Applying for a New CDL in Arizona

If you've ever looked at the huge trucks, tanks, and other commercial vehicles barreling down the highway and thought to yourself that you'd like to drive one someday, you can—with the help of a commercial driver's license (CDL).

The process of getting a CDL is a bit more rigorous than getting a regular driver's license, since the vehicles it lets you drive are larger and more difficult to operate than average cars and trucks. Nationally, the regulations for obtaining a commercial driver's license are established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and in Arizona, the licensing process is overseen by the state Motor Vehicle Division (MVD).

Who Can Get an AZ CDL?

To be eligible for an Arizona commercial driver's license, you must meet the following guidelines:

  • Must be at least 18 years old.*
  • Provide proof that you have at least 1 year of driving experience (cannot be on a motorcycle).
    • Arizona residents may use their AZ driver's license for proof.
    • Out-of-state licenses will be acceptable if they were issued more than 1 year before you apply.

If you're applying for an AZ CDL with an out-of-state license, you may also prove your driving experience with a motor vehicle record issued by your home state, which:

  • Is under 30 days old.
  • Shows at least 1 year of driving experience.

See Transferring a CDL to Arizona below for details on how to switch your out-of-state CDL to your new state of residence.

*NOTE: Applicants under 21 years old will be restricted to driving commercial vehicles within Arizona, and will not be permitted to transport hazardous materials, per MVD and FMCSA regulations.

Arizona Commercial Learner's Permits

Before you can get your AZ commercial driver's license, you'll need to get your commercial learner's permit (CLP). Although it's not required by the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division or the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, it's recommended to enroll in a commercial driver education course, to help you prepare for all the exams you will need to take.

When you feel ready, schedule an appointment with your local MVD office, and bring:

Acceptable Identity/Citizenship/Residency Documents

Proof of Identity

Arizona requires at least 2 documents to prove your identity:

  • At least 1 document must include a photo of you.*
  • At least 1 document must be considered a “primary" document and include your date of birth.
  • Examples include:
    • U.S. passports.
    • Arizona ID cards.
    • W-2 Forms.

See the full list of acceptable documents and additional MVD requirements.

*NOTE: In lieu of a photo document, you may provide 3 documents to prove your identity and citizenship/lawful status—all other requirements above still apply.

Proof of Citizenship

Proof of U.S. citizenship/lawful permanent status in Arizona requires at least 2 documents:

  • At least 1 document must include a photo of you.*
  • You will need 1 document considered a “primary" source and 1 document considered a “secondary" source.
  • If you've legally changed your name due to marriage, divorce, or for other reasons, you will need to bring appropriate legal documents showing the name change.
    • Examples include:
      • Birth certificate.
      • Certificate of Naturalization.
      • U.S. military ID.

The AZ Motor Vehicle Division has the full list of examples and some additional terms.

*NOTE: If you do not have a photo document, you may instead present 3 documents to prove your identity and citizenship/lawful status. All other listed requirements above still apply.

Proof of Residency

Proof of Arizona residency requires 1 document that shows BOTH your:

  • Name.
  • Physical address.

Examples include:

  • Valid AZ driver's license.
  • Voter registration card.
  • Utility bill dated within 30 days of your application.

See the MVD's full list of acceptable documents.

Additional CLP Requirements

Aside from providing the proper documentation and paying the fee, you will need to:

  • Pass all appropriate written exams for the type of CDL you want.
    • A passing score of 80% is required.
  • Submit to a driving record check.

After completing the process, the AZ MVD will issue your commercial learner's permit.

CLP Restrictions in Arizona

Your Arizona CLP will be valid for 6 months. You will have to wait at least 14 days before you can take the skills test needed to obtain your full commercial driver's license.

In the meantime, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration restricts all CLP drivers to practice only while accompanied by a full CDL holder on public roads only.

AZ Commercial Driver's Licenses

Once you've passed at least 14 days with your CLP, and you feel comfortable enough driving a commercial vehicle, you can take your CDL skills test. Schedule another appointment at your local Arizona Motor Vehicle Division office or find a third party that offers skills testing.

You will need to bring:

  • Your commercial learner's permit (CLP).
  • Your AZ driver's license.
  • The appropriate feesee details below.

If you fail any portion of your skills test, you will need to wait 2 business days before you can retake the exam.

Once you pass and pay all fees, you will be given your Arizona commercial driver's license. Arizona CDLs are valid for 5 years. Check out our guide to renewing your CDL for tips on how to prepare for that.

Transferring a CDL to Arizona

If you've moved to Arizona and wish to transfer your out-of-state CDL, you will have to do so within 30 days of establishing AZ residency.

Schedule an appointment with your local MVD office and bring your:

The Arizona MVD will then issue your new AZ commercial driver's license.

CDL Fees in Arizona

The AZ Motor Vehicle Division currently charges the following for commercial driver licenses and related services:

  • Commercial learner's permits:
    • Class A or Class B: $25.
    • Class C: $12.50.
  • Endorsements: $10 each.
    • School bus endorsements: Free.
  • Road/skills tests fees:
    • Class A or Class B: $25.
    • Class C: $12.50.
  • New or transferred CDLs:
    • Class A or Class B: $25.
    • Class C: $12.50.
  • Duplicate CDL: $12.

Military CDL Waivers in Arizona

The MVD has created a program to help current military members or recent veterans transition from driving for the Armed Forces to civilian commercial vehicle operation, by allowing certain service members to have their CDL skills tests waived.

To qualify, you must:

  • Be active duty or discharged from the military within 1 year of your application date.
  • Have operated a commercial motor vehicle or military equivalent for at least 2 years immediately proceeding your discharge.

If you meet the qualifications, you can apply by completing a Military Skills Test Waiver (Form 96-0680) and bringing it with you when you apply for your commercial learner's permit.

NOTE: Eligible candidates will still have to pay all required fees and pass all written exams.

Arizona CDL Medical Requirements

All Arizona commercial driver license applicants must acquire certain medical certifications before applying for their learner's permits.

The Arizona Motor Vehicle Division requires a completed:

To get them, you must see a FMCSA-approved physician.

You may also be required to go through a process called self-certification, where you declare to the state the type of driving you intend on doing with your CDL. For more information, see the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's FAQ page.

After you're deemed physically fit, you will be given a Medical Examiner Certificate. You must keep this document on you at all times while operating a commercial motor vehicle.

You will also have to renew your Medical Examiner Certificate at least every 2 years.

CDL Classes, Endorsements & Restrictions

Arizona CDL Classifications

The FMCSA has established several different classifications of commercial driver's license, each one allowing you to drive different types of commercial vehicles.

The categories include:

  • Class A CDL—Lets you drive a combination of vehicles over a certain weight, like a tractor-trailer.
  • Class B CDL—Allows you to drive a single vehicle over a certain weight, such as a straight truck.
  • Class C CDL—Covers all other types of commercial vehicles over a certain weight not addressed by Class A or Class B CDLs.

The type of CDL you apply for may dictate the type of skills and written exams you will need to take or how much your permit or license will cost.

In Arizona, a Class C commercial driver's license may only be obtained in conjunction with a passenger or HAZMAT vehicle endorsement.

For more general information, see our guide to CDL classifications.

AZ CDL Endorsements & Restrictions

An endorsement is an additional accreditation on your CDL that will allow you to operate a greater number of vehicles. You can get an endorsement by taking extra exams—both written and skill-related—and paying additional fees.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division offer endorsements that will allow you to drive:

On the other hand, you could also have a restriction placed on your commercial driver's license, which would limit the amount of vehicles you're permitted to drive. You might receive a restriction on your CDL if you can't:

  • Operate a full air brake system.
  • Drive a manual transmission vehicle.
  • Take your driving test in the appropriate class of vehicle.

Restrictions can typically be removed from a CDL if you take additional tests and/or pay extra fees. Check out our guide to endorsements and restrictions for more details.

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