To obtain a California motorcycle license, riders are required to meet the applicable licensing requirements and submit the necessary documents and fee payments to a local CA Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office. Two separate types of motorcycle drivers license documents are issued by the state DMV. The CA M1 license is issued for any two- or three-wheeled vehicle, regardless of its engine size. The M2 license, on the other hand, is available for motorized scooters, mopeds and motorized bicycles. The holders of a Class M1 license can also operate any vehicle covered under the M2 designation as well as any motor-driven cycle with less than a 150 cc engine size. To learn more about obtaining a motorbike license in California, continue reading the sections below.

Motorcycle License Requirements in California

During the application process for a DMV motorcycle license in California, riders will be required to fulfill several requirements, which vary based on the applicant’s age. For example, adult riders are not required to hold a learner’s permits for a mandatory 6-month period. To get a license, applicants will be required to meet the following CA motorcycle license requirements, regardless of whether they are obtaining a Class M1 or Class M2 license:

  • Be at least 16 years of age.
  • Obtain standard driver’s education certification if younger than 18 years old.
  • Complete a mandatory motorcycle training course if younger than 21 years old.
  • Hold an instruction permit for a minimum of six months if younger than 21 years of age
  • Prove they are physically and mentally fit to operate a motorcycle and that they have the skills necessary to safely operate a motorcycle.
  • Provide the mandatory proofs of identity, birth date, legal U.S. presence, full name, Social Security Number and state residency.

To avoid any delays in the application process for a CA motorcycle license, ensure that you collect all required supporting paperwork prior to making your office visit. Regardless of whether you are seeking an M1 permit or full bike license, you will need to provide necessary document to receive credentials. To obtain the full list of acceptable supporting documentation, contact the state DMV. Depending on whether or not you are a U.S. citizen, the accepted documents list may vary. Applicants younger than 18 years old will also require their parents’ signature on the application form.

Note: If you are transferring an out-of-state motorcycle license in CA, then contact the department to learn more about the licensing requirements in such cases.

California Motorcycle License Training Courses

Completing a motorcycle-training course when getting your motorcycle license in California is a mandatory step that must be completed only if you are younger than 21 years of age. However, in the event that you are not required to graduate from a training course to get a motorcycle license, you can still complete a course for purposes of improving your riding skills and becoming exempt from taking the practical skills test.

The California Motorcyclist Safety Program (CMSP), administered by the California Highway Patrol (CHP), is the official state-approved training course for bike riders. After completing the course, you will receive a Certificate of Completion of Motorcycle Training (Form DL 389), which can be used to earn a test waiver. If you are applying for a DMV motorcycle license and submitting the DL 389 form, then you will be required to do so within 12 months of completing the course.

California Motorcycle License Tests

The department will issue a motorcycle drivers license in California only to riders who prove they are mentally and physically fit and who have the necessary theoretical and practical skills to safely operate a motorcycle. To check the readiness of applicants receiving a license for motorcycle use, the department administers several types of tests.

The first types of exams that you are required to pass when getting a motorcycle license in CA are the vision screening and the motorcycle knowledge exam. However, when applying for motorcycle license credentials, you will also have to pass the standard knowledge test for a driver’s license in the event that you do not hold a noncommercial license to drive. After passing these tests, you will be issued a CA motorcycle permit, which you can use to practice for the road skills test. Then, you can schedule an appointment with the DMV for your practical riding exam or complete the CMSP training course to earn eligibility for a test waiver.

Note: If you do not hold a standard driving license, then you will also have to perform an observation test, which will include following a predetermined route while you are under observation by a DMV examiner.

The California Motorcycle License Application Process

Riders wondering, “How can I get a motorcycle license in California?” should know that they will be required to finalize several steps through two separate visits to a local DMV office since they are first required to obtain a learner’s permit. The first steps in the process of getting a motorbike license in CA are outlined in the following list:

  • Make an office visit
  • Fill out the Driver License or Identification Card Application (Form DL 44)
  • Submit the necessary supporting documentation
  • Furnish proof of completion of a bike-training course, if younger than 21 years of age
  • Have your photo and thumbprint taken
  • Pass the vision screening and the knowledge tests
  • Pay the applicable fees

Note: To expedite the bike license application process, you can also make an appointment through the CA DMV website.

After completing the steps listed above, you will receive your CA motorcycle learners permit. Then, you may be required to wait for 6 months prior to applying for a full bike license depending on whether or not you are younger than 21 years old. If you have completed the CMSP training course, you will not be required to take the road skills test. At this point, you will be issued a 90-day temporary license to be used until you receive the full photo credential by mail.

California Motorcycle License Fees

Paying the California motorcycle license cost is one of the last steps in the process of applying for a motorcycle license. The standard fee for a new CA motorbike license use is currently set at $35. An additional bike license fee of $7 will also apply if you have to retake the on-cycle skills test. The department accepts several forms of payment when applying in person, such as cash, checks, money orders or various debit cards.

Note: The costs for a new DMV motorcycle license in CA are subject to change without notice.

Last updated on Wednesday, September 26 2018.

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