How to get your motorcycle licence

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Motorcycles can be a cost-efficient way to get around, but there are a few safety things you should know before going for your motorcycle licence.

Motorcycle Rider Training – tell us about your experience

The University of New South Wales in partnership with Transport for NSW and Roads and Maritime are evaluating the Motorcycle Graduated Licensing Scheme. Researchers at the University of New South Wales are seeking volunteer research participants.

If you have:

  • completed the Pre-Learner course at least 6 months ago; OR have held a Learner motorcycle licence for at least 6 months
    AND
  • do not plan to take the next step toward obtaining a Provisional motorcycle licence
    AND
  • are aged 18 or over.

We invite you to participate in a 10 minute telephone interview about your learner rider experience. You would be offered a Prezzee e-giftcard to the value of $10 to compensate you for your time.

If you would like more information or are interested in being part of the study please contact Dr Julie Hatfield at j.hatfield@unsw.edu.au.

It's important to know that motorcycle riders are less protected than car drivers and have a greater chance of being seriously injured in a crash. You can become a safe rider through acquiring the necessary skills and understanding of the road environment, by always being alert and defensive and by accepting that the prime responsibility for your safety on the road is yours.

The Graduated Licensing Scheme (GLS) requires new riders to pass through three licensing stages before obtaining an unrestricted rider licence. It involves training and testing which is specifically designed to help new riders gain basic riding skills before riding on the road. More information on the GLS can be found on this page, or in Roads and Maritime Services Getting your rider licence.

Getting your learner rider licence

Before you decide to go for your Ls, make sure you have good coordination skills. Riding a motorcycle requires a high level of balance and concentration. If you struggled to learn to drive an automatic car or have trouble keeping balanced on a bicycle, then motorcycle riding might not be for you. However if you are still serious about getting your licence continue to practice riding on a bicycle and only when you become confident enough you should book in for a pre-learner rider course. When you're on the road it's all about being aware of what's going on around you and looking out for hazards so you can keep yourself and others safe.

Going for your learner rider licence involves passing a two day pre-learner course and rider knowledge test, before you can experience riding on the open road. In areas where rider training is not available (undeclared areas) you don't need to do the pre-learner course, but you do need to pass the rider knowledge test. Don't worry; you can still do the pre-learner course if you want to, just contact a rider training centre to book your course.

If you do decide to go for it, you need to be at least 16 years and 9 months old before you can be issued with a learner licence. However, you can attend the pre-learner course from the age of 16 years and 6 months.

Pre-learner course

Your pre-learner course is conducted over two days for 3.5 hours on each day. Motorcycle, helmets, gloves and tuition are provided at the training centre. Check with your rider training provider for any other requirements.

Rider training courses must be booked directly with a rider training provider. You will need a NSW driver licnece or NSW Photocard to book the training. If you don't have one of these, you'll need to apply for a customer number. Visit a service centre to apply for a customer number. Full Proof of Identity (POI) will be required.

On the day of your training course, plan to arrive 20 minutes before the scheduled start time. If you arrive after the start time, you may not be allowed to join in and you'll forfeit your hard-earned dollars. You'll also need to bring along the receipt your received when you booked, plus your personal ID, such as a driver licence, NSW Photocard, birth certificate or passport.

Check with your training provider if you're not sure about what safety gear you need to wear. If you don't bring or wear the right gear, you will be asked to leave course, and will forfeit your hard-earned dollars.

Here's what you should consider wearing on the day:

  • Jeans or leather pants
  • A sturdy pair of shoes or boots (no high heels)
  • A long-sleeved denim or leather shirt or jacket
  • A pair of sunnies.

The pre-learner course has a straight pass or fail critera - you can only apply for your rider learner licence if you pass all of the competencies.

Getting your Ls

After you pass your pre-learner course, you'll receive a Certificate of Competence - this gets you to the next setp, where you take a rider knowledge test at a service centre.

You need to book in for a rider knowledge test - you can do this online, by phoning 13 22 13 or in person at a service centre.

After passing you'll get your Ls. Remember, the certificate is only valid for 3 months, so if you haven't got your learner rider licence before your certificate expires, you will have to do the course again.

On the day of your booked test, make sure you take the following with you:

  1. Pre-learner Certificate of Competence.
  2. Proof of identity documents.
  3. A completed learner licence application form (you can fill this out at the service centre).

To get your learner rider licence you must:

  1. Pass an eyesight test
  2. Pass the rider knowledge test
  3. Pay the licence fee.

Note: If you fail the rider knowledge test you'll need to pay the knowledge test fee again every time you take the test.

The rider knowledge test is based on the Road Users Handbook and the Motorcycle Rider's Handbook. Study each of these thoroughly to ensure you pass!

Learner rider licences are valid for 12 months. Find out more information about the Rider Knowledge Test.

What happens next?

You must hold a learner rider licence for a minimum of 3 months and gain some riding experience before you can progress to a P1 rider licence, which is the next stage of the GLS. When you're ready to take the next step, book a pre-provisional training course. You can book this course at any time after getting your Ls.

The pre-provisional training is a one-day course (6 hours). After you pass, you progress to the Motorcycle Operator Skills Test (MOST), which is a further one-hour test of your riding skills.

When you pass both the course and the test, you will receive a Certificate of Competence.

Take your Certificate of Competence to a service centre to have your licence upgraded to P1. Remember, the certificate is only valid for 3 months, so if you haven't got your P1 licence before your certificate expires, you will have to do the course and test again.

You need to have a minimum of 12 months experience as a P1 rider before you can upgrade to a P2 rider licence.

After holding a P2 rider licence for a minimum of 24 months riding experience, you can upgrade to a full rider licence.

Motorcycle GLS at a glance

How new riders progress through the Graduated Licensing Scheme:

  1. Pre-learner training, 7 hours over 2 sessions.
  2. Rider Knowledge Test.
  3. Learner rider licence (hold for a minimum 3 months, and valid for 12 months).
  4. Pre-provisional training, 6 hour course.
  5. Motorcycle operator skills test.
  6. Provisional (P1) rider licence (hold for a minimum 12 months, and valid for 18 months)
  7. Provisional (P2) rider licence (hold for a minimum of 24 months, and valid for 30 months).
  8. Full licence, issued for 1, 3, 5 or 10 years (10 year licence only for eligible customers aged 21 to 44 years old).

Motorcycle Graduated Licensing System (GLS) - Questions and answers

What are the mature age exemptions?

Riders over the age of 25 years may receive an exemption from the P2 phase if they:

  • Hold a current Australian unrestricted driver licence.
  • Have completed a minimum of 12 months on a P1 licence.
  • Meet all other licensing requirements.

Who is restricted to riding a learner approved motorcycle?

Under the Learner Approved Motorcycle Scheme (LAMS), all novice riders are restricted to an approved motorcycle while they hold a learner, P1 or P2 licence. Find out the restrictions.

How long is a P1 rider licence issued/valid for?

A P1 licence is valid for 18 months but may be upgraded to a P2 rider licence after a minimum of 12 months (not including any licence suspensions or cancellations).

How long is a P2 rider licence issued/valid for?

A P2 licence is valid for 30 months but may be upgraded to a full rider licence after a minimum of 24 months (not including any licence suspensions or cancellations).

What are the licence restrictions for L, P1 and P2 licences?

Licence Restriction Learner Rider Licence Provisional P1 Rider Licence Provisional P2 Rider Licence
Automatic transmission motorcycles You are restricted to riding an automatic motorcycle if you passed your pre-learner training course or provisional skills test on one. No restrictions - provided you passed the pre-provisional course and the MOST to get your P1 licence.
Zero Blood Alcohol Concentration
(BAC)
All learner, P1 and P2 licence holders must not exceed zero blood alcohol concentration. This means you cannot have any alcohol in your system when you ride a motorcycle. It is also illegal to ride under the influence of drugs.
Demerit points Your learner licence will be suspended if you reach or exceed 4 demerit points. Your P1 licence will be suspended if you reach or exceed 4 demerit points/ Your P2 licence will be suspended if you reach or exceed 7 demerit points.
Display of plates You must clearly display an L plate on the back of the motorcycle. The letter must not be hidden or covered. You must clearly display a red P plate on the back of the motorcycle. The letter must not be hidden or covered. You must clearly display a green P plate on the back of the motorcycle. The letter must not be hidden or covered.
Helmet All riders must wear a motorcycle helmet meeting either the Australian Standard AS1698 or the UNECE22.05 standard.
Mobile phones

All learner, P1 and P2 licence holders must not use any function of a mobile phone including GPS and maps, while your motorcycle is moving or is stopped but not parked. This includes hands free devices and loudspeakers.

Passengers Learner riders must not carry any pillion passengers. P1 riders must not carry any pillion passengers. No restrictions
Speed limit Learner riders must observe the posted speed limit and never ride more than the learner maximum speed limit of 90 km/h P1 riders must observe the posted speed limit and never ride more than the P1 maximum speed limit of 90 km/h P2 riders must observe the posted speed limit and never ride more than the P2 maximum speed limit of 100 km/h
Approved motorcycles All learner, P1 and P2 rider licence holders must only ride motorcycles that:
Lane filtering All learner, P1 and P2 licence holders must not lane filter.
Towing Learner riders must not tow a trailer or any other vehicle P1 riders must not tow a trailer or any other vehicle No restrictions
Location restrictions Learner riders must not ride in Parramatta Park, Centennial Park or Moore Park in Sydney. No restrictions No restrictions