Motorbike Driver’s License in the United Kingdom
Do you want to experience the thrill and excitement of riding your motorbike on the open roads of United Kingdom? You will have the freedom to ride a motorcycle anywhere in the UK so long as you have your motorbike driver’s license.
In the United Kingdom, a motorbike driver’s license is the official document that allows you to operate any type of motor vehicle on public roads. This applies to England, Scotland and Wales.
To obtain a motorbike license, you must be at least 17 years, have held a provisional motorbike license and completed a compulsory basic training (CBT) in order to validate your provisional license. Then you will be allowed to ride a light motorbike as a learner with some restrictions.
Motorbike licensing in England, Scotland and Wales is administered by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and by the Driver and Vehicle Agency(DVA) in Northern Ireland.
NOTE: Important changes were put in place to the UK Licensing Process as of Jan 19, 2013. At the end of the post, we link to the summary of the 2013 changes. Make sure to check that out.
Provisional Learner’s Permit
If you are 17 years old and want to obtain a provisional motorbike license, you must submit an application form (D1Form) to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). You can also apply for a provisional motorbike license on the DVLA website.
After you receive your provisional motorbike license, you can start driving a motorbike upon completion of the CBT. However, if you already have a full car driving license then you probably can have a provisional motorbike permit (Category A) added to that license, if not already included.
The provisional motorbike license permits learners to ride a motorbike up to 125cc. However, the provisional permit does not allow you to ride on motorways, carry a pillion or to ride without L-plates (or D-plates in Wales). As of February 2001, all new provisional licenses with motorbike entitlement issued from that date are valid until the holder’s 70th birthday.
Compulsory Basic Training (CBT)
All learner motorcyclists must complete a compulsory basic training before they are allowed to ride on the road. This training teaches the basics of how to ride a motorbike and safe driving methods. You can book for a CBT at any approved training companies across the UK.
Upon completion of your CBT, you will be issued with a DL 196 certificate which is valid for 2 years and will validate your provisional motorbike license. You are then allowed to ride any light motorbike with the following restrictions:
- Engine capacity of no more than 125cc
- Power output of no higher than 11kW
- A motorbike that have L pates or D plates for Wales in front and back
- Cannot carry any passenger
- Cannot ride on motorways.
Learner motorcyclists must complete a CBT before riding on the road unless:
- Passed a full moped test after December 1, 1990
- Live and ride on specified offshore islands
- Have already held a Certificate of Completion obtained during a previous motorbike permit or when riding a moped
- Intend to ride a moped and passed the car test before February 1, 2001.
Note: You must have your DL196 before you can take the practical motorbike test. A DL196 certificate is valid for 2 years only and if you don’t pass both the theory and practical test in that time, you will have to take the CBT course again. Also, a DL 196 obtained on a moped is valid for a motorbike when the rider reaches the age of 17.
Motorcycle Theory Test
If you already have your provisional motorbike license, you can proceed in taking your motorbike theory test. The test is conducted at any local DSA testing center all around UK. The theory test includes a multiple choice test and hazard perception test. After passing the test you can book for your motorbike practical test.
Practical Motorcycle Test
The practical test includes your motorbike driving skills and is the same with the test given to get a full motorbike license for moped, standard motorbike and light motorbike licenses. It is only the size of the motorbike that you are tested on that varies. If you pass the motorbike practical test, you will be issued a full motorbike license.
The following are the different types of full motorbike license:
Light Motorbike License (Category A1)
This is the license that you will obtain if you pass the pass the light motorbike practical test. The test is for a motorbike with an engine capacity of between 75cc and 125cc and a maximum speed of 63mph. This license permits you to ride any motorbikee with an engine capacity of 125cc and with a maximum power output of 11kW. Also, you are no longer required to have L plates and can carry a pillion passenger and are free to ride on the motorway.
Standard Motorbike License (Category A2)
You will get this license if you were able to complete the standard motorbike practical test. You will be tested on a motorbike with an engine capacity of 120cc and 125cc. If you pass the test you will get a restricted full motorbike license (Category A2) that will allow you to ride without the L plates, carry passengers and to use the motorways. However, for the first two years, you are allowed only to ride a motorbike up to 25kW. After this two year probation ended, you can ride any size of motorbike regardless of your age.
If you turn 21 years old and are in two year restricted period of your motorbike license (Category A2 license) then you can use the Accelerated Access option in order to get the 25kW motorbike restriction removed. In order to remove the restriction you have to pass the practical motorbike test again but now, using a motorbike with a power output of at least 35 kW. After passing the test, you will be issued a full standard motorbike license and are allowed to ride any size of bike.
Note: If you fail the practical test, your Category A2 license is still valid.
Direct Access Scheme (DAS)
Applicants should be 21 years old or older and choose to take the standard motorbike test on a motorbike of at least 35kW. Upon passing the test, you will be issued a full motorbike license with no restrictions and can ride any size of motorbike.
Following these steps and completing the basic requirements outlined here should get you on the road with a UK motorbike driver’s license.
CLICK HERE to see the updated 2013 Licensing Changes