How to get your motorcycle licence

Email this article to a friend
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.

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.

If you do decide to go for it, you need to be at least 16 years and nine 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 six months.

Pre-learner course

You can book into the two day pre-learner course online, at any registry or service centre or by calling 13 22 13 (you’ll need a credit card if you book online or over the phone). There is a fee - check the cost when you book.

You need to attend the two day course - 3.5 hours on each day. Motorcycle, helmets, gloves and tuition are provided at the centre.

Plan to arrive 15 minutes before the scheduled start time. If you arrive after the start time, you won’t be allowed to join in and you'll forfeit your hard-earned dollars.

Here’s a checklist of what you should wear:

  1. Jeans or leather pants
  2. A sturdy pair of shoes like boots
  3. A long sleeved denim or leather shirt or jacket
  4. A pair of sunnies.

You will also need to bring along the receipt you received when you booked, as well as personal ID like a passport, birth certificate, driver licence or NSW Photo Card.

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

Getting your Ls

Once you’ve passed you will receive a pre-learner Certificate of Competence - this certificate enables you to take the rider knowledge test at a registry or service centre to get your Ls. The certificate is valid for three months.

You must 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 do this at the registry or service centre).

To obtain 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 three months before you can progress into the next stages of the GLS. Once you have, the next step you need to take is to attend a pre-provisional training course. You can book this course at anytime after getting your Ls.

The pre-provisional training is a one day course that goes for six hours. After successfully completing the course you will progress to the Motorcycle Operator Skills Test (MOST) which is a further one hour skills test. When you pass both you will receive a Certificate of Competence. Take your Certificate of Competence to the registry or service centre to have your licence upgraded to P1. 

You can upgrade to a P2 rider licence after a minimum of 12 months on a P1 rider licence.

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

Motorcycle GLS at a glance

Detailed below is how new riders will progress through the 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 riding 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 year, 3 years, 5 years or 10 years for eligible customers aged 21 to 44 years old).

Motorcycle Graduated Licensing System (GLS) - Questions and answers

What are the mature aged 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 (LAM)?

All novice riders are restricted to a LAM while they hold a learner, P1 or P2 licence. Find out the restrictions.

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

The 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 the P2 rider licence issued/valid for?

The 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 completed your pre-learner training course on one. No restrictions
Zero Blood Alcohol Concentration
(BAC)
All learner, P1 and P2 licence holders must have a BAC of zero. This means you cannot have any alcohol in your system when you ride.
Demerit points A learner who commits driving offences may have their licence cancelled by a court or Roads and Maritime Services. Your licence will be suspended if you incur four or more demerit points. Your licence will be suspended if you incur seven or more demerit points.
Display of plates A ‘L’ plate must be clearly displayed on the back of the motorcycle. A red ‘P’ plate (P1) must be clearly displayed on the back of the motorcycle. A green ‘P’ plate (P2) must be clearly displayed on the back of the motorcycle.
Helmet All riders must wear an Australian Standard AS/NZS1698 motorcycle helmet.
Passengers Learner riders must not carry any pillion passengers. P1 riders must not carry any pillion passengers. No restrictions
Speed limit You must not ride faster than 90km/h and must observe the speed limit where it is below 90 km/h. You must not ride faster than 90km/h and must observe the speed limit where it is below 90 km/h. You must not ride faster than 100km/h and must observe the speed limit where it is below 100 km/h.
Motorcycles All learner, P1 and P2 rider licence holders must only ride motorcycles that:
  • Are on the list of Approved Motorcycles for Novice Riders (PDF, 704Kb) published on Roads and Maritime Services website.
  • Have an engine capacity not greater than 660ml.
  • Have a power to weight ratio not greater than 150 kilowatts per tonne.