Do You Need A Motorcycle License To Buy A Motorcycle?

The exhilaration that comes with buying a motorcycle is indescribable, especially when it’s for personal use. However, motorcycle riding necessitates a special license requiring additional training, besides the conventional driver’s license.

A common query among potential motorcycle buyers pertains to the requirement of a motorcycle license. Some may wonder if it’s necessary to acquire one before purchasing a motorcycle.

Can I Buy a Motorcycle Without a License?

Yes, you can legally purchase a motorcycle without a motorcycle license. Neither a dealer nor a private party will require you to present a motorcycle license during the purchase. However, it’s worth noting that riding the motorcycle you bought without a valid motorcycle license is prohibited.

Over the past few years, I’ve bought and sold around twenty motorcycles, so I’ve gained a fair understanding of these processes. When I bought my first motorcycle, I wasn’t licensed to ride, and this information was learned from experience.

Buying a Motorcycle Without a License

Motorcycle-related laws can often seem overly stringent and comprehensive. Yet, when it comes to motorcycle ownership, this is one of the most relaxed areas.

Purchasing a motorcycle isn’t contingent upon having a motorcycle license. However, if you plan to earn a motorcycle license later or want to buy a motorcycle as a gift for a loved one, there are a few regulations to consider.

Dealerships often require a photo ID, which can be a standard driver’s license. They simply need proof of purchase, regardless of whether you intend to ride or store the bike. There’s no law obligating them to check your license for motorcycle riding privileges.

It’s important to remember that it’s illegal to ride a motorcycle home after purchase without a valid license. Even a standard driver’s license won’t suffice. If caught, you could face a substantial fine, so make sure you have an alternative plan for getting the motorcycle home.

Registering A Motorcycle Without A License

Registering a motorcycle without a license is a slightly complex process. The requirements to do so, including your residential location, vary. In several areas, including California, motorcycle buyers aren’t required to hold a current motorcycle license to register their purchase. However, some states may not be as lenient.

Regardless of the state, proof of insurance is required to register a motorcycle. While it’s possible for bikers without a motorcycle license to obtain coverage, relying on this option isn’t advisable. Only a few companies might waive this requirement, making it a scarce possibility.

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Can a Learner’s Permit Be Used to Purchase a Motorcycle?

Yes, holding a motorcycle learner’s permit equates to not having a motorcycle license in terms of purchasing a motorcycle. As long as they have a standard driver’s license, customers can buy as many motorcycles as they wish.

Given that every new motorcycle owner will eventually need a learner’s permit, we recommend acquiring one before making the purchase. It’s a practical and cost-effective approach to ensuring a satisfying investment.

Getting Motorcycle Insurance Without a License

It’s possible to purchase motorcycle insurance without a license, even in scenarios where you don’t possess a license but still require insurance for motorcycle riding. Here are some instances:

  • You own a classic motorcycle that you never ride.
  • Your license is currently suspended.
  • Someone else purchased the motorcycle in your name.
  • You bought the motorcycle without initially obtaining a license.

Obtaining insurance without a license can be challenging. Insurance companies use driving records to set fair rates, and finding a company that accepts policyholders without a license can also be tough.

In such cases, it’s advisable to talk to an insurance representative. They should clarify the company’s stance on providing coverage. You may need a state-issued photo ID to secure insurance from some of these providers.

There are a few steps you can take to increase your chances of obtaining insurance:

  1. Identify the main driver: Designating another individual as the primary driver of the policy could be prudent. This means that your insurance provider would base premiums on the primary driver’s record, not yours.
  2. Exclude yourself: Another strategy is to refuse coverage for yourself. While this would mean you wouldn’t be covered when riding the motorcycle, you also wouldn’t pose a risk for driving without a license. This approach could potentially lower the policy’s premiums.
  3. Delay getting insurance: If you expect to receive your license soon and are sure nobody will ride the motorcycle in the meantime, consider delaying the purchase of insurance. Instead, wait until you pass your test or regain your license.

Obtaining a Motorcycle Endorsement

To obtain a motorcycle license, you must pass a road test under the supervision of a DMV or BMV representative in your area. If you don’t already have a standard license, you might be required to pass a written test on traffic laws before your road test. Once your fee is paid, you will receive your motorcycle license.

Experienced riders, such as adult bikers with an existing motorcycle permit, may sometimes be exempted from the road test, provided they pass a skills exam on a state-authorized closed course.

Time Required to Obtain a Motorcycle License

The length of time it takes to obtain a motorcycle license depends on various factors, including your age and riding history. If you’re an experienced rider with a permit, you might be able to get your motorcycle license immediately after passing your road test.

For novice riders, the process can take longer. Most states require riders under 18 to have a learner’s permit before they can get a motorcycle license. Riders might be required to hold these permits for a specified duration, like a certain number of hours on the road, before receiving a full license or endorsement.

How to Get a Motorcycle Endorsement

You need to pass a written test that covers the basics of motorcycle riding, including turning, stopping, and signaling, to ride a motorcycle. Online practice exams are available to help you prepare for this test.

The second step in the endorsement process is the riding skills test, which evaluates your ability to travel safely in different traffic conditions. The motorcycle skills test has a minimum age requirement of 16 years.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is required in California to purchase a motorcycle?

In California, acceptable insurance documentation includes a certificate of self-insurance provided by the DMV, an automobile liability insurance policy, or a $35,000 surety bond from a company with a California business license. A valid motorcycle license from California and a paid fee are also required.

What is the cost of a California motorcycle license?

A learner’s permit costs $35 in California. The fee for an original M2 or M1 motorcycle license is $36. You can get a duplicate or change your name for $28.

Which state has the easiest motorcycle license application process?

Nevada doesn’t require a written exam if you’ve already taken a motorcycle safety course, which can speed up the process. However, the specific process may vary from person to person, and it’s always best to check with your local DMV.

Can I buy a motorcycle without a motorcycle license?

Yes, you can buy a motorcycle without a motorcycle license. There is no law prohibiting the purchase of a motorcycle without a license. However, you won’t be able to legally ride it on public roads without a valid motorcycle license. In addition, getting insurance can be more complicated without a license.

Can I get insurance for my motorcycle if I don’t have a motorcycle license?

While it may be challenging, it’s not impossible to get motorcycle insurance without a license. However, your insurance premiums may be higher, and you’ll likely need to designate a primary rider who does possess a valid license.


In conclusion, you do need a specific license to operate a motorcycle in the United States, but not to purchase one. The process of acquiring a license isn’t overly complicated, but before attempting to earn your endorsement, you should familiarize yourself with the regulations in your state.

If you’re considering purchasing a motorcycle, ensure that you have your license. Even if you don’t yet have a license, you can still buy the motorcycle of your dreams. You can then take steps to earn your license. Remember, driving without a valid license could make your insurance more expensive. We hope this article proves useful!

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