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How to Get a Motorcycle License in Michigan

A Michigan motorcycle license is required for residents who want to legally operate a motorcycle in the state. A motorcycle drivers license is more precisely a motorcycle endorsement (or “CY endorsement”) that is added to a regular drivers license. Driving a motorcycle without a bike license is a violation of Michigan law and can result in a fine, or even imprisonment. However, obtaining a motorbike driving license is a fairly simple process and will allow you to enjoy driving motorcycles without fear of repercussions. Learn more about motorcycle endorsements and how to acquire them in the sections below.

Age Requirements for Getting Your Motorcycle License in Michigan

There is no education requirement for obtaining a motorcycle license (although you must pass a knowledge test to get motorcycle license privileges). There is only an age requirement. Applying for motorcycle license privileges is possible for residents who are at least 16 years old. To obtain a Michigan license for motorcycle operation as a teen, you must hold a graduated driver license that is at least at Level 2, as well as passing any necessary safety courses and knowledge tests. Ordinarily, before upgrading to a full bike license, teens will acquire a motorcycle temporary instruction permit (TIP), which allows you to practice riding while being supervised by a motorcyclist with some level of experience. Parents must sign for teens to acquire a temporary instruction permit. TIPs stay valid for 180 days, during which time you can practice your supervised motorcycle driving, although not at night or with passengers. You then may obtain a full DMV motorcycle license after completing your practice and any required testing. You cannot hold more than two temporary instruction permits in the span of 10 years. If your first TIP expires, you may apply for another to replace it. However, if your second TIP expires (or if you have failed two rider skills tests), to obtain a full motorcycle endorsement, you will have to schedule, take and pass a motorcycle safety training course.

Note: Under Michigan law, you will need to wear a motorcycle helmet if you are younger than 21 years old and driving a motorcycle.

Michigan Motorcycle Drivers License Application Procedure

“How can I get a motorcycle license in Michigan?” is a common question from motorists in the state. If you are wondering where to get motorcycle license credentials, it is important to know that your options are limited. For instance, you cannot apply for a new motorcycle license online. While it is possible to renew your license online, by mail or by fax, you cannot obtain a new bike license by any method other than the in-person method. To apply for a motorcycle license in person at an SOS branch office, you must follow one of the following two sets of steps:

  1. Sign up for a Basic Rider Course (BRC) or Returning Rider Course (RRC),
  2. Complete the course and obtain a certificate of completion,
  3. Head to a Michigan Secretary of State (SOS) branch office,
  4. Pass a vision test,
  5. Present your certificate of completion
  6. Pay any necessary fees

Or:

  1. Visit an SOS branch first,
  2. Take and pass knowledge and vision exams,
  3. Pay for a Motorcycle Temporary Instruction Permit (TIP),
  4. Practice riding a motorcycle for up to 180 days,
  5. Pass a rider skills test and
  6. Revisit the SOS branch office and pay for a motorcycle endorsement.

Note: The motorcycle license cost can vary. Obtaining a motorcycle endorsement is also a separate cost from that of your regular drivers license.

Michigan Motorcycle Drivers License Testing

Motorcycle license requirements include more than a minimum age you must reach. In addition to being at least 16 years old, MI motorbike driving license applicants must also take and pass a number of required tests. All motorcycle applicants must pass a knowledge test, vision exam and driving skills test. Knowledge tests and vision exams are handled by the Michigan Department of State at local SOS branch offices, while driving skills tests are administered through certified third-party testing organizations.

DMV motorcycle license applicants may also want to take a safety training course in addition to the three tests listed above. Motorcycle safety training courses are not required for most drivers who are 18 years of age or older, but they are helpful resources as you learn to safely rid a motorcycle on Michigan roadways. All motorcycle license applicants under 18 years of age are required to take a safety training course, as are adult drivers who have failed the rider skills test more than once. All motorists may want to consider taking the course, however, as successful completion of a safety course cancels out the need to take a rider skills test or SOS in-person knowledge test.

In some cases, new residents can obtain Michigan motorbike licenses by transferring certificates of completion from out-of-state motorcycle training courses. If you are a new resident and have previously completed a motorcycle training course, present your rider safety completion card at an MI SOS branch office to see if you can obtain a motorcycle endorsement on your license.

Motorcycle riders are highly encouraged to wear helmets by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Wearing a motorcycle helmet is not required in all cases, however there are certain times when motorcyclists must legally wear a helmet. All motorbike drivers license applicants, regardless of age, must wear a helmet while taking the motorcycle driving skills test and while taking any motorcycle safety course. Additionally, you must wear a helmet if you are a motorcyclist younger than 21 years of age. Even if you are 21 years or older, you must wear a helmet if you have not held your motorcycle endorsement in MI for at least two years or have not taken a motorcycle safety training course. This is one reason why you may want to take the safety course, even though it is not mandatory.

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