How to Get a Learner’s Permit in North Carolina

North Carolina Learners Permit Guide
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North Carolina, like most states, uses a graduated driver’s licensing program.

The GDL program helps teens learn the rules of the road while practicing before they get an unrestricted license at 18.

This guide shares:

  • Learner’s permit requirements
  • Steps and procedures
  • Fees and other expenses

Teens should know they must attend school while going through the program. If a teen fails to continue school, then they will have their license revoked. Those who get extended (10-day or longer) suspension will have their permit revoked for up to 1-year.

Teens must take a driver’s education course before applying for a learner’s permit.

Here’s everything you need to know about a North Carolina learner’s permit.

Getting Your NC Learner’s Permit: Step-by-Step

Teens will visit the DMV when applying for their learner.

Find a DMVClick for NC DMVear you.

Teens begin their licensing process at 14 ½ years old with a driver’s education course. From there, a learner’s permit becomes available when they turn 15 years old. This goes on through a provisional to full provisional, eventually leading to an adult driver’s license.

You may take a driver’s education course at:

  • Local accredited schools
  • Online accredited classes

This gives 6-months of study before getting a learner’s permit.

The driver’s ed class lets teens get a limited driving permit with (licensed) adult supervision. Here’s what else teens need for their learner’s permit:

  • Be at least 15 years old
  • Have taken a driver’s education course
  • Showing proof of ID and residency
    • ID:
      • Birth Certificate
      • S. Passport
      • Social Security Card
    • Residency:
      • Court Order
      • Bank Statement
    • Get a parent/guardian to sign the application
    • Pay the $20 learner’s permit fee
    • Pass a written and road sign test
    • Pass a vision test

Gather and prepare these documents beforehand, making your trip to the DMV quick and easy.

About Driver Education Courses

A driver’s education course is required before you can get a learner’s permit. Yet, you can always start early to prepare for your written tests. Plus, get the behind-the-wheel experience for the driving test as you graduate through the program. You can find them through local schools and services. Or available online with accredited providers.

About the Written Test

The state of North Carolina requires you to do a written test when applying. This test is multiple choice, measuring your ability to recognize road signs and rules of the road. We recommend taking an online driving practice test to improve your passing chances.

What You’ll Do at the DMV

Bring all the following:

  • Proof of ID
  • Proof of residency
  • Proof of driving certificate
  • Proof of enrollment

At the DMV, teens will need to:

  1. Show your documents
  2. Pass the written and signed test
  3. Pay the DMV application fee
  4. Take a vision screening
  5. Receive the learner’s permit

Teen drivers will pay a $20 learner’s permit application fee.

Congratulations! You’ve got a learner’s permit in North Carolina!

Remember: Continue showing safe driving and regular school attendance.

Getting Behind-the-Wheel Experience

Teens can drive with an approved licensed driver, parent, or guardian. This behind-the-wheel experience happens during the 1-year gap between permit and provisional license.

Respect your restrictions:

  • Always wear seatbelts
  • Drive between 5 AM to 9 PM (in the first six months)
  • No mobile phone use when driving

Failing to show driving responsibility may forfeit your ability to get a license.

When applying for a provisional license, you will submit a driving log (Form DL-4A). The log counts 60 hours of behind-the-wheel experience. You can log in batches but no more than 10 hours weekly.

Be sure to keep a log whenever you can! When submitting, you’ll also need your adult/guardian’s/instructor’s signature on this form. You’ll also need a clean record, so be on your best behavior.

Getting Your Limited and Provisional Driver’s License

First-time drivers who have held their permit for at least 12 months may on to their limited and provisional license. This intermediate license(s) gives more freedom on the road. Of course, this is given the teen continues respecting driving laws and restrictions and stays in school.

Ready for the next step? Click for our North Carolina Provisional (Teen) License Guide.