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Applying for a New CDL in Florida

If you're interested in driving a semi-truck or commercial vehicle for a living, you'll first have to get your commercial driver's license (CDL). Since driving larger vehicles is more difficult than operating the average car or truck, CDL holders must go through several additional rounds of testing and training in order to obtain their licenses.

The commercial licensing process is primarily regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), although in Florida, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV or FLHSMV) also dictates some rules and requirements.

Who Can Get a FL CDL?

In order to obtain a commercial driver license in FL, you must:

  • Already have your non-commercial Class E driver's license.
  • Be at least 18 years old.*

*NOTE: In Florida, commercial vehicle drivers under 21 years old may only drive within the state.

The DHSMV will typically recognize out-of-state or Canadian CDLs; however, if you have a HAZMAT endorsement from another state, you will have to reapply in Florida to maintain that designation. See the section on Endorsements and Restrictions for more information.

Applying for a Florida CDL

You will earn your FL commercial driver's license in several steps, including:

  • Obtaining your commercial learner's permit (CLP).
  • Taking a road test for your Florida CDL.

Before applying for your commercial driver license, you may want to look into CDL training courses. While they aren't required, they could be a big help in preparing for and passing your CDL tests.

Do some research to decide the type of commercial driver's license you want to get and whether you want to apply for any endorsements. Once you figure out how you want to proceed, make an appointment with your local FLHSMV office. Make sure to bring original documents that can prove your:

  • Identity.
  • Social Security number.
  • Residential address.

If you've legally changed your name, such as after a marriage or divorce, you will need to bring the appropriate documents to prove the change.

Obtaining a FL Commercial Learner's Permit

A Florida commercial learner's permit (CLP) will only allow you to practice driving on public roads with a qualified CDL holder riding with you.

To acquire one, you will need to:

  • Possess a Florida driver's license.
  • Pass the appropriate knowledge exams.
  • Pass a vision test.
  • Provide proof of identity and residency.
    • This will likely be your current driver's license, but check with the FLHSMV to be certain of what they require.
  • Pass the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles medical exam.
  • Submit to a driving record review.
    • Your driving record for the past 10 years will be up for examination.
  • Pay the appropriate fee.

Getting a Florida CDL

Once you've had your CLP for at least 14 days, you will be eligible to take the appropriate skills tests, which include:

  • Vehicle inspections tests.
  • Basic controls testing.
  • A commercial driving road test.

After successfully passing these exams, take that documentation to your local FLHSMV office for processing in order to receive your full commercial driver license.

Military CDL Holders in Florida

If you have current or previous military commercial driver's license experience and you want to apply for a FL CDL, you must:

  • Pass all knowledge and endorsement exams required of the type of Florida CDL you're applying for.
  • Have your commanding officer or designee complete a Certification for Waiver of Skill Test for Military Personnel (Form HSMV 71054).
  • Form must be completed and submitted no later than 90 days after your separation from the service.
  • You may submit the form while you're on active duty.

Your military experience will allow you to skip the skills exam only if you complete the process and have your CDL issued within 120 days of leaving the service.

For further details, visit our Military Veterans CDL Waiver page.

Types of Commercial Driver Licenses

There are several types or classes of commercial driver's license maintained by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, including:

  • Class A CDL—Needed for driving a combination of vehicles, such as a truck with a trailer attached, that are over a certain weight.
  • Class B CDL—Used for driving single vehicles that are over a certain weight.
  • Class C CDL—Needed for driving vehicles over a certain weight not covered by Class A or Class B commercial driver's licenses.

For more general information on commercial driver license types, see our page on CDL Classifications.

Endorsements & Restrictions

An endorsement is an additional certification allowing you to drive specific types of commercial vehicles. The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will allow you to have an endorsement for:

Restrictions may be placed on your CDL to prevent you from driving certain vehicles, such as:

  • Vehicles with a manual transmission.
  • Vehicles with full air brakes.
  • Passenger vehicles.

For more detailed information on how endorsements or restrictions work, visit our guide on Endorsements & Restrictions.

CDL Testing Requirements in FL

Depending on the class of CDL you're applying for, you will have to take and pass different knowledge and skill tests designated by the DHSMV.

A general knowledge test is needed when applying for all class types. Further requirements for the different classes are as follows:

  • Class A CDL:
    • Combinations vehicle test.
    • Air brakes testing.
    • Pre-trip test.
    • Basic skills exam.
    • Commercial driver's license road test.
  • Class B CDL:
    • Pre-trip test.
    • Basic skills exam.
    • CDL road test.
    • Air brakes testing, if applicable.
  • Class C CDL:
    • Commercial driver license road test.
    • Air brakes testing, if applicable.
    • Pre-trip test, if applicable.
    • Basic skills test, if applicable.

For all CDL class types, if you choose to add any endorsements to your commercial driver's license, further exams will also be required in addition to the class-specific exams listed above.

Florida CDL Medical Exams

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires all CDL holders to have a current Medical Examiner's Certificate to maintain their license.

The process includes getting a physical by a qualified physician and filling out the medical history portion of the Medical Examination Report of Commercial Driver Fitness Determination (Form 649-F).

You will also have to go through a self-certification process, where you inform the FL DHSMV office of your medical status. For more information on the Florida self-certification process, check out the DHSMV's FAQ page on the subject.

FL Commercial Driver License Fees

The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles currently charges the following FL CDL fees for commercial driver's licenses and related documents:

  • Commercial driver's license (original or renewal): $75.
  • Endorsements: $7 each.
  • Knowledge exam retest: $10.
  • Skill exam retest: $20.

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