How To Get A Motorcycle License In California

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Whether you’re a new rider, a seasoned veteran, or just looking to upgrade your license and get your riding gear in order, it’s important to understand the benefits of obtaining a motorcycle license.

Getting your motorcycle license is a great way to improve your skills and confidence on the road. Moreover it also comes with certain legal benefits, which you may already be aware of.

If you are wondering how to get a motorcycle license in California then it is a multi-step process that involves completing a CMSP safety program.

It also includes passing various tests before being eligible to ride on the road, and paying for your driver’s license. The process also requires filling out a DL 44 forms.

This may all seem very confusing to some of you reading this article. But you can rest assured that after reading through this article, all your complaints and confusion will be gone.

Let’s not waste any time and get straight into it!

Motorcycle License Requirements In California

Learn motorcycle license requirements in California

This section of the article will take a detailed look at everything there is to know about legally obtaining a license in California.

The process is not entirely straightforward, so it is recommended that you don’t skip over any section.

Knowing Your Age

This part is important because different age groups need to follow different steps, and the requirements are different too. Let’s look at them to know exactly what you need to proceed with.

Age Under 21

  • Minors that are between 15.5 and 17.5 years old must submit a DL 389 form.
  • They should bring proof that they have completed the driver training, called the CMSP.
  • Alternatively, they should have a Class C driver’s license. They should also pass appropriate knowledge tests.
  • People under the age of 21 but greater than 18 must also submit a DL 389 form and pass knowledge tests.
  • All people under the age of 21 must have a learner permit for at least six months.

Age 21 Above

  • Must complete the CMSP training or pass a motorcycle test at their nearest DMV office.
  • Must present a valid California driver’s license or identity card.
  • Fill and submit a DL 44 form.
  • Must pay a $33 application fee
  • Must pass a vision and written tests.
  • Get registered biometrically.
  • Get their pictures taken for the permit.

Types Of Motorcycle Licenses

The state of California has two different types of licenses. As you may have already expected, these licenses are given according to their respective age groups.

This section will discuss the difference between them, so you can know which one to get before riding on the road.

Type 1: Class M1 License

The M1 license is one you should apply for. It enables people to drive all two-wheelers, including all vehicles permitted under the Class M2 license.

Type 2: Class M2 License

The Class M2 license permits people who hold it to drive and motor-driven bicycle or moped. No motorcycle comes under this category. People generally prefer the M1 license, as this one automatically comes under it.

How To Apply For Your California Motorcycle License

Getting a motorcycle license is a smooth process if you follow everything accordingly. Let me share the complete process how you can get your motorcycle license.

Step 1: Get A Driver’s License

  • California requires you to have a valid ID card or a driver’s license before proceeding.
  • You need to create an online DMV account.
  • Have your social security number ready, as it will be asked for.
  • After everything is done online, you need to visit your nearest DMV office to finish the field test.
  • You will get your driver’s license via mail within a few days.

Step 2: Testing For Your Motorcycle License

After successfully receiving your driver’s license, you can finally move forward to getting a motorcycle. The process has different steps, so I suggest not skipping over anything.

1. Motorcycle Written Test

  • The written test has been designed to ensure you have sufficient knowledge of anything and everything on the road.
  • There is a lot of information online, and you can get your training from a handbook that can be collected from a DMV office.
  • The test has 25 questions, out of which 21 must be correct. This means you need more than 80% to clear the written portion of the test.

2. Motorcycle Vision Test

The vision test is another important one, determining if you are fit to ride on the road.

  • It checks the severity of your vision condition.
  • Vision should be a minimum of 20/40 after testing both eyes.
  • At least 20/40 in one eye and 20/70 in the other.
  • The visual acuity of one eye should be a minimum of 20/200. This is a test that sees how much detail your eye can capture.
  • Drivers that have monovision may not pass the test.

Step 3: Collecting Your Paperwork

  • After you finish the hard part, the rest of the process is relatively simple.
  • You need to provide your fingerprint.
  • You need to pay the $33 fee.
  • Finally, you will have to take a photo for the motorcycle license.

Step 4: Go To Your Local Driver’s License Office

  • Now that all the steps are complete, you will be given a temporary motorcycle license that you must keep with you until your proper motorcycle license is ready.
  • This can take up to 30 days, so you don’t need to be too worried.
  • The license will arrive at your place of residence within this time frame.

Ways To Get A Motorcycle Endorsement In CA

Getting an endorsement is an important first step to getting a motorcycle license. This section will look at how you can get one, so you can get started with the process.

Step 1: Submitting Information

First, you need to submit all important information on the DMV application. You will be asked for your ID card number, so make sure you have it in hand when completing your application.

Step 2: Physically Visiting A DMV Office

The second part of the process is a written test. There are 25 questions on the written test, of which you need 80% to pass.

This translates to 21 correct answers. So, make sure you study hard for it! Then you have to visit the nearest DMV office and complete the rest of the process.

Step 3: Passing Tests

The final step is passing a vision test. This is perhaps the most important one, as your eyesight will be assessed to ensure it is good enough to catch the smallest details while riding.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. How Long Will It Take To Get A Motorcycle License In California?

It will take a few months for you to get your motorcycle license. First, you need to get a restricted M1 or M2 permit, which should be used for six months. After that time period, you can apply for a proper license.

You will be given a temporary one and one month’s time to get your new motorcycle license. So, it takes seven months to get a motorcycle license in California.

Q2. How Much Will It Cost To Get A Motorcycle License In California?

The cost to get your motorcycle license in California is $39. That’s up from the previous price of $33, which has been in effect for many years.

That is not a lot, and you don’t need to pay the government anything on an annual basis. You will have to pay a renewal fee, which will happen a few years after getting your license.

Q3. Should I Have A License To Ride A Motorcycle In California?

It’s the law! In California, it’s illegal to ride a motorcycle without a valid California motorcycle license or permit.

You can be fined if you are caught riding without a valid license or permit. So, make sure you don’t make the wrong decision and decide to test out the severity of the law.

You may also be interested in my article: California Motorcycle Helmet Laws


If you’ve decided to take the plunge and get a motorcycle license, there’s no time like the present. Just follow the above-mentioned easy steps, and you’ll be on your way to the open road in no time!

Getting a California motorcycle license is a great way to get out and explore the beauty of the state. Whether you’re a tourist or a native, there are many reasons why riding a motorcycle is fun and exciting!

I hope this article answers your question about how to get a motorcycle license in California. The state’s website does not state everything explicitly, and that may have led to something wrong being done.

Well, after reading this article, you don’t have anything to worry about!

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