Learn about the process of obtaining a Class M license to ride a motorcycle in Texas, and the different courses available to help riders master their skills. Get up-to-date information on requirements, fees, documents needed, FAQs, and much more.
It may not be as big as Alaska, or as populous as California, but no state in the US has more highway miles than Texas — nearly 700,000 miles, and what better way to see them than on a motorcycle? The wind in your hair, the bugs in your teeth… Just don’t forget your license.
In Texas, motorcycle licenses are treated differently from regular driver’s licenses — so if you were thinking you’d just use your plain old Class C driver’s license, think again. It’s only natural: motorcycles are very different vehicles, and they require a different set of skills. They’re often painted as more dangerous than cars, but all the safety equipment in the world can’t guard against careless or unskilled driving.
The good news is that getting your Class M license isn’t harder than getting an ordinary driver’s license — just different. In fact, if you’ve already gotten your Class C license, you’re most of the way there already. But whether you’re a seasoned driver with a new hobby, or a brand-new driver with nothing but a dream — this article will tell you everything you need to know to get licensed. In order to drive a motorcycle or scooter in Texas, one must obtain a Class M license. Residents who already possess a Texas driver’s license can apply for a motorcycle endorsement. Those seeking only a motorcycle license will need to take a driver’s education course.
Essentially, the requirements for a Class M motorcycle license are “Class C-plus”. The “plus” is a motorcycle safety course (which you really ought to take even if it weren’t mandatory). If the phrase “Class C” doesn’t ring any bells, or if you’re just starting the process, you’ll probably want to read this whole article. On the other hand, drivers who are already licensed, whether in Texas or elsewhere, can skip ahead.
Step 1: Class C/Learner’s Permit
Your first step in getting licensed to drive a motorcycle is getting licensed to drive, period. To do that, you’ll have to pass a driving test — but let’s back up a little. Really, the first thing you have to do is qualify for a driver’s license, which means:
1.) You have to prove you are in Texas (and the United States) legally, whether as a U.S. citizen or authorized nonresident alien. For US citizens, that means you’ll need either your passport, birth certificate (original or certified copy), or naturalization form.
2.) You have to prove you live in Texas, i.e. you have to qualify for a library card. Most official documents with your address on them are accepted: utility bills, insurance cards, and even voter registration cards — but you’ll need two of them.
3.) You have to have some official ID. This can be the same as your supporting document for 1, but it needs to have your photo on it. Apart from state-issued ID and passports, the only option for US citizens is military ID (non-citizens can use their proof of citizenship).
4). You have to have a Social Security Number. If you’re a citizen, you have one — you just need to prove it. Your SS card or an official tax document — your W-2 or 1099 — will work fine.
5.) Your cars have to be registered and insured in Texas. No car? No problem — but you’ll have to sign an affidavit affirming that.
Once you’ve got all your supporting documents together, you’ll have to fill out an application (available HERE) and make an appointment at a driver license office. In addition to all of the above, you’ll get your picture taken, your thumbs printed, your signature recorded, and your vision tested — oh, and there’s a $33 application fee ($16 for minors).
Now all that’s left is the driving test! Don’t worry, it’s easy — if this author could pass it at 18, you should have no problem. A full list of requirements is HERE, but there’s really only one thing that matters: parallel parking. If you can parallel park, that Class C is yours. If you can’t, no amount of mirror-adjusting will help you.
What if I have an out-of-state driver’s license?
If you’re licensed to drive in a different state, the good news is that you probably don’t need to pass a driving test. All you have to do is apply for a Class C license, and trade your current license for a Texas one.
Step 2: Complete a Motorcycle Safety Course
If you’re reading this, congratulations! You can legally drive a car in the state of Texas. The main requirement for upgrading your Class C to a Class M license is a motorcycle safety course — and before you ask, no, you can’t do it online. Most available courses have an online component, but you’ll have to show up in person for at least a couple of days of training. With over a hundred state-approved course providers (conveniently listed for you below) you should have no trouble finding an instructor.
Once you’ve completed the course, you’ll get a certificate of completion. Before you have this professionally framed, you’ll want to bring it to the DPS office along with your Class M application and supporting documents.
And that’s it! Well, if you’re an adult; minors will need to read on. At the DPS office, you’ll be photographed and have your signature recorded, and once you pay the application fee you’ll be given a paper license. The laminated one will come in the mail 45 days later. Congratulations and happy riding![wpdatatable id=1]
No matter what level of experience you may have with motorcycles, there’s sure to be a great course out there for you—and Texas has plenty of them! From beginner classes at TMSP or Austin Moto Academy to advanced classes at Dallas Safety Training Center, there are lots of options when it comes to honing your riding abilities in the Lone Star State. With these top-notch programs available, now is definitely the time to get out there and hit the open road!
What if I’m a minor or only have a learner’s permit?
If you’re between 15 and 17, you can still get a motorcycle license — it’s just a slightly different process.
First, you’ll need some documentation before signing up for a motorcycle safety course: either a learner’s permit, a provisional license, or a certificate of completion of the classroom portion of a driver’s ed class.
Second, you’ll need to bring a couple of extra items to the DPS office when you apply. The first one is a parent — so if you were planning to get your license in secret, you may be disappointed. You’ll also need official verification of enrollment in high school — sorry James Dean, even you. You can get this from your school administration.
Third, you’ll have to take the driving test at the DPS office — yes, even though you already took the motorcycle safety course.
One more thing to note: if you’re 15 — well, first of all, kudos on your motivation. I could barely get myself out of bed at 15, never mind get a motorcycle driver’s license. But you’ll have a restriction on your license — a class J restriction, to be exact — that limits how big a hog you can ride legally. Until your 16th birthday, you’ll be limited to bikes with under 250 cc piston displacement, which rules out a Gold Wing but includes dirt bikes and café racers.
What is a Motorcycle Learner License (J restriction)?
To obtain a motorcycle learner license, one must meet the necessary requirements for obtaining a learner license, as well as take a motorcycle safety course. A certificate of completion should be brought to the driver license office when applying for the license. Minors must then pass a motorcycle riding test in order to remove the “J” restriction, which allows them to practice riding with a licensed motorcycle operator who is 21 years of age or older in sight.
Do I have to take a motorcycle knowledge test?
The claim that “The motorcycle knowledge test is waived for persons presenting a valid Motorcycle Safety Course completion certificate as of January 12, 2015” is not entirely accurate. According to the information provided by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), while completion of a motorcycle safety course may exempt individuals from the motorcycle drive test, it does not waive the motorcycle knowledge test requirement.
Specifically, the DPS states that for individuals under the age of 18, the motorcycle drive test cannot be waived, and all individuals must take the motorcycle drive test unless they are 18 years of age or older, have completed a motorcycle safety course, and hold a valid, unrestricted Texas Class A, B, or C license. This implies that while completion of a motorcycle safety course may exempt individuals from the drive test, they are still required to pass the motorcycle knowledge test.
You must be at least 15 years old to apply for a Class M license in Texas.
Yes, you must complete the Motorcycle Operator Training Course (MOTC) to get your Class M license in Texas.
You need to bring your valid Texas driver’s license and proof of identity (birth certificate or passport for example) when applying for a Class M License in Texas.
The Texas motorcycle test includes questions on road rules, traffic signs and safe riding techniques. The test also includes a vision test and a skill test.
Riders in Texas must have liability insurance for their motorcycle with limits of at least $30,000 for each person and $60,000 for each accident.