Motorcycle Licenses: How Old Do You Have to Be to Get 1?

The joy of driving a motorcycle is incomparable. Although it can be fun, it’s also risky. Obtaining a valid motorcycle license, permit, or endorsement is one way to protect riders’ and others’ safety. A license shows the operator is trained and allowed to be on public roads. It can also save the rider from fines or jail time

Continue reading for information about when and how to get a motorcycle license in the United States. 

At what age can you get a motorcycle license in the U.S.?

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A student motorcycle rider | Jean-François Monier/AFP via Getty Images

The required age to get a motorcycle license depends on your state. In most states, you can get a license, permit, or endorsement at 16 years old. Other states, such as South Dakota, North Dakota, and Arkansas, allow 14-year-olds to hold motorcycle licenses. 

According to Biker Rights, Hawaii, Arizona, and Missouri allow teens aged 15½ to obtain a motorcycle license. However, there are some restrictions. For instance, they cannot ride at night or carry passengers

In some states, riders can get a motorcycle permit, especially beginners. A permit is mainly given to motorcycle learners above 16 years. To obtain this, you must take a riding exam and ride under supervision for several weeks. With a permit, you are not allowed to carry passengers. 

Other states, such as Colorado and Florida, don’t require a separate specialized license. Instead, riders must already possess a valid driver’s license and then get a motorcycle endorsement to ride on public roads. An endorsement is a modification to an existing driver’s license that shows the holder is a trained rider.

Operating a motorcycle on private land vs. public roads

There is no U.S. age restriction for riding a motorcycle on private land. But the operator must have an experienced rider supervising to avoid injury or death.

However, a rider must be old enough to get a license to operate a motorcycle on public roads. Otherwise, a permit is a must. A driver’s license is not enough to allow a rider on public roads unless it is endorsed. 

Requirements to obtain a motorcycle license 

To qualify for a motorcycle license, you must do the following:

  • Meet the age requirment — your state law will guide you regarding the right age. However, in most states, it’s 15 or 16. 
  • Obtain a motorcycle permit — in some states, such as Alaska, you need a motorcycle permit to get the license. This permit is valid for about two years. You take tests to qualify for it. 
  • Submit payment — you pay a fee to receive the motorcycle license. This fee varies by state but is usually $25 to $100. The cost differs based on experience, license type, and age. Young and inexperienced riders tend to pay more. An endorsement is cheaper than a license because it is just a modification. 
  • Show proof of experience and/or training — to get the license, you must pass the DMV license test. Passing this test requires training and experience. You can attend a motorcycle safety program or work with an instructor for several days to help you pass the test for your license. 

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