How To Get A Motorcycle License In California?


For many people, riding a motorcycle is an exhilarating experience where you can get a rush of adrenaline while also enjoying the open road. There are many beautiful, scenic biking routes in California, including the Pacific Coast Highway, the Redwood Ride, and the Angeles Crest Highway. California is no exception; its year-round pleasant climate produces nearly perfect weather conditions most days.

You’ve made the decision to purchase a motorcycle in order to fully enjoy the lovely California weather. Or perhaps you’re a motorcycle rider who’s just moved to the Golden State. There is something for every type of biker, from leisurely oceanfront cruises to ripping through heart-pounding hillsides. But first, you need to obtain a California motorcycle permit.

We’ll look at how to get a motorcycle license in California and the requirements in this article. Please keep reading.

Types Of Licenses

The first thing to know is that California has two different classes for motorcycle licenses. The DMV uses the terms “classes” to refer to two distinct levels (there are other motorcycle safety class types, but we’ll get to those in a minute).

  • The Class M1 license allows you to drive any two-wheeled motorcycle, moped, motorized bicycle, or bicycle with an attached motor.
  • You may only drive a motorized bicycle, moped, or bicycle with an attached motor if you have a Class M2 license. Not a motorcycle with two wheels.

These permits are for drivers who want to operate two-wheeled vehicles. However, the California DMV allows anyone with a current Class C license—the license required for operating a standard motor vehicle—to drive a motorcycle with a sidecar attached, a three-wheel motorcycle, or an electric scooter.

California Motorcycle Learner’s Permit Requirements

To get a California motorcycle permit, you must:

  • possess a minimum age of 15 1/2.
  • Have a valid CA driver’s license already OR provide documentation of your successful completion of driver’s education and training.
  • You must successfully complete a motorcycle training course and obtain a DL 389 certificate if you are under the age of 21. Before you can apply for a motorcycle driver’s license, you must also have a motorcycle instruction permit for at least six months. A driver education course, a certificate of behind-the-wheel driver training, and the consent of your parent or legal guardian are also required if you are under the age of 18.

How To Get A Motorcycle License In California?

Obtaining a license is dependent upon the applicant’s age; anyone under the age of 21 has additional requirements to meet before receiving a motorcycle driver license.


You may be interested in How To Get A Motorcycle License In Texas, Illinois, Florida, Ohio, and Arizona.

Process For Applicants Under 21

Instruction Permits

Before submitting an application for a motorcycle license, anyone under the age of 21 must have an instruction permit for at least six months. You must enroll in the CHP-approved California Motorcyclist Safety Program (CMSP) training course, finish it, and show the DMV your completion certificate in order to obtain a permit.

Additionally, you’ll need to submit an application for a driver’s license or identification card, give your name and Social Security number, pass a vision test, pay the application fee, and pass a knowledge test. Before you have to start the process over, you have three chances to pass the test. You’ll be given a permit once you’ve finished these.

Getting Your License

You can apply for a full California motorcycle license after holding a permit for six months. The DMV will need:

  • Your instruction permit
  • Proof of completing driver education and training if you don’t already have a driver license
  • Your completion certification from the Motorcycle Training course

You won’t need to take a skills test because you already passed the CMSP. They might carry out an observation test, though.

Process For Applicants Over 21

Those who are over 21 may apply for a license without first having an instruction permit. The CMSP or passing a DMV motorcycle driving test are the only requirements, though. The test includes:

  • A pre-trip inspection
  • Riding in different track paths
  • Slow riding
  • Gear shifting

Making an appointment and bringing identification proving your ability to pay are requirements for the DMV test.

Go to the DMV to submit an application for a motorcycle license. You will need to submit information like your Social Security Number, prove your identity, pass a knowledge test, have your fingerprints taken, pay an application fee, and either present your CMSP certificate or take the motorcycle driving test.

Regardless of your age, once you’ve met all the requirements, you’ll be given a temporary license, and your other license will arrive in the mail shortly after.

Process For New California Residents With An Existing Motorcycle License

You recently joined the West Coast motorcycle scene, right? Prepare yourself for more perfect riding days on a motorcycle than you ever imagined. Even though you currently possess a motorcycle license from your home state, you must obtain a California license within ten days of moving.

In addition to passing the motorcycle skills and knowledge tests, there are a couple of extra requirements for motorcycle riding if don’t have a California

license or I.D. You must:

  1. Publish proof of your legal status and date of birth.
  2. provide proof of residency documentation.
  3. Give your social security number so we can verify you.

Benefits Of Taking A Basic Rider Safety Course

The fundamental rider safety course covers every facet of motorcycle safety and accident avoidance. It begins with fundamental equipment and gear checks, getting comfortable on your bike, fundamental manoeuvres like serpentine turns and riding in circles, shifting gears, and braking techniques. It also serves as a great refresher course for older bikers who are returning to the saddle and a great primer for new riders.

Depending on the insurance provider, you may be eligible for discounts on your motorcycle insurance in addition to obtaining a waiver of the DMV riding skills test.

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