North Carolina

North Carolina

Final grade: B

Exclusion Grade


Relevance Grade


Due Process Grade



  • Boards must evaluate multiple mitigating factors (including evidence of rehabilitation) for licensing applications.
  • Bans agencies from using “moral turpitude” to disqualify applicants.

Areas of Improvement

  • Ban agencies from relying on arrest records or old convictions.
  • Extend directly related test to cover all crimes.

Updated February 2023

After enacting a major overhaul in 2019, North Carolina earns a B for its final grade. However, unlike nearly all other states, North Carolina exempts sexual and violent crimes from its directly related test, allowing boards to deny applicants even if their criminal record is completely unrelated to the license sought.

As part of that 2019 reform bill, the Tar Heel State implemented in-depth reporting. Since then, North Carolina licensing boards have issued licenses to more than 18,300 people with criminal records. Only 151 applicants have been denied a license due to their criminal record, a denial rate of just 0.76%.

The agencies that have granted the most licenses to people with criminal records were:

  1. Real Estate Commission (8,366)
  2. Board of Barber Examiners (4,243)
  3. Board of CPA Examiners (1,813)
  4. Board of Nursing (1,030)
  5. Addictions Specialist Professional Practice Board (456).

Statute: N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 93B-8.1 (2019)

Overarching ban on blanket bans Yes
Ban on considering arrest records No
Ban on considering post-conviction relief records No
Time limit No limit
Ban on vague, discretionary character standards Yes
Relationship between the crime and the license sought “Directly related,” excluding sexual or violent crimes
Required factors for consideration
Rehabilitation Yes
Time elapsed since crime was committed Yes
Age when crime was committed Yes
Employment History No
Testimonials Yes
Due Process
Petition Process Yes
Burden of Proof Both unspecified
Right to appeal Yes
Written notice requirement Yes