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Commercial Driver’s License Requirements: Do You Have What It Takes?

Date posted: 07/01/2012

by Melissa Crumish on
in Applying for a New CDL

1195 Commercial Drivers License Requirements: Do You Have What It Takes?

A commercial drivers license (CDL) comes with responsibility, and with responsibility comes tighter scrutiny. This applies to all facets of commercial driving, starting with the application process.

How to Get a CDL Drivers License

The steps to apply for a CDL are similar to those for getting a regular drivers license, but with more emphasis on identity and overall health.

Also, unlike a regular drivers license, most states do not require holding a CDL permit for a specific length of time before applying for a commercial license. If you feel you’re ready to pass the skills test, go for it. The choice is yours.

Depending on your state, you will need to meet most or some of the following requirements for both a CDL permit and license:

  • Be at least 18 years old for commercial intrastate driving (within state), and at least 21 years old for interstate driving (out of the state).
  • Own a regular drivers license before applying for a CDL. Some states require at least one year of driving experience with a regular driver license before applying.
  • Present proof of your full legal name.
  • Provide proof of legal presence in the U.S., along with proof of identity and date of birth.
  • Show proof of your Social Security number.
  • Provide proof of state residency.
  • Pass a CDL knowledge test for the vehicle you plan to drive. The Class A knowledge Test (combination vehicles), for instance, is different from the Class B knowledge test. The same applies for endorsements. If say you also want to apply for a school bus endorsement, then you will also need to pass school bus endorsement knowledge test. Study your state’s CDL manual to prep for your respective tests. Pass and you’ll receive a CDL permit.
  • Complete a commercial drivers license application. This, in most cases, can be downloaded from your DMV’s website.
  • Pass a vision screening test.
  • Provide a copy of a valid medical examiner’s certificate (often called a Federal Medical Card, or a DOT Physical Card). Or, if applicable, a medical waiver or exemption.
  • Pass the CDL skills test.
  • Pass testing and license fees.

Keep in mind that you will need to complete additional requirements for a Class H (hazardous materials) endorsement, or what many call HAZMAT. In addition to paying extra fees, you must also pass a background check and be fingerprinted.

Do you have anything to add about the commercial driver license requirements for your state?

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