Motorists will continue to visit a local DMV office, take tests and get a photo. But drivers will only receive a temporary paper license valid for 20 days.
With the new process, DMV employees will scrutinize identification data before licenses are mailed to the recipient. Most customers should then receive a license in about a week.
Officials say they believe it'll help fight identity theft and fraud by verifying records.
Federal authorities say North Carolina is one of the easiest places for illegals to get a license.
On Monday, several offices in Wake County will only be open half the day to prepare for a new process.
The General Assembly approved the central-issuing system in 2006.