New York City also has lots of info at the DOT.
With any motor vehicle you’ll need your bike or yourself licensed from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
A listing of the DMV’s motorcycle information (license, registration, manual, mopeds, etc) can be found at the Unofficial DMV.
The DMV has established a rider-funded Motorcycle Safety Program as required by legislation. Taking the safety class exempts you from the road test in getting your motorcycle license, it also gives you a discount on insurance.
How to get you Motorcycle Licenses
A New York resident must have a Class M or Class MJ driver license or learner permit to drive a motorcycle. The process to apply for a motorcycle license is different for the following conditions:
- If you have a NYS driver license or learner permit.
- If you do not have a NYS driver license or learner permit.
- If you have a motorcycle license from another state.
- Motorcycle road test waiver.
To apply for a motorcycle license:
- Study the online MV-21MC NYS Motorcycle Operator’s Manual to prepare for the motorcycle written test. You can also get a copy of the manual from your local DMV Office or DMV Call Center.
- Read the MV-44.1 driver license application instructions and complete form MV-44 for a learner permit. Make sure you have proofs of identity and date of birth as described on form ID-44 (Proofs of Identity).
- You can apply for an Enhanced Driver License (EDL) if you use the EDL application forms and follow the instructions and ID requirements for an EDL.
- If you plan to apply for a motorcycle permit and another class of learner permit, apply for the other learner permit first. When you have the other learner permit, complete another form MV-44 to apply for your motorcycle permit.
- Bring the completed form MV-44 and your proofs of identity and date of birth to a local DMV Office that offers written tests, and pay the required fees.
- The fees you pay depend on whether or not you currently have another class of NYS license, and can be different based on your exact age when you apply. The fees for a Class M or MJ permit/driver range from $21 to $120, but the DMV cannot calculate your exact fee until you apply.
- Pass the written test, and receive your Class M or Class MJ permit.
- If you do not have another class of NYS driver license, your Class M or MJ permit is valid for a maximum of five years. You cannot renew this permit. If your permit expires, you must apply for a new permit and take the written test again.
- If you do have another class of NYS driver license, your Class M or MJ permit is valid for one year, and you can renew the permit for one additional year. To get a new permit after a renewal, you must apply for a new permit and take the motorcycle written test again.
Motorcycle permit supervision, restrictions and practice:
- If you drive a motorcycle with a permit, a driver who is 21 years or age or older and who has a valid motorcycle license from NYS or another state must supervise you. The motorcycle driver who supervises you must remain within 1/4 mile of you at all times.
- The Resources for the Younger Driver page has information about the restrictions for junior learner permits and Class MJ driver licenses.
- The DMV recommends that you consider the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) Basic Rider Course. The course offers classroom instruction in addition to instruction on a motorcycle on a closed course. The MSF provides a motorcycle and helmet during the course. If you complete the MSF course, your motorcycle road test will be waived. If you cannot take the MSF course, the DMV recommends that you take instruction from a commercial driving school.
- The DMV recommends that you have at least 30 total hours of practice on a motorcycle, with or without formal instruction, before you take your road test. At least 10 hours of practice should be in medium to high volume traffic.
Schedule your road test:
- If you do not already have another class of NYS driver license, you must complete a pre-licensing course or a Driver Education course before you can make a road test appointment. See “Driving Instruction” in the telephone directory yellow pages for DMV-licensed commercial schools that provide the pre-licensing course. The pre-licensing course certificate (MV-278) is valid for one year. A driver education certificate (MV-285) is valid for two years.
- You do not need a pre-licensing course or Driver Education certificate if you already have another Class of NYS driver license.
- See What You Need for Your Road Test. For the road test, you must provide:
- A registered and inspected motorcycle with the correct equipment. NYS law defines a motorcycle as a motor vehicle that has no more than three wheels in contact with the ground. The examiner will not conduct the test if the vehicle has more than three wheels in contact with the ground. Note: If you take a road test on a motorcycle with three-wheels, your motorcycle license will be restricted to operation of three-wheeled motorcycles.
- A registered and inspected motor vehicle with the correct equipment operated by a driver age 18 or older who has a valid driver license. This motor vehicle and driver will transport the license examiner during the road test.
- The documents described on the What You Need for Your Road Test page at the DMV web site.
- If you pass the road test, the examiner issues you a temporary motorcycle license.
- If you already have another Class of NYS driver license, wait at least 7 days after your road test. Then, bring your temporary motorcycle license, motorcycle permit and current photo driver license to a DMV office. Complete form MV-44 and mark the box at the top of the form that indicates “Change.” Write “Add Class M (or MJ)” in the other box that indicates, “Other Change.” Pay the $12.50 driver license document fee. The two driver license classes are listed on one driver license document (for example, Class DM). The local DMV office issues a temporary driver license without a photo. You receive your photo driver license by mail in approximately two weeks. The new driver license expires on the same date as your previous driver license.
- If you do not have another Class of NYS driver license, you will receive your photo motorcycle license by mail in approximately two weeks, and you do not have to visit a DMV office.
Motorcycle Road Test Waiver
The DMV will waive the motorcycle road test if you are qualified and you complete an approved rider course. The DMV and the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) have approved course providers to administer the motorcycle road test waiver. To get information about courses in your area visit the MSF NYS Motorcycle Safety Program web site or call the MSF toll-free at 1-800-446-9227.
To qualify for the waiver you must:
- Be 16 years of age or older, and
- Hold a valid NY license (Class A, B, C, D, DJ or E), and
- Hold a valid class M or MJ permit.
- Present the approved New York State specific Basic RiderCourse completion card issued by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation within two years of course completion.
The Motorcycle Safety School in Brooklyn offers courses under this program.
You cannot get a waiver for a motorcycle road test if you completed a rider course given in another state.
Members of the U.S. Armed Forces that complete the MSF Basic Rider Course (BRC) through the military while on active duty outside of New York State can qualify to have their military BRC converted into a NY BRC in order to receive the road test waiver. Complete instructions are available online at http://www.nysmsp.org/Military.aspx. MSF representatives are also available at 1-518-384-0045.
Returning Veterans: Motor vehicle and motorcycle crashes are the leading cause of death in veterans in the early years after returning from deployment. Don’t let it happen to you. Visit www.safedriving.va.gov to learn more about the Veterans Administration, Veterans’ Safe Driving Initiative. Home safe. Drive safe. Stay safe.
Out-of-State Motorcycle Licenses
If you have a valid motorcycle license issued by another state where you are a resident, you can drive motorcycles in NYS. If you become a resident of NYS, you must exchange your out-of-state motorcycle license for a NYS motorcycle license. See “Drivers from the US or Canada” for more information.
To apply for your NYS motorcycle license:
- Complete form MV-44 to exchange your out-of-state driver license for a NYS license.
- Surrender your out-of-state driver license, show proofs of identity and date of birth as described on form ID-44 (Proofs of Identity), and pay the application fee and driver license fee. The DMV cannot calculate your exact fee until you apply.
The local DMV office issues a temporary driver license without a photo. Examine the temporary driver license and make sure Class M is listed. You receive your photo driver license by mail in approximately two weeks.
Motorcycle Safety Information
The web site of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) has safety information about motorcycles, mopeds and ATVs.