Drivers must possess a motorcycle license in Tennessee if they would like to operate most types of two- and three-wheeled motor vehicles. TN drivers can apply for a motorbike license or permit if they meet the state’s age and other application requirements. In Tennessee, the Department of Safety and Homeland Security (DSHS) offers both seperate motorcycle documents and motorcycle endorsements for existing licenses.

The DSHS offers a motorcycle permit to minors who do not meet the age requirements to apply for a full license. Drivers applying for a license to drive motorcycles will have to pass the state’s required vision, knowledge and skills exams. Applications for either a permit or license must be accompanied by the necessary documentation and application fees to be correctly processed. Keep reading to learn more about getting a license or permit for motorcycles in Tennessee.

What is a Tennessee motorcycle endorsement?

Drivers who already possess a license must add a motorcycle endorsement to their existing license, instead of requesting a secondary document. This type of M endorsement is referred to as a motorcycle-secondary license, because the driver’s motorcycle driving privileges have been added to the driver’s other car privileges. Drivers who do not already possess another type of driver’s license will receive a stand-alone license specifically for operating motorcycles upon submitting the license application to the DSHS.

Motorcycle Permit Requirements in Tennessee

To be eligible for a DMV motorcycle permit in Tennessee, drivers must be 15 years of age. This motorcycle permit age allows young drivers to learn how to operate motorcycles just before they are eligible to apply for a full license. Drivers who are 16 years of age or older must apply directly for a full license. The DSHS issues permits that are valid for one year from the date of receipt.

To be eligible for a motorcycle learners permit, drivers must complete a vision test, pass a written knowledge-based exam and a short, road skills exam on an applicable motorcycle. While Tennessee permit applicants do not need to meet all of the same application requirements as applicants for the full license, they must follow a similar application process.

Required Documents

Tennessee applicants that are the necessary age to get a motorcycle permit must also provide the required documentation to the DPS to receive their permits. This includes:

  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful presence in the U.S., such as:
    • A U.S. original or certified birth certificate.
    • A Valid and current U.S. passport.
    • A Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship from THE USCIS.
  • One primary proof of identity, such as:
  • One secondary proof of identity, such as:
    • Paycheck stubs (electronic accepted).
    • Work IDs.
    • Bank statements.
  • Two proofs of Tennessee residency with the driver’s name and address from the last four months, such as:
    • Utility bills.
    • Bank statements.
    • Rental or mortgage contracts.
  • Proof of Social Security Number (SSN) or a sworn affidavit that no SSN was issued.
  • Teenage Affidavit/Financial Responsibility, completed and signed.
  • Proof of School Attendance/Progress (if applicable).
  • Proof of legal name change (if applicable).

Tennessee Motorcycle Permit Rules and Restrictions

What does a motorcycle permit allow you to do in Tennessee? TN motorcycle permit restrictions limit when and where permit holders can operate motorcycles. They also dictate the conditions under which permit holders are allowed to drive. In Tennessee, motorcycle drivers with a permit must:

  • Operate a motorcycle with an engine no larger than 650cc.
  • Only drive during daylight hours.
  • Stay within a 20 mile radius of the driver’s residence.
  • Avoid interstate roadways and highways.
  • Not carry any passengers.

How to Get a Motorcycle Permit in Tennessee

The DSHS accepts Tennessee motorcycle learners permit applications in person, at full-service DSHS driver services centers around the state. Interested drivers who meet the necessary eligibility requirements can receive a motorbike learners permit by taking the following steps:

  1. Begin gathering the necessary application material listed above, such as proof of identity and TN residency
  2. If required, print out the SSN Affidavit or other necessary documents; sign and complete them
  3. Prepare the necessary application fees
  4. Head to your nearest DSHS licensing office with your application material
  5. Take the vision exam and knowledge-based exam
  6. If successful, take the road skills exam
  7. If successful, take your permit photo
  8. Wait to receive either your new motorcycle license or license with a motorcycle endorsement

Tennessee Motorcycle License Requirements

The minimum motorcycle license age required to apply for a full license in Tennessee is 16 years old. In addition to being at least this age to get a motorcycle license, TN drivers must also be able to demonstrate that they meet the state’s other application requirements. These requirements vary, somewhat, based on whether the driver is applying for his or her first license or adding motorcycle privileges to an existing license.

The requirements for a motorcycle license in Tennessee include passing a number of state exams for all drivers. A vision exam, written knowledge test and driving skills exam must be completed by all drivers, regardless of their driving records. Drivers that have no other driving license will also be asked to complete the Regular Rules of the Road knowledge test.

Required Documents

Drivers can apply for a DMV motorcycle license in Tennessee by submitting the following bike license documents to the DSHS, as applicable:

  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful presence in the U.S
  • One primary AND one secondary proof of identity (two total)
  • Two proofs of Tennessee residency with the driver’s name and address from the last four months
  • Proof of Social Security Number (SSN), or a sworn affidavit that no SSN was issued
  • Proof of legal name change (if applicable)
  • Teenage Affidavit/Financial Responsibility, completed and signed (applicable to minors without another class of driver’s license only)
  • Proof of School Attendance/Progress (applicable to minors without another class of driver’s license only)
  • Certification of 50 Hours Behind the Wheel Driving Experience, completed and signed (applicable to minors seeking a motorcycle endorsement only)

How to Get a Motorcycle License in Tennessee

Getting a motorcycle license in Tennessee must be done in person, at a DSHS drivers services center.

Applicants who meet the state’s eligibility criteria can find out where to get a motorcycle license by looking into where their nearest full services DSHS licensing office is located. Once found, the TN driver must follow the same steps as applicants for a permit to receive a license.

To get a motorcycle license in Tennessee, drivers must gather the necessary application material and head into the DSHS to take the necessary exams. The DSHS gives applicants the option to schedule an appointment to submit the application online to avoid having to wait in line at the office. If the driver passes the compulsory exams, he or she will either receive a new motorcycle card or a new endorsement on their existing license.

Getting a Tennessee Motorcycle License as a New Resident

New residents who recently moved to Tennessee must transfer their existing DMV motorcycle license to a TN license within 30 days of moving to the state. Motorcycle permit holders can also transfer their permits to Tennessee if they meet state requirements. The DSHS asks all new residents to take a vision exam before completing the license transfer. To apply for a TN license or permit, new residents must provide the following documentation:

  • A current and valid driver’s license
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful presence in the U.S
  • One primary AND one secondary proof of identity (two total)
  • Two proofs of Tennessee residency with the driver’s name and address from the last four months
  • Proof of Social Security Number (SSN), or a sworn affidavit that no SSN was issued
  • Proof of legal name change (if applicable)

Required Motorcycle Classes in Tennessee

Although enrolling in motorcycle classes is highly encouraged by the DSHS, it is not required to receive any type of motorcycle certification. Drivers who choose to receive driver training by enrolling in the Tennessee Certified Motorcycle Rider Education Program (MREP), or an equivalent course taught by a course approved by Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF), can receive multiple benefits, however.

Drivers who pass an MREP motorcycle safety course are exempt from taking both the state’s knowledge-based and skills-based exams, while those who passed an MSF-approved program can skip the skills-based exam, only. To qualify for these benefits, the course must have been completed in the last three years. Tennessee law also requires that auto insurance providers offer a 10 percent discount on the cost of liability insurance to drivers who have taken approved classes.

Tennessee DMV Motorcycle Test Details

Before taking any DMV motorcycle test, drivers should make sure they are familiar with the motorcycle handbook, and are comfortable getting on a motorcycle. All drivers are required to take a written knowledge-based motorcycle test and a skills-based driving exam, in addition to the obligatory vision test. The only exception to this rule is for drivers who have completed state-approved education programs. New drivers must also pass the Regular Rules of the Road knowledge test.

Written Motorcycle License Test

The written motorcycle license test is a multiple-choice exam that covers important safety and operation topics included in the state’s motorcycle driver’s manual. Drivers take the exam in computerized format. If not passed on the first attempt, the DSHS allows the exam to be taken once every seven days.

Motorcycle Driving Test

Some form of a motorcycle driving test must be completed by all permit and license applicants in Tennessee. When ready, drivers can contact the nearest DSHS office to schedule an appointment for the road exam. This exam will test the applicant’s ability to safely operate a motorcycle on public roadways under a variety of conditions.

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

Tennessee drivers do not need to possess a motorcycle license or endorsement in order to operate motorized bicycles or tricycles with engines smaller than 50cc. Do you need a license to drive a motorcycle with an engine larger than 50cc? Yes. Typical TN licenses cover motorcycles with engines over 125cc. The DSHS issues a separate license, the Class M-Limited Motor-Driven Cycle license, for drivers who would only like to operate bikes with smaller engines between 51cc and 125cc.

Tennessee Motorcycle License Costs

How much does it cost to get a motorcycle license in Tennessee? The DSHS has published the following motorcycle license cost list, with fees payable by cash, card, check and money order:

  • Class M – License for the operation of motorcycles: $29
  • Class PM – Learner’s permit for the operation of motorcycles (minors only): $6.50
  • Class DM – Operator and motorcycle endorsement combination license: $55
  • Class XM – Temporary license for the operation of motorcycles: $20.50
Last updated on Wednesday, March 6 2019.

Have a Question? Get Quick Online Answers!