Motorcycle Licenses ~ How To Get A Motorcycle License

To legally ride a motorcycle on public roads, you’ll need a motorcycle license. While the requirements for a motorcycle license vary by state (and by country), below are general guidelines.

Minimum Age Requirement
Each state has a minimum age requirement for obtaining a motorcycle license or endorsement. This age is typically 16 or 18.

Motorcycle Learner’s Permit
Before obtaining a full motorcycle license, many states require new riders to first get a learner’s permit. You’ll typically need to pass a written exam to get your permit. A learner’s permit for motorcycles often has restrictions, such as not riding after dark, not carrying passengers and/or not riding on highways.

Written Test For A Motorcycle License
Most states require that you pass a written examination that covers motorcycle operation, safety rules, and sometimes specific motorcycle laws. Many states provide a motorcycle manual, handbook, or website resource to help you prepare for the exam.

Skills Test For A Motorcycle License
After passing the written test, you’ll need to pass a skills test. You’ll be asked to demonstrate your riding skills and your ability to safely operate a motorcycle in various conditions and situations. Some testing centers might require that specific safety gear be worn during the test (such as helmets, gloves, and protective jackets). Many states will allow you to waive the skills test if you’ve successfully completed a motorcycle safety course.

Motorcycle Training Courses
Some states require new riders to complete a state-approved motorcycle safety training course. Even if a motorcycle training course isn’t mandatory in your state, it can be beneficial. You’ll develop valuable skills, and completing the course might allow you to skip the skills test at the DMV and or entitle you to a discount on motorcycle insurance. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) offers courses in many locations across the U.S.

Documentation And Fees For A Motorcycle License
In most states, you’ll pay a fee for the motorcycle application, written test, skills test, and issuance of your license or endorsement. When applying, you’ll also need to provide proof of identity and residency.

Eye Tests
Some states might require that you pass an eye exam as part of the motorcycle licensing process.

Motorcycle Insurance
In most states, motorcycle insurance is mandatory, and you might need to show proof of insurance before you can get your motorcycle license.

Endorsements vs. Separate Licenses For Motorcycles
In some states, a motorcycle license is an “endorsement” added to your regular driver’s license, while in other states, it’s a separate document.

Renewal And Expiration Of Motorcycle Licenses And Endorsements
Motorcycle licenses need to be renewed periodically. The duration varies from state to state and might or might not coincide with your regular driver’s license.

If you have a motorcycle endorsement (meaning it’s added to your regular driver’s license), then it will typically expire at the same time as your driver’s license does. If your state issues a separate motorcycle license (distinct from your regular driver’s license), then the expiration dates of your two licenses might be different. Also, it’s important to note that when you’re renewing your motorcycle license, some states might have additional requirements for the motorcycle endorsement or license, such as a refresher course or re-certification.

International Riding Requirements
If you plan to ride in a foreign country, you might need an International Driving Permit (IDP) that includes a motorcycle endorsement!

See related topics:
Motorcycle Safety Courses, Classes, And Training
Motorcycle Insurance
Motorcycle Insurance Companies