NC and SC Motorcycle License Requirements

motorcycle road signs

Motorcycle licensing requirements vary considerably from state to state. At Karney Law Firm, a motorcycle accident lawyer, we understand that it can be rather confusing for new bikers or bikers who just moved to the area to recognize the license requirements in North Carolina and South Carolina.

Below is an outline of the requirements for both states, so you know what you need and don’t waste your time standing in line at the license bureau without the proper documentation.


North Carolina Motorcycle License Requirements

If you have a valid NC driver’s license, you can apply for a motorcycle endorsement. You don’t need a separate license and riders between age 16 and 18 need their parent’s signature to apply.

No matter what your age, you’ll need to pass both a written motorcycle knowledge test and a motorcycle driving skills test on your bike in addition to the vision and signs test you take for any driver’s license. If you’re not prepared to take the driving skills test when you apply for the motorcycle endorsement, you can buy a learner’s permit, which will give you time to develop your motorcycle driving skills. The DMV offers a North Carolina Motorcyclist’s Handbook to download for free online. 

The motorcycle endorsement fee is $2.30 per year and the learner’s permit is $20.00.


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South Carolina Motorcycle License Requirements

In South Carolina, motorcycle riders need to obtain a separate license (Class M). The state also requires all riders under age 21 must wear a helmet and eye protection while driving a motorcycle; those 21 and and older are encouraged to do so. Applicants for a motorcycle license must be at least 15 years of age. If under age 18, they must successfully complete a driver’s training course before applying for a license. Applicant’s under age 18 must also have a parent’s signature when applying.

If you have not previously held a driver’s license and have driving experience, you must first have a motorcycle beginner’s permit in order to get a motorcycle (Class M) driver’s license. When you apply for a beginner’s permit, you must pass the vision and knowledge tests, and you must bring documents such as your original birth certificate, social security card, and two proofs of your current, physical address. The SCDMV will also accept a Motorcycle Safety Foundation skills test certificate if you were tested by an SCDMV approved and contracted third party tester within 30 days of application

Riders age 18 and older who already have a valid driver’s license in a different class may attempt to pass the knowledge test and skills test in the same day if you don’t want to get a permit first. Bring the following documentation to the license bureau to obtain a motorcycle license: certified birth certificate (the original or a copy with the raised seal), Social Security card, proof of residency and proof of insurance.

If you have a three-wheel motorcycle (commonly referred to as a trike), you are not required to have a motorcycle (Class M) driver’s license. You may drive a trike with any license except a moped license.

South Carolina motorcycle license fee is $25.00. A beginner’s permit is $2.50.


New Rider Course

In both NC and SC, the easiest and best way to get your motorcycle license is to take a new rider course. Here are some options to consider:

  1. New Rider Course – offered at Harley-Davidson dealerships through the Carolinas
  2. Basic Rider Course – offered through local NC community colleges
  3. Basic Motorcycle Course – offered through local SC technical colleges

These courses will teach you a lot and make you a much safer rider. Upon successful completion of the motorcycle course, you will be issued a skills waiver card for the DMV. This will exempt you from the riding portion of your license exam and score you a discount on motorcycle insurance.

The Karney Law Firm has been representing injured bikers since 1975. With a clear understanding of the obstacles motorcyclists face both on the road and in the courtroom, our attorneys fight for motorcycle accident victims. Protecting bikers throughout the Carolinas with offices in Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh. From accident through recovery, we’ve got your back. Contact us for your free consultation 877-376-9360.

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