How to get your endorsement or permit: Sidecars/trikes (3-wheel)

You must have a 3-wheel sidecar/trike endorsement to ride any of the following types of vehicles on public roads in Washington (WA):

  • A 3-wheel trike (including a Can-Am or Piaggio MP3)
  • A motorcycle with a sidecar

By law, your trike or motorcycle with a sidecar may be impounded if you operate it without the proper endorsement.

Exceptions

You don’t need a sidecar/trike endorsement on your driver license to operate a 3-wheel vehicle if it meets all of the following requirements:

  • The seat is in a partially or completely enclosed seating area.
  • The vehicle is equipped with safety belts.
  • The vehicle is steered with a steering wheel.

How to get an endorsement

There are 2 ways to get a sidecar/trike endorsement:

  1. Successfully complete a sidecar/trike safety course at an approved sidecar/trike training school:
    • The safety course will include the knowledge and riding skills tests.
    • After you pass the safety course, bring your course completion card to a driver licensing office within 180 days to get your endorsement.
  2. Pass the knowledge and riding skills tests, at a sidecar/trike training school:

Additional requirements

If you’re a teen rider under 18 years old
You must satisfactorily complete an approved rider course before you can apply for a motorcycle endorsement. You must have parental permission to take the course, and to apply for the endorsement.
If you have a valid sidecar/trike endorsement from another state
See Moving? Get WA license to learn how to get a WA driver license. To transfer your sidecar/trike endorsement when you get your WA license, you’ll also need to bring:
  • Proof of your current sidecar/trike license or endorsement.
  • Payment for the fee.
  • Notes:
    • If you don’t transfer your endorsement when you apply for a WA driver license, you’ll need to complete a sidecar/trike safety course or pass the knowledge and riding skills tests to get a sidecar/trike endorsement.
    • If your current out-of-state endorsement covers both motorcycle and sidecar/trike, only the motorcycle endorsement will be transferred to your new WA driver license. You must successfully complete a sidecar/trike safety course or pass the sidecar/trike tests to add the 3-wheel endorsement to your license.

Sidecar/trike instruction permits

To apply for a sidecar/trike instruction permit, you must:

  • Be at least 16 years of age.
  • Have a valid WA driver license.
  • Pass a knowledge test on sidecar/trike operation.
  • If you’re under 18 years old, have a parent or guardian sign the consent form when you apply.

Rules for riding with a permit

While riding with an instruction permit on a public roadway:

  • You may not carry passengers.
  • You may not ride a motorcycle during the hours of darkness.

If you need to renew your permit

Permits are valid for 90 days. You can renew your permit 1 time for an additional 90 days by visiting a driver licensing office and paying a renewal fee.

  • To qualify to renew your permit, you must have:
    • Passed the knowledge test less than 180 days ago.
    • and
    • Had no more than 1 permit in the past 5 years.
  • You may qualify to retake the knowledge test to be issued a third permit upon presentation of documented evidence that you are enrolled in a motorcycle skills education class with a start date prior to the expiration of the third permit. The department may not issue more than three motorcycle instruction permits to an applicant within a five-year period.

Fees

Knowledge and riding skills test fees are set by each training school. These testing fees are paid to the school in addition to the following application and licensing fees paid to the Department of Licensing:

  • Sidecar/trike instruction permit fee collected when we issue your instruction permit.
  • Original sidecar/trike endorsement fee, which includes the application and new driver license.
  • Sidecar/trike endorsement renewal fee paid in addition to the regular driver license renewal fees.
  • Renewal fee for sidecar/trike endorsement with a motorcycle endorsement paid in addition to the regular driver license renewal fees (includes both endorsements).

Frequently asked questions

Am I required to have insurance for my sidecar/trike?

No, insurance isn’t required for motorcycles in Washington. However, Oregon, Idaho, and Canada do require motorcycle insurance. When riding out of state, it’s your responsibility to follow the laws of the state you’re in. If you don’t have insurance in a state that requires it, you could be ticketed.

Can my 3-year-old ride in my sidecar?

No, a child must be at least 5 years old to be a passenger on a motorcycle, sidecar, or trike.

Can I put the license plates on my sidecar/trike vertically?

No. License plates must be placed in a horizontal position and be visible at all times. Not meeting these requirements is one of the top 10 reasons riders are stopped by law enforcement.

I have an Ignition Interlock License (IIL). Can I get a sidecar/trike endorsement?

No, you can’t add a sidecar/trike endorsement until the IIL requirement has been dropped from your license.

Are novelty helmets legal to wear?

No, a “novelty” helmet isn’t legal. All helmets must be certified by the Department of Transportation (DOT). To make sure your helmet is DOT-certified, look for a DOT sticker on the outside of the helmet and a DOT sticker on the inside. A DOT-label will have the manufacturer’s name or identification, model designation, size, month and year of manufacture, and instruction about construction and other safety-related information.

Related laws

Questions?

If you have questions about getting your motorcycle or sidecar/trike endorsement, please send us an email at motorcycle@dol.wa.gov.

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