How to Get a Motorcycle License in Michigan

1942 Harley-Davidson WLA Liberator Army Motorcycle

Do you dream of getting your Michigan motorcycle license? Fortunately, it’s not a particularly challenging process and at its conclusion, you’ll be able to drive to your heart’s content. The steps involved are slightly different according to whether you’re new to the state but not to riding, or new to riding but not to Michigan. There are also a couple of different paths available depending on whether you’d prefer to sit a one time test to demonstrate your road worthiness or complete an approved safety course. Regardless of your situation and preferences, here’s everything there is to know about getting an MI license.

How to Get a Temporary Instruction Permit

To get an MI license, you’ll need to start by getting a temporary instruction permit, or TIP. To obtain a TIP, you’ll need to be at least 16 years of age. As per dmvcheatsheets.com, drivers over 18 must hold a MI license; those under 18 will need a Level 2 or a Level 3 Graduated license and provide either proof of enrollment in a safety course or a completion certificate. Additionally, you’ll need to complete a vision test and a basic theory exam.

Once you’ve completed all of those elements, you’ll need to pay a $16 processing fee for your TIP to be issued. TIPs are valid for 180 days; you can reapply if necessary after that time by following the same process as previous. Once you’ve received your permit, you’ll be allowed to ride under the following conditions:

  • You will need to be supervised by a licensed motorcycle operator aged at least 18 years old.
  • You aren’t allowed to carry any passengers other than your supervisor.
  • You aren’t allowed to operate the motorcycle at night.

The Next Steps

Once you’ve received your TIP, you’re ready to proceed with the next stage in the process. If you’re under 18 years old, you’ll need to hold a level 2 or 3 graduated driver’s license to apply. To be issued your CY endorsement, you’ll need to sit a theory test and show a pass certificate from an approved safety program. Applicants aged over 18 years old will need to hold an existing driver’s license, complete a theory test, and either sit a skills test or show a certificate from an approved safety program. All applicants, irrespective of age, are subject to a $16 processing fee.

The Skills Test and Safety Course

If you’ve decided to take a skills test, you’ll need to bring along a registered motorcycle and a helmet to the test. During the test, you’ll be asked to demonstrate your knowledge of basic maneuvers and operating standards. If you’ve decided in favor of a safety course, you’ll need to sit the program at an approved center. A full list of approved centers is available via Michigan.gov. Safety programs combine both classroom and practical training and are designed to equip drivers with all necessary safety and operating skills needed to use a motorcycle. Programs run between April and September only. Many new drivers prefer to take the program over sitting an on-cycle test as not only does it equip them with the experience they need to become a better rider, it can often help secure a better deal on insurance. Prices vary depending on whether a class is provided by a public or private sponsor. Public sponsors charge a flat $50 non-refundable fee. Classes with private sponsors vary in cost. You can choose between several programs depending on your current experience and ability.

  • Basic Courses – Basic courses include Basic Course, 3-Wheel Basic Course, and Returning Rider Basic Course. Successful completion of a basic program will avoid the requirement of passing an on-cycle skills test. Both a theory and practical test will be included as part of the program’s requirements. Regardless of which program you take, you’ll need to provide your own motorcycle. The vehicle must have passed a safety inspection and be titled and registered. You’ll also need to provide proof of insurance. Additionally, you’ll need to ensure that your clothing is appropriate for practical instruction. A helmet, eye protection, long-sleeved shirt, long pants, ankle boots, and gloves will need to be worn.
  • Advanced Rider Course – If you’ve already got a motorcycle endorsement but wish to hone your skills, an advanced rider program is a popular choice. The same rules apply here as with the basic course: you’ll need to provide your own vehicle that’s registered, insured, and roadworthy, as well as providing confirmation of insurance.
  • Out-of-State Safety Courses – If you’ve completed a safety program out of state, the pass certificate will normally be accepted. However, if you’ve taken the program in either Idaho or Oregon, your certificate will need to confirm that the program is in line with requirements issued by the Safety Foundation’s Basic or Experienced Rider Course. Either way, the certificate can be used for 1-year maximum.
  • Theory Test – All applicants, regardless of whether they chose to sit a test or do a safety course, will be required to sit a theory test as part of their application process. This test covers standard road safety information, including traffic signs, signals, and laws. It will also test your knowledge of safe operation standards. Applicants that fail the test can retake it after 24 hours.

What Should I Do if I Hold an Out-of-State License?

If you’re the holder of an out-of-state license and have only just moved to Michigan, start applying for your MI license with a CY endorsement right away. This will authorize you to operate your vehicle anywhere in Michigan. As per DMV.org, you’re able to apply as soon as you establish residency or find a job. As permit.bike notes, you’ll need to visit your local Secretary of State office and present proof of your MI residence, your identity, your citizenship or legal status, and your SSN. After that, you’ll need to get your photograph taken to accompany your application, pay a processing fee, sit a vision test, a theory exam, and finally, pass a skills exam. Once you’ve done all that, you’ll be issued with a Temporary Operator’s Permit. Your license will follow shortly by mail.


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