Applying for a New CDL in Delaware

Driving a commercial vehicle is a great way to make a living. But in order to do it, you'll have to first get a commercial driver's license (CDL).

That process is regulated nationally by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and you'll also have to follow the licensing process in Delaware, which is overseen by the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

CDL Eligibility Requirements in DE

To qualify for a Delaware commercial driver's license, you'll need to:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
    • Drivers under 21 years old will be restricted to operating commercial vehicles within DE only—called intrastate driving.
  • Have at least 1 year of driving experience.
  • Currently live in Delaware full-time.

Commercial Learner's Permits in DE

Before you can get licensed to sit behind the wheel of a big rig, you'll have to earn your commercial learner's permit (CLP).

The commercial driver license process is a rigorous one, and taking a CDL education course before starting it is a helpful way to make sure you're as successful as possible – although this is not required by either the FMCSA or the DE Division of Motor Vehicles.

Whenever you do feel ready to start, you'll have to visit your local Delaware DMV office, and:

  • Bring your Delaware driver's license.
  • Have all of the appropriate medical documents with you.
  • Fill out the DE CDL application that will be provided for you at the DMV. Among other things, the form certifies that:
    • You're telling the truth about all of your personal information.
    • You're consenting to a drug test.
  • Pay the $5 CLP fee.

You'll also have to take all of the written exams needed for the class of CDL you want and any endorsements you're applying for at this time.

Once you've completed all of the above, you'll get your commercial learner's permit from the DMV office—congratulations!

Delaware CLP Restrictions

Getting a commercial learner's permit is an important first step in the CDL process, but it comes with its own specific set of rules to follow:

  • Your DE CLP will be valid for 6 months.
  • You are only allowed to drive commercial vehicles while accompanied by a full-CDL holder.
  • You must stick to public roads only.
  • You must wait a minimum of 14 days before you can take your skills exam.

If you still don't feel ready to take the skills test when your permit expires, that's okay! The Delaware DMV allows you to renew your CLP once, making it good for another 6 months.

You'll have to apply for an extension at your local DMV office and pay a $5 fee to renew your commercial learner's permit.

Obtaining a DE Commercial Driver License

You're almost there—just one more step will turn that CLP into a CDL: the skills test.

You'll have to schedule this one with your local DE Division of Motor Vehicles office. Remember to make sure that at least 14 days have passed since you got your commercial learner's permit.

You'll also have to arrange to take the test in the same class of vehicle you're applying to drive with your commercial driver's license. Since you'll still technically be a CLP holder at this point, you'll need to have a CDL holder accompany you to the test.

The Delaware DMV will want to see a few documents from you before you start, including:

  • Your commercial learner's permit.
  • The vehicle's registration card.
  • A valid insurance card for the vehicle.
  • The CDL of the driver accompanying you.

The skills test consists of:

  • Pre-trip inspection.
  • Basic controls test.
  • On-road driving.

When you've successfully completed all of the above, you'll just have to pay the appropriate fee and you'll officially be a commercial driver license holder!

CDL Fees in Delaware

The Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles currently charges the following for CDLs and related services:

  • Commercial learner's permit: $5.
  • Commercial driver's license, valid for:
    • 5 years: $30.
    • 8 years: $48.
  • Endorsements: $5 each.

Delaware CDL Medical Requirements

Every CDL holder in Delaware needs to be deemed physically fit before they can apply for their commercial learner's permit.

To do this, you'll need to tell the state about the type of driving you expect to be doing as a commercial vehicle operator through a process called self-certification.

You can download a Medical Certification Affidavit and Self Certification Category Guide from the Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles website, and check out the Q&A page the agency has created to help you figure out which category of driving you'll fall under.

Based on your self-certification status, you may also have to fill out a Medical Examiner's Certificate (Form MCSA-5876). This will have to be done by a FMCSA-approved physician.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration also has a Q&A page about the medical qualification process, with more information.

Military CDL Test Waivers in DE

If you're a recent veteran or currently in the service and would like to apply for a CDL, you could take advantage of a program developed by the DE DMV and the FMCSA that allows certain applicants to have their skills test waived.

To qualify, you'll need to:

  • Be EITHER:
    • Currently enlisted.
    • Have been enlisted within 12 months of applying for the waiver.
  • Have some military experience operating commercial vehicles or the military equivalent.

To apply, you and your commanding officer will need to fill out the Application for Military Skills Test Waiver (CDL-SK TST WVR). Bring the completed form with you when applying for your commercial learner's permit.

NOTE: Eligible applicants will still need to pass all written exams and pay any applicable fees.

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