Having a motorcycle license in Illinois will allow you to legally operate vehicles classified as motor-driven cycles, which can include vehicles with two, three or four wheels. When you apply for a motorbike license, you will receive a new classification, which may also be referred to as an endorsement, on your driver’s license. The classification you receive will depend on the engine size of the motorcycle that you wish to operate. The “M” classification indicates that you are allowed to operate motorcycles with any engine size, while the “L” classification limits you to motor-driven cycles with an engine displacement of less than 150cc.

You can receive a motorcycle endorsement or classification on your license by applying at the Driver Services Department (DSD) of the Illinois Secretary of State (SOS). The steps for getting your motorcycle classification vary depending on your age, but you should be prepared to pass exams at a Driver Services Facility or complete a riding safety program. Learn more about these requirements below.

What are Illinois motorcycle endorsements?

A motorcycle classification is added to your driver’s license once you meet the testing requirements for operating a motorcycle and pay the appropriate fees. Motorcycle endorsement classifications can only be added to existing credentials, which means you must already have a standard or commercial driver’s license in your possession when you apply for the privilege to operate a motorcycle. Once you meet the requirements for a classification, you will receive a new license that indicates you are legally allowed to operate a motorcycle and/or a motor-driven cycle.

Requirements for Motorcycle Permit Credentials in Illinois

A motorcycle permit is available to any licensed driver who wants to practice riding a motorcycle before taking a skills test at the SOS. Holding a motorcycle permit is not a prerequisite for adding an M or L classification to a driver’s license, but motorists will need a permit if they want to ride their motorcycle on public roadways before receiving a classification with full driving privileges.

If you want to obtain a motorbike permit in Illinois, then the requirements vary based on your age. The minimum motorcycle permit age is 16 years of age. If you are younger than 18 years of age, then you must show that you have completed a driver’s education program and pass a written test pertaining to motorcycles in order to get a Class L permit. To obtain a Class M permit as a minor, you also need to complete a motorcycle safety course before you are eligible.

Motorcycle instruction permits do not require applicants older than 18 years of age to take driver’s ed or a riding safety course. Adult applicants can receive a Class M or Class L permit simply by submitting an application with the SOS and taking a knowledge test.

Required Documents

When applying for your first driving credentials from the SOS, you should always be prepared to show documentation proving your identity, date of birth, Social Security Number and residency. However, you will already have a driver’s license in your possession when you apply for a license to ride a motorcycle. Therefore, less documentation is usually required with your motorcycle license application.

When applying for a motorcycle permit, you will simply need to show your current driver’s license in most cases. If any of your personal information such as your name or address has changed, then you must provide acceptable documentation that verifies your new details.

If you are younger than 18 years of age when applying for a motorbike permit, then you will also need to have a parental consent form that gives you permission to get a permit. Furthermore, keep in mind that you must complete driver’s ed and a motorcycle safety class to get a Class L permit. Verification of course completion will be required with your application.

Illinois Motorcycle Permit Restrictions

Motorcycle permits in IL come with a few rules and restrictions that you must follow in order to stay safe. When operating a motorcycle with your permit, you must always:

  • Ride under the direct supervision of a licensed motorcycle operator who is 21 years of age or older and has at least one year of riding experience.
  • Only drive during daylight hours.
  • Have your permit in your immediate possession.

How to Get a Motorcycle Permit in Illinois

You can apply for a motorcycle permit by visiting a Driver Services Facility office location of the SOS in person. Be sure to bring your current license, a form of payment and any documentation that may be necessary for verifying a name or address change. If you are younger than 18 years of age, then you will be issued a permit that is valid for a period of 24 months, and if you are 18 years of age or older, then your permit will be valid for 12 months.

Illinois Motorcycle License Requirements

The requirements for getting a motorcycle license in Illinois will vary slightly depending on your age and whether or not you have taken a safety course. The minimum motorcycle license age is 16 years of age. If you are older than 18 years of age, then you will either need to take a motorcycle safety class or pass a knowledge and skills test at the SOS to be eligible for a license.

When you apply for a license at 16 or 17 years of age, you will need to take a safety course and pass knowledge and skills tests when getting your license. In other words, taking motorcycle safety will waive the testing requirements if you are older than 18 years of age, but if you are a minor, then you still must take complete your exams even If you took a class.

Required Documents

Because you will already have a driver’s license in your possession when you apply for a motorcycle license M or L classification, you generally do not need to present any additional documentation to the SOS unless you had a recent name or address change. If you are a minor, then you will need a parental consent form and verification that you have completed both driver’s education and a riding safety class.

How to Get a Motorcycle License in Illinois

When you are ready to apply for a motorbike license in IL, you must visit a Driver Services Facility of the SOS in person. If you are younger than 18 years of age or are an adult and have not completed a riding safety course, then you must take both a knowledge exam and skills test. Only a knowledge test will be required if you are older than 18 years of age and have taken a safety class.

Next, you will need to pay a fee to have a motorcycle classification added to your license. Because you will be issued a new credential, you should be prepared to pay an additional fee for your new card as well. Obtaining a motorcycle endorsement when renewing your driver’s license can save you money. The SOS issues temporary motorcycle licenses that are valid for a period of 90 days, which you can use while you are waiting for your permanent card to arrive in the mail. In most cases, your permanent license will arrive within 15 business days of your application.

Getting an Illinois Motorcycle License as a New Resident

If you have an out-of-state motorbike endorsement or license and move to Illinois, then you can use your credentials for 90 days or until they expire. Before this period elapses, you will need to visit the SOS in order to apply for an Illinois license.

In most cases, out-of-state motorcycle endorsements are recognized and you will not need to take a skills exam in order to get a license in Illinois. However, you may want to familiarize yourself with the Motorcycle Operator Manual, as knowledge tests may be required for new residents. At any rate, you will need to pay the fee for a new driver’s license with the correct classification for riding a motorcycle.

Required Motorcycle Classes in Illinois

If you are younger than 18 years of age, then you must take a motorcycle class in IL before you are eligible to apply for a license. Motorcycle classes are recommended no matter what your age is because they make you a safer and more confident rider. Even if you are not required to take a course, it is beneficial to sign up anyway due to the fact that you can waive your skills test if you are older than 18 years of age. Certificates are valid for one year, after which time you will need to retake the class or take a skills test in order to get your license.

Under Illinois law, motorcycle safety classes must be provided at no cost, but you may be required to pay a nominal registration fee that you are entitled to receive back after completing the class. To enroll, you must:

  • Be a resident of Illinois.
  • Be 16 years of age or older.
  • Have permission from your parents if younger than 18 years of age.
  • Have a valid learner’s permit or driver’s license.
  • Show proof that you have liability auto insurance.

The Cycle Rider Safety Training Program (CRSTP) provides a range of classes, but you will start with the basic rider course in most cases. This class includes 20 hours of instruction both in class and on a motorcycle and will satisfy the requirements for getting your license.

Illinois Motorcycle Test Details

Depending on your situation, you may need to take a motorcycle written test and/or a skills exam before you can get your license. These motorcycle tests are administered at Driver Service facilities of the SOS.

Motorcycle Written Test

One of the best ways to prepare for the written motorcycle test is to study the Motorcycle Operator’s Manual published by the SOS. The knowledge test will cover information discussed in this handbook, so, you will want to read it thoroughly in order to pass.

Motorcycle Driving Test

On-cycle motorcycle tests are conducted in an off-street area that allows you to ride without the distraction of traffic. In order to pass, you will need to demonstrate that you know how to accelerate, brake, steer, make yourself visible to drivers and make critical decisions.

Note that completing your motorcycle test on a three-wheeled motorcycle will result in a J-11 restriction being added to your driver’s license. Furthermore, you must complete the test using the size of motorcycle you wish to operate. If your bike has an engine capacity of less than 150cc, then you will receive an L classification, while completing the test on a bike with a larger engine will allow you to get an M classification.

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

A class M license is not required in order to operate a scooter or moped that is designed to travel no more than 30 mph and has two-brake horsepower or less. Scooters with manual transmission and an engine displacement of 50cc or less do not require a special classification to drive either. Instead, you can operate such vehicles with any class of regular driver’s license.

Keep in mind that motor-driven cycles must be registered and titled as required by law before you can legally operate them on public roadways.

Illinois Motorcycle License Cost

When applying for a motorcycle classification license in Illinois, you should be prepared to pay various licensing fees. The most common motorbike license costs include the following:

  • $30 for a basic driver’s license
  • $10 to add a classification or upgrade an L classification to an M
  • $20 for an original instructional permit
  • $5 when renewing a motorcycle classification
Last updated on Wednesday, March 4 2020.