Getting a motorcycle license in Washington state requires passing of a skills test and a written knowledge test. If you’re under 18, you must also successfully complete an approved rider training course. Once these requirements are met, you can go online to order your new Washington license with a motorcycle endorsement.
Motorcycles offer a unique brand of freedom for those who ride them, but they also present their own unique challenges and even dangers. That’s why the Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL) lays out specific guidelines for getting a motorcycle endorsement that ensures you know how to safely operate a motorcycle before hitting the open road.
Do you need a license to operate a motorcycle in Washington?
Yes. To operate a two- or three-wheeled vehicle in Washington state, you must have either:
A two-wheel (2W) endorsement for driving a 2-wheeled motorcycle
A three-wheel (3W) endorsement for driving a trike or with a sidecar
Both endorsements require riders to be at least 16 years old with a valid WA state driver's license. Out-of-state visitors can also drive their motorcycles legally while visiting the state, as long as their endorsed to ride in their home state.
If you’re moving to the Evergreen State with a motorcycle endorsement from within the U.S., British Columbia, or Japan, all you have to do is bring your current license with you to the DOL along with payment for the requisite fee to transfer your endorsement to Washington state.
How to add a motorcycle endorsement to your Washington driver’s license
The process to get a motorcycle endorsement in Washington state is pretty simple. Let’s start with what you need to do if you’re under 18.
First, you need to obtain parental permission to get your endorsement. At least one parent or guardian must accompany you and sign a consent for when you’re taking your tests.
From here, the steps to obtain your motorcycle endorsement are the same regardless of your age. The process to apply for a 2W permit and 2W endorsement are nearly identical, but a permit application requires completion of an approved rider course regardless of your age. In addition, a permit does not allow riders to carry passengers or drive at night. A motorcycle instruction permit costs $15 and is valid for 180 days.
Regardless of whether you first obtain a permit, to apply for your 2W endorsement, you must:
Riders are both permitted and encouraged to take these tests as part of an approved rider course.
Wait 3 business days following successful completion of all tests for the school to report your course/test results to the DOL.
Apply online for your replacement WA driver's license with your 2W endorsement.
Pay a $54 renewal fee and a $30 motorcycle endorsement fee for a 6-year license or $72 and $40 fees for an 8-year license.
Print a copy of your temporary license, which you must have with you at all times when riding until you receive your new license via mail.
Fees for the permit riding skills test and operation knowledge and riding skills tests vary by school and must be paid at the time of test completion.
The process for gaining a 3W endorsement for your license is similar to that for a 2W endorsement. However, instead of the 2W endorsement tests, you will need to successfully complete:
If you have a valid 3W motorcycle instruction permit, you can use this in place of your 3W knowledge and riding skills tests. Fees for a 3W endorsement are the same as those for a 2W endorsement.
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How to get a motorcycle-only license in Washington
Washington state requires all motorcycle riders to have a standard driver's license prior to receiving their motorcycle endorsement. There is no procedure for obtaining a motorcycle-only license.
How to save on car and motorcycle insurance in Washington
If you’re a motorcycle rider living in Washington, you have to have a valid driver's license with a motorcycle endorsement. That means you have to carry at least minimum liability car insurance and
motorcycle insurance, as both are required by Washington law.
Though motorcycle insurance is typically
cheaper than car insurance, it still represents an added cost to your annual premium. Luckily,
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