Most N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles offices are back open for in-person license renewals and other services, after closings and reduced hours last year because of the pandemic.
And with open offices, the state is no longer offering an extension for renewing expiring driver’s licenses, as it did in 2020.
So if your license is about to expire, you’ll need to renew on time, or you could face a penalty for driving with an expired license.
If you’d prefer skipping the in-person lines, there are other options available to renew, including online and by mail — and the online option is very popular with consumers.
Marty Homan, DMV communications manager, said use of the division’s online services is up 15% compared to this time last year, and the division is “absolutely” encouraging people to continue to use the online services when possible.
So, who’s eligible for online renewal? Why might you be required to go in person instead? And what does it cost to renew?
Here are answers to those questions and more.
When do I need to renew my NC driver’s license?
▪ Licenses issued to adults between the ages of 18 to 65 are valid for eight years. Licenses issued to adults 66 and older are valid for five years.
▪ The expiration date of your license should be listed underneath your date of birth on your current license card, next to the letters “EXP.”
▪ You can renew your license beginning six months before it’s set to expire, or as late as two years after it expires. Be warned, though: If you wait to renew until after your current license expires, you could be cited by law enforcement for driving with an expired license. If you wait more than two years to renew, you will not be eligible for online renewal and must renew in person at a DMV driver’s license office and complete the DMV’s written knowledge, vision, traffic signs and driving skills tests.
Who can renew their driver’s license online?
You can renew your license online if you:
▪ Didn’t renew online the last time you renewed. Online renewal is only available every other time you renew your license.
▪ Are upgrading from a full provisional license to a standard Class C license. Full provisional, or Level 3, licenses are part of the DMV’s graduated licensing process and are available for 16- to 17-year-olds who have had a limited provisional, or Level 2, license for at least six months. Once you turn 18, and before you turn 21, you can upgrade from a full provisional to a Class C license, which is used to operate standard passenger vehicles.
Who cannot renew their license online?
You cannot renew online, and must renew in person, if you:
▪ Have a suspended license or outstanding debt with the DMV.
▪ Have a restriction other than “Corrective Lenses” on your license and/or “24” on your full provisional license.
▪ Need to renew a commercial driver license, regular Class A or B driver license, limited provisional license, limited learner permit or learner permit.
▪ Have a U.S. government document indicating legal presence.
▪ Renewed online for your previous renewal. You can only use the online system for every other license renewal.
How do I renew my license online?
To renew your license online, visit the myDMVNC app, located online at payments.ncdot.gov.
You can create an account and login, or continue as a guest user. Once you login, you can choose to:
Renew a license or ID card.
Order a duplicate license.
Upgrade your full provisional license.
The myDMVNC app also allows you to update your vehicle registration, pay property taxes on your vehicle, order specialty license plates and register to vote.
Note: Online renewal services are unavailable every Sunday from 4 a.m. to noon due to routine maintenance.
I can’t renew online. How do I make an office appointment?
If you need to visit a DMV driver’s license office in person, you can make an appointment online or by phone — though the DMV recommends doing it online. Appointments are made available 45 days in advance.
▪ To make an appointment online, visit skiptheline.ncdot.gov. Click on “Make an Appointment” and follow the prompts.
▪ To make an appointment by phone, call the DMV at 919-715-7000. The phone line is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
What does it cost to renew a driver’s license in NC?
▪ It currently costs $5.50 per year to renew a license. For a license that is good for eight years, it will cost $44 to renew. For a license that is good for five years, it will cost $27.50 to renew. The cost of DMV services are adjusted every four years for inflation, beginning last year.
▪ Through myDMVNC, there is an additional charge of $3 fee per transaction for online services, including license renewal. The transaction fee is charged and collected by PayIt, the vendor that provides the online payment services for myDMVNC. The state does not collect or benefit from the transaction fee.
Can I renew my NC driver’s license by mail?
License renewal by mail is available to North Carolina residents who are temporarily living outside of the state for at least 30 continuous days and those on active duty with the U.S. military who are stationed outside North Carolina.
Military members can renew by mail twice in their lifetime and for back-to-back renewals. Otherwise, you can renew by mail only once in your lifetime.
To renew by mail, you must fill out an application on the NC DMV website that includes a vision test.
Licenses renewed by mail are temporary and expire 60 days after the individual returns to North Carolina, or on the expiration date of the license, whichever comes first.
Have more questions or need more information?
You can reach DMV customer service by phone at 919-715-7000, or visit ncdot.gov/dmv.