Ready to explore Washington’s beautiful coasts, mountains, and forests with the wind on your face? Do you simply want to save money on gas and enjoy an easier commute? Getting a Washington state motorcycle license isn’t very difficult and lets you hit the open road in no time.
In Washington, it’s illegal to ride a motorcycle without a valid motorcycle endorsement or learning permit. Here’s how to get a WA motorcycle license, a process that was changed a bit in 2020. Just be aware that you can’t get a Washington motorcycle license without a valid state driver’s license unlike some states with motorcycle-only licensing.
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Washington Motorcycle License Requirements
There are several basic requirements you must meet for a motorcycle endorsement in Washington. Here are Washington motorcycle licensing requirements:
- Be at least 16 (with a consent form signed by a parent if under 18)
- Have a valid Washington state driver license
- Pass the basic motorcycle knowledge test and skills test for a permit
- Pass the advanced motorcycle knowledge test and skills test for an endorsement
The Washington motorcycle endorsement process was changed in 2020. Previously, a valid motorcycle permit could be used to waive the requirement for the two endorsement tests. Now, you must pass four tests to get a Washington motorcycle license: basic and advanced knowledge tests and basic and advanced skills tests.
The purpose of this change? To convince riders to undergo formal motorcycle training before receiving a motorcycle endorsement to reduce accidents. Between 2015 and 2017, motorcycles accounted for 14% of traffic deaths and 19% of serious injury accidents in Washington state yet just 3% of registered vehicles.
How to Get a Washington Motorcycle License
Getting a motorcycle license in WA isn’t very complicated, although it does involve taking four tests at an approved motorcycle training school. Here is how to get your motorcycle license in Washington state in four basic steps.
#1. Pass the Basic Motorcycle Knowledge and Skills Tests
Before you get a motorcycle endorsement in WA, you must get a Washington state motorcycle permit. You will need to be at least 16 and have a valid Washington driver’s license. The process begins with taking two tests: the permit knowledge test and the permit riding skills test.
These tests are conducted by approved third parties, not the Department of Licensing. You have two options for taking the tests for your WA state motorcycle permit:
- Take an approved motorcycle safety course. The riding and knowledge tests will be part of the safety class.
- Take the knowledge and riding tests at an approved motorcycle training school without the training course.
Before taking the tests, you’ll want to study the Washington Motorcycle Operator Manual.
Click here for a list of approved motorcycle training schools.
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The motorcycle permit knowledge test is a 25-question test. You must get a score of at least 80% to pass. The skills test is completed afterward, usually on the same day in a group setting.
Once you have your permit, you can practice riding legally on Washington streets. There are some restrictions when riding with a learning permit. You are only allowed to ride during the day, and you cannot carry passengers.
Your motorcycle permit will be valid for 180 days. This gives you time to practice and take the endorsement tests. If you need more time, you can renew your WA motorcycle permit once for another 180 days, but only if your permit has not expired yet.
You are only allowed to have one permit and one permit renewal within a five-year period! Make sure you’re committed to following through on studying and passing the additional tests!
You can try this Washington motorcycle license practice test based on the WA Motorcycle Operator Manual ahead of your test.
#2. Get Your Washington State Motorcycle Permit
After passing the permit tests, you can add your motorcycle permit to your WA driver license online. You only need to wait three business days for the motorcycle school to add your test results to the DOL system.
Login in or create a new account with the DOL. Choose Replace License or Renew License (if your license expires within 12 months) then follow the prompts. Once you get to Card Information, you will see your Washington state motorcycle permit listed as O – Endorsement with a J – Restriction under New Card.
You can then print a copy of your temporary license while you wait for your permanent license with the endorsement to arrive in the mail.
#3. Pass the Advanced Motorcycle Knowledge and Skills Tests
Once you have your permit, you have 180 days (or 360 days with a permit renewal) to take the next two tests to get your Washington state motorcycle endorsement.
The Washington motorcycle license tests are similar to the tests for a learning permit, only they test for more advanced skills and knowledge. You can take the Washington motorcycle license driving test and knowledge test at any approved motorcycle training school.
The endorsement knowledge test has 50 questions, and you must score at least 80% to pass. The riding skills test will be completed afterward. You must complete several maneuvers including a fast stop at 20-25 mph and a timed figure eight.
If you are 16 or 17, you must have a parent sign a consent form at the licensing office. You are also required to complete one additional step prior to getting your motorcycle endorsement: passing an approved motorcycle safety course.
#4. Get Your Washington Motorcycle Endorsement
You must apply for your Washington motorcycle license endorsement within 180 days of completing the last two tests. Here’s how to get a motorcycle endorsement in Washington:
- Log in or create a DOL account here
- Choose Replace License or Renew License (if your license expires within 12 months)
- Follow prompts to verify information
- Your motorcycle license will appear under Card Information as L – Endorsement with a J – Restriction
Now you can print a copy of your temporary license. Your updated permanent driver’s license will arrive in the mail with your motorcycle endorsement.
The best part? You don’t need to make an appointment and visit the DOL office in person to add your endorsement!
How to Transfer a Motorcycle License to Washington State
Do you already have a motorcycle endorsement or license from another state? You can transfer an out-of-state endorsement when you get your WA driver’s license after moving to the state.
It’s important to note that you can only transfer valid motorcycle endorsements when you apply for your Washington driver’s license! If you do not transfer the endorsement when you transfer your out-of-state driver’s license, you will need to pass the knowledge and skills tests or a motorcycle safety course later to get a new endorsement.
Some states like California offer motorcycle-only licenses. These licenses allow you to ride a motorcycle but not a vehicle. If you have an out-of-state motorcycle license, not an endorsement on a driver’s license, you cannot transfer it to Washington. That’s because the state of Washington does not have motorcycle-only licenses.
Washington Motorcycle License FAQ
How much does it cost to get a motorcycle license in Washington?
The DOL fees for a Washington motorcycle license include the application fee ($17 to $27) and the license endorsement fee of $84 for six years (includes the driver’s license renewal fee). The cost of the permit and endorsement tests and safety courses vary by motorcycle school, but these costs are subsidized by the State of Washington. You may pay around $50 to $75 for each skills test and around $50 for each knowledge test. A safety course that includes the tests may be $150 to $400.
What CC do you need a motorcycle license for in Washington State?
You must have a valid motorcycle license in WA to ride a scooter or bike that is 50 CC or higher OR can exceed 30 mph.
How do I get my motorcycle permit in WA?
To get a WA motorcycle permit, you must pass an approved motorcycle safety course or the permit skills and knowledge tests at an approved motorcycle school.
How old do you have to be to get a motorcycle license in Washington?
You must be at least 16 to get a motorcycle license in WA. If you are under 18, a parent or guardian must sign a consent form at the DOL office.
Can I get a motorcycle license without a driver’s license in WA state?
No. You must have a valid Washington driver’s license before you can get a motorcycle endorsement.
In summary, getting a Washington motorcycle license requires taking a motorcycle safety course and/or passing the written knowledge and riding skills test to get your learning permit. You can then take the endorsement knowledge and skills tests to get your motorcycle endorsement in Washington. Although the state requires four tests, the process is easy through an approved motorcycle training school.
Once you have your motorcycle license in WA, you’ll be ready to hit the road and start exploring. Now that you know how to get a Washington motorcycle license, you can look forward to fun motorcycle rides and rallies in the state and beyond. When you’re ready to see more of the country on your bike, turn to Federal Transport for reliable Washington motorcycle shipping services.