How to Get a Motorcycle License in NY – Ultimate Guide

How to Get a Motorcycle License in NY – Ultimate Guide

The New York motor vehicle agency demands that all motorcycle operators own a Class M or MJ driver license. This is important before operating any motorcycle on the road, even for those with a regular driver license.

In the guide below, I will discuss the correct procedure on how to get a motorcycle license in NY. You will also discover motorcycle license requirements and the various license types.

I am a New York State resident with a valid New York motorcycle license. I can walk you through every step when applying for a motorcycle license in NY.

How to Get a Motorcycle license in NY

To get a NY motorcycle license, applicants should have the required documents and prepare for the motorcycle permit test. You also need to take and pass a written motorcycle permit test. This test can either be online at home or any local DMV testing center. After that, take and pass the road skills test to get a motorcycle license.

  • Applicants without a state license must take a driver education class or a pre-driver course.
  • DMV waives this requirement for applicants with a state license.
  • Also, DMV suggests you learn from a DMV-licensed driving school or take a Safety Program Basic Rider Course.

The steps involved in getting a motorcycle license in New York are very procedural, as you will see in the guide below.

biker after getting a motorcycle license in ny

Type of License

To operate a motorcycle legally as a NY state resident, you must have a valid motorcycle license. The state recognizes the following driver licenses:

Class M Motorcycle License: You will need this to operate motorcycles, mopeds, or other motor vehicles designed to move with only up to 3 wheels. You should be at least 17 or 18 years old with a driver education certificate. 

Class MJ Junior Motorcycle License: Allows you to operate motorcycles and mopeds. Class MJ is for teens aged 16 -17. This license restricts who can be in the vehicle with you and where and when you drive.

Class D Operator’s License: This is a regular driver license that permits operators to drive vehicles, trucks, or Class B and C mopeds. For those driving a vehicle, its manufacturer’s gross weight should rate 26,000 pounds (ca. 11,793 kg) or below. You should be at least 18 or 17 years old with a driver education certificate.

Class DJ Junior Operator’s License: Permits operators to drive vehicles whose manufacturer’s total weight is 10,000 pounds (4,535.92 kg) or below. This license is like the restricted version of a Class D license. It is for teens aged 16 -17 and limits who can be in the vehicle with you and where and when you drive.

Class E Operator’s License: Permits operators to drive vehicles the same as Class D license. But here, the vehicle only carries 14 passengers or fewer. Also, people hire you to transport them. You should be at least 18 years old.

Note: If you have another type of driver license and a motorcycle license, the two classes are listed together. (e.g., “Class DM” permits drivers to operate both passenger vehicles and motorcycles).

person riding a motorcycle

Motorcycle License Requirement in New York

Before obtaining a motorcycle license, you will need to have a motorcycle permit. In New York State, you can obtain one once you are 16. If you get a permit as a junior, you will be subject to additional requirements and restrictions. 

Applicants who do not have a license before applying for one will have to take both the driver license test and the written motorcycle test

Apart from the learner’s permit, you must bring a copy of your photo ID and a certificate of completing a driver education course. Additionally, bring a registered and inspected motorcycle for your road tests. Remember to carry approved eye protection and a motorcycle helmet

If you want a Class M motorcycle license and a Class D operator license, then get a vehicle license first. This is beneficial because you will get a combination permit.

How to Get a Motorcycle License in New York

The DMV requires all applicants to apply for a motorcycle permit to get a New York motorcycle license. But it is important to research before submitting your application. Here is a simple step-by-step instruction for getting a New York motorcycle license.

Prepare for the motorcycle permit test

You will have to pass the written exam, which is the first step towards legally riding a motorcycle in New York State. The state offers free training materials and guides online for your preparation for the test. You can familiarize yourself with the contents of the guide.

You can get more information and download the application form to apply for both the driver license and a learner permit from the DMV website. The instructions are also in Chapter One of the New York Driver Manual or at any motor vehicle office.

Gather what you need to apply

You should pay the required fee and issue the proper documents to get a New York motorcycle license. The documents must prove your name, identity, and age.

You can find all these required application forms at your local motor vehicle agency. The documents are also available on the DMV website. Incase you are interested here are the steps to obtain a motorcycle license in NJ.

person riding a motorcyle

Here are the documents you should have before applying.

  • You must have documents proving your name and age. The DMV accepts:
  • The original or a copy of your US Birth Certificate
  • US Passport
  • US Military Photo Identification Card
  • Certification of Citizenship
  • INS Foreign Passport
  • Certificate of Birth Registration
  • Ineligibility letter from the Social Security Administration
  • You must bring your Social Security card.
  • A parent or guardian must accompany those who use the statement of identity or residence.
  • At least one of the proofs must have the applicant’s signature.

Note: New York has different state identifications, including Real ID, Standard, and Enhanced. All require different documentation, and you should determine the best one before heading to the DMV.

All the required documents MUST:

  • Not be damaged or mutilated.
  • Be original or certified by the issuing US Department of State.
  • Be in English or accompanied by a certified English language translation.
  • Have INS documentation if a foreign document.
  • Be unexpired unless specifically noted.

Apply and take your motorcycle permit test

person ridding motorcycle with a motorcycle permit

Applicants must pass a permit test online at home or at the DMV testing center before getting a motorcycle permit. The test covers everything from motorcycle safety, laws about alcohol and drugs when riding, road signs, and the rules to observe on the road.

To begin your application online:

Step 1: Start by logging in to an ID account or creating a new account (For a new user).

Step 2: Give your name.

Step 3: Confirm the type of permit you want; in this case, select a motorcycle permit.

Step 4: Identify the application documents and forms you will issue when getting a permit.

Step 5: Upload these documents, ensuring you submit a photo or scanned images of all the application forms.

Step 6: Review and confirm the application. You should receive the permit test link in your email after this step.

Step 7: Take the permit test as soon as you receive it. Ensure you click the link within a 5 – minute period.

  • You can complete the test within 40 minutes or less.
  • To pass the test, you must:
  • Get a minimum of 80% of overall questions correct.
  • Correctly answer at least 60% of the motorcycle questions.
  • Correctly answer at least 50% of the road sign questions.
  • You can try again after at least 6 hours if you don’t pass.
  • Applicants below the age of 18 must go to a DMV office in the company of a parent or guardian to sign the Online Permit Test Parent or Guardian Certification. They should also be under a parent’s or guardian’s supervision when taking the test.
  • Applicants above the age of 18 must go to a DMV office and sign the Online Permit Test Attestation.

Note: You can only take the test on a desktop computer, tablet, or laptop. A mobile phone will not display the questions properly.

group of motorcycle riders in a city

Step 8: When you pass the test, you receive a link in your email. Use the link to schedule an appointment to visit the DMV office.

At the DMV office, you will have to:

  • Pay the permit application fee.
  • Have your photo taken.
  • Provide the original copies of the documents you uploaded.

After finishing all these steps, you will get a temporary permit. You will receive a permanent NY motorcycle permit by mail within two weeks. But before that is better to read about some tips to ride motorcycles.

To apply at a DMV office:

Step 1: You should:

  • Present your application forms.
  • Provide the required documents to prove your identity, age, and residence.
  • For applicants below 18 years, issue the statement of parent/guardian residence and/or identity.
  • Pay the permit application fee.

Step 2: Take the written test

  • To pass the test, applicants must:
  • Get at least 14 out of 20 questions correct.
  • Correctly answer at least 2 of the 4 road sign questions.
  • If you don’t pass, you can give it another try at no additional cost.

Step 3: You will get a temporary permit once you pass the written test. Then, you will receive a permanent NY motorcycle permit by mail within two weeks.

Follow all restrictions

The DMV will issue you a learner’s permit once you’ve passed your written test. However, the permit comes with some restrictions that the rider must observe. Ensure you follow these restrictions and requirements carefully because they are in place to keep you safe.

solo rider in city

The DMV recommends riders with a learner’s permit not ride in prohibited areas. For holders of the Junior motorcycle license, the state has additional restrictions that apply:

  • Motorcycles must have dual controls.
  • Must drive under the supervision of a:
  • Driver education teacher
  • Driving school instructor
  • Parent/guardian
  • In loco parentis
  • The supervisor must be over 21 years and hold a valid motorcycle license.
  • The learner has to be visible and within a quarter mile of the supervising rider.

Prepare for the motorcycle road test

It is important that you practice riding for a minimum of 30 hours before taking the road test. This could be with or without formal instruction.

Since road tests are given on city streets, ensure you have a minimum of 10 hours of practice riding in mid to high traffic. You can even practice on highways or expressways. But in New York City, you can not practice on any restricted roads or a DMV road test area.

When practicing riding with your motorcycle learner permit

  • You must follow the necessary restrictions and requirements.
  • You must be supervised by a person over the age of 21 and hold a valid motorcycle license.
  • Your supervisor must be within 1/4 mile at all times.

Take the Motorcycle Skills Test

After practicing rides, you can schedule with the New York DMV to take the road skills test. You must provide a Safe Driving Course certificate or a Learner’s Permit for the skills test appointment.

To take the road test:

  • You must bring a licensed driver and a vehicle to transport your examiner when taking your test.
  • You must carry approved eye protection and a motorcycle helmet.
  • Your motorcycle must be legally registered, insured, and inspected.

You can take the skill test in an actual traffic environment or an actual traffic environment. The test will challenge your ability to control a motorcycle and how you can avoid crashes. It will test your ability to handle traffic in normal and hazardous situations.

The examiner will test your ability to:

  • Stop, swerve, and turn quickly.
  • Make a safe acceleration, brake, and turn.
  • Know your motorcycle and driving limits
  • Adjust to different traffic situations
  • Communicate with other riders on the road.
  • Make critical decisions and execute them.

The examiner will also grade you depending on control, the path you take for maneuvers, safe speeds, and staying within boundaries. If you don’t pass, you can reschedule to give it another try.

Getting a Motorcycle License

You will receive your test results once the road test is over. Upon completing the motorcycle skills test, you will get a temporary motorcycle license valid for 90 days.

  • Applicants without an existing class of New York State driver’s license will receive a photo license in their mail within 3 – 5 weeks.
  • Applicants with an existing class of New York State driver’s license will need to wait 7 days. After this time, head to the DMV office with your Class D photo ID, temporary motorcycle license, and motorcycle permit. Then pay the required fee and apply again for a Driver’s License or Non-Driver ID Card. You will be issued a combined Class D and M/MJ license.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you need to wear a helmet on a motorcycle in New York?

The New York State law requires all riders and their passengers to wear helmets and protective eyewear. Your gear has to meet the standards of the federal motor vehicle safety rules. Wearing protective gear will reduce accident fatalities and the expenditure on accidents.

Do I need a motorcycle license to drive a 150cc scooter in New York?

Every rider needs a valid license to ride a 150cc scooter. Any machine above 150cc will require a motorcycle endorsement. Additionally, if the bike can attain speeds above 30mph, it will need an M class endorsement. The endorsements are easy to get, and you can get to ride your motorcycle in a short time.

How much does it cost to get a motorcycle license in New York?

The charges for obtaining your first motorcycle license differ depending on the type of license you already have and your age. Adding a class MJ or M to your current driver’s license will cost you between $21 and $120. It will also cost you a $10 application fee to obtain a permit for a motorcycle license in New York.

Can you buy a motorcycle without a license in NY?

Yes, you can purchase a motorcycle without a license. Dealerships do not ask for your motorcycle license when buying. However, they will ask for your identification to confirm your age. 
While you can purchase a motorcycle without a license, it is illegal for you to ride it without a license. It might also be difficult to buy insurance for your motorcycle without a license.

How many questions are on the motorcycle permit test in NY?

The New York motorcycle permit test practice contains a set of 20 questions. You should score at least 80 percent of the questions to pass the test. If you score below the required grade, you must retake the test until you obtain the desired pass mark. You can take the practice test till you pass.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, getting a motorcycle license in New York can take a bit of time. You will undoubtedly be avoiding hefty fines and jail time once you have a valid motorcycle license. But the application process involves multiple steps, including training, paperwork, and tests. You must adhere to the restrictions and all the licensing requirements to keep you safe during the process. If you are not a New York resident and want to ride in the state, you can do so as long as you own a valid motorcycle license from your state or country.

Pro Tip: The DMV will waive your road test if you have completed a course at the New York Motorcyclist Safety Program (NYMSP). Also, once you get a license, you can not carry more than one passenger when driving with a Junior license.

David Okwacha

David Okwacha has a background in computer science and is a motorbike enthusiast. Since he was 16 years old, he has been riding motorcycles and performing simple repairs. He has four years of experience writing informative, intelligible articles about motorcycles, technology, and outdoor activities. David enjoys traveling the country on his dirt bike when he's not writing. He had some thrilling experiences, including dirt biking through the Kenyan savanna.