The Illinois Secretary of State (SOS) is the office responsible for handling licensing matters in Illinois. In order to legally operate a motorcycle on Illinois public roads, you must obtain an Illinois permit or Class M license.

  • Class M symbolizes motorcycles over 150 cc.
  • Class L symbolizes a motor-driven cycle with less than 150 cc displacement.

Note: If you have a Class M license; you will be allowed to operate any class of motorcycle or motor-driven cycle.

Illinois Instruction Permit

If you are at least 18 years old, you can go for an instruction permit. This permit allows you to legally operate a motorcycle or motor-driven cycle. This permit comes with some restrictions. If you don’t have an Illinois driver’s license, you will be required to take and pass the written basic knowledge test, vision test and written motorcycle knowledge test. To obtain your permit, you will need to visit your local Illinois SOS Driver Services office. Be sure to:

  • Present your Illinois driver’s license, if you have one.
  • Present proof of identification.
  • Provide proof of Illinois residency.
  • Submit a permit application.
  • Complete any required exams.
  • Pay the applicable permit fee.

Illinois instruction permit comes with the following restrictions:

  • No riding at night.
  • No carrying of passengers while riding.
  • You must be accompanied by a licensed rider who is over 21 years old.

Instruction Permit for Riders Under 18

If you are aged between 16 to 17 years old and you have successfully completed a state-approved driver’s education, you can apply for an instruction permit which is valid for 24 months. In fact, to apply for a permit at this age, you must also be enrolled in a motorcycle training course. You must also pass the written knowledge exam. You will be required to schedule an appointment with the SOS. Be sure to provide the following:

  • Proof of identification and residency.
  • An application for a Class L or M permit.
  • Proof of enrollment in a state approved motorcycle training course.
  • Payment for the applicable permit fee.

Illinois Motorcycle License (Class L or Class M)

You will need to visit SOS Driver Services location to apply for an Illinois motorcycle license (Class L or Class M). Be sure to:

  • Provide proof of identification.
  • Present a completion certificate from a Motorcycle Rider Education course, if it is required.
  • If you are aged between 16 to 17 years old, you must present the certificate of completion from a Motorcycle Rider Education course to be issued with an Illinois Motorcycle License.
  • Complete the written and driving exams.
  • If you do not already have a driver’s license issued in Illinois, you must also pass the vehicle behind-the-wheel test and basic written exam.
  • Pass a vision exam.
  • Pay the $10 fee.

Waiving the Written and Driving Exams

If you successfully complete any state approved motorcycle safety course, your written and driving exams will be waived. However, you must be at least 18 years old to qualify for waiving.

Renewing Your Illinois Motorcycle License

You can renew your Illinois motorcycle license at the same time of renewing your regular Illinois driver’s license. You will need to pay $5 renewing fee.

Illinois Motorcycle Safety Courses

The Motorcycle Safety, Awareness, and Operator Training Program in Illinois offers courses that help equip riders with on-cycle skills and knowledge. If you successfully complete any of these courses, your motorcycle on-cycle skill test will be waived. You will need to present the certificate of competition when you apply for your motorcycle endorsement.

Basic Riders Course

The Basic Riders course is designed to equip riders with essential motorcycle skills and knowledge through on-cycle practical instruction and classroom instruction. Once you enroll, you are provided with a motorcycle and a helmet. You will take both written knowledge and on-cycle skill road tests as part of the curriculum of this course. To take this course, you must bring the following gear to class:

  • Over-the-ankle boots.
  • Shirt or jacket with long sleeves.
  • Full-fingered gloves.
  • Eye protection.
  • Valid permit or license.
  • A helmet and motorcycle will be provided.

Experienced Riders Course

The Experienced Riders Course is designed to help riders learn both the mental and on-cycle skills. To take this course, you must have ridden a motorcycle for at least 500 miles or for 6 months.

Advanced Riders Course

The Advanced Riders Course can be taken within 1 day. This course is designed to equip riders with tips on how to assess their motorcycle skills and manage them. It teaches riders some advanced riding skills and strategies. To enroll for this course, you will need to pay the required fee.