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 U.S.) or your passport
    • I-20
    • 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.
      If you have an F-1 status visa and are living on campus, you may obtain a letter of proof from Julie Fleming (DSO) in lieu of these documents.
  3. 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 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., M-F. Applicants must arrive before 3 p.m. 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 a.m. We recommend that you arrive no later than 7:45 a.m. in order to be at the front of the line.
  4. DMV Driving License Applicants 18 Years of Age and Older: To obtain a North Carolina driver license for the first time, applicants must provide the NCDMV with proof of their full name and date of birth, state residence, legal presence and evidence of a Social Security Number. Additionally, drivers license applicants must submit proof of vehicle liability insurance. Furthermore, DMV drivers license applicants must provide the NCDMV with the following:
    • Two proofs of age and identity (such as a learner permit, ID card, certified birth certificate or an original Social Security card)
    • One proof of Social Security Number (such as a Social Security card, W-2 or 1099 form, DD-214, Medicare or Medicaid card, or a payroll record)
    • One proof of North Carolina residency (such as a utility or cable bill)
    • One proof of legal presence in U.S., if applicable (such as a permanent resident card)
    • Proof of automobile liability insurance coverage (such as an insurance binder, Form DL-123 or a policy card)

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.