How to Get a Motorcycle License in Washington State

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To get a motorcycle license in Washington state, you need to visit an approved motorcycle training school and complete one of two riding assessments.

Option #1: Pass a Knowledge and Skills Test

Your first option is to pass a knowledge and riding skills test. The knowledge portion of this test will simply measure your understanding of the state’s driving laws and how to safely operate a motorcycle. Questions may include:

  • How to swerve correctly
  • What to do if your tire goes flat while riding
  • How a passenger riding your motorcycle should be positioned

The riding skills portion will require you to put your knowledge to action by demonstrating your ability to legally and safely operate your motorcycle.

This skills assessment includes the following five tasks:

  1. Cone weave and normal stop
  2. Turn from a stop and U-turn
  3. Obstacle swerve
  4. Quick stop
  5. Curves

(Note: you can click on each of the riding skills tasks to see a brief demonstration.)

After passing your knowledge and riding skills test, you will be given a green score sheet, which you will then need to take to a Washington State licensing office within 180 days to claim your motorcycle license.

Option #2: Take a Motorcycle Safety Course

Your second option for acquiring a motorcycle license in Washington is to successfully complete a motorcycle safety course at an approved motorcycle training school.

Find the training school nearest you.

This safety course includes the knowledge and riding skills tests. Once you have passed the course, you will receive a course completion card, which you will need to take to a licensing office within 180 days to claim your motorcycle license.

Find the licensing office nearest you.

Additional Motorcycle Licensing Requirements in Washington

The Washington State Department of Licensing expressly states that additional steps are required to secure your motorcycle license if you meet any of the following criteria:

Under 18 years of age

Riders under the age of 18 must pass an approved rider course and receive parental permission to take the course before they can apply for a motorcycle endorsement.

Valid out-of-state motorcycle license or endorsement

New Washington residents with an out-of-state license need to follow these five simple steps to receive their Washington motorcycle license:

  • Establish residency in Washington
  • Choose between a standard or enhanced driver license
  • Check if you can pre-apply online
  • Visit a local driver licensing office
  • Get your motorcycle license

Non-resident stationed here on military duty

Non-residents must successfully complete a state-approved safety course at a motorcycle training school or military base.

Once you have passed the course and applied for a Washington driver’s license, you will have 180 days to bring your completion card to a licensing office to get your motorcycle endorsement.

Washington resident stationed in another state on military duty

Washington residents living out of state must complete and pass:

  • An approved Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) course
  • A Basic Rider Training course (if in Idaho or Oregon)
  • Motorcyclist Safety Program Training (if in California)

After completing the required assignment, gather the following documentation:

  • Copy of your Washington driver license (both sides)
  • Copy of your course completion card (both sides)
  • Proof of active duty military status
  • Notice of Surrender form for an Enhanced Driver License (EDL) – if you have an EDL, you must surrender it to get a motorcycle license

You will need to send a letter requesting a motorcycle endorsement, along with this supporting documentation and a small fee, to:

The Washington State Department of Licensing
450 3rd Ave W, Suite 100
Seattle, WA 98119

Permit Requirements and Restrictions for Permit Holders

Any rider who is at least 16 years of age and has a valid Washington State driver’s license can apply for a motorcycle permit after successfully passing a motorcycle operation knowledge test.

Riders under 18 must have a parent or guardian sign a consent form. After receiving a permit, it will be valid for 90 days.

To renew your permit for an additional 90 days, you will need to visit a licensing office and pay a renewal fee. In order to renew your permit, you must meet these requirements:

  1. Passed the knowledge test within the past 180 days
  2. Had no more than on permit in the past five years

If you need a third permit, bring documentation of your enrollment in a motorcycle training course to the licensing office.

Note: It is important for permit holders to remember that while riding a motorcycle on a public roadway in Washington State, it is against the law for them to carry passengers or to ride while it is dark.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do I Need a Motorcycle License to Ride a Moped?

A: You do not need a motorcycle license to operate a moped in Washington State. Only a valid driver’s license.

Washington State Legislation RCW 46.20.500 states that any person 16 or older, who holds a valid driver’s license of any class issued by the state, “may operate a moped without taking any special examination for the operation of a moped.”

Q: Do I Need a Motorcycle License to Ride an Electric Bike?

A: You do not need a motorcycle license to operate an electric bike in Washington State.

Washington State Legislation RCW 46.20.500 states that, “no driver's license is required for operation of an electric-assisted bicycle if the operator is at least sixteen years of age.”

Important Notice for Unlicensed Motorcyclists

Remember: It is illegal to operate a motorcycle in the state of Washington without a valid license or permit.  For more information on how to get your motorcycle endorsement or permit, please visit the Washington State Department of Licensing website.

However, if you are ever in an accident without a license, it may not mean you are at fault. You can still file a claim even if you do not have a valid motorcycle license.

Download our free guide, Motorcycle Secrets Unlocked for more on motorcycle accidents and insurance claims. If you've suffered injuries from an auto accident, contact our offices today or call us at 425-428-6052 to schedule a free consultation, we have proudly servicing clients throughout Bothell, Kirkland, and the surrounding areas.

Max Meyers
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Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.