When is a Motorcycle License Required? – You Will Love This One!

Motorcycles with learners' plates. Obtaining a learner's permit and taking a motorcycle course are some of the requirements for getting a motorcycle license.

A motorcycle license is important for you to legally operate a motorcycle in any state in the US. 

While you can use a motorcycle endorsement or a rider’s permit in some states, you may face penalties or jail time if you overlook the motorcycle license requirements of your state.

Age is crucial when getting a motorcycle license or permit. Depending on your state, the right age usually starts from 16 and then you are at liberty to get a motorcycle license when you turn 18 years old. 

Getting a motorcycle license is inexpensive and usually takes only a few weeks. 

Below are more details you need to know concerning motorcycle licensing, the requirements, and whether or not you need to get one.

When Do I Need a Motorcycle License?

A yellow motorcycle parked on a paved public place. You will always need a motorcycle driver's license to ride on public roads.

There are a lot of instances that will require you to have a valid motorcycle license. As you go through them below, try to align them with the motorcycle licensing in the state you are in.

1. When riding a scooter or moped with a 150cc engine or smaller, you will need a motorcycle license. However, if your scooter is below 50cc, most states will only consider your age, usually 16 years.

2. If you will be riding your motorcycle on public roads, you will need to have a motorcycle license to avoid getting into problems with traffic police. Traffic police can pull you over anytime, and if you do not have a license, you risk getting jail time or a fine of up to $1,000.

3. A motorcycle license is also required if you plan to ride your bike in a different state. You may be visiting or enjoying a road trip; but remember, different states have different rules regarding motorcycle licensing. 

Riding your motorbike in a different state with a valid license will save you a lot of time dealing with the local authorities.

Do I Need a Motorcycle License for a 150cc Scooter?

Yes. The issuance of motorcycle licenses in the US varies from state to state. The regulations that govern scooters also depend on where you live, and these little cutes machines also require registration, the same as motorcycles. 

For some states like California, you may only need a standard driver’s license or a learner’s permit. 

You may not need a permit in other states, but they are strict on age limitations. For instance, in North Carolina, riders must be at least 16 years old.

Do All States Require a Motorcycle License?

Yes. All 50 states require a rider to have a valid motorcycle license to legally and freely operate a motorcycle. A motorcycle endorsement or permit can also work if you use public roads. 

A motorcycle permit is usually for riders below 18 years old in most states. The minimum age is 15 to 16 with a complete motorcycle driver’s education course, which you must pass, including the vision tests.

Do You Need a Motorcycle License to Buy a Motorcycle?

Buying a motorcycle without a license is possible, and it is legal. 

Before selling you a motorcycle, no dealer will ask you for a motorcycle license. It only becomes illegal if you ride the motorcycle without a valid motorcycle license. 

There is no law that states you must have a license to buy a motorcycle. I would be pissed if there was!

How Do I Get a Motorcycle License?

You can train on your own and apply for a motorbike license once you are confident in your riding skills. You can also learn how to ride with the help of a friend or relative, then go and take the license test to get your riding license.

Alternatively, you can take a motorbike safety course from a registered Motorcycle Safety Foundation center and get an endorsement letter or course completion certificate that will enable you to get your license. 

The course is available for those beginning afresh and those looking to refresh their skills. Sorry to snow on your barbecue, but take it from me, refreshing your riding skills from time to time does you a lot of good in the long run when it comes to motorcycling safety.

Once you have successfully finished the course and passed the road skills test, you get a completion certificate to present to your state while applying for the license. 

You might not need to take the road test to get the license in most states when you present the completion certificate from the MSF. For me, this came as a plus as I saved time and money!

What Are the Requirements to Get a Motorcycle License? 

 A motorcycle parked in a public area. A motorbike license is needed to drive a motorcycle on public roads.

To get your motorcycle license, you must meet a plethora of requirements, depending on your state. 

You can apply for Class M1 or M2 at any DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) office. 

You must meet the requirements of the M1 and M2 license sections, which include the following for people 18 years or older:

  • Meeting the requirements for a regular driver’s license, such as state residency, US citizenship or lawful presence, Social Security Number, and identity proof.
  • Having a valid motorcycle license received in another state (which may waive the requirement of the motorcycle safety course)
  • Choosing the right motorcycle for the riding test
  • Passing the motorcycle skills test
  • Obtaining a certificate of completion, which is usually valid for 2 years from the issuance date
  • Passing the motorcycle knowledge test
  • Paying the necessary fees needed.

Once you get your motorcycle you will need to renew it to remain valid.

Where Can I Go for the Required Course to Get a Motorcycle License?

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation offers various riding courses to beginners and experienced riders. 

Motorcycle licenses are issued at the DMV offices and by appointment only. Once you are there, the officer in charge will give you the necessary tests or courses. If you meet all the requirements, the process of licensing starts in earnest.

The process is usually different if you come from the MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation) with a completion certificate or if you come directly from home to get a license. 

The MSF completion certificate will prove that you have successfully undergone all the necessary training at the DMV office. 

On the other hand, coming from home means you will have to prove to the officer that you can handle a motorcycle.

How Much is a Motorcycle License?

The cost of a motorcycle license will depend on your age, experience, and the type of license you need. The license application fee varies from state to state. 

The license application amount usually ranges between $25 and $100. If you get a motorcycle permit before a license, you will need to pay a separate application fee from the required license fee. 

Younger riders have to pay more for motorcycle certification and licensing than older drivers aged 18 and over. Additionally, getting a motorcycle endorsement is cheaper than the license because you only pay for modifying the existing license. 

If you need to update or renew an existing license, it will cost $10 to $20, depending on the state.

What Happens if I Get Pulled Over Without a Motorcycle License?

A motorcycle parked near a truck on a public area. Motorcyclists need a valid license to ride on public areas and roads.

Many states take the offense of riding a motorcycle without a license seriously, and it can result in fines or jail terms. 

For instance, in California, riding a motorcycle without a license could lead to a fine of up to $1,000 plus a jail term of six months if the offense is treated as a misdemeanor. 

Other states may have lax penalties, but it’s never a good idea to ride a motorcycle without a license. Repeat offenders usually face penalties that accumulate with each offense they commit. Don’t lose your hard-earned money!

Now I Know. What Next?

A motorcycle license is as important as a driver’s license. The license proves that you have the necessary training, competence, and qualifications to operate a motorcycle. 

Now that you know when a motorbike license is required, I would love for you to learn more about licensing and general motorcycling by checking out my other posts below:

People Also Ask

I have covered the various issues that surround the licensing process, but you may need more information on the same. Here are some pointers. 

Does a Motorcycle License Expire?

Yes. Motorcycle licenses do expire, usually after 1-8 years from the date of issuance, depending on the state and your age. 

For example, in Florida, you must renew your license on an 8-year basis. If you are over 80 years old in this state, you must renew the license after every six years. As we saw in my other post, you’ll probably have stopped riding motorcycles by the time you are 80 years old. 

Once your license expires, you can always renew it. You only have to visit the office that issued the license and pay the renewal fee, which varies from state to state.

Do You Need a Driver’s License to Get a Motorcycle License?

Yes and no. You don’t need a car driver’s license to get a motorcycle license. However, some states require you to have a standard driver’s license to obtain a motorcycle license or an M endorsement on your driver’s license to ride a motorcycle. 

Some states will only require you to have met the requirements for obtaining a car driver’s license in addition to qualifying for a motorbike license.

Knowing how to drive a car may not help you much with riding a motorcycle safely. What actually helps is knowing how to ride a bicycle, and I haven’t heard of a state or country that issues a bicycle riding 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!