What Is a Motorcycle License? | A Reliable Guide to Motorcycle Licensing

Let’s face it: licenses are essential items to get from the government or authority in a given area. They ensure lawfulness. By natural default, all human beings love some extent of freedom, and anyone would want to do whatever they want, whenever they want, however they want.

But then that would be a chaotic world! So enter regulations. So enter licenses. And you’ve got to have a valid one all the time. So, what is a motorcycle license? Why should have one?

Today’s article looks at what a motorbike license is, how to get one, the time it takes, and lots more.

Let’s get to it!

What is a Motorcycle License in the USA?

A motorcycle license is a certification or an endorsement given to you by your state to legally allow you to ride a motorcycle in the US.

What information does your motorbike license contain?

Contents of a Motorcycle License

A motorbike license includes details such as:

  • The rider’s photo and signature 
  • Rider’s license number
  • Rider’s name
  • Date of Birth
  • Sex
  • Date of issue
  • Expiry Date
  • Endorsement (in case one has a valid driving license)
  • Replaced license acknowledgment (after a loss)
  • (Optional – the rider states whether they would like to be organ donors)

What is a Motorcycle License Called?

A motorcycle license is also called a Class M license, split into M1 and M2.

An M1 motorbike license allows for riding any motorbike regardless of the capacity

An M2 bike license has various restrictions ranging from riding in a different state to riding time and speed – not beyond 30mph.

Let’s discuss more on this below.

Types of Motorcycle Licenses

Below are the two motorcycle license types in the US. Please note that riding a motorbike without a license or a learner’s permit is an offense.

1. M1 License 

The M1 license allows you to operate any motorcycle, regardless of the engine capacity, without time restrictions, and on public roads, except for those prohibited by sections of the Highway Traffic Act of 1966.

The M1 license lets you ride two-wheel motorcycles, motorized cycles, and motorized scooters. 

 2. M2 License

The M2 License restricts you to operating motorcycles with a speed of less than 30mph and riding during the daytime. 

At night, you must be accompanied by a licensed rider. It also restricts riding in other states. 

With an M2 license, you can operate the following:

  • Motorized bikes/cycles
  • Motorized scooters
  • Mopeds

What is a Motorcycle Permit?

A motorcycle permit is an authorization to practice riding a motorcycle. Your local Department of Motor Vehicles issues you with the permit once you meet some requirements.

Requirements for obtaining a motorcycle permit

The above requirements may vary by state. For example, in Indiana, parents sign an Agreement of Financial Liability for those below 18 years.

How Do You Get a Motorcycle License in the USA?

It’s pretty easy to obtain a motorcycle license in the US.

If you are 16 years and above, you will take and pass all the required tests and get a learner’s permit, which you should hold for six months before getting licensed.

During the six months, you can train on your own or enroll in a motorcycle riding course. You’ll then take and pass the road skills test at your local DMV to be eligible for the license. 

Motorcycle License Requirements in the US

The following are the requirements you will have to meet to get a motorbike license in the US.

1. Proof of Identity and Citizenship

You must show your social security number as a citizen or a valid, unexpired passport as a foreigner.

2. Proof of Lawful and Permanent Residence

You should be living in the US legally by having a valid passport or certificate of naturalization for foreigners.

3. Age

You will be required to provide your birth certificate to prove your age.

4. Medical Tests

It is mandatory in most states to undertake vision tests to be eligible for motorcycle licensing.

5. Motorcycle Safety Course/Training

Motorcycle training is also a must. You must prove that you know how to operate a motorbike. The motorcycle safety course isn’t a must, but we highly recommend taking it.

6. Road Skills Test

You must take and pass the DMV Motorcycle Road Skills Test.

7. Completion Certificate for the Safety Course or DMV Tests

Once you complete and pass the motorcycle safety course, you’ll be issued a motorcycle safety certificate that is valid for two years. 

There is also a certificate from the DMV showing you passed the road skills test. You can present either of these to the DMV to receive your license. 

Tips For Passing a Motorcycle Driving Test The First Time

You do not want to spend ages retaking the motorcycle driving test. Take caution, though. The tests are not a walk in the park. 

You are allowed two retakes if you fail. For the third one, you’ll have to pay.

Here are a few tips to pass the motorcycle licensing test the first time:

1. Study the Motorcycle Handbook back to back

2. Take the MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation) course

3. Practice, practice, practice

4. Research possible test questions

5. Always use the right motorcycle in relation to your height

6. Get help from experienced riders

7. Always be in the right riding gear (helmet, closed boots, eye protection, hardy gloves, riding jacket, and pants for motorcyclists)

8. Start with smaller motorbikes to gain competency

9. Follow recommended regulations like riding during the daytime and not riding on public roads.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Bike License in the USA?

It may be a week or a few months before you get your license. 

You must hold the motorcycle permit for about six months before taking the road test. Once you pass the road test, you’ll wait for a short time for your license to be processed.

Beginners take longer since they need to take tests and practice for some time before getting their learner’s permit and eventually the license.

Is Getting a Motorcycle License Hard?

It’s pretty easy to get a license in the US. You can get motorcycle licensing from 16 years of age, depending on the state. 

After taking the required written test and passing, you will get your learner’s permit.  Beginners are advised to start with the basic riders course offered by the MSF.

You will then practice riding and apply for the road test after holding the learner’s permit for six months. 

Do You Need a Motorcycle License to Drive a Motorcycle? 

You will always need a motorbike license to drive a motorcycle. If you are learning how to ride a bike, you must have a learner’s permit.

Applicable Penalties if You Drive a Motorcycle Without a License 

Penalties vary by state, with monetary penalties or fines ranging from $100 to $1,000. 

Others include confiscating your motorbike and serving jail time concurrently,  increased insurance premiums, or adding offense records to your license.


Now you know what a motorcycle license is, why you need one, and how to get yours to ensure you operate your motorcycle legally. The time and cost of training for the license are cheaper than the penalties when you get caught riding a bike without a valid license.

People Also Ask

While we have explored various aspects of what a motorcycle license is, we understand that you may have some burning questions. Check out the ones below for more details on the subject.

Can I Get My Motorcycle License Online?

You can do some tests for the motorcycle license online, such as the written test that allows you to get a learner’s permit. 

The road skills test itself cannot be done online since it involves physically undertaking it at your local DMV, where you’ll be tested for physical riding techniques such as braking, turning, and stopping. 

Can You Register a Motorcycle Without a License?

You can buy and register a motorcycle without a license, but it won’t be easy to get insurance for it without a license.  

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Motorcycle License?

Getting a motorcycle license will cost you between $230 and $530 or more

The DMV written test costs $10 in most states, while the road test costs $30. 

The motorcycle safety course will cost you between $200 and $500, depending on the training center and the state where you take it. 

The course itself costs between $99 and $200 in most states, but some charge up to $300. Other costs may include lunch, accommodation, fuel, and leasing a bike if you don’t own one.

Can You Get Motorcycle Insurance Without a License?

You can get motorcycle insurance without a license only if you won’t ride the bike right away. Also, you could get insurance if you are gifting the bike to someone else, if your bike is a vintage model, or if it is grounded/garaged. 

Can You Ride a Motorcycle with a Driver’s License? 

You can ride a motorcycle with a driver’s license only if you have a motorcycle endorsement on your car license. You obtain the endorsement after passing the written test. If you want to exclusively ride motorcycles, you must get a motorcycle-specific license. 

About Alex

Hi Friends! Welcome to Motorcycle Exploits. I'm Alex! If you ever had any personal hindrances or doubts about your abilities to ride a motorcycle, then you are in the right place, Mate! My desire is to help you overcome any fears and other personal struggles you have so that you, too, can celebrate your EXPLOITS!