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Motorcycle Operator (Class M) License

What is a Class M Motorcycle Operator License?

A Class M motorcycle license allows the holder 16 years of age or older the privilege of operating a motorcycle or motor-driven cycle over 50cc. The operator of a motorcycle or motor-driven cycle will need to apply for a Class M license (or XM license). These two and three-wheeled vehicles are categorized by cylinder capacity and other design features. Class M licenses (XM license) may be issued as a single license, or along with another primary class.

Applicants wishing to apply for a Class M license/XM license should obtain and read the Motorcycle Operator Manual which is available at all driver license service centers located throughout the state.

Any operator of a motorcycle or motor-driven cycle 15 years of age requires a special permit allowing the fifteen year old to operate a motorcycle with certain restrictions after completing the requirement established for a motorcycle license.

Anyone with a valid Tennessee driver license may operate a motorized bicycle that is 50cc or less and no endorsement is required on the driver license.

How do I apply for a Motorcycle License?

You can make application to obtain a motorcycle license at any full-service Driver Services Center location throughout the state of Tennessee. The knowledge test to obtain a motorcycle license is administered at any full-service Driver Services Center throughout the state. The road skills test to obtain a motorcycle license is administered at all full-service Driver Service Centers throughout the state.

The required examinations in the application process vary slightly depending on whether or not you currently have a valid Tennessee operator license.

If you currently hold a valid Tennessee driver license and bring a certificate of completion from a Tennessee Certified Motorcycle Rider Education Program (MREP) you shall be exempt from taking the motorcycle knowledge and skills/road test at the Driver License Service Center.

Students who successfully complete either course of the Tennessee certified MREP will receive a completion card and a certificate. The certificate is valid for one year from the date of issuance.

If you do not currently hold a valid Tennessee driver license, you must also take a knowledge test for a Class D license based on the Tennessee Driver Study Guide. If you have completed a Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) course in any state, you may present the certificate of completion or MSF wallet card and have the ability skills test waived. The course must have been completed within three (3) years of the application date. MSF course completion does NOT waive the required knowledge test(s) for a Class D license.

Examinations

To prepare for any test you are required to take you will want to pick up a regular Driver Handbook and Driver Study Guide and the Motorcycle Manual at any driver license service center located throughout the state. For exact locations, days and hours of operation of our Driver Service Centers, visit our website at: http://www.tn.gov/safety/driverlicense/dllocationmain.shtml

The publications are available online at: http://www.tn.gov/safety/publications.shtml.

If you already have a valid Class D or PD license, your motorcycle examination will consist of:

  • Vision screening
  • Motorcycle rules of the road knowledge test
  • Motorcycle pre-trip inspection
  • Motorcycle skills/road test

If you do NOT already have a Class D or PD license, your examination will also include:

  • Regular rules of the road knowledge test. (You will need to study the regular Tennessee Driver Study Guide, if this test is required.)
  • Vision screening
  • Motorcycle rules of the road knowledge test
  • Motorcycle pre-trip inspection
  • Motorcycle skills/road test

“Off-road” motor vehicles cannot be used for the motorcycle skills/road test. It is also important to know that “Off-road” motor vehicles or All-terrain Vehicles (ATVs) may not be driven on any Tennessee, Federal highways or interstate roads.

What are the types of motorcycle licenses?

MOTORCYCLE ONLY (Class-M) (126 cc or more)

Any two- or three-wheel vehicle of more than 125 cubic centimeters (125 cc). A motorcycle license allows the holder 16 years of age or older the privilege of operating a motorcycle. The driver examination will include a vision screening, knowledge test and an on-cycle ability skills test.& (See Identification and Application Requirements for additional details). Note: if the applicant does not already have a valid driver license for a passenger vehicle, the knowledge test for Class D is also required.

MOTORCYCLE-SECONDARY (Class-M)

Motorcycle is added in the secondary position on a valid type or class of license. The addition of a motorcycle license allows the holder 16 years of age or older, the privilege of operating a motorcycle in addition to the other vehicles. The driver examination will include a vision screening, written test and an on-cycle ability skills test. The motorcycle license expires when the primary license expires.

For example, if a driver wishes to be able to operate both a motorcycle and a Class D vehicle, he or she should apply for a Class DM license or XDM license.

MOTOR-DRIVEN CYCLE (SCOOTER) (Class M-Limited) (from 51-125cc)

Any two or three wheel vehicle of no more than 125 cubic centimeters. The license issued to a person 15 years of age will be valid only between the hours of 4:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. and within a seven (7) mile radius of the motor-driven cycle driver’s home. The license issued to a person over 16 will only be restricted as deemed necessary by the Department of Safety.

Minors, 15 years of age, may apply for a restricted license to operate a motorized bicycle that is 50 cc or less, just as they would to operate a motor-driven cycle. The applicant must take a written test, vision test and demonstrate the ability to operate the motorized bicycle. The license issued will be restricted to a motorized bicycle only.

MOTORCYCLE LEARNER PERMIT (Class P-M)

A special permit allowing minors fifteen (15) years of age to operate a motorcycle after completing the requirement established for a motorcycle license with the following restrictions:

  1. Must be limited to a motorcycle with a maximum cylinder size of 650 cubic centimeters (650cc).
  2. Must not carry passengers.
  3. Must be restricted from use on interstate highways or roadways otherwise marked.
  4. Operation during daylight hours only.
  5. Must be limited to a twenty (20) mile radius of the driver’s home.
  6. At the age of sixteen (16), the holder of a motorcycle learner permit (Class P-M) may return to a Driver Service Center and exchange their permit for a motorcycle license to retain the privilege to operate a motorcycle. Note: No tests are required for exchange. After exchange all restriction and size limits are removed.
  7. Permits are valid for one (1) year from date of issuance. The learner permit will be valid only between the hours of 4:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. and within a seven (7) mile radius of the motorized bicycle driver’s home.

What documents will you need to bring?

PLEASE NOTE: All documents are subject to further verification with the issuing agency or source. Documents subject to verification may delay the issuance of your permit, driver license or identification only license.

No photocopies will be accepted!

For a Motorcycle Operator License you will need:

If you are under eighteen (18) years of age and do not already have a Class D or PD license you will need the above documents for a Motorcycle License plus:

If you are under eighteen (18) years of age and and wish to have a Class D or PD  and a Class M Motorcycle License endorsement, you will need to present the items listed above and:

Where do you go to get your license?

Download the Driver License Manual & Motorcycle Operator Manual

The Motorcycle Operator Manual is available online as well as at Driver Services Centers statewide.

The Comprehensive Driver License Manual is designed for all current and potential drivers in Tennessee and will help new and old drivers alike get ready for initial, renewal, and other license applications by explaining:

  • the different types of licenses available
  • the documentation and other requirements for license applications
  • details on Intermediate Driver Licenses and how this graduated driver license works for driver license applicants under age 18
  • basic descriptions of the tests required for a Driver License

It also includes information needed to pass the knowledge tests for a Class D Tennessee driver license.