Go-kart racing has become increasingly popular over the recent years, with many new racers of all ages joining the ranks. This also means that there are many new questions that come up. One popular question that I get asked quite often these days is, if you need a license for racing go-karts.
Generally speaking, you don’t need any form of license to operate a go-kart on a race track for recreational purposes. However, if you plan to compete professionally, or at any FIA-sanctioned race, you’ll need a National or International Karting License.
Typically, any of the National Sporting Authorities issue national and international karting licenses to drivers who qualify and are able to pass a series of tests.
Here are the different international license grades:
- Grade A: The highest karting license grade and is for drivers who are at least 15 years of age. They also have to be on a Grade B license and pass all additional requirements.
- Grade B: Driver who are at least 15 years of age and meet all requirements of the current year
- Grade C: C-Junior (12 – 14 years), C-Restricted (14 years old, operating non-gearbox karts) and C-Senior who are 15 years old
- Grade D: For drivers who enter international events with karts less than 15 hp.
Here are the different nation license grades:
- Grade A: Highest national license grade and typically requires endorsements and regular top finishes in national competitions
- Grade B: Requires a high number of endorsements and is required for specific parting classes
- Grade C: Given to endorsed racers who complete a certain percentage of a race meeting and have no infractions against them
- Grade D: Generally a practice license that’s permissible for only 1 race
License grades and qualifying criteria will differ between countries, whereby requirements may change from time to time. The national license grading above was generalized from the Australian karting requirements to give you a better picture of what you may expect in your country.
In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at the types of licenses you would require for competitive and recreational go-kart racing. This guide also gives you all the information you will need for license application and upgrading.
Why Do You Require A Karting License for Sanctioned Races?
The Commission Internationale de Karting (CIK or CIK-FIA) sanctions most international and national go-kart races. It’s the primary sanctioning body for karting and imposes strict rules and regulations that kart racers and competition organizers have to follow.
The CIK-FIA requires professional go-kart racers to have a valid karting license based on their age and several other requirements. A karting license ensures that the racer meets the required age and also has the required experience to compete in a certain class.
Safety is one of the most important aspects of any motorsport. Therefore, competing kart racers would need to ensure that they pass all the individual requirements, to ensure safety on the race track.
How to Apply for a National or International Karting License?
Each country will have their own set of regulations and practices, which should always be CIK-FIA compliant. National and international karting license applications are typically handled by National Sporting Authorities (also referred to as ASN derived from French).
Aspiring kart racers who are applying for a karting license of any grade will be assessed based on age, experience, endorsement and their test results. As requirements may differ from country to country, it’s always a good idea to stay updated with the latest regulations and license grade requirements.
In order to apply for a karting license, you should reach out to your ASN and request for more information on the license registration process. It’s important to ensure that they are affiliated with CIK-FIA. Most of the time, the cost, requirements and the application process can be found on their website.
Your respective National Sporting Authority should have a registration form that you can download off their website. These are usually handed in electronically or physically, after having filled in the required details. The same process is also applicable for license upgrades.
Here are the three type of karting licenses that can be applied for:
- Kart Driver’s License (National / International)
- Kart Entrants License
- Kart Circuit License
How Does License Progression Work in Karting?
International karting licenses are commonly awarded by fulfilling an age requirement, racing experience and actual test results. National karting licenses usually require a form of endorsements, whereby higher grade licenses may require high position finishes.
It’s common for license holders to race under a certain grade for a period of time. Progression is usually determined by your experience on the circuit, knowledge about the karting rules and regulations, as well as how good of a kart racer you are.
Here are a few tips that you can take advantage of when seeking to upgrade your license grade:
- Understand the latest CIK-FIA regulations (racing and technical)
- Expand your network amongst your peers
- Improve your overall karting skills and knowledge
- Place high in karting classes that you are racing in
- Understand the upgrade requirements for the next license grade
- Get lessons if that helps you improve your game
Can I Race Competitively Without a License?
Some karting events are not sanctioned by the CIK-FIA and also don’t require any form of license. These are often locally organized events by a track owner, a community or an external organizer. In this scenario, you may not require a national or international karting license to participate in their races.
On the other hand, you will need a karting license if you compete in any race that is sanctioned by or affiliated with the CIK-FIA. Not possessing a valid license of the correct grade will automatically disqualify you from participation.
It’s also important to note that competing in races by organizers or circuits that have been banned by the CIK-FIA can get your karting license revoked. Therefore, also ensure with the race organizers of the rules and regulations, as well as their standing with the CIK-FIA.
Do I Need a License for Recreational Go-Kart Racing?
Almost all go-kart tracks don’t require any form of license for racing, apart from when they are hosting a national or international competition. Even a locally organized karting tournament would most likely only have participation requirements set on karting classes, not requiring any license.
When it comes to recreational karting, most of the time the karting location (indoor or outdoor tracks) don’t require any form of license. However, there are exceptions when it comes to racing high-powered go-karts on recreational go-kart tracks.
Some karting venues may impose that you have a valid driver’s license for racing higher-end and faster go-karts. This is only to ensure that you have a basic understanding of civil driving and that you are able to handle vehicles at higher speed.
If you don’t have a valid driver’s license you can always opt to race their regular karts.
How Do I Find Out Which Tracks Require a License?
You can mostly find license requirements on their respective website. This information is usually listed under the arrive and drive, requirements or FAQ section. If that information is not available online, it’s best to call in to further inquire.
Do I Need a License to Drive Go-Karts on the Road?
Things are a little bit different when it comes to operating go-karts on public roads. Please keep in mind that generally speaking most go-karts are not street legal, apart from a very few off-road go-karts that qualify.
If My Go-Kart Qualifies, What License Would I Need?
License requirements for operating street-legal go-karts are different depending on what state or country that you’re located in. Certain states may require a valid driver’s license, others may not.
In that case, it’s always best to get in touch with your local municipality to get further information on go-kart laws and license requirements for use on public roads.