How to Get a Motorcycle License in VA – Ultimate Guide

How to Get a Motorcycle License in VA – Ultimate Guide

Virginia is the perfect place to enjoy a long ride on the back of a motorcycle. If you want to enjoy a spirited ride through the Virginian countryside legally, you will need a motorcycle license or endorsement. 

If you have a regular drivers’ license, that definitely makes things easier but you need either a class M, M2 or M3 license or endorsement to ride a bike. Fortunately, getting your M designation or a motorcycle-specific license is fairly straightforward – as we will explain in the following article. 

How to Get a Motorcycle License in Virginia

Your motorcycle license may take the form of either an endorsement on your existing drivers’ license or a standalone license that only allows you to operate a motorcycle and not a car. This will be based on whether or not you actually have a drivers’ license beforehand. 

Regardless of whether you are aiming for an endorsement or a standalone license, you will have to pass a vision screening at your DMV, and then hold a permit for 30 days (or 9 months if you are under 18). You will also be required to pass the Motorcycle Knowledge Exam and the Motorcycle Road Skills Test unless you have completed the Virginia Rider Training Program (more on that later).

Motorcycle License Rider  in Virginia

Motorcycle License Classes in Virginia

In Virginia, there are several different classes of motorcycle endorsements you may have on your license. They are:

Class “M” Endorsement: This endorsement allows you to operate both two and three-wheeled vehicles. This is the most common type of motorcycle endorsement, and covers both regular motorcycles and trikes. 

Class “M2” Endorsement: This endorsement is limited to only two-wheeled motorcycles. With this endorsement, you will be able to operate most standard motorcycles but not “trike” motorcycles with three wheels. 

Class “M3” Endorsement: The M3 endorsement is limited to three-wheeled vehicles and does not permit the operation of standard, two-wheeled, motorcycles. With this endorsement, you will be able to ride a “trike” style motorcycle with three wheels. 

Motorcycle Only Drivers’ License: This license allows you to operate a motorcycle, and only a motorcycle, on public roadways. This is denoted by a “6” restriction on the license. While this license allows you to ride a motorcycle on public roads, it does not allow you to drive a car. 

How to Get a motorcycle License in Virginia

Road Sign in Virginia

Ok, now that we know what kind of endorsements and licenses are available in Virginia, let’s look a little more closely at how to actually earn those endorsements. As previously pointed out, most endorsements are simply M endorsements, which make no distinction between two and three-wheelers. 

There are a few options for earning your endorsement, and they all have their advantages. Whether you want to get licensed and get on the road as quickly as possible, or get a jumpstart on your skills before ever riding on a public road, the choice is yours to make. 

Step 0 (optional): The Virginia Rider Training Program

This is an excellent option for any rider, as it streamlines the process of acquiring your endorsement and provides you with more advanced skills that would normally take more time and experience to develop. 

The Virginia Rider Training Program is designed to provide a safe environment to learn and practice new riding skills to make you more competent on the road. Each class is trained by certified professionals and hosted at community colleges, riding schools, and even dealerships. 

Completing this course will also make the rider exempt from having to take the Motorcycle Knowledge Exam and the Motorcycle Road Skills test. This makes the Rider Training Program an even better option if you want to make the process of getting your endorsement as efficient as possible. 

Step 1: Pass a Vision Screening

Before you can operate a motorcycle on the road, you will need to prove that you can see clearly enough to follow the signs and markers on the road. This is the same test as the one given when you get a regular drivers’ license. 

If you wear corrective lenses, this will be indicated on your license.  

Step 2: Take the Motorcycle Knowledge Exam

This is also referred to as the “written” exam and focuses on your knowledge of the Motorcycle Operator Manual. You will be expected to answer the 25 questions with a minimum passing score before being allowed to move on to the practical skills test. 

The Motorcycle Knowledge Exam is not an open-book test, so if you intend to go this way to obtain your endorsement, it would be a good idea to study the manual first. 

More on the motorcycle Knowledge Exam and a link to the operator’s manual here

Step 3: Schedule and Pass the Motorcycle Road Skills Test

This is the practical portion of the process, which requires you to demonstrate that you actually know how to ride a motorcycle! These tests are scheduled in advance with an instructor who will judge your ability to control the bike with several basic exercises. 

motorcycle  rider in city of Virginia

When you show up, you will need to wear all of your gear, including a DOT-approved helmet with a face shield or goggles, long clothing including a jacket and pants, riding gloves, and boots or shoes that cover your ankles. Your motorcycle itself will also need to have all of its necessary tags and inspections done before you can use it during the exam. 

If you fail this test, you will have to go through the Rider Training Program before you can continue. 

Step 4: Hold your permit

Out of all the steps to obtaining your permit, the last one is also the easiest. Once you’ve completed your tests or completed the training program and stopped by the DMV, you will have a Motorcycle Learner’s Permit. 

Motorcycle parked in Virginia

If you are 18 years old or older, you must hold this permit for 30 days before you can officially have your endorsement added to your drivers’ license or before you receive your motorcycle-specific license. 

People under 18 will need to have a little more patience, though, as you are required to hold your learner’s permit for a period of 9 months. 

Once you’ve held your learner’s permit for the required period of time, pay one more visit to the DMV to make things official. You will receive an updated license with your shiny new endorsement and be able to legally ride your motorcycle on the roads!

motorcycle rider ridding in Virginia

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Virginia Motorcycle Helmet Law?

In Virginia, all motorcycle operators must wear a helmet. Specifically, the rider must wear a helmet that meets or exceeds SNELL, ANSII, or DOT standards. Failure to follow the helmet law is considered a Class 4 misdemeanor and can cost up to $250 in fines!

How many questions is the motorcycle test in Virginia?

The written portion of the motorcycle test in Virginia is 25 questions. This link contains practice materials for the test. Good luck!

How long does it take to get a motorcycle license in Virginia?

If you’re over the age of 18, it will take 30 days for you to get your motorcycle endorsement or license. If you want to get your license below that age, then it will take 9 months after getting your permit before you can get a full license.

What is the Virginia motorcycle license age requirement?

In order to get your motorcycle license permit, you must be 15 years and 6 months old. Accounting for the 9-month waiting period, you must be 16 years and 3 months old before you can hold a full motorcycle license in Virginia.   


Today we took an in-depth look at the process for getting your motorcycle license in Virginia. These steps are not optional and are meant to ensure that every motorcyclist on the road has the basic skills necessary to operate their vehicles as safely as possible, both for their own sakes and that of the people they share the roads with. 

Whether you choose to go through a rider training program or take the tests head-on, and whether you hold your permit for 30 days or 9 months, obtaining your motorcycle license is the first step into an amazing new way to get around that can be much more fulfilling than driving a car.  

Avatar photo

Ryan Christian

My lifelong love of everything on wheels began with a dusty old scooter and a set of second hand wrenches. Since then I’ve spent every moment I can spare finding new dirt paths, winding country roads, and long open highways. I write to share my passion with other enthusiasts, and maybe inspire one or two new ones along the way!