Getting a Driver's License in North Carolina


Follow these Steps to Obtain a Driver's License

  1. Download and study the Driver’s Handbook. You will have to take a written test and a driving test even if you already have an International license. If you have never had any Driver’s Education classes, or have never had a license in your home country, you should consider attending a driving school. You may find information about local schools on the internet.

  2. Gather your identification documents. You must have:

    a proof of identity such as a birth certificate (if born in the US) or your passport
    I-94; click here to obtain an I-94
    In addition, you must have proof of residency, such as your official HPU transcript (obtainable at the Registrar’s office) or a bank statement sent to your HPU address. These must be ORIGINAL documents – no copies.

  3. Part 1: Take the written test at the local DMV office: 1914 E Dixon Blvd, Shelby, NC 28150, 704-480-5408 or 596 Withrow Rd, Forest City, NC 28043, 828-286-2973. Hours are 8:00 am – 5:00 pm, M-F. Applicants must arrive before 3 pm if you plan to take the driving test that day. Making an appointment one week before you plan to take the test is advisable. It can cut down on the wait time. Call the DMV office to schedule your appointment.

    WARNING: There is usually a line at the DMV, and it is not uncommon to wait an hour or two before being called. This process will take a couple of hours at least, so don’t plan to go on a morning when you have a class before 11 am. We recommend that you arrive no later than 7:45 am in order to be at the front of the line.

  4. Part 2: Take the driving test. (You do not have to take the driving test on the same day that you take the written test. You must pass the written test before you will be allowed to take the driving test.) Prior to taking the driving test, you must obtain Non-Owner’s Insurance from the insurance carrier of your choice. The OISS has a list of local agents who offer this type of insurance. Usually there is a deposit of around $150, with monthly payments ranging from $135 and up, depending on driving experience, age, and driving record (if you have one). You can call the insurance company and purchase a policy with a credit card. Print the policy information that is provided to you and take it with you to the DMV.

    GWU does not provide a vehicle for you to drive for the test, so you should see if a friend is willing to take you to the site and allow you to drive his or her car. Do not drive your friend’s car to the testing site yourself — until you are licensed you should not get behind the wheel. Driving schools will allow you to use their vehicle for the driving test if you have paid for a certain number of lessons.

Purchasing/Leasing a Car

For helpful information about purchasing a car in the US, visit this site: Cars & College: A Complete Guide

Short-Term Car Rental

If you do not plan to purchase or lease your own car, but would like a license so that you can drive a rental, you are not legally required to maintain the non-owner’s insurance after passing the test; however it is advisable to have your own insurance if you are going to borrow friends’ cars.