North Carolina Permit and Driver's License FAQ

  • Applying for Your NC License
  • Preparing for the NC Permit Test
  • Taking the NC Permit Test?
  • Preparing for the NC Driving Test
  • Taking the NC Driving Test
  • Renewing Your NC License
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Applying for Your NC License: Frequently Asked Questions

What are the age requirements for getting started?

North Carolina requires teens to progress through its Graduated Driver’s Licensing Program (GDL) which gives them greater driving privileges as they gain knowledge and experience. The age requirements and levels of the program are:

  • 14 ½ years old – driver’s education
  • 15 years old – Learner’s Permit
  • 16 years old – Provisional Driver’s License
  • 6 months after Provisional License – Full Provisional Driver’s License
  • 18 years old – Regular Driver’s License

What documents am I required to bring with me when applying for a license in North Carolina?

  • Driving eligibility certificate
  • 2 proofs of identification
  • Proof of Social Security Number
  • $20 for Learner’s Permit fee

Visit the North Carolina Department of Transportation website for a complete list of documents that can be submitted as proof of identification and social security number.

Where do I file my NC driver’s license application?

You should file your application at a local NC DMV office.

How can I contact my local office?

Visit https://www.ncdot.gov/dmv/locations.html for office locations, hours and contact information.

Do I have to take a Driver’s Ed Course?

In North Carolina all teens under the age of 18 must complete driver’s education in order to receive their Learner’s Permit.

What if I am new to North Carolina?

You have 60 days to transfer an out-of-state Learner’s Permit or Driver’s License to North Carolina. You will need to visit a NC DMV office and pass the written test, a road sign recognition test and a vision test.

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Preparing for the NC Permit Test: Frequently Asked Questions

What subjects are commonly covered on the written test?

The North Carolina written test includes questions on traffic laws and safe driving practices. In addition, you will need to pass a road sign recognition test. Questions for both tests are drawn from the North Carolina Driver’s Manual. Here are two examples of manual content that you could be asked questions about on the written test:

  • Every vehicle in a funeral procession must have its headlights on, and the hazard warning signals must also be on, if so equipped
  • At railroad crossings be prepared to stop for vehicles that must stop at those crossings, such as school buses, motor vehicles carrying passengers, for-hire vehicles or vehicles transporting explosives or hazardous materials (these vehicles are marked with placard signs)

How is the test formatted?

The North Carolina written test is a multiple choice test.

Are there a lot of “trick” questions on the written test?

No, the questions on the test are written to assess your knowledge of important traffic laws and safe-driving practices. None of the questions are written expressly to “trick” you into giving a wrong answer. Study your Driver’s Manual carefully and no question should be a surprise or be considered “tricky.”

How many questions are on the test and how many do I need to answer correctly to pass?

There are 25 questions on the test and you must answer at least 20 of them correctly to pass.

What are the best ways to prepare for the written test?

You should read the North Carolina Driver’s Manual several times and study its content several more times. It’s important that you gain a thorough understanding of the traffic laws and safe driving practices that it presents. You should also memorize the signs it shows so that you know their meaning by sight. One way to ensure you have the knowledge needed to pass is to take practice tests online. These tests can show you what you know and what you need to study more.

Where can I get a free North Carolina Driver’s Manual to study?

You can get a free North Carolina Driver’s Manual on this website.

How can I improve my odds for passing the first time I take the test?

Try to memorize numerical information such as measurements, distances, lengths and various speed limits. Also, pay attention to safe driving practices, such as driving on snow and in other hazardous conditions. To assess your current driving knowledge, take a practice test online.

What should I do the night before the test?

The best approach is do a light review of the Driver’s Manual, take – and pass – a practice test and then get a good night’s rest so that you are at your best on test day. Plan on giving yourself plenty of time to get to your test so that you are not feeling rushed. You should also eat a good meal before the test so that you are not distracted by hunger pangs.

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Taking the NC Permit Test?: Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to make an appointment to take the written test?

Contact your DMV office to see if appointments are accepted and, if they are, it is recommended that you make one.

Where do I take the written test?

You will take the test at your local DMV office.

What do I need to bring when I sit for the written test?

Bring all of the following:

  • Driving eligibility certificate
  • 2 proofs of identification
  • Proof of Social Security Number
  • $20 for Learner’s Permit fee

Visit the North Carolina Department of Transportation website for a complete list of documents that can be submitted as proof of identification and social security number.

Who should accompany me to the written test?

You should be accompanied by a parent or guardian, who will need to give their consent for you to receive your permit.

Do I need to pay a fee to take the written test?

Yes, you will need to pay a fee of $20.

What should I expect when I sit for the written test?

On the written test you will be given 25 questions in all and you must answer at least 20 of the questions correctly to pass. The questions will cover traffic laws and safe driving practices. Prior to the written test you will also be given a road sign recognition test in which you will be asked to identify signs by sight. Assess your NC driving, road sign and safe driving knowledge by taking practice tests.

What happens after I pass the written test?

You will receive your Learner’s Permit and can begin supervised driving practice. You need to complete 60 hours of behind-the-wheel driving practice in all, with at least 10 hours completed at night.

What happens if I fail the written test?

You can retake the test.

How soon can I retake the written test?

You can retake the test as soon as the next business day but it is recommended that you take time to get more familiar with the content of the driver’s manual before you sit for the test again.

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Preparing for the NC Driving Test: Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve passed the written permit test, what are the next steps?

You can now begin supervised driving practice. Your supervisor must have held his or her license for at least five years. You will need to complete 60 hours of driving practice with a minimum of 10 hours logged at night.

How long after getting my Learner’s Permit can I apply for a license?

You can apply for a Provisional Driver’s License once you have met the following three requirements: you’ve held your Learner’s Permit for 12 months; you’ve completed 60 hours of supervised driving practice; and you’ve had a clean driving record for the last six months.

Can I drive anywhere in North Carolina with my Learner’s Permit?

Yes, as long as you are accompanied by a driver who has had their license for at least five years, you can drive on any North Carolina public road or street.

Should I practice driving solely during the day?

No, you are required to complete at least 10 of your 60 supervised driving practice hours at night.

Does anyone have to be in the car with me when I’m driving with my Learner’s Permit?

You must be accompanied by a licensed driver who has held their license for at least five years.

What should I do if I have a lost North Carolina Learner’s Permit?

To replace a lost or stolen permit, visit your local DMV office with proper identification. You will also need $13 for the permit replacement fee.

How can I be sure I’m prepared to ace the driving test?

You should study the state driver’s manual and apply what you learn to your driving and you should also try to get as much driving practice as possible. You should practice both maneuvers such as turns, parking and stopping along with driving safely in traffic. As you get more comfortable and knowledge behind the wheel your driving skills will improve and you will be ready to pass the test.

Are there particular driving maneuvers I should practice?

You should practice turns, passing, quick stops, parking, accelerating, defensive driving and changing lanes.

How can I simulate the driving test?

You should do both of the following:

  • Practice maneuvers that are commonly tested for on the driving exam, such as quick stops, turns, including a three-point turnabout, and parking in a parking space
  • Practice driving in traffic, where you will need to display good defensive driving skills, such as signaling on turns, checking mirrors when changing lanes and following at a safe distance.
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Taking the NC Driving Test: Frequently Asked Questions

How do I schedule my driving test?

Contact your local DMV office.

Where do I take the driving test?

You will take the test a local DMV office.

What should I bring to the driving test?

  • NC Learner’s Permit
  • Completed Driving Log
  • $15 for fee
  • A properly functioning vehicle
  • Vehicle registration
  • Proof of insurance

Who should bring me to the driving test?

A licensed parent or legal guardian should bring you.

What will I be asked to do on the driving test?

During the driving test you will be judged on all of the following: approaches to intersections, stop signs and traffic signals; quick stops; backing; stopping, starting and parking; use of the clutch (in vehicles with standard transmissions); turn signals and use of the horn; turning; use of lanes; following another vehicle; passing and being passed; yielding the right of way to pedestrians and other vehicles; driving posture; and performing a three-point turnabout.

What are the most common reasons new drivers fail the driving test?

Common reasons for failure include nerves, failing to listen to the examiner, causing an accident and driving distracted.

What are five mistakes I should be sure to avoid when taking the driving test?

  • Over-correcting during a turn
  • Not coming to a complete stop
  • Not checking the blind spot when changing lanes
  • Going over the speed limit
  • Hitting a cone or going over the line when parking

What happens if I fail the driving test?

You will be allowed to retake the test.

How soon can I retake the test if I failed?

You can retake the test in five days – use the time to practice your driving!

I’ve passed the road test, now what?

You will receive your Provisional Driver’s License.

What restrictions come with a North Carolina license?

Provisional Driver’s License restrictions include:

  • Can drive unsupervised only during the hours of 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. unless for work or volunteer fire and rescue purposes
  • Can only have one passenger under 21 unless they are immediate family members or you are accompanied by a supervising driver

What are the insurance requirements for drivers in NC?

Motor vehicle law in North Carolina requires drivers to carry auto insurance. Minimum coverage requirements are: $30,000 bodily injury for each person; $60,000 total bodily injury for all persons in an accident; and $25,000 for property damage.

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Renewing Your NC License: Frequently Asked Questions

What if I need to renew my license or replace a lost/stolen license?

North Carolina Driver’s License holders will receive a renewal notice approximately 60 days before their license expires. You can renew your license up to six months before its expiration date, however.

To replace a lost or stolen license, visit your local DMV office with proper identification. You will also need $13 for the permit replacement fee.

Where can I renew my North Carolina driver’s license?

You can renew your North Carolina license online (every other time) or in person at the local DMV office.

Will I be required to take a vision test when renewing my license?

When renewing in person, you will need to pass a vision test and a traffic sign recognition test.

During the vision test your sight will be checked to make sure you meet certain standards. If you need corrective lenses to bring your vision up to the required standards, you must wear the lenses at all times while driving and your license will indicate that you must wear corrective lenses.

The penalty for driving without the proper corrective lenses is the same as driving without a license.


The North Carolina DMV Test — What You Need to Know

Imagine how awesome it will be to have your North Carolina learner’s permit. With a permit comes a new level of freedom and independence.  But, before you can hit the open road, you will need to pass the state drive knowledge test. The North Carolina’s Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is responsible for administering the test and has offices throughout the state.  More commonly known as the permit test, the test features questions covering the rules of the road, safe driving techniques, road signs, and North Carolina traffic laws.

Prepare Yourself With NC DMV Practice Tests

People fail the permit test for many reasons. High-anxiety, poor preparation, and lack of practice are usually the top 3.  In fact, state statistics tell us that the majority of applicants fail every year.  A failed test means having to return to the DMV to take the test all over again and in some cases pay an additional testing fee.  With today’s busy schedules, who has time for that? No need to panic.  We’re here to help with our proven and effective study material. On this page, you’ll discover a great collection of study resources, including our free North Carolina practice permit test.  The practice test is designed to give you a sneak peek of the official exam format while helping you get the practice you need. You will also get the added benefit of being able to quickly identify any areas that you need to spend more time on. You’ll also find a copy of the official North Carolina Driver’s Handbook.  Need to get a motorcycle permit?  We have resources to help you with that exam as well. No matter what exam you are preparing for, the tools you find here will help you prepare. You owe it to yourself to prepare the right way.  Freedom is right around the corner.