An Iowa motorcycle license allows you to legally operate two- or three-wheeled vehicles on public roadways. When you apply for a motorbike license from the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT), you will have to pay a fee, pass the required tests and provide documentation proving your eligibility. The DOT issues motorcycle-only licenses as well as endorsements that can be added onto a regular driver’s license. If you want to practice driving a motorcycle before getting your license, then you may also choose to apply for a permit first.

Motorcycle licenses are not required for all classes of motorbikes if you hold a regular license with full driving privileges. However, a special license may be required if you are younger than 18 years of age or if you only want to operate a small, low-powered motorbike such as a moped. Below, learn more about the licensing requirements for motorcycles and discover how to get the credentials you need.

What is an Iowa motorcycle endorsement?

A motorbike endorsement is a driving credential you can obtain if you already hold a regular Class C license or higher and want to drive motorcycles in addition to the other vehicles you are licensed to operate. Endorsements are different than motorcycle-only licenses, which you can obtain if you only want to drive a motorcycle and no other class of vehicle.

The requirements for an endorsement are slightly different due to the fact that you must already have a driver’s license in your possession before you can apply for an endorsement. For example, you may not need to provide the same documentation when applying for an endorsement, as you will have already verified your identity and other information during the application process for your license.

Motorcycle Permit Requirements in Iowa

A motorcycle permit is a type of credential you can apply for if you want to legally practice riding a motorcycle on public roads before getting your license or endorsement. Motorcycle instruction permits in Iowa are not a prerequisite for obtaining a license or endorsement. In most cases, you do not need these credentials when enrolling in a motorcycle safety course unless your class includes on-street riding practice. The minimum motorcycle permit age is 14 years of age.

Required Documents

The documentation required for a motorbike permit application will vary depending on whether or not you already have a regular driver’s license. If your motorcycle permit is the first DOT credential you have ever applied for, then you will want to visit one of the driver licensing offices with proof of your age, identity, Social Security Number and Iowa residency.

Various documents can be used to meet these requirements, such as a birth certificate, passport, certificate of naturalization, certificate of citizenship or permanent resident card, among other similar documents. You will also need a Social Security card, W-2 form, tax form or other paperwork to verify your Social Security Number. Your residency can be confirmed by providing two documents that indicate your home address, such as bills mailed to your home or a voter registration card.

Iowa Motorcycle Permit Rules and Restrictions

When asking, “What does a motorcycle permit allow you to do?” note that the answer varies slightly depending on your age. In any case, you must always ride accompanied by another licensed motorcyclist who is within sight and hearing distance and is on a different motorcycle. You can ride with a parent, guardian or a member of your immediate family who is 21 years of age or older or a non-family member who is 25 years of age or older.

If you are younger than 18 years of age, then you must have your parent or guardian’s written permission in order to practice riding with someone who is not an immediate family member.

How to Get a Motorcycle Permit in Iowa

You can apply for a motorbike permit in person at a DOT driver’s license station or county driver’s license office. Before applying, be sure to review the Motorcycle Operator Manual so that you can study for your knowledge exam. At the DOT office, you will simply need to provide your documentation, take a motorcycle written test and pay a fee to receive your license.

Iowa Motorcycle License Requirements

The steps to get motorcycle license credentials vary slightly depending on whether you want to add an endorsement on your existing license or you want a license that will only allow you to operate a motorcycle. When adding a motorbike endorsement, you usually only have to pass a knowledge test pertaining to motorcycles, pay a fee and, in some cases, pass a vision exam. Applying for a full bike license will require that you meet these requirements and pass the general driving knowledge test that regular license applicants need to take.

In both cases, you will also need to take a skills test if you have not completed an approved riding safety program. You must present your certificate of completion in order to skip the on-bike exam.

The minimum motorcycle license age in Iowa is 16 years of age. If you apply for a license or endorsement before turning 18 years of age, then you will need to take driver’s education, which is required for all license-holders who are minors. You will have already completed this class if you hold a regular driver’s license but not if you are applying for a motorcycle-only driving credential. Furthermore, you must take a motorcycle safety course before getting a license or endorsement if you are younger than 18 years of age.

Required Documents

If you have never held a driving credential in Iowa, then you will need to provide documentation showing your identity, age, Social Security Number, legal presence in the U.S. and Iowa residency. A birth certificate, passport, certificate of naturalization or citizenship, permanent resident card, Social Security card, tax form and other documents can be used to satisfy this requirement. To prove that you live in Iowa, you will need two pieces of mail or other documents that show your residential address.

How to Get a Motorcycle License in Iowa

If you are wondering where to get motorcycle license credentials, then you will need to complete the application in person at any DOT or county license office. The application process includes paying a fee, taking your required examinations and providing any necessary documentation. If taking an exam, then you should arrive early enough so that you can finish before the office closes for the night.

Applying for a Motorbike Endorsement as a New Resident

You will need to obtain an Iowa motorcycle license or endorsement once you have resided permanently in the state for 30 days. To transfer an out-of-state credential, visit a DOT or county licensing office and turn in your existing license. You will usually not be required to take a knowledge or riding test if your license or endorsement is currently valid, but it is best to prepare for this possibility anyway. In any case, be prepared to pay a fee for your new license and provide documentation showing your identity, residency, Social Security Number and legal presence in the U.S.

Required Motorcycle Classes in Iowa

A motorcycle safety course is a great way to practice your skills and become a more confident rider before applying for your license or endorsement. You are not required to take a motorcycle class if you are older than 18 years of age but doing so will allow you to waive your skills test at the DOT. Motorcycle classes are provided through the Motorcycle Rider Education (MRE) program, which is administered by DOT. When you sign up for a beginner class, you will receive at least five hours of classroom instruction and 10 hours of hands-on learning.

The minimum age for taking a class is 14 years of age, and you can sign up with or without obtaining motorcycle driving credentials first. The cost of the class varies depending on the provider but expect to pay between $150 and $350 for a beginner course.

Iowa Motorcycle Test Details

Motorcycle tests you may need to take for your license or endorsement include a vision screening, motorcycle written test, general knowledge test and a riding skills test. Remember, if you have taken rider education or already hold a driver’s license, then some of these tests will be waived.

Written Motorcycle Test

The written exam covers materials in the Iowa Motorcycle Operator Manual, so, it is important to study this handbook. You will be tested on your knowledge of traffic laws, safe handling maneuvers, crash avoidance, braking, steering and other principles.

Motorcycle Road Test

Motorcycle road tests are either conducted in off-street areas or in real traffic settings depending on where you take your exam. For an off-street test, you will usually be observed by the examiner who will tell you which maneuvers to perform. When testing in traffic, the examiner will follow you in a different vehicle and provide directions with signals. You will be evaluated based on your ability to handle your bike safely and effectively.

Do you need a motorcycle license to drive a scooter in Iowa?

Motorcycle endorsements are not required when operating a moped or scooter if you are older than 18 years of age and hold a Class C operator’s license already. You will need to have a separate moped license if you are younger than 18 years of age even if you have a driver’s license or instruction permit already. If you are between 14 and 16 years of age, then you can only get this type of license if you take a moped education course and show a certificate of completion when applying for your license.

You can also obtain a moped only license in Iowa if you are older than 18 years of age and do not want to drive anything other than a moped. Rider education courses are not required as long as you are 16 years of age or older, but you are still encouraged to take a class anyway.

Iowa Motorcycle License Cost

Motorcycle license fees in Iowa vary depending on the type of license or endorsement that you have. When you already have a driver’s license, adding an endorsement will cost $2 per year. An instruction permit also costs $2 per year if you have a driver’s license, but will cost $14 if you are only obtaining a permit and do not already have a driver’s license of any kind. A moped license costs $8, which you will have to pay every two years. Finally, a Class M motorcycle-only license will cost $6 per year.

Last updated on Wednesday, March 4 2020.