Motorcycle License in New York
To ride a motorcycle in New York, state residents must have a Class M or Class MJ (junior) driver license or learner's permit. There are a few different application processes, depending on whether you already have a New York driver license or a motorcycle license from another state.
You might want to look at our Applying for a New License section for some background on applying for licenses in general. Then, to specifically obtain a motorcycle license, choose the section below that applies to you:
You Already Have a Motorcycle License From Another State
This is too easy! Fill out an Application for Driver License or Non-Driver ID Card (Form MV-44) to exchange your out-of-state license for a New York license. Take this form to a local DMV office, provide proof of identity and date of birth, surrender your out-of-state license, pay the fee (the DMV won't calculate this until you apply), take a photo, and collect your temporary license. Your permanent license will arrive in the mail in about 2 weeks.
You Already Have a New York Driver License or Learner's Permit
About the only break you get here is that you don't need to take a pre-licensing course or a driver education course. Instead, study the Motorcycle Manual so you can pass the written motorcycle test. Appear at a local DMV office that administers written tests with your filled-out Application for Driver License or Non-Driver ID Card (Form MV-44) and the $21 to $120 permit fee.
After taking and passing the written motorcycle test, the DMV will issue you a learner's permit. This permit is valid for 1 year.
The Class M or Class MJ learner's permit allows you to drive a motorcycle as long as a driver 21 years old or older with a valid motorcycle license supervises you and remains within 1/4 mile of you at all times. There are additional restrictions on Class MJ permits that dictate when, where, and with whom you may practice; review the rules posted at the DMV website.
Although it's not required, the DMV strongly recommends that you enroll in a commercial motorcycle riding school to learn the special skills required to ride safely (motorcyclists face different safety and visibility challenges from those driving cars). Such a course would help you get the practice you need―the DMV recommends 30 hours of riding practice, 10 hours of that in medium to high-volume traffic, before you take your riding test―and might even prompt the DMV to waive your riding test altogether (see the bottom of this page).
Barring a waiver, after you've practiced for 30 hours it's time to schedule your road test. Since you already have a New York driver license, the prelicensing and driver education requirements cited on that scheduling Web page don't apply to you.
What you do need to provide, however, are both a registered and inspected motorcycle with the correct equipment for you to ride, and a registered and inspected car or truck operated by a licensed driver 18 years old or over to transport the license examiner during the road test. Read these road test tips before you schedule your test.
Since you are adding your new Class M license to an existing Class D license, the procedure once you pass your road test is unique. The examiner will issue you a temporary motorcycle license. At least 7 days after your road test, bring your motorcycle learner's permit, temporary motorcycle license, and current photo driver license back to the DMV office. Complete another Application for Driver License or Non-Driver ID (Form MV-44), checking the box that says "Change" and writing "Add Class M" or "Add Class MJ" in the box that says, "Other change." Pay the $12.50 document fee. You will be issued a new license that lists both driver license classes.
You do not Have a New York Driver License or Learner's Permit
Even though you plan to only ride a motorcycle, you will be sharing the road with regular motor vehicles and need to be trained the same way those drivers were so that you're all operating with the same understanding. Therefore, the instructions for getting a motorcycle license when it's your first license are similar to the instructions above, except that you'll need to study two manuals―the Motorcycle Manual and the Driver's Manual―and take both written tests.
You will still fill out an Application for Driver License or Non-Driver ID (Form MV-44) and go to the local DMV office to apply for the license and take the test, but you'll pay the full application fee for an original license.
You will be issued a Class M or Class MJ learner's permit, and all the same information under the "Learner's Permit" heading above will apply to you. In addition, you will be required to take either a pre-licensing course or a full driver education course before you can make your road test appointment. More information about these courses is available on our Driver Education and Driver's Training pages. Again, it's not required but the DMV recommends that you enroll in a rider training course to learn specialized motorcycle skills.
When you have completed the required courses and practice, you may schedule your road test. In addition to providing a certificate of completion from either a prelicensing or a driver education course, you'll also need to provide both a registered and inspected motorcycle with the correct equipment for you to ride, and a registered and inspected car or truck operated by a licensed driver 18 years old or over to transport the license examiner during the road test. Read these road test tips before you schedule your test.
Once you pass your road test, the examiner will issue you a temporary motorcycle license and your permanent photo license will arrive in the mail in about 2 weeks.
Road Test Waiver
In all cases, you might be eligible to waive the motorcycle road test if you show the DMV that you have completed an approved rider course in the state of New York.
For more information about New York motorcycle licenses, visit the following Web pages:
Apply for standard driver's licenses, permits, or ID cards, or to renew, replace, or make changes to them.