Motorcycle License in California

California offers two classes of motorcycle license: M1 and M2. With an M1 license, you may ride any type of motorcycle with an attached motor, or any motorized scooter. With an M2 classification, you will be permitted to drive a motorized bicycle, a moped, a bicycle with an attached motor, or a motorized scooter only.

How to get a motorcycle license in California:

  • Visit your local California DMV office.
  • Complete a Driver's License or Identification Card Application (Form DL 44).
  • Provide proof of your identity.
  • Pass the California motorcycle written test.
  • Pass a motorcyclist training program or the motorcycle skills test.
  • Pay the $35 motorcycle license/endorsement fee.

For more details, please continue reading.

CA Motorcycle Learner's Permit

Everyone, regardless of age, first gets a learner's permit to practice driving your motorcycle before the driving test. If you're under 21 years old, you must have held your permit for 6 months before the driving test.

To pass the exam, study the California Motorcycle Handbook before your appointment. The handbook contains all of the information, rules, and laws that apply to motorcycles. It's also full of helpful hints and tips.

NOTE: All applicants under 21 years old must complete a state-approved motorcycle safety course.

How to Apply for a California Motorcycle Permit

Start by calling your local DMV office to make an appointment to apply for your license and take the written motorcycle licensing exam.

Permit Restrictions

With your motorcycle learner's permit, you may practice driving a motorcycle. However, you are not allowed to:

  • Drive your motorcycle at night.
  • Drive your motorcycle on the freeway.
  • Carry any passengers on your motorcycle.

Your $35 learner's permit application fee will be good for 12 months. You may take the written and skills tests 3 times. If your application expires before you pass the tests and are issued a license, you must start the application process all over.

Form DL 44

If you'd like to do your paperwork prior to your appointment, call (800) 777-0133 to request DMV Form DL 44. The form must contain an original signature and isn't available from the Internet. You may also pick up a copy at your local DMV office, or complete it on the day of your appointment.

At Your Appointment

You will need to:

No Driver License

If you don't have a regular driver license, you must also:

Additionally, you must complete all the requirements to be eligible for a learner's permit. These include:

Once you have passed a vision and written test you will be given a M1 or M2 permit. This will allow you to practice riding.

All riders under 21 years old are required to take a motorcycle training course provided by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and to receive a Certificate of Completion of Motorcycle Training (DL389).

Getting Your Motorcycle License: Under 21

If you're under 21 years old, you may apply for your motorcycle license after you already have a learner's permit or driver's license, if:

  • You are at least 16 years old.
    • If you're younger than 18 years old, you must have held your motorcycle learner's permit for at least 6 months.
  • You've passed a California motorcycle training program approved by the California Highway Patrol, and been issued a Certificate of Completion of Motorcycle Training (DL389).

Bring the motorcycle class completion certificate to the California DMV, and they'll issue you an interim license valid for 90 days, until you receive your new photo license in the mail. The fee is $35.

Getting Your Motorcycle License: 21 & Older

For applicants at least 21 years old, if you hold no other license, you may be required to complete other tests before being allowed to take the skills test. If you currently hold a valid CA license you can:

If you elect to complete a state-approved safety course, the DMV-administered skills test will be waived.

Transferring an Out-of-State License

Visit any DMV location, or save time by calling ahead for an appointment. You will be required to take a written exam, so studying California's Motorcycle Handbook is strongly encouraged.

When you arrive to apply and take the exam, you must:

  • Provide either your original birth certificate or a passport.
  • Provide your license.
  • Complete Form DL 44.
  • Pay a $35 application fee.

Motorcycle Skills Tests in California

You may enroll in the Basic RiderCourse training program. Successful completion of the course will exempt you from taking the skills test in order to get your license. It might also lower your insurance rates, so it's a good bet. Riders under 21 years old are required to enroll in this course.

Otherwise, make an appointment at your local DMV office to take a motorcycle driving test.

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