What Is OHV License? Do You Need It? | Hunt or Shred

ATVs, UTVs, dirt bikes, and even Jeeps can be classified as OHVs. But only a few people know what an OHV license is and whether they need it or not.

An OHV license allows these vehicles to drive in public off-road areas legally. The OHV license is required for anyone who plans to operate a vehicle off-road in public areas, but this is not a requirement in all 50 states. It is not necessary to have an OHV license for private property riding.

Because all states have different policies on this topic, we contacted local DMVs and pulled rules and regulations from state websites. This is the only guide needed to learn more about an OHV license and whether you need it or not.  

Table of contents


What Is An OHV License? Do You Need It?

The OHV license is a permit that allows the holder to operate off-highway vehicles in designated areas of the state. This is optional or a requirement, depending on where you live.

OHV stands for Off-Highway Vehicle. OHV vehicles are allowed to drive on certain types of public land but not on public roads or highways unless they are street-legal.

The rules differ in each state, but generally, these vehicles need a license, permit, decal, or sticker indicating they are allowed to drive off-road. An OHV license is the way to meet these requirements.

Many states don’t require an OHV license to ride the ATV or UTV off-road in public areas. However, bringing the vehicle on public roads requires more paperwork and proper licensing.

This permit is required to use all off-highway vehicles, including ATVs, dirt bikes, snowmobiles, and four-wheelers. Most states will also charge a small application fee to purchase the license, which lasts for 1-3 years.

How Do You Get An OHV License?

OHVs are much different than traditional vehicles, and the process will differ depending on the type of vehicle. For example, getting an OHV license for a Jeep is much different than for an ATV.

Follow these steps to get an OHV license while avoiding confusion.

Contact The DMV To Learn The Requirements

If you want to ride an off-highway vehicle legally in public areas, the first thing you should do is contact your local DMV office.

The staff will be able to tell you the requirements for getting a license and what type of vehicle you need to get. If your state requires a license, continue reading for the next steps.

Gather All Required Paperwork

The next step is to gather all paperwork for the visit at the DMV. This includes vehicle title, registration, insurance, and license.

It’s also possible that the bill of sale will be asked to prove vehicle ownership. Having everything handy will make the process move much faster.

Fill Out The OHV License Application

The OHV license application can be filled out to move the process along. This paperwork looks much different depending on the state.

For example, Michigan has a portal online to purchase the eLicense quickly for $26.25, and it arrives in 7-10 days. The OHV license application is available online in most states.

Pay Fees

There is a small fee associated with the OHV license in most states that require them. As mentioned, Michigan charges  $26.25 and doesn't require a DMV visit.

Once the fees are paid, the license will be issued and should arrive quickly. We estimate the average wait time is about 1-2 weeks.

OHV License Requirements By State

OHV license requirements vary by state. Each state has its own set of laws and regulations. Below, we have created a chart detailing each state's license and registration requirements for OHVs.

It’s important to remember that nearly all states allow OHV use on private land without a license or permit. But using the vehicle in public areas is when the rules change.

These policies vary from requiring a license to operating on public land to carrying a valid driver’s license and insurance. This is why OHV riders must be aware of the state-specific requirements before driving in public areas.

State License Required? Registration Required?
Alabama Not required Not required
Alaska Not required Required
Arizona Required Required
Arkansas Not required Required
California Required Required
Colorado Required Required
Connecticut Required Required
Delaware Required Required For 18+
Florida Required Required
Georgia Required Required
Hawaii Not required Required
Idaho Required Required
Illinois Not required Required
Indiana Required Required
Iowa Required Required
Kansas Not required Required
KentuckyNot required Not required
Louisiana Not required Required
Maine Not required Required
Maryland Required Required
Massachusetts Not required Required
Michigan Required Required
Minnesota Not required Required
Mississippi Required Required
Missouri Not required Required
Montana Not required Required
Nebraska Not required Required
Nevada Required Required
New Hampshire Not required Required
New Jersey Not required Required
New Mexico Required Required
New York Not required Required
North Carolina Required Required
North Dakota Required Required
Ohio Not required Required
Oklahoma Not required Required
OregonRequired Required
Pennsylvania Required Required
Rhode Island Not required Required
South Carolina Not required Required
South Dakota Not required Required
Tennessee Required Required
Texas Not required Not required
Utah Required Required
Vermont Required Required
Virginia Not required Not required
Washington Not required Required
West Virginia Not required Required
Wisconsin Required Required
Wyoming Required Required

Other Laws & Regulations For OHVs

The OHV license is a special license issued to off-highway vehicles. It allows the vehicle to be operated on public land and designated trails.

But other things are needed too. Many states also require OHVs to be registered, titled, and insured. If you need clarification about the rules for the state where you live, then contact your local DMV for more information about what types of vehicles require permits.

Registering The Vehicle

46 of the 50 US states require all OHVs to be registered before they can be used. This is separate from an OHV license, but it’s even more important to establish ownership of the vehicle with the state.

Typically, registration is cheap and can be done in a few simple steps. However, in many states, you also need a title and insurance to register a UHV like a UTV, dirt bike, or ATV.

Titling The Vehicle

The OHV title is a form of identification required by nearly all states in the US to operate any off-road vehicle on public land.

The OHV title can be obtained at the DMV with the bill of sale and an ID, so it’s legal to use this vehicle. We recommend checking local policies to confirm the need for a title and the proper steps to get one.

Insuring The Vehicle

Insurance is a bit different, and it's not enforced in every state. It also depends on the type of vehicle. For example, ATVs don’t need insurance in every state, but a Jeep or motorcycle does.

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Key Takeaways

  • An OHV license is a permit or sticker issued to ATV, UTV, and dirt bike riders granting permission or access to go off-road in public areas within the state.
  • OHV licenses are not required when driving on private property, but most of the time, these vehicles aren't street-legal for public road or highway use.  
  • Not all states require an OHV license but getting one is easy. Contact the DMV, submit the required paperwork, fill out the application, and hit the trails.  




25 years old. I'm from PA. I love horseback riding and riding ATV's. My husband and I own a farm and our ATV's help us work and have fun.

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