How To: Get a Motorbike License in China

Jul 12, 2010 By Andrea Scarlatelli , Comments (17)     Add your comment Newsletter

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Take one look at the traffic jammed streets of China’s major cities and you’ll know that it’s a mad, mad world out there. So obviously you want to be a part of it, right? A lot of foreigners find that driving a car is simply too much of a hassle, what with all the public transportation available and many foreign companies providing their employees personal drivers. But a motorbike? Well, that’s a whole different story – they’re fast, convenient and (usually) don’t cost an arm and a leg. Here’s what you need to know to get yourself in the driver’s seat and join China’s growing throng of motorbike riders.

Photo: cathyse97

First of all, it’s important to mention who actually needs a motorbike license to drive here in China. The rule is really pretty straightforward: If you’re driving anything that is powered by diesel or gasoline (yes, this includes motor scooters), you need a driver’s license. If you’re driving anything electric (like an electric scooter or bike), you don’t need a driver’s license. Got that?

Even if you already have a Chinese driver’s license to operate a car, you still need to get a different license to drive a motorbike. You’ll want to get either a D license (which allows you to drive every kind of motorbike, including one with a sidecar), an E license (which allows you to drive any two-wheeled motorbike) or an F license (which only allows you to drive a two-wheeled motorbike under a certain engine power), depending on your preference.

The process for actually getting this license is similar to getting a license to drive a car.

If you don’t have a driver’s license at all, even a foreign one, you’ll have to take a written test, a minimum of 35 hours of driving lessons, a health check (which basically just consists of an eye exam) and then a driving test. If you already have a license, either one for a car or a foreign one, then you just need to submit to the health check and take the written test. But remember – China does not accept the International Driver’s License as a valid license, so you’re just going to have to suck it up and take the actual Chinese driver’s test…

Luckily for you, all the questions are online for you to study beforehand. Go to and scroll towards the bottom of the page. There are links to the motorbike driving questions (in both English and Chinese) where you can download the entire test. But don’t worry – most of the questions use common sense. Here’s a sampling of some of the questions you’ll see (answers are at the end of the article): When a motorcycle runs normally, the driver should be able to foresee road conditions and can ___ when approaching an obstacle.
A. Take an emergency brake and stop the vehicle
B. Swiftly steer away and bypass
C. Rapidly dodge to avoid collision
D. Steadily stop the vehicle When encountering non-motorized vehicles cutting in on the road, the driver should ________.
A. Honk to warn
B. Speed up and pass
C. Voluntarily reduce speed and yield
D. Suddenly speed up when approaching When driving a motorcycle on the road, the driver should try to limit his speed from exceeding 10% of the prescribed speed limits.

When you’re ready to actually register for the test, ask your local PSB for the office location. You’ll need to bring:

1) Your passport, as well as a copy of the picture page of your passport
2) A copy of your valid Chinese visa
3) A copy of the latest entry stamp in your passport
4) A copy of both sides of your foreign driver’s license
5) A legal translation of your license done by a certified translator
6) 4 passport-style photos
7) A completed health check – this can be done at most hospitals for under 50 RMB
8) Your Chinese name and your height in centimeters

Registering for and actually taking the test are the exact same procedures as those for getting a car license. Your motorbike license will be valid for six years, after which you’ll have to go back to the testing office and get it renewed.

It’s required that you have a residency permit (even just a temporary one) in order to receive a motorbike license. Now, I know China allows laws to often be bent, and sometimes even broken, but this is one law you really don’t want to mess with – especially if you live in smaller towns (who are more likely to stop and check foreigners). According to Wikitravel, if you’re stopped by the police and don’t have a motorbike license, you’re subject to a) getting your motorbike confiscated, b) a possible fine of up to 800rmb, and/or c) up to fourteen days imprisonment. So save yourself the hassle and get a valid motorbike license!

So you registered, took the test, and have your valid motorbike license – congratulations! There’s just one more thing to keep in mind. If you bought a new motorbike, you’re supposed to get it inspected for “road worthiness” every two years, for the first four years you own it. The rules for how often you need to get it inspected after that vary from city to city, so make sure you check your specific requirements. The more you know of motorbike laws, the more you follow them, and save yourself possible headaches down the road.

Answers to test questions: - D - C - Wrong

Related Links
How To: Get a Driver's License in China
Necessity or Nuisance: Car Caps in China


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Keywords: china drivers license motorcycle motorcycle license china motorbike license china how to get a motorcycle license in china How to get a motorbike license in china

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17 Comments ( Add your comment )


step two should be 'get health insurance' and make sure it's up to date!!

Jul 30, 2010 23:24

So, is it true that if I get a chinese car license I only have to do the written test for a motorcycle license as well? Even if I don't have a foreign motorcycle license?

Jul 26, 2010 00:00

The world is full of little luxuries like bottles of soda, ice cream, eating in a restaurant, buying food in the supermarket. All of then 'unnecessary' and damaging to the planet.

Jul 18, 2010 16:15
Humans are all bad

How about y'all get off your lazy asses and cycle? A) it's cheaper, B) it's environmentally friendly, C) it's less hassle. The planet is suffering because people aren't willing to sacrafice. Motorbikes are a luxury, not a necessity.

Jul 18, 2010 04:10

It all depends on the officer who deals with you. And what is flavor of the month with the local police. The law in China is very 'flexible' when it choses to be. Most of the time you can play the 'Lao Wai card' But our guy was deported, although he had gotten away with it in the past.

Jul 17, 2010 20:03

I went through all the goobly-goop that was required to get a "Chinese Car" license. I had a USA, CA license, just need to take the written test and bring all the Doc's. Had a funny medical exam, I couldnt understand them, they couldnt understand me, so I passed. Got my Chinese license. A year latter had an accident. I very ignorant Chinese driver blindsided me and my wife on my motor scooter. Sent us to the pavement with many pains for a few months. My Chinese car license seemed to be OK when the Police arrived. The usual Police "judge and jury" took place and $500Rmb latter we were on our way. In pain and $500 more in our wallet. Not worth all the trouble, but no jail or questions about my being able to drive here on a scooter. :)

Jul 17, 2010 18:02

I want to be legal. I have family, property, business, and assets here. Why take the risk of being deported, when for a few hundred Renminbi I can be legal. I would be a FOOL not to, Valium or no Valium.

Jul 12, 2010 22:11

oh..maybe of some additional consequence of my toooo many years dealing with local mainlanders... I was stopped a dozen times .. showed my Western drivers license, my resident permit, and business card.. and they gave the keys back each and every time.. baabye!

Jul 12, 2010 22:07

tooo funny.. believing the law/rules.. well.. the reality is entirely different! Lived in Middle Kingdom a few years.. had a few of each...chinese vehicles, electric bikes, motorcycles.. and girlfriends! AND.. never had a permit, license or other. I learned that my International license is not good enough for China mainland although I drove vehicles in a couple other countries. So.. I quit.. after getting several documents from the International Police, Notary and Translations Services.. and told by the Traffic Police more needed.. well.. hell with all them! I sold all my vehicles prior to by departing Middle hole. No License required.. oh.. Westeners are welcome without Visa to offland China.. HK, TW...too sad mainlander natives can't say the same. So comparing the license/permissions thing with travel.. well.. that's why 90% who drive don't have a license and never heard of vehicle insurance.. I am speaking primarily about countryside folks but, also a bunch in the big Cities too! Best Wishes.. and take a Valium and don't hold your breath!

Jul 12, 2010 22:03

The article says 'International Drivers License', I think it should say International Drivers Permit (IDP). I worked for an organisation that issued these in the UK. It is a prerequisite that you have a full, current, valid driving license in order to be issued an IDP. I assume it is the same for every country. As such the comments about having to do the whole 9 yards of the Chinese driving test is not correct.

Jul 12, 2010 17:55

Word of warning. One of our guys was stopped for riding an unregistered motorbike without a licence. He got 14 days jail and deported.

Jul 12, 2010 17:51

Just to let you know not all cities allow motorbikes or motorcycles,
I live in Shenyang and it is illegal to own a motorbike. Unless, you have been driving before the law had changed so you are grandfathered from the law and use it because of business. All others cannot own one. If you come to Shenyang you will see very few motorbikes on the streets and some are being driven illegally with no license plates.

Apr 13, 2011 16:50

Question, i'm sure you answered it, but i read this post a few times and need to clear something up:

In order to get a motorcycle license (im a US citizen), does/can the license have to be a generic motor vehicle from the US (transferable if taken your steps)? Or do i need a motorcycle license first, so it can be easily transferred to Chinese license.

From what your article, it reads that the US drivers license is easily transferable and that can get both motor vehicle AND motorcycle license.
I am trying to get this cleared up, not many would give a clear cut answer on this.

Jul 15, 2011 10:31

Hi there!

We've just launched a brand new Answers section which allows users to ask or answer other people's questions. To increase your chances of getting a fast and satisfactory reply (and to start accumulating points for great prizes) please ask your question here:

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Jul 15, 2011 17:05
jerry uibe

i like the lwa and it gonna help reduce the number motorist on the major road bc they are always in a hurry causing lots legs and arms loss even dead. 5430 yea好!

Apr 23, 2012 00:51
Brad Altemeyer

wow! sounds like fun to drive with a current and valid license in China! now, I just wish everyone riding in Texas would wear a Helmet. I'd rather be official and have it than not have it. way da bu nan, nan da bu way

Jul 28, 2012 16:37

the above mentioned information is not reliable for someone who is willing to get new license in chongqing(the person who has not driving license in his or her own country). the expat writer is a big stupid.i went to all psb offices and asked them to help me but none of them accept my form for motorbike driving license. my chinese friend introduced his friend who is running one driving school but his efforts also went in vain. i think personally foreigners cant apply and write for the motorbike driving license because the computer based exam is in chinese. i request expat writer not write anything without going to its depth.

Aug 08, 2012 05:25

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