There are two classes of motorcycle licenses in California: Class M1 and Class M2. If you hold a Class M1 license, you can operate any type of motorcycle. If you hold a Class M2 license, you will be allowed to drive a motorized bicycle, a bicycle with attached motor, a moped or a motorized scooter. To apply for a motorcycle license, you will need to:
- Visit your local DMV office in California.
- Complete Form DL44 (Driver's License or Identification Card Application).
- Provide proof of your identity.
- Pass the motorcycle written test.
- Pass the motorcycle skills test or a Basic Rider Course.
- Pay the $33 fee.
Motorcycle Learner’s Permit
Regardless of your age, you must first apply for a motorcycle learner’s permit before you go for a motorcycle license or endorsement. If you are under 18 years old, you must hold a motorcycle instruction permit for at least 6 months before you take the driving test for a full motorcycle license. To pass the motorcycle written test, you will need to master the Motorcycle Handbook provided by the DMV. This handbook contains useful information about the motorcycle safety, handling and regulations. If you are younger than 21 years old, you must also complete any state-approved California motorcycle safety course.
Applying for a Motorcycle Permit
In California, to apply for a motorcycle permit you will need to schedule an appointment with the Department of Motor Vehicle to take the required exams. Be sure to take with you all the required documents.
A California motorcycle instruction permit comes with some restrictions such as:
- You mustn’t drive a motorcycle at night.
- You mustn’t drive on the freeway.
- You mustn’t carry any passenger.
You will need to pay $33 fee to obtain the learners permit, which is valid for 12 months. During this period, you have to take and pass both the written and skill test. You can take your tests 3 times only. If after a 3rd attempt you fail again and your application expire, you will need to start the motorcycle license application process once again.
Form DL 44
You will need to complete Form DL 44 prior to your appointment. You can request this form from your local DMV. Call them at (800) 777-0133 to request this form and other information. This form is not available on the internet since it must contain an original signature from the testing officer. At Your Appointment, you will need to:
- Submit a filled out form DL 44.
- Pass the vision test.
- Provide a thumbprint.
- Pass the written traffic laws and signs test.
- Provide a certificate of completion of a motorcycle safety course.
No Driver License
If you don’t have a regular California driver’s license, you must also:
- Submit legal documents showing your birth date.
- Provide your legal full name.
- Provide your Social Security number.
Additionally you must meet all the requirements for a learner’s permit. These include:
- Be at least 15 ½ years old.
- Have your parents or legal guardian sign form DL 44.
- Provide a certificate of completion of both driver's training and driver's education.
- Pay the $33 fee.
Once you pass a written and vision test, you will be issued with a M1 or M2 permit. These permits will allow you to start practicing riding. If you are under 21 years old, you must successfully complete a motorcycle training course offered by the California Highway Patrol. You will also be required to present Form DL389 (Certificate of Completion of Motorcycle Training).
Getting a Motorcycle License
You can apply for a motorcycle license after holding a motorcycle permit for some time. In a nutshell, you must have held a motorcycle permit for at least 6 months and aged at least 16 years old to apply for a motorcycle license. Passing of a MSP motorcycle training course is also a requirement for a motorcycle license. Take your completion certificate with to you to the California DMV. You will immediately receive a temporally motorcycle license valid for 90 days, waiting to receive a regular motorcycle license with a photo in your mail. You will need to pay $33 fee. If you are over 21 years old, you will need to undergo the following process:
- Present the completion certificate of a MSP training course to any DMV office. Or
- Schedule a motorcycle driving test.
Transferring an Out-of-State License
If you are from out-of-state, you can transfer your license to obtain the California one. To do so, you will need to visit any local DMV office. At the DMV, you will be required to pass a written test. When you visit the DMV to take the exam, you must:
- Provide documents showing your identity and residency (passport or original birth certificate).
- Provide your license.
- Complete Form DL 44.
- Pay a $33 application fee.
California Motorcycle Skills Tests
You may enroll in the Motorcycle Safety Foundation Basic Rider Course training program. If you successfully complete this course, you will be exempted from taking the motorcycle skill test when applying for a motorcycle license. This course may also help you get lower insurance rates for your motorcycle license.