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Applying for a New CDL in Colorado

Driving a semi-truck, bus, or other commercial vehicle is a good way for many people to make a living. If you're interested in doing so, you'll first need to get your commercial driver's license (CDL).

Getting a CDL is a bit more involved than obtaining a regular driver's license. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is in charge of regulating the process nationally, but in Colorado, the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) also dictates some aspects of commercial driver licensing.

Who Can Get a Colorado CDL?

To apply for a CDL in Colorado, you simply must:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
    AND
  • Already have a valid CO or out-of-state driver's license.

Per rules set by the FMCSA, any commercial vehicle driver under 21 years old may only drive within the state (intrastate) where your CDL was issued.

If you have a CDL from a different state that is current or has been expired for less than 1 year, you may transfer it to Colorado without any retesting. However, you will have to retest with the CO DMV if you want to transfer your:

CO Commercial Learner's Permits

Before you can obtain your commercial driver license, you'll have to get your Colorado commercial learner's permit (CLP).

While it's not required in Colorado, it may be a good idea to take a CDL driver's education course to help with all of the knowledge and skills tests you will be asked to take.

Once you feel prepared to apply for a CLP, you'll need to schedule an appointment with your local Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles office. Bring to your appointment:

  • Your valid driver's license.
  • Proof of your Social Security number (SSN). Examples include:
    • Social Security cards.
    • W-2 or 1099 forms.
    • Paystubs that include your name AND SSN.
  • 2 documents proving your Colorado residency. Forms must:
    • Include your name.
    • Have your full residential address.
    • Be dated within 1 year of the date of your CLP application.
  • A Medical Examiner's Certificate proving your physical fitness.
  • The $16.80 commercial learner's permit fee.

You will also have to submit to a review of your driving record. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires the past 10 years of your driving record, in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, to be checked.

After you pass all of the written exams for the type of CDL you're applying for, you'll be issued a CLP.

Colorado CLP Requirements

Your CO commercial learner's permit will be valid for 180 days. However, you will be eligible to apply for your commercial driver license after having your CLP for 14 days.

While driving with your Colorado CLP, you will only be able to practice on public roads with a CDL holder in the vehicle with you.

This is an excellent time to take advantage of a commercial driver training program to prepare yourself for the road test you'll have to take to receive your full Colorado CDL.

Getting a CO Commercial Driver's License

Once you feel comfortable enough driving with your CLP after the required period of time, schedule another appointment with your local CO DMV office to get your commercial driver license.

Taking the Road Test

You will need to pass a driving skills/road test in order to obtain your full Colorado CDL. Once you've passed, you'll receive a commercial drive skills test completion form. You'll then have 60 days to take this form to the DMV to apply for your CO commercial driver's license.

You should arrange to take the test in the same type of vehicle you expect to drive with your CDL. If you cannot, there may be restrictions placed on your commercial driver's license.

Applying for Your CDL

At the DMV, you'll need to submit:

  • Your commercial learner's permit (CLP).
  • Proof of your SSN.
  • Your Medical Examiner's Certificate (see below).
  • The commercial drive skills test completion form dated within the last 60 days.
  • The $15.50 CDL fee.

Your CDL will be valid for 4 years, after which you will need to renew it. Check out our guide to renewing your Colorado CDL for more information.

Military CDL Applicants in Colorado

The Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) may waive your skills/road test if you have commercial vehicle driving experience AND:

  • Are currently in the military.
  • Expect to be discharged soon.
    OR
  • Have left the service in the past 90 days.

In Colorado, this is called the Vets-2-Trucks Program. To apply, you'll have to:

Submit the paperwork to the Colorado DMV via fax at (303) 205-5754 or through the mail at:

Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles
CDL Unit Room 154
1881 Pierce St.
Lakewood, CO 80214

The CO Division of Motor Vehicles will notify you of your eligibility for the waiver through the mail. Once you've qualified, take that notification with you to the DMV when you apply for your commercial learner's permit.

NOTE: Qualifying service members will still have to take the proper written tests and pay all CLP/CDL fees.

Medical CDL Exams in CO

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires every CDL applicant to attain a Medical Examiner's Certificate before earning his or her commercial driver license.

To do so, have a qualified physician help you complete the Medical Examination Report for Commercial Driver Fitness Determination (Form 649-F).

You'll also have to declare your fitness to the Colorado DMV through a process called self-certification. For more information on that process, see the FMCSA medical guidelines.

After being medically approved to apply for your CDL, you'll be issued your certificate. It must be on your person at all times that you're operating a commercial vehicle, and you must update it every 24 months.

Colorado CDL Classifications

CDLs have been classified by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration based on the type of vehicles they allow the holder to drive.

There are three classes of commercial driver license:

  • Class A CDL—Allow holders to operate multiple vehicles that total over a certain weight, such as a tractor-trailer.
  • Class B CDL—Gives holders permission to drive a single vehicle over a certain weight, like a box truck.
  • Class C CDL—Covers vehicles over a certain weight that aren't covered by Class A or Class B.

You will have to take slightly different tests with the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles depending on which class of CDL you're applying for. For details, visit our guide to CDL Classifications.

CDL Class Testing Requirements

The following written tests are required to obtain each type of commercial driver license in Colorado:

  • Class A CDL:
    • General knowledge test.
    • Combination test.
    • Air brakes test, if applicable.
  • Class B CDL:
    • General knowledge test.
    • Air brakes test, if applicable.
  • Class C CDL:
    • General knowledge test.
    • Passenger endorsement test, if applicable.
    • Hazardous materials endorsement test, if applicable.

The skills test is required by the FMCSA for every type of CDL classification.

Endorsements & Restrictions

An endorsement is an additional certification that can be applied to your Colorado commercial driver's license. Endorsements will allow you to drive a wider variety of vehicles, such as:

You will have to take additional tests in order to earn an endorsement.

A restriction may be applied to your CDL to prevent you from driving certain vehicles, such as:

  • Vehicles with full air brakes.
  • Manual transmission vehicles.

Restrictions can happen if you take the CDL skills test in a different vehicle type than your class allows, or you fail a portion of the vision exam. It's usually possible to have a restriction removed, with additional testing or paperwork.

See our guide to endorsements and restrictions for more information.

Colorado Commercial Driver License Fees

The Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles currently charges the following fees for CDL-related products and processing:

  • Commercial driver's license: $15.50.
  • Commercial instruction permit: $16.80.
  • Duplicate CDL: $9.
    • Additional duplicates: $16.
  • Duplicate CLP: $9.
    • Additional duplicates: $16.
  • Knowledge test retest: $11.15.
  • Skills test retest: $15.

You may pay the fees using either:

  • Cash.
  • Check, made payable to the Colorado Department of Revenue.
  • Credit card: Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover Card.

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