Within 60 days of establishing a permanent residence in North Carolina, new residents who plan to operate a motor vehicle must get a North Carolina driver license and title and register their vehicles with the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles.
Because each state is different, new residents should also familiarize themselves with the
North Carolina Driver's Handbook, which outlines North Carolina's laws and regulations regarding roadway safety.
Getting a License
To apply for a North Carolina driver license, new residents must visit
an NCDMV driver license office with the following:
Note: An individual's name must match the name on the documents above, otherwise they must provide a proof of name change, such as a certified marriage license or certificate, divorce decree or document from the courts or Register of Deeds.
All DMV license offices require an appointment to handle any service.
Make an Appointment
- Written and road tests may be waived for individuals with a valid license from another state.
- Once North Carolina issues a driver license, out-of-state licenses are no longer valid and should be properly discarded or surrendered to:
N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles
Driver License Section
3120 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27697-3120
- Additional requirements may apply, depending on the type of license and individual needs.
- A valid license issued by a government agency from a U.S. state or another country is required to drive legally in North Carolina. North Carolina law enforcement authorities do not recognize international driver licenses.
More information about applying for a driver license for the first time can be found on the
New Drivers page of this website.
Titling & Registering a Vehicle
After obtaining a North Carolina driver license, new residents must also register their vehicle when they accept gainful employment or at the expiration of the time granted by the reciprocity agreement between North Carolina and their prior state of residence (usually 30 days), whichever occurs first.
To register, take the following to
a local license plate agency:
Although new residents can initially register vehicles without an inspection, North Carolina requires
a vehicle inspection before they can renew their vehicle registration.
*In addition to registration fees, Durham, Orange, Randolph and Wake counties also charge regional registration taxes.
Liability Insurance Lapse Penalty Waiver for Vehicles Registered Out of State
Any monetary penalty or restoration fee will be waived for any person who meets all the following requirements:
- The owner must furnish a copy of their out-of-state registration reflecting the vehicle has been registered by the owner in their new state within 30 days of the cancellation or expiration of the owner's North Carolina motor vehicle liability policy.
- The owner must submit a copy of their current out-of-state registration card to NCDMV.
- The owner must return the valid North Carolina license plate or submit an affidavit (MVR18A) indicating that the North Carolina registration plate has been lost, stolen, or destroyed.