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Applying for a New CDL in Hawaii

Hawaii may be better known for its tropical beauty than its trucking business, but earning a commercial driver's license (CDL) from the Aloha State will give you a chance to hit the roads of the mainland—as well as drive shipments around the islands.

To get one, you'll have to abide by all of the national regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and follow all of the licensing procedures for your specific county in HI, including:

  • Hawaii County—Vehicle Registration and Licensing Division (VRLD).
  • Honolulu County—Department of Customer Services (CSD).
  • Kauai County—Department of Finance (DOF).
  • Maui County—Department of Finance (DOF).

Each of these departments is also part of the larger Hawaii Department of Transportation (HIDOT), which regulates laws across all counties of Hawaii.

CDL Eligibility Requirements in HI

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

  • Be at least 21 years old to operate any type of commercial vehicle.
  • Have a valid, non-commercial Hawaii driver's license.
  • Provide a passport-sized, color photo of your face.
  • Show proof of your:
    • Age.
    • Identity.
    • Hawaii residency.
    • Social Security number.
    • Legal presence in the U.S. (for HAZMAT applicants only).

For more information about which paperwork you'll need to bring with you, check out HIDOT's list of acceptable documents, which can be used in every county.

HI Commercial Learner's Permits

Before you get your commercial driver's license, you'll have to start out with your commercial learner's permit (CLP).

The process is a bit complex, so taking a CDL education course first might be a helpful way to ensure you're as successful as possible, although this is not required by either the FMCSA or any of the county licensing departments.

When you're ready, schedule an appointment at your local CDL office and:

  • Submit your:
  • Pass the:
    • Vision screening.
    • Written knowledge exams for the CDL classification you're applying for, plus for any endorsements you want to add to your commercial driver license.
  • Pay the appropriate fee.
    • See below for county-by-county fee breakdown.

After all of the above has been completed, you'll be issued your very own commercial learner's permit!

Your permit will be valid for 1 year, so you'll have plenty of time to practice before taking your skills test.

CLP Restrictions in Hawaii

Getting a CLP is a great first step, but you'll have to follow a few additional Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations while using it.

With your commercial learner's permit, you'll be restricted to driving:

  • On public roads only.
  • While accompanied by a CDL holder licensed to operate the same class of vehicle.

You'll also have to wait a certain period of time before you can take the skills test to earn your full commercial driver's license. The federal waiting period is 14 days, but this could be different for you. Make sure to check with your local licensing center about any specific waiting periods before you can take a skills test.

No matter where you are in Hawaii, your commercial learner's permit will be valid for 1 year, so you'll have plenty of time to practice for your skills exam.

Getting Your Hawaii CDL

To turn that CLP into a CDL, there's only one step left: the skills exam.

When the required amount of time has passed and you feel comfortable to proceed, make an appointment with your local Hawaii CDL office.

You'll have to arrange to take the test in the same class of vehicle you hope to operate with your commercial driver license. Since you'll technically still be a CLP holder, you'll also need to be accompanied to the test by a full CDL holder.

When you arrive to your appointment, make sure to bring your:

If the vehicle is exempt from an inspection sticker, you'll need to present the exemption form.

Once all of the above has been sorted, you can concentrate on the skills exam itself, which consists of several parts, including the:

  • Pre-trip inspection.
  • Basic vehicle control.
  • On-road driving test.

After successfully completing each section, you'll be issued your own HI commercial driver's license. Congratulations!

*NOTE: Hawaii County applicants will not need the fee at this time. See below for more information.

Hawaii County Skills Tests

The skills exam process looks the same in Hawaii county, with the exception of when and where you receive your actual commercial driver license.

After passing each part of the skills test, you'll will have to return to the Driver License office with your:

  • Hawaii driver's license.
  • Commercial learner's permit.
  • $50 skills exam fee.
  • Envelope holding your skills exam scores.

At this point, you will be issued your commercial driver license.

CDL Fees in Hawaii

Each county in Hawaii has control over their commercial driver licensing fees. The current fees for CDLs and other related services are outlined below.

Hawaii County

  • Knowledge test: $15.
  • Special knowledge test (for endorsements): $5 each.
  • Commercial learner's permit: $30.
  • Skills test: $50.
  • Commercial driver's license—determined by license length and your age:
    • 4 years (21 years old to 24 years old): $20.
    • 8 years (25 years old to 71 years old): $40.
    • 2 years (72 years old or older): $10.

Honolulu County

  • Knowledge test: $15.
  • Endorsements: $5 each.
  • Commercial learner's permit: $30.
  • Skills test: $50.
  • Commercial driver's license: $40.

Kauai County

  • Knowledge test: $15.
  • Commercial learner's permit: $30.
  • Skills test: $50.
  • Commercial driver's license—determined by license length and your age:
    • 4 years (21 years old to 24 years old): $20.
    • 8 years (25 years old to 71 years old): $40.
    • 2 years (72 years old and older): $10.

Maui County

  • Knowledge test: $15.
  • Endorsements: $5 each.
  • Commercial learner's permit: $30.
  • Skills exam:
    • Vehicle inspection: $10.
    • Basic control test: $20.
    • Road test: $20.
  • Commercial driver's license: $40.

CDL Medical Requirements

No matter where you live in Hawaii, you'll have to be considered physically fit for the job before you even apply for your commercial learner's permit.

To be medically certified for your Hawaii CDL, you'll need to fill out:

Remember, you'll need to take care of all of your medical paperwork before scheduling your initial appointment with your local licensing office.

For more information on CDL medical requirements in Hawaii, check out HI Department of Transportation's medical requirements FAQ.

CDL Military Testing Waivers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has created a program to help states help military members more easily obtain a commercial driver's license by waiving the skills exam.

This program is deployed differently in each state, so make sure to contact your local CDL office for details on how this may apply to you as a Hawaii veteran.

The general federal guidelines require that you:

  • Are currently enlisted OR have left the service within 1 year of applying.
  • Have at least 2 years of experience driving commercial vehicles for the military.

For more information on federal eligibility requirements and how to apply, check out our guide to the CDL skills test waiver for military members. But remember—Hawaii's rules may be different, so check with your local office.

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