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Motorcycle License in Tennessee

Tennessee provides ideal roadside landscapes, fit for any motorcycle rider to enjoy. As you rumble down the mountain and prairie roads, tall grasses and trees, lush with leaves, sway in the warm wind.

If you think this sounds like the perfect way to experience the Volunteer State, keep reading to find out how you can apply for a Tennessee motorcycle license.

New to Tennessee

If you recently moved to Tennessee and already have an out-of-state motorcycle license or endorsement, within 30 days of establishing residency you'll need to go to your local Department of Safety (DOS) full-service office and:

  • Surrender EITHER your:
    • Out-of-state motorcycle license.
      OR
    • Certified copy of your driving record.
  • Submit documents proving your:
  • Take a vision screening.
  • Pass the DOS' motorcycle written and road exams IF your out-of-state license is expired for more than 6 months.

Types of TN Motorcycle Licenses

In Tennessee the different types of Class M motorcycle license you can apply for are as follows:

  • Motorcycle-only: A license that specifically allows you to operate any motorcycle with 2 wheels or 3 wheels displacing 126 cc or more.
  • Motorcycle-secondary: Motorcycle endorsement added to an existing license, allowing you to drive a motorcycle PLUS the vehicle(s) that license is valid for.
    • EXAMPLE: If you have a Class D license, applying for a motorcycle-secondary credential would give you a Class DM license, allowing you to operate a standard passenger vehicle AND a motorcycle.

Motorcycle License Eligibility Requirements

Generally speaking, the requirements for getting your Tennessee motorcycle license are as follows:

  • Be at least 15 years old (see Teen Applicants below for specific info).
  • EITHER:
    • Complete a Motorcycle Safety Foundation education course (see below).
      OR
    • Pass the written knowledge exam(s) for:
      • Class M motorcycle license.
      • Class D standard license IF you don't already possess this license.
  • Pass the on-road motorcycle skills test.
  • Pay the necessary licensing fees and receive your TN motorcycle license!

Teen Applicants

Applicants who are younger than 18 years old must meet additional requirements:

  • Hold/apply for a motorcycle learner permit (Class PM).
    • Requirement for applicants 15 years old.
    • When you turn 16 years old, you can go to your local DOS full-service office and trade your restricted, Class PM permit for an unrestricted, Class M license.
  • Submit the appropriate documents verifying you're enrolled in school.

If you'd like to simultaneously apply for a Class D permit or license, you'll also need to provide a Certification of 50 Hours Behind the Wheel Driving Experience (Form SF-1256). This verifies that you've practiced driving a car for at least 50 hours under the supervision of a licensed adult.

For more on Tennessee's requirements for teen drivers, visit our guide to applying for a teen license.

TN Motorcycle Learner Permits

For applicants who are 15 years old, you'll first need to earn a motorcycle learner permit. To get your TN motorcycle learner permit, go to your local TN Department of Safety full-service office and:

  • Submit verification of school enrollment.
  • Provide proof of:
  • EITHER:
    • Present a certificate of MSF course completion.
      OR
    • Pass the following tests:
      • Written knowledge for Class D (if you don't already have a standard permit or license) and motorcycle license.
      • Road skills test.
  • Pay the $6.50 motorcycle permit fee.

The DOS will then issue your TN motorcycle learner's permit, which will be valid for 1 year.

Once you turn 16 years old you can return to any full-service DOS office and have your permit upgraded to an unrestricted Class M motorcycle license, without additional testing.

Motorcycle Permit Restrictions

While riding your motorcycle with a Class PM learner permit, keep certain restrictions in mind. In Tennessee, you're prohibited from:

  • Carrying passengers.
  • Using interstate highways.
  • Riding motorcycles:
    • Displacing more than 650 cc.
    • At night.
    • More than 20 miles away from your house.

Getting Your TN Motorcycle License

To get your TN motorcycle license, go to any full-service Department of Safety office location and do following:

You'll then receive your Tennessee motorcycle license! A motorcycle-only Class M license will be valid for 8 years. A motorcycle-secondary license will expire when your Class A, B, C, or D license expires.

*NOTE: If you've never held a standard Class D license, you'll also need to present proof that you've passed the written knowledge exam for Class D license.

Motorcycle Education in TN

Although motorcycle education isn't required, enrolling in a Motorcycle Safety Foundation course can make getting your Tennessee motorcycle license a lot easier.

If you complete a MSF course, the Department of Safety will allow you to waive the motorcycle written and road exams. More importantly, if you're a first-time rider, taking the Basic RiderCourse teaches you invaluable skills like:

  • Smooth turning and braking.
  • Finding the safest path for riding.
  • Choosing protective riding gear.
  • Dealing with emergency situations.

If you'd like to learn more about motorcycle safety courses in TN, take a look at the DOS' guide to motorcycle rider education. When you're ready to enroll in a course, contact the DOS-approved motorcycle education provider closest to you.

Tennessee Motorcycle License Fees

The fees associated with getting your Tennessee motorcycle license are as follows:

  • Class PM motorcycle learner permit: $6.50.
  • Class M motorcycle license (motorcycle only): $29.
  • Class D with Class M motorcycle-secondary license: $55.

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