Tennessee Motorcycle License: How-To Guide

Navigating the process of acquiring a motorcycle license can initially seem daunting, but with the correct information and resources, it is manageable. This guide will provide a detailed overview of the Tennessee motorcycle license application process, various types of licenses, and the associated requirements. 

Whether you’re a seasoned rider or considering taking the two-wheeled plunge, this how-to guide aims to streamline your journey toward obtaining a motorcycle license.

Class M Operator License: What You Need to Know

A Class M motorcycle license is the golden ticket for individuals wishing to ride motorcycles on the state’s roads. While similar in some respects to the standard Tennessee driver’s license, the Class M license has its requirements and nuances. 

Before diving into specific types, it’s essential to understand the general application procedure. Applicants must pass a motorcycle knowledge test based on the motorcycle driver’s manual and complete a practical skills test. With these under your belt, and depending on your existing licenses, you’re on your way to securing your motorcycle license.

Class M Motorcycle (H126cc or Higher)

A Class M motorcycle license is for individuals operating a motorcycle with a displacement of 126cc or higher. This license signifies that the holder has demonstrated the necessary motorcycle knowledge and skills to operate larger and more powerful bikes on Tennessee roads. 

Before applying, you’ll want to review the motorcycle operator manual and get prepared for both the written test and the practical exam.

Secondary Class M

The Secondary Class M is distinct from the primary Class M license. It is for those with a valid operator license (Class D license) who wish to add the motorcycle endorsement.

With this consolidated license, riders can enjoy the flexibility of driving regular vehicles and motorcycles. Resources for preparation, such as the motorcycle operator manual, are available on the Tennessee Department’s official website.

Motorized Cycle–Scooter, Limited Class M (125cc and Under)

The Limited Class M license is appropriate for enthusiasts of smaller motorized cycles or scooters. Specifically tailored for vehicles with an engine displacement of 125cc or under, this license ensures riders of scooters and smaller cycles are equipped with motorcycle knowledge to handle their vehicles safely. 

A study of the motorcycle driver’s manual is crucial for potential applicants.

Learner Permit Class P to M

Before diving straight into a full-fledged motorcycle license, Tennessee offers a Motorcycle Learner Permit (Class P to M). This permit allows individuals to practice riding on public roads under specific conditions and restrictions to enhance motorcycle safety for novices. It’s a step toward obtaining a full Class M license and allows riders to hone their skills in real-world scenarios.

Class M without a Valid Driver’s License

Securing a Class M license is possible even if you don’t hold a valid driver’s license. This category is designed for those who exclusively wish to operate motorcycles without a regular driver’s license. 

However, the applicant will still need to demonstrate motorcycle knowledge and skills proficiency, undergo the mandatory motorcycle safety course, and pass the associated knowledge test based on the motorcycle driver’s manual to obtain this license.

Transferring Out of State Class M Motorcycle Permits

If you’re moving to Tennessee with an out-of-state Class M permit, transferring it is straightforward. Visit a local Driver Services Center with your out-of-state permit and necessary identification documents. 

You’ll typically undergo a vision screening, and in some cases, retake the motorcycle knowledge test. Once cleared, your Class M permit will get transferred to a motorcycle permit. Check the official Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security website for comprehensive details and guidelines.

Motorcycle Application and Document Checklist

Acquiring a motorcycle license in Tennessee necessitates proper documentation to ensure a seamless process. Here’s a checklist to keep handy:

  • Completed Application for Motorcycle License.
  • Proof of Identity (Birth certificate, passport, etc.).
  • Proof of Tennessee residency.
  • Out-of-state motorcycle license/permit (if transferring).
  • Proof of U.S. Citizenship or Lawful Permanent Residency.
  • Completed Motorcycle Safety Course Certificate (if applicable).

Motorcycle Driver’s License Manual and Operator Manual

The Motorcycle Driver’s License and Operator Manual are invaluable resources for novice and experienced riders. These manuals offer insights into motorcycle safety, operational guidelines, state-specific motorcycle laws, and preparation material for the written motorcycle knowledge test. 

Before any examination or road test, studying these manuals thoroughly is highly recommended. Both are on the Tennessee Department’s official website.

Motorcycle Operator License Cost

The fee for obtaining a Motorcycle Operator License is contingent on the license type and any endorsements. As of the last update, a Class M license costs $29.50, with an additional $2.00 fee for any endorsements. 

However, it’s always prudent to check the official website for the most current pricing and potential fee changes.

Motorcycle Road Test Requirements

Preparation is paramount for the Motorcycle Road Test. Before the test, familiarize yourself with various road situations, motorcycle controls, and the state’s traffic laws. Practice maneuvers like turning, stopping, and accelerating smoothly, ensuring confidence in a real-world environment. 

Moreover, understanding the motorcycle driver’s manual front-to-back will give you a significant edge. Remember, the road test evaluates your motorcycle knowledge, safety, and operational prowess.

Motorcycle Insurance

Motorcycle insurance is not just a recommendation—it’s a requirement. Before hitting the road, ensure your motorcycle is adequately insured, protecting against potential accidents, damages, or theft. 

Different insurance packages cater to various needs, so shopping around and choosing the best fit is advisable. Resources like the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance can guide you in selecting a suitable insurance provider and policy.


Navigating the process of obtaining a motorcycle license raises several questions. Let’s address some of the most common queries:

What is required to get a Tennessee motorcycle license?

You’ll need proof of identity, Tennessee residency, a completed application, and to pass both a written and road test.

Can you take the motorcycle test online?

No, the motorcycle knowledge test must get taken in person at a Driver Services Center.

How long does it take to get your motorcycle license?

After passing all tests, you can receive your license at the Driver Services Center on the same day.

How many questions are on a motorcycle license test?

The motorcycle knowledge test typically consists of 25 questions, requiring an 80% score to pass.


Securing a motorcycle license is comprehensive, emphasizing motorcycle knowledge and practical skills. This guide provides a clear pathway to obtaining your motorcycle license, ensuring you’re well-prepared for every step.

Whether studying the motorcycle driver’s manual or understanding road test requirements, staying informed and prepared is crucial to a smooth motorcycle licensing experience.