UK Motorcycle and Moped Laws and Licences – 2016

YOUR GUIDE TO UK MOTORCYCLE LAWS AND LICENCES

What can I ride on a provisional driving licence?

Aged 16 or over with completed CBT

Can ride with L plates – moped or scooter up to 50cc – max speed 45 km/h

Aged 17 or over with completed CBT

Can ride with L plates – light motorcycle up to 125 cc (11 kW max)

Must Not

1. Ride on motorways 2. Carry a pillion passenger 3. Ride without L-plates (D-plates in Wales)

The provisional driving licence

The following information is for Licences issued after 19th January 2013, if you held a motorcycle or moped licence before this date then you keep your existing entitlements and can still ride the same category of bikes as before.

To ride a motorcycle or moped on the road you must

  • Be at least 17 years old (16 for a moped – speed range of 25 km/h to 45 km/h)
  • Have completed compulsory basic training (CBT)
  • Have a provisional Category A driving licence

That licence can be any of the following

  • A provisional driving licence with motorcycle entitlement
  • Full car licence. This automatically provides provisional motorcycle entitlement

Learners who wish to ride a side-car outfit can do so with a power to weight ratio not exceeding 0.16kW/kg.

 

Full UK Bike Licence

You will need to complete a compulsory basic training course (CBT), before taking any full motorbike licence practical tests.

For all the options below you will need to take and pass a motorcycle theory and hazard perception test and a two part practical test on a motorbike with the relevant engine size.

As from the 19th of January 2013 there are four moped/motorcycle licence categories.

Full Motorcycle Licence Categories

AM – Moped LicenceAge 16+

An AM category motorbike licence will allow you to remove the L plates and carry a pillion passenger on your moped or scooter. 

Q: What motorcycle can I ride on an AM licence? 
A: Moped up to 50cc

Max engine size: 50cc

Max speed: 45km/h (28mph)

A1 – Light Motorbike LicenceAge 17+

If you are aged between 17 and 19 this is your only option. This can be taken on a machine between 120 and 125cc.

When you have held an A1 full motorcycle licence for a minimum of two years you may upgrade to an A2 licence by taking another 2 part practical test. You will not need to take the CBT and theory test again if you choose this route.

In reality most bikers don’t bother with the A1 licence and wait until they are 19 when they can can do the A2 licence for the same cost. 

Q: What motorcycle can I ride on an A1 licence? 
A: Anything up to 125cc

Max engine size: 125cc

Max power output: 11kW

A2 – Motorbike LicenceAge 19+

If you are aged between 19 and 24 this will be your 2nd option.

The test and training must be taken on a machine of a minimum engine size of 395cc that produces a maximum of 35 Kwh (47bhp).

This usually means up to 500cc or many training schools run restricted versions of higher powered bikes.

Upon passing you can ride any size/cc of motorbike but the power is capped at 35 Kwh (47bhp) this will never increase!

When you have held an A2 full bike licence for a minimum of two years you may upgrade to an A unrestricted licence by taking another 2 part practical test on a bigger bike.

This is the preferred route for many young riders looking to get a full unrestricted licence in the quickest time. 

See our A2 licence in-depth guide for more information.

Q: What motorcycle can I ride on an A2 licence? 
A: Typically any motorcycle up to 500cc

Max power output: 35kW

Power to weight ratio: not more than 0.2kW/kg

A – Unrestricted Motorbike LicenceAge 21+ or 24+

There are two ways of getting an A class bike licence – sometimes referred to as DAS or Direct Access Course.

  • At age 21+ having held a full A2 licence for a minimum of 2 years
  • At age 24+ 

The test and training must be taken on a machine of a minimum engine size of 595cc that must produce at least 40 Kwh (54 Bhp).

Q: What motorcycle can I ride on an A licence? 
A: Any motorcycle, any engine size

Max engine size: Unrestricted

Max power output: Unrestricted

Further Information

What Motorbike can I ride on my car licence?


Car driving test passed on or after 1 February 2001

  • After completing  CBT you will be able to ride a moped or motorcycle with L plates – up to 125cc (11kW max). 
  • If you want to remove the L plates or ride a more powerful machine you will need to take the relevant practical tests.
  • Before taking your full bike licence tests, you will need to take a motorcycle theory and hazard perception test.

Car driving test passed before 1 February 2001

  • You can ride a moped (max 50cc) without L plates.
  • If you want to ride a motorcycle over 50cc and up to 125cc you will need to take CBT.
  • Once you have a valid CBT certificate you can ride a 125cc with L plates.

 

What motorbike can I ride?

Need a quick and simple introduction?UK Motorcycle Laws

Want to know what motorbike you can ride on your existing provisional or full licence?

Not sure if you need to take CBT ?

Our simple interactive quiz will tell you what you need to know to get out on two wheels

What motorcycle can you ride quiz ?

How to get a licence

Get your provisional driving licence for a car, moped or motorcycle from the DVLA – apply online. Or you can use Form D1 which is available from the Post Office.

To be approved you must

As of September 2015 the cost is £34 payable by debit or credit card.  

 

Compulsory basic training (CBT)

Motorcycle Laws UK

Almost all learner motorcyclists must complete CBT before riding on the road. When you’ve completed CBT you’ll be given a DL196. You must produce this before you can take the practical motorcycle test.

You dont need to take a CBT to ride a moped if you:

  • Passed the car driving test before 1st Feb 2001
  • Live and ride on specified offshore islands
  • Passed a full moped test after 1 December 1990

Your CBT has a 2 year life. If you don’t pass both your theory and practical tests in that time then you’ll have to take the Compulsory Basic Training course again.

Your CBT obtained on a moped is valid for a 125cc motorcycle (max 11kW) when the rider reaches the age of 17.

 

Vehicle Documents

The Registration Document (VRD)

This contains your name and address and details of your motorcycle:

  • Make and model
  • Year of first registration
  • Engine size and number

If you buy a new motorcycle the dealer will register it with the DVLA. A registration document will then be sent directly to you from the DVLA.

If you buy a second-hand one you’ll receive the VRD from the seller. Fill in the “Change of ownership” section and send it to the DVLA at the address given on the document. You should do this immediately as it is an offence not to notify the DVLA.

Tax your motorcycle

You must display a tax disc on the vehicle.You can get the vehicle licence application form at any post office and most main post offices can accept your application.

The fee varies with engine size. The classes are

  • Not over 150cc – £17
  • Over 150cc up to 400cc – £38
  • Over 400cc up to 600cc – £59
  • Over 600cc – £81

Full tax rate information from the DVSA here.

When you apply to renew your tax you must produce

  • V5C registration certificate (log book) in your name or
  • New keeper supplement (V5C/2), if you have just purchased the motorcycle
  • Your vehicle tax reminder (V11)
  • Vehicle test certificate (MOT) if your motorcycle is three years old and over

In Northern Ireland you will also need

  • An insurance certificate or cover note

Older motorcycles

Motorcycles registered before 1st of January 1973 are exempt from tax but should display a tax free (historic) disc.

 

MOT – The vehicle test certificate 

The MOT test applies to all motorcycles, mopeds and scooters over 3 years old. The test must be carried out every year at an appointed vehicle testing station.

The purpose of the test is to check that your motorcycle is roadworthy. When your machine passes the test you’ll be given a vehicle test certificate which you’ll need to produce when you renew your vehicle excise licence.

If your motorcycle fails the test you must not ride it on the road unless you’re taking it to have the faults corrected or unless you’re taking it for an arranged retest.


Types of insurance

It’s illegal to ride without insurance. Before you take a motorcycle onto public roads you must get proper insurance cover.

Insurance costs depend mostly on your age, the size of the bike and the area where you live.

Third party

This is the cheapest and legal minimum type of insurance cover. The ‘third party’ is any person you might injure or property you might damage. You aren’t covered for injury to yourself or damage to your motorcycle. If you damage a car the owner could claim against you. Or, if someone damaged your motorcycle you could claim against them.

Third party fire and theft.

The same as third party but it also covers you for your motorcycle being stolen or damaged by fire.

Comprehensive

This is the best, but most expensive insurance. Apart from covering other people and property from injury and damage this covers

  • Damage to your machine
  • Replacement of parts damaged in an accident
  • Personal injury to yourself
Pillion passenger insurance

All policies used to automatically include cover for a pillion passenger but now you can decide whether to have that cover included or not. You can, apparently, save up to 10% by not taking out cover for a pillion passenger and, of course, never carrying one.

The cost of insurance.

This varies with:

  • Your age – the younger you are, the more it will cost
  • The make of your motorcycle
  • The power and capacity of the engine
  • Where you live

Engine-size groups for insurance purposes can vary from one insurer to another so it pays to shop around.

Exactly what is and what isn’t insured can vary from company to company so read the small print and ask your insurer or broker.

You’ll often have to pay the first £50 or £100 of any claim. This is called the ‘excess’.

The certificate of insurance

This is a short and simple document which certifies

  • Who is insured
  • The type vehicle covered
  • The kind of insurance cover
  • The period of cover
  • The main conditions

Sometimes a broker will give you a temporary certificate or ‘cover note’. This is issued while you’re waiting for your certificate and is proof of insurance.

The policy document

This contains the full details of the contract between you and the insurance company. It’s usually written in legal language. Ask your broker or the insurance company to explain any details which you don’t understand.


Helmets

By law, you must wear a safety helmet when riding a motorcycle on the road. All helmets sold in the UK must either

  • comply with British Standard BS 6658:1985 and carry the BSI kitemark or
  • comply with UNECE Regulation 22.05 or
  • comply with any standard accepted by a member of the European Economic Area which offers a level of safety and protection equivalent to BS 6658:1985 and carry a mark equivalent to the BSI kitemark

More on helmets and clothing