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California Moped License & Registration (50cc Scooters)

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If you’ve got a short commute or need a fun, convenient way to get around town, mopeds are an excellent choice. 

They’re easy to ride, have great gas mileage, and are affordable to purchase and maintain. 

This page will cover the basic requirements for riding a moped in California.

If you already have a valid California motorcycle license, you’ll definitely be ready to ride a moped or <50cc scooter. In fact, that’s typically the safest route to go. 

California Moped Laws for <50cc Scooters

In order to ride a moped legally in California, you’ll need to be sure to follow the rules and regulations. Failing to do so could result in traffic tickets, fines, or a suspended license. 

There a two classes of “mopeds” in California:

  1. Motor-driven cycles. 
  2. Motorized Bicycles and Mopeds. 

Motor-driven cycles have 2-3 wheels with an engine of size of no more than 149cc. These require a motorcycle license (M1) to legally ride. 

Mopeds and motorized bicycles are defined as:

  • Having 2-3 wheels. 
  • Automatic transmissions. 
  • Less than 4 gross brake hp. 
  • A top speed of no more than 30 mph. 

Mopeds require an M1 or M2 license, except for the case of short-term rentals. 

The minimum age to ride is 16 years old. 

All riders must have a DOT-approved helmet. 

For a complete list of rules and regulations regarding mopeds in California, contact your local DMV office. 

Learn about the differences between scooters vs. mopeds

Do you need a license to drive a moped in California?

In California, you will generally need a M1 or M2 motorcycle license to legally ride a moped on public roads. 

Short term rental mopeds (less than 48 hours) only require a valid CA driver’s license to ride. 

How to Get a California Moped License

Since California requires a motorcycle license to ride a moped, you’ll usually need to:

  • Visit your local DMV office. 
  • Complete an application and provide proof of your identity and residency. 
  • Pass a vision test. 
  • Pass the motorcycle written exam. 
  • Pass a road test or complete a MSF motorcycle safety course. 
  • Pay the licensing fees.

Learn how to get your California motorcycle license

California Moped Registration & Insurance

Motor-driven cycles are treated just like motorcycles for title, registration, and insurance. 

Mopeds require a one-time registration and identification card fee of $23. They do not need to be renewed.

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Many of the major motorcycle insurance providers will also offer coverage for smaller bikes, scooters, and mopeds. 

Regardless of the California requirements, it’s always a smart idea to have insurance coverage when you ride any type of vehicle on public roads. 

Be sure to compare quotes from a few different providers to get the best rates. 

Learn more about moped insurance.

Note that some cities and local jurisdictions may have additional regulations for moped riders. (i.e. roadway restrictions, registration requirements, etc.). Be sure to check with your local Department of Motor Vehicles/authorities to make sure you and your moped are street legal.

For official information, up-to-date fees, and instructions, please contact your local county California DMV office.  

Find more information about scooter and mopeds here. 

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Content Editor: Ethan Orenstein

Ethan is not just any motorcycle enthusiast. With a decade of experience riding, maintaining, and restoring a range of motorcycles, Ethan brings a wealth of knowledge to the table. Many of the tips and tricks shared on this site are born from hours spent wrenching on personal bikes. Paired with his experience as a journalist covering DMV & insurance topics, MotorcycleZombies.com is a must-visit site for any home-mechanic. Every article has been carefully reviewed and edited to ensure accuracy, authenticity, and simplicity - all to help bring your bike back from the dead and onto the road.

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