Provide proof of completion of your driving education course.
- Take a vision test.
- Take the road sign test.
- Take the written knowledge test.
- Pay the fee if you pass the tests. Learner's permits cost $15; other classes of license cost $4 annually; depending on your age, licenses are issued for 5-8 years.
Remember, before taking the written test, you should study the state's driver manual and take a few practice tests. Also, you must have completed the driver's ed requirement (if required), and have your paperwork ready.
You must pass the test and obtain a permit before taking the road test.
You must supply a car that's safe to operate and currently registered in order to take the behind-the-wheel driving exam. If you need to find such a car and are considering buying a used vehicle, it's a good idea to obtain a vehicle history report prior to purchasing the vehicle. These reports can indicate salvage titles, flood damage, or rolled back odometers.
Liability insurance is required to drive a vehicle in North Carolina. When you're looking for an insurance carrier or want to compare rates, check out our Insurance Center.
If you're moving to North Carolina, have a valid out-of-state license, and are at least 18 years old, you'll only need to take the road test if the examiner requires you to do so; it is up to their discretion.
Once You Pass
If you're successful, you'll receive your license at the driver's license office. Your fee will be $4 per year; license are issued for 5-8 years depending on your age.
If You Fail
If you're unsuccessful, you'll need to wait at least five business days before trying again.
If you're visiting North Carolina and hold a valid license from another country, you may drive within the state for up to one year. Be sure to have your license with you whenever you're driving.
When you become a resident of the state, you are required to apply for a North Carolina license within 60 days of establishing residency to keep your driving privileges. For information on how to do so, including the documents required, consult the driver handbook.
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