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How to Apply for a Motorcycle License in California

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California Motorcycle License

The state of California offers you two options when it comes to getting a California motorcycle license: the M1 and M2 license. An M1 license lets you ride any motorcycle that has an attached motor, or motorized scooters. An M2 license is more restrictive, and only allows you to ride motorized bikes, mopeds, bikes with an attached motor and motorized scooters. However, before you obtain your motorcycle driving license, you have to get your California driving permit.

More Important Information on Motorcycle Licenses

How to Get a Learners Permit

If you are under 18 years of age, you must practice driving with your learning permit for at least six months before you can apply for your motorcycle drivers license. Furthermore, if you are under 21, then you also have to complete a certain kind of state-approved drivers ed course known as motorcycle safety. Once you have done so, you will have to:

  1. Make an appointment at a local DMV to take the written knowledge test.
  2. Fill out Form DL-44 and hand it in to the DMV.
  3. Provide one proof of full true name (only originals or certified copies):
    • Birth certificate
    • U.S. passport
    • Marriage certificate/divorce decree (if name changed)
  4. Provide one proof of birthdate/legal presence in U.S. (only originals or certified copies):
    • U.S. birth certificate
    • U.S. passport
    • U.S. military card
    • Green Card a.k.a. I-551 Form (if non-U.S. citizen)
  5. Provide Social Security Number.
  6. Pass a vision exam.
  7. Provide your thumbprint.
  8. Pass the written exam (for all drivers).
  9. Pass motorcycle laws test (specifically for motorcycle riders).
  10. Provide certificate proving completion of a motorcycle safety course.
  11. Pay $33 application fee:
    • The CA DMV accepts cash, checks, money orders, and debit/ATM cards

DMV Written Test

In the state of California you can take the written test in three different languages:

  • English
  • Spanish
  • American Sign Language (ASL)

In the event you do not pass the test on your first attempt, you will have to study the California Motorcycle Handbook some more and schedule an appointment for a second exam at your earliest convenience. When it comes to the vision exam, your vision cannot be any worse than 20/40. If it does not meet these requirements, you will be asked to obtain corrective lenses before you can take the driving test.

How to Get a Motorcycle License in California

The process for getting a motorcycle license in California varies depending on your situation. For instance, if you are under the age of 21, then you can only apply for a motorcycle license endorsement if you:

  • Have held your motorcycle driving permit for a minimum of six months.
  • Have passed a California motorcycle safety course or Basic Rider Course, which is administered by the CA Highway Patrol.
  • Pay the $33 application fee:
    • The CA DMV accepts cash, checks, money orders, and debit/ATM cards

On the other hand, if you are over the age of 21, then you have one of two options. Either you can complete a motorcycle training course and drop it off at one of the various nearby DMV locations, or you can schedule a motorcycle driving test to receive your motorcycle license in California.
Finally, also available to you is the process to transfer a motorcycle endorsement. In order to do so, you must visit a nearby DMV office - make sure to make an appointment in order to save time - and:

  • Take the written knowledge exam.
  • Provide your birth certificate or passport.
  • Show your motorcycle license.
  • Complete the Form DL-44.
  • Pay the $33 application fee:
    • The CA DMV accepts cash, checks, money orders, and debit/ATM cards

Members of the military must go through the same process in order to obtain a motorcycle drivers license in California.

How to Waive the Driving Skills Test

If you are older than 21 and are applying for a motorcycle endorsement in the state of California, you can enroll in a Basic Rider Course program in order to waive your road test. Additionally, passing this course may also result in lower motorcycle insurance rates for you.

Helmet Requirements

In the state of California, it is the law that motorcycle operators wear a safety helmet when riding. In addition, passengers of a motorcycle are also required to wear a safety helmet at all times. Not doing so will result in fines.

Requirements to Operate a Three-Wheel Motorcycle

If you would like to be able to drive a three-wheel motorcycle, you must obtain a Class C drivers license first. Without a driving license, you will not be able to operate this kind of vehicle. In addition, you must have your motorcycle registered at the local DMV office.

Related Links

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Submitted by jsampson11391 on 6th Mar 2015

I have a out of state drivers

I have a out of state drivers license. how can I get a m1 license?

Submitted by krankin on 23rd Feb 2015

I got my permit in January

I got my permit in January and thought I had 90 days to take the safety course. I just realized I only have 60 days (my time is almost up). I am in San Francisco and all the classes are full over a month out! I realize I can renew my permit but am still confused about what to do once I take the safety course and also what safety course with be credible. Any help would be great. Thanks.

Submitted by skuhn8 on 25th Nov 2014

I keep getting conflicting

I keep getting conflicting information. I have a valid C class California driver's license and am over 21. So...can someone confirm the following as found above?

"Riders who have their California Driver's License are NOT required to take the motorcycle driving test."

Submitted by jae667101993 (not verified) on 5th Sep 2013

hey i live in california i

hey i live in california i took the motorcycle safety program on a weekend and i took my written test at the dmv the monday after i passed both my class c and m1 because they made me renew the class c and it says here on my M1 instruction permit i have to hold until 2/26/14 im 19 years old so basically 6 months they said it waives the skills test at the dmv now after my 6 months of this permit is there any additional tests i need to do at the dmv because i read they might have an observation test may vary my main question is do i just hold this permit for 6 months and then i just get a licence or do i hold it for 6 months and then have to take a test for the licence

Submitted by spambox11 on 20th Jul 2015

I have no idea what you're

I have no idea what you're trying to say. You haven't punctuated your sentences (so I have no idea where one ends and the next begins), nor have you capitalized the first word of the sentences or your pronouns.

Submitted by Danglerfish15 on 9th Aug 2015

Well buddy, maybe they didn't

Well buddy, maybe they didn't go to school, so calm down.

Submitted by pagren1 (not verified) on 3rd Aug 2013

im 18 and already know how to

im 18 and already know how to ride a motorcycle, do i still have to take the training course?

Submitted by aaltier (not verified) on 15th May 2013

I am 20 and am applying to

I am 20 and am applying to get my motorcycle permit. Do I need to complete the CHP safety training course prior to getting my permit? Or can I get my permit and then complete the course before applying for the actual license?

Submitted by CashDavis (not verified) on 17th Mar 2012

I am 21 years old and have my

I am 21 years old and have my drivers license class C. What tests do i need to take in order to get my M1 added onto my Class C license?

Submitted by diwong490 (not verified) on 12th Apr 2013

Hi Cash. Since you are over

Hi Cash. Since you are over 21, you can take motorcycle safety and training courses to get your certificate. You present this certificate within 4 months (will vary depending on the course) to the DMV. You may have to take a driving test and/or written test, depending on what the course exempts you from, if you need to renew your license, etc.

CHP is the most popular course to take, but I am sure you can find other local businesses to attend at competitive prices. Expect the course to be around $250. I took my course a month ago and had a blast!

Submitted by Rocky Schwartz (not verified) on 19th Feb 2012

If i have a Oregon CDL class

If i have a Oregon CDL class A , and motercycle and have for 48 years do i need to take test again if i move to Cal.??

Submitted by B3LIK3S3TH (not verified) on 25th Jul 2011

Ok i am 15 and a half. I put

Ok i am 15 and a half. I put and a half because on one of the catagories if said like 15 A 1/2 as 18. And I really wan to no what that means. Does it mean that I can get my motorcycle permit at 15 and a half or is it some kind of subsection thing?

Submitted by rafehimself (not verified) on 17th May 2011

I am 23 with a Valid Driver's

I am 23 with a Valid Driver's License, so would i just need to pass the vision and written test for a Motorcycles License?

Submitted by wschmierer (not verified) on 6th Jul 2011

I'm over 25 and have a valid

I'm over 25 and have a valid driver license so to get a motorcylce license to ride a scooter do I just need to pass the written and vision test?

Submitted by Anonymous on 9th May 2011

Which instructions do i

Which instructions do i listen to i am 17 i have my drivers permit about to get my class C license so do i follow the 151/2-18 or the under 21 ?

Submitted by Anonymous on 29th Apr 2011

If I ride a 50cc

If I ride a 50cc scooter/moped. Doed I need a motorcycle driver license?

Submitted by Anonymous on 3rd Apr 2011

I lost my driver license. Can

I lost my driver license. Can I order it online.