Applying for a New CDL in Alaska

If you are a professional driver with a commercial driver's license from another state, or if you are in training to become a professional driver, you will need a commercial driver's license issued by the Alaska Division of Motor Vehicles (AK DMV).

Temporary or Seasonal Workers

If you are working temporarily or seasonally in Alaska, and hold a CDL from another state, you may work using your home state CDL. If you are transferring to a permanent position or will live in Alaska full time, you will need to transfer your CDL.

Commercial Driver's Handbook

Alaska has prepared a Commercial Driver License Manual, explaining all the laws, rules, procedures and technical issues covered in the testing for CDL. You may also pick one up in person at your local DMV office.

Basic CDL Requirements

To apply for a new CDL in Alaska, you must:

  • Provide proof of birthdate and identity
  • Be 21 years old when you apply if you plan to drive inside and outside of Alaska (interstate), plus, you must have held a regular driver's license for at least one year.
  • Be at least 19 years old when you apply if you plan to drive only within Alaska (intrastate).
  • Provide your Social Security number.
  • Pass the road, vision, and written tests.
  • Have a valid medical card.

Written Test

The first part of the written test is a general knowledge test covering road rules, commercial vehicle laws, basic operation knowledge, and safety procedures. Once you pass the general knowledge test, you will be tested on other technical areas if they are applicable to the vehicle you will drive.

Road Test

Once you've passed your written tests, you will be required to take a road test, which is broken down into three parts:

  • Pre-Trip Inspection
  • Basic Skills Test
  • Driving Skills Test

Driving tests are given to all new CDL applicants and, in some cases, to those who are transferring a CDL from another state. The Alaska Commercial Driver Manual lists everything you'll be tested on in the pre-trip, basic skills, and driving tests.

You are required to go in person to the DMV office to schedule your road test. In the Anchorage area, the CDL road tests are given at the Center for Employment Education (CEE). In other cities, contact your local DMV office to find the third-party testers in your area.

Pre-trip Inspection

You must pass the pre-trip inspection before you will be permitted to go on to the basic skills portion of the road test. Don't try to speed through this portion of the road test. You are not being timed here so it's better to slow down a bit and make sure you've covered everything.

Basic Skills Test

This test will cover basic vehicle maneuvers including parallel parking, backing, alley docking, the forward stop, backward serpentine, and straight line backing. You must pass this portion of the road test before you may go on to the driving skills portion of the road test.

Do not get out of the vehicle to check your progress on the parking or baking portion of the test. You are required to remain seated during the entire road test, unless you are asked to do so by the examiner.

Driving Skills Test

In this final portion of the road test, the examiner will ask you to drive over a pre-determined test route and to perform a number of basic and complex driving maneuvers. These maneuvers will include right and left turns, intersections, urban and rural straight driving, urban and rural lane changes, freeway driving, stopping and starting, driving on curves, upgrades, downgrades, railroad crossings, bridges and under/overpasses.

When passing under bridges, make note of the posted clearance height as the examiner may ask you for the number once you've passed under the bridge or overpass.

Hazardous Materials Endorsement

If you plan to transport hazardous materials (hazmat) in Alaska, no matter what the size of the vehicle, you will be required to carry a CDL with a hazmat endorsement. In order to qualify you must:

  • Pass a written hazmat test
  • Be fingerprinted
  • Pass a background check for hazmat

CDL Fees

Here are the fees involved in the licensing process for a CDL in Alaska:

  • Basic CDL fee: $100
  • Road test fee: $25

The road test fee is non-refundable.

Transferring a CDL from Another State

If you are going to be in Alaska permanently, you will need to transfer your existing CDL to an Alaska CDL within 30 days of your arrival. To do this, you must:

  • Surrender the CDL from your previous state of residence
  • Pass the written CDL test
  • Pass any additional tests for endorsements
  • Pass a vision test
  • Pay the fee.
  • If your CDL from another state has been expired for more than 1 year, you must pass all required written tests applicable to the type of license you wish to obtain.
  • If your CDL from another state has been expired over 5 years you will be required to pass a road test.

New Federal Requirements

You must self-certify your type of vehicle operation with the Alaska DMV. This means you must self-certify one of the following driving categories:

  • Non-Excepted Interstate.
  • Excepted Interstate.
  • Non-Excepted Intrastate.
  • Excepted Intrastate.

If you choose Non-Excepted Interstate, you must provide the DMV with a federal medical certificate.

Submit a completed self-certification application by:

  • Delivering to any DMV office
  • E-mailing a scanned copy to: doa.dmv.adl@alaska.adl
  • Mailing to:
    • Driver Licensing
    • 1300 W. Benson Blvd. Suite 100
    • Anchorage, AK 99503

Federal CDL Regulations

The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 was designed to improve highway safety. Its purpose was to ensure that drivers of commercial vehicles are qualified to drive them, and to remove unsafe drivers from the highways. The Act didn't require federal driver licensing―states still license commercial drivers―but it established minimum standards that states must meet when issuing commercial driver's licenses. It required states to upgrade their existing programs to follow the new federal standards.

Before the Act was passed, many commercial vehicle drivers operated vehicles they were not properly trained on or qualified to drive. Even in states that had separate license classes, drivers were not necessarily tested in the types of vehicles they would be driving. States must now test commercial drivers according to federal standards, to ensure that drivers know how to operate the trucks or buses they intend to drive.

CDL Classes for Every State

To operate a commercial motor vehicle you must be able to read and speak English well enough to read road signs, prepare reports, and communicate with the public and with law enforcement.

The Act established different classes of commercial driver's licenses. Every state issues licenses in these categories:

  • Class A: Any combination of vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GWVR) of 26,001 or more pounds, provided the GVWR of the vehicle(s) being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Class B: Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing a vehicle not in excess of 10,000 pounds GVWR.
  • Class C: Any single vehicle, or combination of vehicles, that does not meet the definition of Class A or Class B, but is either designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, or is placarded for hazardous materials.

Many states make exceptions for farm vehicles, snow removal vehicles, fire and emergency vehicles, and some military vehicles.


To be licensed for certain types of commercial vehicles, extra testing is required. If you pass, you will receive an endorsement on your CDL. These are the endorsements that you can apply for. Each requires knowledge (written) tests, and driving (skills) tests.

  • T―Double/Triple Trailers (knowledge test only)
  • P―Passenger (knowledge and skills tests)
  • N―Tank Vehicle (knowledge test only)
  • H―Hazardous Materials (knowledge test only)
  • S―School Buses (knowledge and skills tests)

Minimum Training Requirements

There are no federal standards in place for on-the-road commercial driver training. The government only requires that you take and pass your CDL knowledge (written) and skills (driving) tests. Longer-combination-vehicle (LCV) drivers must receive training in driver wellness, driver qualifications, hours of service, and whistleblower protection.

In order to pass your driving skills tests, you will need to learn how to inspect vehicles before driving, learn how to couple and uncouple tractors and trailers, and have plenty of practice driving. This includes driving in different conditions and on different road surfaces, turning, parking, backing up, and braking.

There are many driving courses available at private driving schools, vocational or technical schools, and community colleges. Individual states often provide lists of certified training courses. The Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI) has set standards for training curriculums and will also certify driver training courses that meet industry and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) guidelines. Your employer may require you to take PTDI-approved training.

Hazmat Background Checks

Under the USA PATRIOT Act, commercial drivers transporting hazardous materials (hazmat) must pass a background records check and be fingerprinted. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is responsible for conducting the background checks for all commercial drivers with hazmat endorsements or who want to add hazmat endorsements to their licenses. The TSA developed this program to carry out the USA PATRIOT Act mandate and protect citizens from the potential threat of terrorists using hazmat cargo.

If the TSA disqualifies you because of your background, you can appeal their finding or seek a waiver. However, if you are found guilty of a disqualifying crime, you must declare any disqualifying conditions and surrender your hazmat endorsement (if you already have it) to your state's department of motor vehicles or other licensing agency.

Applying for a Hazardous Materials Background Check

After you get a CDL, apply for a background check from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) if you'll be obtaining a hazardous materials endorsement. You may do this online or by contacting a TSA agent. They will ask for:

  • Your CDL or CDL permit number.
  • Proof of legal status.
  • Proof of Identity.

Next, the TSA will ask you to go to a fingerprint office to give your fingerprints. The TSA and the FBI will conduct background investigations. You will be responsible for paying various fees.

You will be notified by mail. If you are approved, you can then go to your state's licensing authority (wherever you got your CDL) to complete your hazmat application process. If you are denied, you can appeal or seek a waiver.

  • Hazmat endorsements must be renewed at least every 5 years.
  • Your state might require renewal more often.
  • Get a new background check each time you renew your hazmat endorsement.

Disqualifying Crimes

Conviction of any of the following crimes will disqualify you from being eligible for a hazmat endorsement:

  • Terrorism
  • Murder
  • Assault with intent to murder
  • Espionage
  • Sedition
  • Kidnapping or hostage-taking
  • Treason
  • Rape or aggravated sexual abuse
  • Extortion
  • Robbery
  • Arson
  • Bribery
  • Smuggling
  • Immigration violations
  • RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) violations
  • Unlawful possession, use, sale, distribution, or manufacture of an explosive device, firearm, or other weapon
  • Distribution of, intent to distribute, possession, or importation of a controlled substance
  • Dishonesty, fraud, or misrepresentation, including identity fraud
  • Crimes involving a severe transportation security incident
  • Improper transportation of a hazardous material
  • Conspiracy or attempt to commit any of these crimes

Remember that your state also has its own guidelines that may be stricter than the federal ones. For more information, consult your employer, the DMV, or the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association.

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