How to Get a Motorcycle License in North Carolina

Getting your motorcycle license is an exciting (and necessary) step to exploring the open road on two wheels. Every state has different laws and licensing regulations, so we’re going to narrow things down and specifically focus on how to get a motorcycle license in North Carolina.

If you’re looking to ride in the Tar Heel State, this is your guide to getting started. Read ahead to study up for a quick and effective education before getting on your motorcycle.

How do you get your motorcycle license in NC? 

There are multiple types of motorcycle licenses and different pathways to getting them, so knowing your options can help you choose which way to go. These resources will also help you be a safer and more skilled rider. Our goal is to help you build a strong foundation for your riding experience so you’re safe on the road.

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License Classes

In order to operate a motorcycle in North Carolina, you must have a motorcycle endorsement or learner permit in addition to a regular driver’s license. This applies to provisional, regular, and commercial driver’s licenses. Once you have one of these licenses, you can move forward getting a motorcycle learner’s permit or go straight for your motorcycle endorsement depending on your age.

North Carolina motorcycle license requirements

If you are between the ages of 16-18 you will be applying for a learner’s permit. In order to get this, you must have a provisional license and signed consent from a parent or guardian. 

You will also need to do the following to get a learner’s permit:

  • Pay a ~$20 fee.
  • Pass a vision test. 
  • Pass a road sign test. 
  • Pass a knowledge test.

Passing these tests will grant you a learner’s permit that expires after twelve months. You can renew this permit once for an additional six months if you are not able to get your motorcycle endorsement in that time span. Keep in mind if you have a motorcycle permit, you cannot carry passengers.

 In order to get your motorcycle endorsement, you will also have to pass a safety course offered by either the NC Motorcycle Safety Education Program (NCMSEP) or the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF). Once you have passed the requisite tests and provided proof of passing one of these courses, you can get a motorcycle endorsement while under the age of 18.

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If you are over 18, you will have to follow the same stipulations, including the education, but do not need the parental consent to accompany your provisional license. Regardless of your age, you must pay a fee of roughly $2.00 per year to maintain a motorcycle endorsement.

It is worth noting that you do not need either a driver’s license or motorcycle endorsement to ride a moped in North Carolina, but we strongly suggest having at least one if not both.

How much is a motorcycle license in NC?

While we outlined a couple of small fees, it is good to know the sum total of the license process if you are interested in getting a motorcycle license in North Carolina. In addition to possible permit fees, your state license will be valid for 8 years at a time with a base fee plus the annual motorcycle endorsement annual cost. 

In exact terms, you will be looking at fees that consist of:

  • Permit fee if you’re under 18 ($21.50)
  • Base license annual fee ($5.50 per year x 8) = $44
  • Motorcycle endorsement annual ($2.55 per year x 8) = $20.40

Thus, depending on whether or not you need a permit, you will be looking at a payment of either $64.40 or $85.90. Luckily, this will cover your licensed riding for eight years at a time!

Can you buy a motorcycle without a license in North Carolina?

It is perfectly legal to buy a motorcycle without a license in NC. Many people purchase bikes as collectors’ items, or purchase a motorcycle before they are fully licensed to ride it. You will need to provide a photo ID and have legal registration and license plates when you purchase the vehicle in order to have a title. This is so you can verify who has ownership of the bike, regardless of if you are ready to ride or not.

One tricky issue with buying a motorcycle without a license is that you cannot legally ride it home from wherever you got it. In this instance, you should talk to the dealership or private seller you’re working with in order to work out delivery services.

Guy on Honda Bike

In general, we recommend getting a permit or license before purchasing a motorcycle. While there is nothing wrong with being excited and getting the bike early, going through the process of learning on a motorcycle you haven’t paid for will let you know if it is actually something you want to do. Similarly, you can get a feel for different bike styles before committing to one you’ve never ridden before.

Motorcycle Attorneys for the Riding Community

Law Tigers prides ourselves on being riders just like you- and we’ve been through it all. We have decades of experience in helping riders get licensed and protecting them in the event of accidents, injuries, or legal action.

We’re dedicated to the riding community, and our goal is to provide the best resources available for each part of a motorcycle-riding journey. Sign up for a free Rider Benefit Card and you’ll never ride alone.