Minnesota doesn’t take kindly to people operating a motorcycle without the proper license to do so. If you’re caught riding without an M endorsement or permit, get ready for up to 90 days in jail, a $1,000 fine, and the impoundment of your motorcycle. If you’d rather give all of that a miss, you’ll be relieved to know that getting a motorcycle license in Minnesota is a relatively straightforward process. Here’s what you need to know.
Step 1: Get a Permit
If you’re at least 16 years of age, you can apply for a motorcycle permit. While some states let applicants over the age of 18 apply for a license straight away, Minnesota doesn’t. No matter how old you are or how much experience you already have under your belt, you’ll need a permit before anything else. As per the DMV, in order to apply for a permit, you’ll need to meet the following requirements:
• You’re a resident of Minnesota
• You’re a US citizen or hold lawful status in the US
• You hold a Minnesota driver’s license
Applicants under 18 years old are subject to the additional requirement of completing a Basic Rider Course before they can apply.
Required Documents For a Permit
When you apply for a permit, you’ll need to provide the following documents:
• A primary identification document (e.g. a birth certificate, passport, permanent residence card, or certificate of citizenship)
• A secondary identification document (e.g. a U.S. Social Security card, a marriage certificate, a government employee photo ID, or a state-issued ID card)
• Proof of lawful US admission for temporary US residents
• Basic Rider Course completion certificate for applicants under the age of 18 years old
Applying for a Permit
Once you’ve gathered all the required documents, you’ll need to visit your local driver examination station. During your visit, you’ll need to pass a vision screening exam and a written knowledge test. Once you pass both tests and hand in your application together with the necessary documents and fee, your permit will be issued.
Motorcycle Permit Restrictions
Once you get your motorcycle permit, you can start honing your skills. Just remember that a permit isn’t a full license, and comes with certain regulations and restrictions. While you’re permitted to practice riding on public roads, you aren’t allowed to:
• Operate a motorcycle without a Department of Transportation approved helmet and eye protection
• Carry passengers
• Ride on an interstate highway
• Operate the motorcycle outside of daylight hours
Step 2: Get a Motorcycle License
Before you start the process of applying for a motorcycle license in Minnesota, make sure you can tick the boxes on the following:
• You have a valid learner’s permit
• You’re a resident of Minnesota
• You have a legal right to reside in the US
• You’re at least 16 years old
• You have confirmation of parental permission if you’re below the age of 18
As per the DPS (dps.mn.gov/divisions/ots/mmsc/motorcycle-license/pages/default.aspx), you then have one of two options. You can either apply for your license after successfully passing a road skills test or you can skip the test and complete a Basic Rider Course instead.
Applicants below the age of 18 are required to complete both the Basic Rider Course (this is a condition of receiving your permit) and the riding skills test.
Once you’ve completed the requirements, submitted your application, and paid the necessary fee, you’ll receive your M endorsement. Bear in mind that Minnesota doesn’t issue separate motorcycle licenses: the M endorsement will simply be added to your existing driver’s license.
Motorcycle Education Course
If you’re below the age of 18, completing a Basic Rider Course is a requirement of obtaining a permit. Applicants over the age of 18 can complete the course on a voluntary basis if they wish to waive the requirement for a road skills test.
To join a course, you’ll need to register with your preferred course location, complete a Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Course Waiver & Indemnification (if you’re below the age of 18, this will need to be countersigned by your parent or legal guardian), and pay a $245 course fee. Motorcycles will be provided during the course, but you’ll need to supply your own protective gear.
Through a combination of classroom training and practical instruction, the course will help you master key areas such as stopping, clutch control, counter-steering, and risk management.
Once you successfully pass the course, you’ll be issued with a certificate of completion. If you’re under 18, this will need to be presented to the DVS when you apply for your permit. If you’re over 18 and wish to waive the skills test, present the certificate when you apply for your license.
Advice for New Residents
If you’re a new resident to Minnesota who already holds a valid motorcycle license, the process is slightly different. To transfer an out-of-state license to a Minnesota license, you’ll need to submit an application to your local DVS. You’ll then need to pass a knowledge driver’s license test and a motorcycle knowledge test. Providing your out-of-state license is still valid, you won’t be required to complete a road skills test. If your license expired over 12 months ago, you’ll need to pass the skills test before your new license is issued.
Motorcycle License Fees
When you apply for both your permit and your license, you’ll need to pay a processing fee. The fees as of 2021 are:
• Motorcycle permit fee — $21
• Motorcycle endorsement examination fee — $2.50
While you won’t have to pay a separate fee for the skills and knowledge tests on your first and second sitting, you’ll need to pay to resit the tests if you fail on two consecutive occasions. The fees for retaking the tests are:
• Knowledge tests — $10 per retake
• Skills tests — $20 per retake
Advice for Scooter Riders
If you ride a scooter, you won’t be required to obtain a motorcycle endorsement. The scooter will need to meet the following three conditions to be exempt from licensing requirements:
• The engine displacement should not exceed 55cc
• It should not exceed two-brake horsepower
• Top speeds should not exceed 30 miles per hour
If it doesn’t meet each of the requirements, it will need to be registered as a motorcycle and you’ll need to obtain a motorcycle license to operate it.
Renewing a License
As permit.bike notes, once you obtain your motorcycle endorsement, you won’t need to renew it until your standard driver’s license expires. Renewing your license is a much easier process than applying for it the first time around. You’ll need to pay a renewal fee of $26.25 for your driver’s license and an additional $13 for the renewal of your motorcycle endorsement. You won’t, however, be required to submit to any testing.