Motorcycle Endorsement Vs. License: What Is A Motorcycle Endorsement?

motorcycle riding at night

Many young riders have some confusion in their minds regarding motorcycle driving licenses and motorcycle endorsements.

To state the fact at first, there is a difference between the two and riders should know the role of a license and an endorsement. They should also know when do they need one and why exactly do they need a motorcycle endorsement.

In this guide, we will provide you with all the information to obtain a motorcycle endorsement including why do you need one and when do you need one.

What is a Motorcycle Endorsement?

Drivers licensing authorities issue endorsements on your driver’s license, depending upon the authority’s determination of your need to use a motorcycle for specific purposes.

For example; if you desire to carry only one person (rider) then it would be impossible with a regular car or truck license because usually, they can legally carry an unlimited number of passengers.

So, if you want to drive motorcycles carrying more than one person, you need an endorsement on your license stating this fact.

The same thing applies in the case of commercial licenses where there are different types of endorsements available related to the type of vehicle or equipment you want to operate under. For example; if you will be operating trucks, trailers, and other heavy-duty vehicles then you should have a HAZMAT endorsement.

In simple words, a motorcycle endorsement is an additional document that you can add to your current license or driving credentials. In addition to this, riders should know that they might need a motorcycle endorsement even if they do not own a motorcycle.

Who Needs a Motorcycle Endorsement?

Here are the people who would require a motorcycle endorsement:

  • Riders who want to operate motorcycles alone
  • Riders who want to carry passengers
  • Riders who want to drive commercial motorcycles

Once riders earn a motorcycle endorsement, they will be subject to the following restrictions.

Operate motorcycles alone

It is illegal for anyone above 16 years of age to drive any type of two-wheeled motor vehicles on public roads without having proper documentation and license which includes a valid driver’s license with a motorcycle endorsement. Also, after earning a motorcycle learner’s permit, drivers who are 16 and 17 years of age are not permitted to carry any passengers on a motorcycle for a period of six months.

You also need this form of documentation if you ride as a passenger on such vehicles.

Carry passengers

In most of the US states, motorcycle riders need to have a separate driver license for passenger-carrying if they want to ride with more than one person.

Usually, one should be 18 years of age and above to get such type of driver license and an endorsement fee can be required to get the endorsement added to the motorcycle license which will depend upon their local motor vehicles department.

Drive commercial motorcycles

You need a special type of endorsement on your driver license before getting behind the wheels of any commercial motorcycle, like those used in public transportation or for other commercial purposes.

Depending upon specific state laws, you might also require having a special commercial driver’s license (CDL).

Right Time for a Motorcycle Endorsement

It is very important for all riders who own motorcycles to keep their endorsements updated because it might help in avoiding any inconveniences or legal troubles while driving through different states.

You should know the actual date from your local motor vehicles department when do you need to get a renewed endorsement on your motorcycle driver license/driving credentials. In other cases, if you do not have a driver license yet and plan for getting one, then check with them for the exact date to take the written test.

Riders who live in Michigan can go to a Secretary of State office to apply for a temporary instruction permit even if they don’t register for an MI-REP course (TIP). To receive a TIP, one must finish the Vision test and Written Knowledge test. After passing both tests, one will be issued a TIP to practice riding for up to 180 days with a motorcycle endorsement and with certain restrictions.

For novice to expert riders in Florida, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) offers the majority of Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) courses. Finding a course in your area will not be a problem as the Motorcycle Safety Foundation offers courses all throughout the nation.

Riders who live in California must renew their driver license every 5 years whether they drive motorcycles or not.

This is one important thing that riders need to understand because it becomes mandatory within a short period of time to renew their licenses and adding an endorsement might cost additional money from the fee required to renew regular driving licenses.

In case you are planning to move out of your current state and you do not have a motorcycle driver license yet or your license is expired then you should check with the motor vehicles department in that particular state for instructions to get one.

In most cases, riders are required to pass a written test before getting a driver’s license because this certification is necessary to operate a motorcycle. In addition, they might also ask you to take a road skills test in order to see if you can operate a motorcycle safely before providing you with a motorcycle permit to drive through public roads. The written test and road skills test helps them to determine your eligibility to be a safe rider.

Application Process of a Motorcycle Endorsement

The Knowledge test to obtain a motorcycle learner’s permit is possible through an appointment only at DMV Offices. The whole process starts by going directly to any local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office where they will set up an appointment at a driver license office for testing and verification purposes.

Of course, if there are no available appointments at the driver license office, you can go there without making one for the purpose of getting an immediate answer.

The entire process often takes up to 30 minutes so it is required that riders should take advantage of every opportunity they have when visiting local Department of Motor Vehicles offices for this type of certification.

If you are taking any tests, then be prepared with your driving license, other identification cards along with evidence that shows you are mentally and physically fit to ride motorcycles before getting behind the wheels.

While taking written tests, remember that these exams consist of questions about motor vehicle laws in your state including restrictions on rider’s licenses regarding age limits, vision requirements, and other related information regarding safety issues while riding through public roads.

As far as applying for a commercial endorsement is concerned or if you plan to use any type of motorcycle as part of your job requirement, you will need to check with the motor vehicles departments in your particular state for specific written and road test procedures.

If you are planning to drive motor driven cycles only on private properties or within closed tracks for racing purposes then you should know that written tests are not necessary. So, be sure to follow their requirements if any.

Importance of a Motorcycle Endorsement

Before starting the application process to obtain a motorcycle permit, you should remember that without a motorcycle endorsement on your license/driving credential, you might not be allowed to ride motorcycles through public roads in some states.

In other words, it is a special certification required when operating two or three-wheeled vehicles for recreational purposes. In addition, riders who want to operate a motorcycle commercially must have a separate commercial driving license to be approved by local DMV office authorities. Also, trike riders may need to pass a different driving test other than the regular motorcycle endorsement and receive an endorsement before they may legally operate on public highways.

Most of all knowing the advantages and disadvantages can help you decide whether applying for this type of certification is necessary or not.

The good news is that there are many benefits associated with getting motorcycle endorsements which include:

  • You will get an extra point added to your current license score depending upon state laws
  • You will be able to post bail with your motorcycle license in case you get arrested for any traffic violations.
  • You can save on money by avoiding paying surcharges for not having endorsements on your current licensing credential.
  • You can save time because you do not need to appear for another written exam which is needed when applying for a new driver’s license.


While it is true that every state has different requirements when applying for a driver’s license or motorcycle endorsement, one should always know the right procedure to follow so that troubles can be avoided at every step.

Whether you want to apply for a commercial driving license or another type of motorcycle license, be sure to visit a driver license office check with local DMV authorities in your particular state. To apply for a motorcycle license, consider submitting all requested information. Also, you can enroll in a motorcycle safety course to begin learning how to ride a motorcycle.

As far as learning more about the importance of commercial endorsements and other related issues are concerned, make sure you always consider checking online or visiting local DMV offices for more information.

So, if you have a driving license, get your motorcycle endorsement today so that you are legally allowed to both drive your motor vehicle and ride your bike on public roads and spaces.

About The Author

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