Do you need to get a Wisconsin driver’s license? You’ve come to the right place! We’re going to discuss the ins and outs of obtaining a driver’s license in Wisconsin. We’ll discuss standard, commercial, and motorcycle licenses in this state. This entire process will take place at the Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), which is overseen by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT). Let’s start with the driver’s licenses that are offered in Wisconsin.

Types of Wisconsin Driver’s Licenses

The state of Wisconsin has a three-tiered licensing system. The three types of driver’s licenses in Wisconsin are:

  • Class D: allows you to operate a car, light truck, or moped. This is the standard driver’s license in Wisconsin.
  • Commercial Driver’s License (CDL): Class A, B, or C are available and required to operate commercial vehicles.
  • Class M: allows you to operate a motorcycle

Wisconsin issues horizontal driver’s licenses and ID cards for individuals who are at least 21 years of age and issues vertical driver’s licenses and ID cards for individuals who are under 21 years of age. The licenses and ID cards that are issued in this state contain document numbers that are circled and are 14 characters (1 letter followed by 13 numbers).

Wisconsin Driver’s License Requirements

As long as you do NOT have outstanding license suspensions, revocations, or cancellations, you are eligible to apply for a WI driver’s license.

You are required to obtain a Wisconsin driver’s license if the following applies:

  • You are a current resident of Wisconsin who has never had a license
  • You are a new resident of Wisconsin and want to apply for a WI driver’s license or transfer an out-of-state driver’s license
  • You plan on operating a non-commercial vehicle
  • You have a legal presence in the state of Wisconsin and the US (You are NOT required to have a Wisconsin driver’s license if you have a diplomatic driver’s license that has been issued by the US Department of State).

You do NOT need a WI driver’s license if the following applies:

  • You are a foreign tourist, and have a valid driver’s license or international driving permit (IDP) – This exception is good for 1 year. After 1 year, you must obtain a WI license.
  • You are a member of the Armed Forces or a military dependent who is stationed in Wisconsin
  • You are employed by an out-of-state company and in Wisconsin for job training or other business

Applying for a Wisconsin Driver’s License

Before you begin the WI licensing process, you need to make sure you are prepared to complete each part, especially when you visit your local WI DMV branch. Being prepared will help you avoid delays in the licensing process.

Application and Proof of Identity

To apply for a WI driver’s license, you must visit your local WI DMV branch with a completed Driver’s License Application (Form MV3001). Be prepared to present proof of the following:

  • Your name and date of birth (such as a certified birth certificate, employment authorization card, etc.)
  • Identity (such as your Social Security card, military discharge papers, etc.)
  • Social Security number (Social Security card, pay stubs that show your entire SSN, etc.)
  • US citizenship or permanent legal presence, conditional resident status, or temporary visitor status, such as a valid US passport, valid I-551, etc.)
  • Wisconsin residency (can be a utility bill that is dated within the last 90 days, mortgage or rental agreement)
  • Any legal name change (such as a marriage certificate or divorce decree)

The above list for proof of identity covers the identification documents you’ll need to obtain a REAL ID-compliant WI driver’s license and a non-compliant driver’s license.

WI Vision and Knowledge Exams

After you provide the required documents, you must do the following:

  • Pass the WI vision screening (the WI DMV may refer you to an eye specialist if you don’t pass the vision exam, which could lead to specific vision-based restrictions.)
  • Pass the knowledge exam (an appointment is NOT required). The WI knowledge exam is a computerized test that takes approximately 45 minutes to complete. If you fail the WI knowledge exam, you can retest 5 times within 1 year. After this, you must have permission from the WI DMV to continue testing.

WI Instruction Permits

After you pass the WI vision and knowledge exams, you will receive your Wisconsin instruction permit. You must attain the permit for at least 7 days. This time allows you to practice for your driving skills test.

While you have your WI instruction permit, you can only practice operating a motor vehicle with:

  • A driving instructor who is at least 19 years of age
  • Parent, guardian, or spouse with a standard WI Class D driver’s license who is at least 19 years of age
  • A friend or other acquaintance who has a standard WI Class D driver’s license and is at least 21 years of age

Be advised that if you have a valid foreign driver’s license and passed the WI knowledge test, you can skip the instruction permit phase.

WI Driving Skills Exam

Once 7 days have passed, you can schedule your WI driving exam. You are required to schedule an appointment for the exam. Once you pass the exam, you will receive a temporary paper license with your photo. This temporary license is valid for 45 days. Your WI permanent license will arrive in the mail within 10 business days.

WI Class D Probationary and Full Licenses

Regardless of age, all new WI drivers will receive a probationary driver’s license first. If you’re not a minor, you do NOT have probationary license-specific restrictions, except that any driving record points you acquire after your initial conviction for a traffic violation are doubled.

Be advised that if you acquire 12 or more points within 12 months, your WI probationary license will be suspended for at least 6 months. Your WI probationary license is valid for 2 years from your next birthday. After this time, you will renew your probationary license for a full, standard WI Class D driver’s license. These full, standard licenses are valid for 8 years from your next birthday in the year of issue.

WI Driver’s License Fees

The following are the WI driver’s license fees:

  • Instruction permit: $35
  • Instruction permit renewal: $35
  • Class D probationary license: $28
  • Class D license: $34

Wisconsin REAL ID Driver’s Licenses

You can apply for a Wisconsin REAL ID-compliant driver’s license. However, you will be required to provide the information required to obtain a standard WI driver’s license and additional information. These driver’s licenses have the same fees as standard Class D licenses, and obtaining this type of license is NOT required. We’ll discuss Wisconsin REAL IDs in more depth later on in this content.

Acceptable Identification Documents in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, you can provide different documents to prove your identity when you’re applying for your WI driver’s license.

You can provide the following to prove your identity:

  • Armed forces ID cards
  • Birth certificate
  • Passport
  • Certificate of Naturalization
  • Permanent resident card
  • Foreign passport with a valid I-94 (the expiration date of the I-94 must be more than 2 months from the date you visit the office)

You can provide one of the following documents to prove your true, full, legal name:

  • Certificate of registration document that verifies the formation of a domestic partnership
  • Adoption documents that contain your legal name as a result of the adoption
  • A dissolution of marriage document that contains your legal name as a result of the court order
  • Name change documents that contain your legal name before and after the name change
  • Marriage certificate

Examples of acceptable WI residency documentation can include the following:

  • Insurance documents
  • Wisconsin vehicle or vessel title or registration
  • Residency utility bills (this can include cell phone bills)
  • A record of a financial institution

Obtaining a Wisconsin Driver’s License Under the Age of 18

If you’re under the age of 18, and want a WI driver’s license, there are different phases you are required to complete before you will be eligible to receive your full, standard WI driver’s license.

New Teenage Residents of Wisconsin

If you are a new teenage resident of Wisconsin, you are eligible for a probationary WI driver’s license if you are at least 16 years of age, have a valid out-of-state driver’s license or instruction permit for at least 6 months, and have not had a violation in at least 6 months.

Applicants who are younger than 18 years of age are required to show proof of completion for a Driver’s Education (Driver’s Ed) course and behind-the-wheel training from their previous state when they apply.

If you have NOT completed Driver’s Ed, you must wait until you are at least 18 years of age to receive your probationary WI driver’s license from the WI DMV, or you can go through the Graduated Driver’s License (GDL) process.

A Wisconsin Class D probationary license is valid for 2 years from your next birthday. This license is issued to new residents who surrender their out-of-state driver’s license that is equivalent to the WI Class D license.

Wisconsin Driver’s License Age Requirements

The following are the Wisconsin age requirements for driver’s licensing:

  • Instruction permit: 15 years of age
  • Probationary permit: 16 years of age
  • Unrestricted license: 18 years of age

Completing the Wisconsin Driver’s Ed Course

If you’re receiving your WI instruction permit, you are required to enroll in a certified Driver’s Ed course. Your Driver’s Ed course must include at least 50 hours of classroom instruction, 6 hours of behind-the-wheel training, and 6 hours of in-car observation. You can complete a Driver’s Ed course in a classroom or online. If you are younger than 18, you must have an adult sponsor to verify your driving hours.

Receiving a Wisconsin Instruction Permit

If you are at least 15 years of age and enrolled in Driver’s Ed, you are eligible to receive your WI instruction permit. You may be required to make an appointment at your local customer service center.

When you’re ready, you must visit your local WI customer service center and do the following:

  • Submit a completed Driver’s License Application (Form MV3001). This form must be signed by your Driver’s Ed instructor and your parent, legal guardian, or other approved adult sponsor.
  • Provide a document that provides proof of your identity, and confirms the following:
    • Name
    • Date of birth
    • Social Security number (SSN)
    • Legal US status
    • Enrollment in a high school, high school equivalency program, home-based private education program, or already have earned a high school diploma or equivalent and not be a habitual truant from school
  • Pass the WI vision test and knowledge and traffic sign tests
  • Pay the $35 instruction permit fee

Wisconsin Behind-the-Wheel Training

After you receive your WI instruction permit, your initial behind-the-wheel lesson must be completed within 60 days. You are required to be accompanied at all times by someone who has at least 2 years of driving experience and currently attains a valid, standard (non-probationary) license. This individual may be one of the following:

  • A qualified instructor who is at least 19 years of age
  • Your parent, guardian, or spouse, who is at least 19 years of age. You may only have other passengers if they are your immediate family members
  • Any licensed driver who is at least 21 years of age with written authorization from the teenager’s parent or legal guardian. No other passengers are allowed

While you have your WI instruction permit, you must complete at least 50 hours of behind-the-wheel training, 10 hours of which are required to be completed at night. You can use the Wisconsin Graduated Driver’s Licensing Supervised Driving Log (Form HS-303) to keep track of your driving hours.

Be advised that WI instruction permits are valid for 18 months. You can also renew this license if you need more time to practice driving before obtaining your WI probationary license.

Wisconsin Probationary Driver’s License

When you’re at least 16 years of age, have had your WI instruction permit for at least 6 months, and completed Driver’s Ed, you’re eligible to complete your WI road test and receive your probationary license. You can’t have had ANY violations for the 6 months before applying.

Before you make your way to your local WI DMV branch to complete your driving test, make sure the car you’re using to complete the driving test is insured and has valid registration. When you’re ready to complete the WI driving test, head to your local WI customer service center and do the following:

  • Complete the Driver’s License Application (Form MV3001) and have your parent or guardian sign it to accept responsibility for you.
  • Surrender your instruction permit
  • Provide acceptable identification (if you want to apply for a WI REAL ID-compliant license, you are required to submit additional documentation).
  • Submit a completed Wisconsin Graduated Driver’s Licensing Supervised Driving Log (Form HS-303)
  • Provide proof of enrollment in a school or technical program, or provide your diploma or GED
  • Pass the WI driving skills test
  • Pay the $28 fee for a probationary license

Wisconsin Probationary License Restrictions

During the probationary license period, you must follow specific restrictions for the first 9 months, such as:

  • You are not allowed to operate a motor vehicle with more than 1 passenger except immediate family member or another qualified adult
  • You are not allowed to drive between the hours of midnight and 5 AM unless you are driving between home, school, or work

If you violate these restrictions, they will be extended. If your license is revoked or suspended for any reason, these restrictions will be extended. You must have your WI probationary driver’s license for at least 2 years starting from the date of your next birthday. The earliest you can obtain your standard WI driver’s license is 18 years of age.

Standard WI Driver’s License

Once you’ve attained your probationary license through its renewal cycle and have turned 18 years of age, you can receive your standard WI driver’s license. You must visit your local WI DMV branch and do the following:

  • Turn in your probationary license
  • Complete the WI Driver’s License Application (Form MV3001)
  • Pass the WI vision test
  • Pay the $28 renewal fee.

The Wisconsin DMV service centers accept checks, cash, debit cards, American Express, MasterCard, and Discover.

Other Teenager Licenses in Wisconsin

There are other licenses teenagers can obtain in Wisconsin, such as a license/permit for a moped or motorcycle.

Moped and Motorcycle Licenses

Any Wisconsin driver who has a standard license is allowed to operate a moped without an endorsement added to their license. You must be at least 16 years of age to apply for a motorcycle permit or license with the sponsorship of parents, guardians, or approved adults.

To receive a WI motorcycle permit, you must provide proof of enrollment in a basic rider course, pass the required knowledge tests, and pay the $32 fee. This motorcycle permit allows you to practice while completing the basic rider course but is NOT required before obtaining a motorcycle license. Your motorcycle permit is valid for 6 months.

You can obtain a motorcycle license upon completing a basic rider course, passing the required knowledge exams and a motorcycle skills test, and paying the $22 fee.

The Wisconsin Written Exam and Road Test

You are required to complete the WI written exam and road test to obtain a permit or standard WI driver’s license.

Taking the Wisconsin Written Exam

The Wisconsin written exam is comprised of 50 questions. You must correctly answer at least 40 questions to pass the exam with a minimum passing score of 80%. The minimum age to apply to complete this test is 15 ½.

Taking the Wisconsin Road Test

The Wisconsin road exam tests your ability to safely and adequately maneuver a motor vehicle. You will be tested on parking, turning, using your signals, how well you follow Wisconsin traffic and safety laws, and more.

Non-Commercial Driver’s Licenses in Wisconsin

There are non-commercial driver’s licenses you can obtain in Wisconsin. Similar to a standard WI driver’s license, you may be required to complete specific tests to receive a non-commercial driver’s license.

School Bus Requirements

If you want to drive a school bus, you must do/be the following:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Have an “S” endorsement on your WI driver’s license
  • Own a Wisconsin driver’s license that pertains to the class in which you’re applying
  • Have no foot or hand restrictions that would prevent you from operating any gears or brakes
  • Meet required physical and medical standards
  • Have NO disqualification detailed on this list
  • Pass a background check
  • Agree to fingerprinting for a criminal background check (required if you resided in a different state within the last 2 years).

Shuttle Van Requirements

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WI DOT or WisDOT) refers to any school van that carries no more than 9 passengers and is NOT painted school bus yellow as an “alternative vehicle.” To operate an alternative vehicle, you are required to do/be the following:

  • At least 18 years of age
  • Own a valid WI driver’s license or a valid license endorsement from another jurisdiction about the appropriate class of vehicle.
  • Have NO disqualifications detailed on this list

Hotel Shuttle Van

Wisconsin doesn’t have state requirements to operate a hotel shuttle van. In general, you must have a valid, standard WI driver’s license and a relatively clean record. Be advised that the hotel may have requirements you must meet, which vary with each hotel.

Taxi License Requirements

There are no uniform statewide taxi driver’s license requirements. Licensing is handled by each municipality. For specific requirements, contact your local WI city clerk.

Chauffeur License Requirements

Wisconsin no longer requires drivers to obtain a specific chauffeur license. As long as they’re operating a vehicle with no more than 16 passengers (including the driver), you are not required to have a special WI license.

However, if your vehicle carries more than 16 passengers or weighs more than 26,000 lbs., you must obtain a Wisconsin commercial driver’s license (CDL).

Sport Vehicles

To operate a snowmobile, you must be at least 12 years of age to ride without a parent or guardian accompanying you. Operators who are younger than 12 years of age can snowmobile with their parent or guardian. You are not required to obtain a license. However, you are required to complete a safety class if you were born after January 1, 1985. These rules do NOT apply if you’re snowmobiling on family-owned land.

Be advised that you must have a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) customer ID number before you will be eligible to complete a safety class. You can apply by visiting any Wisconsin DNR branch or calling (888) 936-7463.


All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) do not require a license for operation. After you turn 12 years of age, or if you’re older and were born on or after January 1, 1988, you must complete an ATV safety class to ride on public land. Check with the Department of Natural Resources for relevant information and a guide to ATV regulations in Wisconsin.

You must have a DNR customer ID number before completing a safety class. You can apply by visiting any Wisconsin DNR office or calling (888) 936-7463.

Have You Married, Divorced, or Changed Your Name?

If you have legally changed your name due to marriage, divorce, or adoption, you may be required to submit name change documentation to receive your WI driver’s license or identification card.

Examples of documents that establish your true full name can include the following:

  • Adoption documents that contain the legal names as a result of the adoption
  • A marriage certificate
  • A dissolution of marriage or domestic partnership document that contains the legal name as a result of the court action
  • A name change document that contains the legal name of both before and after the name change
  • A certificate, declaration, or registration document that verifies the formation of a domestic partnership

Does the REAL ID Act Impact Residents of Wisconsin?

If you plan on flying within the US or visiting a military base or other federal buildings, the Department of Homeland Security requires identification that is REAL ID compliant, or you must show another acceptable form of identification, such as your passport.

The deadline for this new federal requirement is May 7, 2025. The Wisconsin DMV issues REAL ID-compliant products that will be marked with a star, per the federal REAL ID Act of 2005.

What Does This Mean for Wisconsin Residents?

Wisconsin offers REAL ID-compliant and non-compliant driver’s licenses and ID cards. REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses look similar to non-compliant cards, but non-compliant driver’s licenses are marked with “Not for federal purposes.”

You can upgrade to a REAL ID-compliant card for no additional charge when you renew your license or ID. If your current driver’s license or ID will NOT expire before 2025, and you want to receive a REAL ID-compliant card, the cost of a duplicate Wisconsin card will apply.

A valid US passport or other acceptable form of federal identification can be used in place of a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or ID card to fly within the US. You can view the list of Transportation Safety Administration-approved documents here.

A REAL ID-compliant card can be used to board a plane for domestic flights or enter a federal facility. You need a passport for international travel.

Is Obtaining a REAL ID Mandatory in Wisconsin?

Obtaining a Wisconsin REAL ID is NOT mandatory. If you will not be boarding a domestic flight or visiting a secure federal facility or military base, you are NOT required to obtain a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or ID card.

You are NOT required to obtain a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or ID card to perform any of the following:

  • Drive
  • Vote
  • Visit a hospital or receive life-saving services
  • Apply for or receive federal benefits (Social Security Administration (SSA), Veterans, etc.)
  • Enter a federal facility that does NOT require ID (such as a post office)

How Do You Prepare to Apply for a Wisconsin REAL ID Card?

To obtain a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or ID card, you are required to present additional documentation when you apply for your REAL ID. The documentation you provide must be original documentation or a certified copy. Photocopies, faxes, or scanned documents are NOT accepted. Some documents may be used for more than one category. The document categories include proof of the following:

  • Name and date of birth
  • Legal presence in the US
  • Identity
  • Name change (if your name differs from what’s on your birth certificate, you need proof of a legal name change)
  • Address (2 documents are required)
  • Your Social Security Number (SSN)

Applying for a Commercial Driver’s License in Wisconsin

If driving an 18-wheeler piques your interest, that’s awesome! You must apply for a commercial driver’s license (CDL). In Wisconsin, you must abide by the nationwide regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and follow the statewide licensing process overseen by the WI DMV.

Updated Federal Training Requirements

Per the new federal entry-level driver’s training requirements, effective February 7, 2022, the WI DMV mandates new WI CDL applicants complete an entry-level driver’s training course through a Wisconsin-authorized provider.

You must complete this training before applying for your initial CDL, upgrading your existing CDL class, or applying for a HAZMAT, school bus, or passenger endorsement.

Wisconsin CDL Requirements and Exemptions

To qualify for a WI CDL, you must:

  • Currently have a valid, non-CDL
  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Be able to prove your US citizenship or permanent legal presence. You can provide one of the following documents in this situation:
    • Valid US passport
    • US birth certificate
    • Certificate of citizenship
    • Permanent residency card

You can view the WI DOT’s page for a complete list of acceptable documents. WI CDL drivers who are under 21 years of age will ONLY be allowed to operate commercial vehicles within Wisconsin.

Wisconsin CDL Exemptions

Certain commercial drivers are not required to have a Wisconsin CDL, such as the following:

  • Firefighters and emergency responders
  • Recreational vehicle (RV) operators
  • Farmers using commercial vehicles within 150 miles of your farm (this includes your relatives and employees and farms in Minnesota or Iowa).
  • Drivers of backup snowplows employed by local governments of populations totaling no more than 3,000 people.

Wisconsin Commercial Learner’s Permit

Before you are eligible to receive your CDL, you must first have a commercial learner’s permit (CLP). You may want to consider completing a CDL education course before you apply for your CLP. However, the FMCSA or the WI DMV does not require this education course.

When you’re ready, schedule an appointment with your local WI DMV branch and bring the following:

  • Your WI driver’s license
  • Proof of your US citizenship or lawful permanent residency
  • The proper medical paperwork
  • A completed Wisconsin Driver’s License Application (Form MV3001)
  • The $30 CLP fee

You will be asked to complete the required written exams, including any endorsements you want to add to your CDL. When scheduling your appointment, the CDL written tests can take at least 1 hour to complete. Once you complete the necessary tests, you’ll be an official commercial learner’s permit holder. Congratulations!

What Happens If I Fail My Permit Exam?

If you fail the written Wisconsin CDL exam, you are allowed to retake it a maximum of 5 times within 1 year. If you fail the 5 retest attempts, you will not be allowed to retake the test without permission from the WI DMV staff.

To receive permission, you must show the WI DMV what you’ve completed since your last test to improve your ability, such as completing a commercial driver’s education (Driver’s Ed) course.

Wisconsin CLP Restrictions

Similar to the restrictions of operating a standard vehicle in Wisconsin, your CLP has rules and regulations. Your CLP is valid for 180 days. You are only required to wait at least 14 days once you receive it to complete the necessary skills test to obtain your official CDL.

At this time, you can complete the behind-the-wheel training course to prepare for your upcoming practical skills test. You can renew your CLP, but you may be required to retake your knowledge tests to do so. Be sure to ask the WI DMV staff about retesting before renewing your CLP.

The FMCSA restricts anyone who is operating a commercial vehicle with a CLP to only doing so on public roads and only while riding with someone who is a full CDL holder and permitted to operate the same class of vehicle.

Obtaining a Wisconsin CDL

Once the 14-day period passes, you can take your WI skills test. The WI DMV directs applicants to third-party testers in Wisconsin to complete their skills exams. However, the DMV allows you to use the memory aid in the WI CDL manual during this time.

This CDL skills exam requires the following:

  • Vehicle inspection
  • Basic control skills tests
  • On-road driving tests

Failing any portion of the skills exam requires a retest for that specific section. Parts of the exam that you pass will be acceptable for the duration that your CLP is valid.

Make sure you have the following with you at your appointment:

  • Your CLP
  • All necessary medical information
  • Payment for all applicable fees

Once you complete this step, you will be an official CDL holder. Congratulations! Your CDL is valid for 8 years. After 8 years, you must renew your CDL. Be advised that some third-party testers will provide you with a vehicle to complete the exam, but other testing sites will not.

You should check with the DMV about their requirements before arriving at your appointment so you don’t receive a restriction on your CDL for failure to complete the test in the type of vehicle you plan to operate with your CDL.

CDL HAZMAT Endorsements

You must pass the written knowledge exam and agree to a fingerprint-based background check to receive or renew a HAZMAT endorsement for your CDL. You can use the Wisconsin Commercial Driver’s Manual to help you prepare for the exam.

To apply for a HAZMAT endorsement, you must visit your local WI DMV branch and, submit a completed Driver’s License Hazardous Materials Endorsement Application (Form MV3735) and pay the HAZMAT endorsement fee.

To start your fingerprint-based background check, you need to schedule your appointment online with a third-party agency.

Wisconsin CDL Fees

The WI DMV currently charges the following fees for CDLs and related services:

  • Commercial learner’s permit: $30
  • Commercial driver’s license: $74
    • Duplicate CDL: $14
  • Endorsements: $5 each (plus a $10 issuance fee
  • HAZMAT endorsement: $44
    • With CDL renewal: $34
  • HAZMAT fingerprinting fee: $23.75

The Wisconsin skills exams are conducted by third-party testers, which can dictate their price for administering exams and/or renting vehicles. The fee will be prorated for the remaining time on your Wisconsin driver’s license.

Wisconsin CDL Medical Requirements

If you want to operate a commercial vehicle in WI, you must first be deemed physically fit for the job. You must have all the required medical paperwork before scheduling your initial WI DMV appointment.

The WI DMV requires every CDL application to complete a Commercial Driver Certification: Tier of Operation (Form MV3230). On this form, you must tell the state the type of driving you expect to do with your CDL. Some applicants will also be required to submit a federal Medical Examiner’s Certificate (Form MCSA-5876). You can check the medical certifications FAQ to determine if this additional form applies to you.

Wisconsin Military CDL Waivers

The WI DMV and FMCSA established a program that helps service members or recent veterans retain a CDL by having their skills test waived. You may be eligible if you have experience driving commercial vehicles or the military equivalent while in the service.

To qualify for the military waiver, you must be/do the following:

  • Be a resident of Wisconsin
  • Be on active duty or have been discharged within 1 year
  • Complete a Military Service CDL Skills Test Waiver Application (Form MV3588) – your training or commanding officer must complete specific sections of this waiver.
  • Present proof of your military service. Acceptable forms include your current military ID and your military discharge papers.

You must also bring all the required paperwork to apply for a WI CLP and pass the necessary written exams.

Federal Self-Certification Requirements

You must self-certify the type of vehicle you’re operating with the WI DMV, which means you are required to self-certify one of the following driving categories:

  • Non-excepted interstate
  • Excepted interstate
  • Non-excepted intrastate
  • Excepted intrastate

Applying for a Wisconsin Motorcycle License

If you’re ready to take on adventures in Wisconsin on your motorcycle, we think that’s an excellent idea. However, you’ll need a WI motorcycle license to embark on a motorcycle adventure.

New Residents of Wisconsin

We want to welcome you to the Badger State! You have 60 days to transfer your out-of-state license to Wisconsin. The excellent news is transferring your out-of-state motorcycle license is the same as transferring your standard out-of-state license. You can use the steps we provided earlier in this article to get started.

Wisconsin Motorcycle License Eligibility

To be eligible to obtain a Wisconsin motorcycle license, you must do/be the following:

  • Be at least 16 years of age (applicants who are under 18 years of age are required to:
    •  Have a sponsor sign their permit/license
    • Complete a Driver’s Ed course
    • Provide proof of enrollment in/completion of a basic motorcycle rider course
  • Pass the following tests:
    • Knowledge
    • Road signs
    • Vision
  • Pass the WI road test (can be waived by completing a Driver’s Ed course).
  • Provide proof of the following:
    • Name
    • Date of birth
    • Social Security Number
    • WI residency
  • Payment for all applicable licensing or permit fees

In Wisconsin, you will receive a motorcycle endorsement that will be shown on your standard Wisconsin driver’s license, allowing you to operate:

  • Motorcycles
  • Cars
  • Light trucks

You can also apply for a motorcycle-only license in Wisconsin. If you are interested in this, contact your local WI DMV service center for more information.

Wisconsin Motorcycle Permits

You must earn your WI motorcycle permit before being eligible to receive your full license. You must be at least 16 years of age to be eligible for a permit and meet Wisconsin’s other motorcycle license eligibility requirements.

If you are younger than 18 years of age, you must do the following:

  • Have a sponsor sign your WI motorcycle permit/license
  • Complete a Driver’s Ed course
  • Provide proof of enrollment in or completion of a basic motorcycle rider course

To receive your permit, you need to visit your local WI DMV branch and do the following:

  • Bring your current, valid Wisconsin driver’s license
  • Pass the WI knowledge test (this will take approximately 45 minutes)
  • Take the vision test
  • Complete a road sign test
  • Pay the $32 motorcycle permit fee

Wisconsin Permit Limitations

Wisconsin motorcycle permits have specific regulations you must follow. As a Wisconsin motorcycle permit holder, you must:

  • Wear a helmet and eye protection
  • Be accompanied at all times after dark by a motorcycle license holder who is at least 25 years of age, and has held their license for at least 2 years

Wisconsin motorcycle permits are valid for 6 months. You can renew your permit twice for an additional 6 months. If you renew your WI permit twice, you must have proof of enrollment in or completion of a basic motorcycle rider course before you will be eligible to obtain your full WI motorcycle license.

Wisconsin Motorcycle Skills Test

The only step left to complete is passing the WI motorcycle skills test. You must schedule an appointment with the WI DMV which offers on-road motorcycle exams. You will need to take the following with you to your appointment:

  • A motorcycle
  • An approved motorcycle helmet
  • Proper eye protection
  • Payment for the $15 skills exam fee

If you don’t pass the skills exam on the first try, it’s okay! You can retake the test. Ask a WI DMV employee for more information regarding the waiting period for retaking the exam. If you fail this test 2 times, you must pass a basic rider course before you will be allowed to receive a WI motorcycle exam. Once you pass the exam, you’ll have your motorcycle license. Congratulations! You can check out a list of Wisconsin Motorcycle Education Courses here.

Obtaining Your Wisconsin Motorcycle License

After you pass the required tests, you can head to your local WI DMV branch and present the following:

  • Your valid WI driver’s license
  • Your motorcycle permit
  • Proof that you passed your WI skills test, or waiver for passing your basic rider course
  • Payment for all applicable motorcycle license fees

At this time, you will receive your motorcycle license. Congratulations!

Wisconsin Motorcycle Education Courses

There are different paths you can take toward obtaining your WI motorcycle license. If you want to skip a few steps in this process, you can complete a motorcycle education course. Although there are different education levels you can choose from, the WI DMV recommends the Basic Rider Course.

This choice of motorcycle instruction includes 5 hours in the classroom and 10 hours on a motorcycle. The WI DMV has a list of motorcycle education courses that are available. Be sure to ask about the cost of taking a course when you call the testing location.

You are required to complete a Basic Rider Course if you:

  • Are under 18 years of age
  • Have renewed your motorcycle permit more than twice
  • Have failed the motorcycle skills test twice

If none of these situations apply, you can still complete the course. If you pass the on-road test, you can skip completing the skills test through the WI DMV. You will receive a skills test waiver from the Basic Rider Course. You must bring this waiver to the WI DMV along with other items that are required to receive your WI motorcycle license.

Wisconsin Motorcycle License Fees

The WI DMV charges the following for motorcycle licenses and related services:

  • Motorcycle permit (valid for 6 months): $32
  • Skills exam: $15
  • Original WI motorcycle license: up to $22 (this fee is prorated based on the expiration date of your current WI license)
  • Motorcycle license renewal (valid for 8 years): $18

Wisconsin DMV Locations

There are quite a few DMV locations in Wisconsin. We’ve provided a handful of these locations to help you get started.

WI DMV – Kenosha Branch
4911 88th Avenue
Suite A
Kenosha, WI 53144
(608) 264-7447
Monday and Tuesday (8:30 AM – 6 PM)
Wednesday – Friday (8:30 AM – 4:45 PM)
Saturday and Sunday (Closed)

WI DMV – Milwaukee Branch
2701 S. Chase Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53207
(608) 264-7447
Monday – Friday (8:30 AM – 4:45 PM)
Saturday and Sunday (Closed)

WI DMV – Beloit Branch
1900 Sutler Ave.
Beloit, WI 53511
(608) 264-7447
Monday – Friday (8:30 AM – 4:45 PM)
Saturday and Sunday (Closed)

WI DMV – Waukesha Branch
2019 Gold Rd.
Pewaukee, WI 53072
(608) 264-7447
Monday – Friday (8:30 AM – 4:45 PM)
Saturday and Sunday (Closed)