Motorcycle License in Iowa

How to Get Licensed

If the open road is calling your name, don't hop on a motorcycle just yet. Iowa law requires that residents have a license valid for motorcycles before riding by themselves.

A motorcycle license is also known as a Class M license. You can add a motorcycle license to your current Iowa driver's license by passing a motorcycle knowledge test and an on-cycle evaluation. There is a per-year charge of $2 to add a Class M license to your existing Iowa driver's license.

If you don't have a valid Iowa driver's license, you can get a motorcycle-only license. However, you'll be asked to complete the written test for the Class C noncommercial driver's license in addition to the necessary motorcycle tests to prove that you are familiar with the Iowa Driver's Manual. A motorcycle-only license costs $6 per year.

To prepare for the written motorcycle exam, you can study the Iowa Motorcycle Operator Manual. Printed manuals are also available at your local Iowa Department of Transportation driver's license station.

The riding test provides an opportunity for an Iowa DOT representative to assess your vehicle control skills. You'll be scored on your ability to make critical decisions and obey traffic laws. During the exam, you'll be asked to make a sharp left turn, normal stop, right U-turn, cone weave, obstacle swerve, and quick stop.

Motorcycle Instruction Permits

A motorcycle instruction permit allows you to operate a motorcycle when accompanied by a licensed driver. The person accompanying you must remain within sight and hearing distance at all times and must be on or in a different motor vehicle.

A motorcycle instruction permit is valid for the same amount of time as your current driver's license. It can be added to your valid Iowa driver's license for $2 per year.

Motorcycle Safety

The following tips can help you stay safe while operating your motorcycle:

  • Don't drink and drive. Alcohol is the most common contributor to motorcycle-related crashes. In fact, studies show nearly half of all fatal accidents were caused by an intoxicated driver.
  • Get the training you need. Did you know that many people involved in motorcycle accidents had no formal instruction in how to operate their bike? Taking an organized riding course can help you learn more about how to protect yourself. For additional information, contact the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.
  • Wear protective gear. Always wear a helmet when riding your motorcycle. For added protection, wear brightly colored or reflective clothing.
  • Be courteous and alert. Communicate your intentions to other drivers by using the correct signals. Keep an eye on the road ahead of you to identify potential safety hazards.

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