Motorcycle Licenses

Motorcycle

A California motorcycle driver license (DL) authorizes you to operate a two-wheeled motorcycle, motorized bicycle, moped, or any bicycle with an attached motor. Learn more about how you apply for a motorcycle license.

Motorcycle License Classes

You need a valid motorcycle DL to operate a motorcycle in California. There are two motorcycle license classes:

  • Class M1: Authorizes you to operate any two-wheeled motorcycle and all vehicles listed under Class M2.
  • Class M2: Authorizes you to operate a motorized bicycle, moped, or any bicycle with an attached motor.

Refer to the Motorcycle Handbook for more information.

How to Apply for a Motorcycle DL if You’re Under 21 Years of Age

If you are under 21 years of age, you need to hold a motorcycle instruction permit for at least six months before you can apply for a motorcycle DL.

Once you have met all of the requirements of the instruction permit, you can visit a DMV office, where you will:

  • Submit your instruction permit to show you have had it for at least six months.
  • Submit proof you have completed both driver education and training (if you do not have a valid California DL).
  • Provide a Certificate of Completion of Motorcycle Training (DL 389) (with this certificate you won’t need to take a skills test, but you may need to perform an observation test).
  • If you want to apply for a REAL ID, you must also provide proof of your identity, social security number (SSN), and two proofs of residency from the list of acceptable REAL ID documents.

After you complete these requirements, we will issue you a temporary motorcycle DL until you receive your new license in the mail. The temporary license is valid for 60 days. If you haven’t received your new driver license after 60 days, call 1-800-777-0133 to check the status.

How to Apply for a Motorcycle DL if You’re Over 21 Years of Age

Individuals over 21 years of age don’t need an instruction permit before they can apply for a motorcycle DL.

To get a license, you may either complete a California Highway Patrol (CHP) approved California Motorcyclist Safety Program training course or pass a motorcycle driving test at a DMV office.

To apply for a motorcycle DL:

  • Complete a Driver License or Identification Card Application.
  • Visit a DMV office, where you will:
    • Provide your social security number.
    • Verify your identity with an acceptable identity document. Your current name needs to match the name on the identity document.
    • Present your California DL/ID card (if you have one).
    • Present acceptable residency documents (if you have never had a California DL/ID card).
    • Pay the nonrefundable application fee (application and fee valid for 12 months).
    • Pass a vision exam.
    • Have your fingerprint scanned.
    • Have your photo taken.
    • Pass the knowledge test(s).
      • You are allowed three attempts to pass the knowledge test(s). If you fail the same test three times, your application is no longer valid and you will need to reapply. To allow for sufficient testing time, we don’t administer knowledge tests within 30 minutes of closing.
    • Provide a Certificate of Completion of Motorcycle Training (DL 389) or take the motorcycle driving test.
      • If you are applying for a motorcycle license and you do not have any other DL, you may also need to perform an observation test.
    • If you want to apply for a REAL ID, you must also provide proof of your identity, social security number (SSN), and two proofs of residency from the list of acceptable REAL ID documents.

To take your motorcycle driving test:

  • Schedule a motorcycle driving test appointment (Driving tests are not given without an appointment). You may also call 1-800-777-0133 during the regular business hours to make an appointment.
  • Provide proof of financial responsibility that meets or exceeds California Insurance Requirements.

The motorcycle driving test includes a pre-trip inspection, riding in different track paths, slow riding, and gear shifting.

Your application fee allows you three attempts to pass the motorcycle driving test. If you fail, you must schedule a new driving test on another day and pay a $7 retest fee. If you fail the driving test three times, your application is no longer valid and you must reapply.

After you complete these requirements, DMV will issue you a temporary motorcycle driver license until you receive your new license in the mail. The temporary license is valid for 60 days. If you haven’t received your new driver license after 60 days, call us at 1-800-777-0133 to check the status.

Resources

Motorcycle Handbook: Find additional information about motorcycle safety, rules of the road, insurance requirements, riding tips, and more.

Sample Tests: Take a sample test to prepare for your knowledge test.

Motorcycle Registration: Learn more about registering your motorcycle. 

Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Information: Find areas throughout the state designated for OHV use and info on laws and safety on the California State Parks OHV Recreation site.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re a visitor in California who is over 18-years-old and has a valid motorcycle DL from your home state or country, you may drive in California without getting a California license (as long as your home state license remains valid).

If you become a California resident, you must get a California motorcycle DL within 10 days. Residency is established by voting in a California election, paying resident tuition, filing for a homeowner’s property tax exemption, or any other privilege or benefit not ordinarily extended to nonresidents.

Your current true full name (first, middle, last) needs to appear on your identity document. If you need to make a name change:

  • Complete a Driver License or Identification Card Application.
  • Visit a DMV office (schedule an appointment).
  • Provide acceptable documentation showing correct name:
    • Adoption documents that contain the legal name as a result of the adoption.
    • A name change document that contains the legal name both before and after the name change.
    • Marriage certificate (issued from a local or state Office of Vital Statistics).
    • A certificate, declaration, or registration document verifying the formation of a domestic partnership.
    • Dissolution of marriage document that contains the legal name as a result of the court action.
  • Pay the application fee.
  • Have your fingerprint scanned.
  • Have your photo taken.

Contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) to change your name in SSA records before you visit a DMV office. We verify your name, birth date, and social security number with the SSA. If we are unable to verify your information, you will not receive a new California ID and we will send you a Request for Verification of Information Letter.

The California motorcyclist training course (Basic Rider Course) is provided by the California Motorcycle Safety Program (CMSP) and is administered by the California Highway Patrol (CHP). The CMSP is California’s official motorcycle safety and training program.

All riders in California under 21 years of age must successfully complete this course to obtain a motorcycle DL or endorsement. Upon successful completion of the course, you will be given a Certificate of Completion of Motorcycle Training (DL 389) that may be used to waive the motorcycle skills test at DMV within 12 months of the date of issuance.

To learn more and find a training location near you, visit the California Motorcyclist Safety Program or call 1-877-743-3411.

If you lose your instruction permit, you may apply for a duplicate.

Regardless of age, a person must have in their immediate possession a driver license (DL) or Instruction permit of the appropriate class to operate a motor vehicle.

If you lose any of your completion certificates (driver’s education, driver’s training or motorcycle course completion), contact the issuing school and request a duplicate.

Need something else?