Applying for a New CDL in Indiana

Licensing Process

You must have a valid Indiana operator's license.

You must also be able to provide proof of your Social Security which may include:

  • Social Security card
  • A NUMI report that's been stamped and issued by the Social Security Administration in Baltimore, MD
  • A signed and stamped letter certifying your number from an Indiana Social Security Administration District Office.

You'll also need to pass a Department of Transportation physical examination. (You'll need to pass this exam every two years after receiving your license, too.) You may pick up an exam form at any license agency, or download a Medical Examination Report (Form 649-F).


To obtain your learner's permit, head to any license agency, and take the general knowledge written test. You may also have to take additional tests depending on what sort of vehicle you'll be driving. Here's a list of the extra tests and who must take them:

  • Passenger transport test―all bus drivers
  • Air brakes test―anyone driving a vehicle with air brakes
  • Combination vehicle test―anyone driving a combination vehicle
  • Hazardous materials test―anyone driving a hazardous materials vehicle
  • Tanker test―anyone hauling liquids in bulk
  • Doubles/triples test―anyone pulling a double or triple trailer
  • School bus endorsement―all school bus drivers

After you've passed all the necessary written tests, show:

  • Your driver's license.
  • Proof of Social Security number.
  • Completed physical examination form.
  • Proofs of your Indiana residency.

Road Test

Once you are ready to get your license, you'll need to pass a road skills test in a vehicle representative of the class of license you're attempting to obtain.

The testing is conducted at state-approved testing sites, and will include a pre-trip inspection test, a basic control skills test, and a road trip test. If you pass all the tests, you'll be given a validated certificate form.

Lastly, take this certificate, your driver's license, CDL permit, proof of Social Security number and physical examination form to any license agency, and after paying any applicable fees, you'll be the proud owner of a CDL license that'll expire in four years.

New Federal Requirements

You must self-certify your type of vehicle operation with the Indiana BMV.. This means you must self-certify one of the following driving categories:

  • Non-Excepted Interstate
  • Excepted Interstate
  • Non-Excepted Intrastate
  • Excepted Intrastate

If you choose Non-Excepted Interstate, you must provide the BMV with a federal medical certificate.

Federal Guidelines

The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 was designed to improve highway safety. Its purpose was to ensure that drivers of commercial vehicles are qualified to drive them, and to remove unsafe drivers from the highways. The Act didn't require federal driver licensing―states still license commercial drivers―but it established minimum standards that states must meet when issuing commercial driver's licenses (CDLs). It required states to upgrade their existing programs to follow the new federal standards.

Before the Act was passed, many commercial vehicle drivers operated vehicles they were not properly trained on or qualified to drive. Even in states that had separate license classes, drivers were not necessarily tested in the types of vehicles they would be driving. States must now test commercial drivers according to federal standards, to ensure that drivers know how to operate the trucks or buses they intend to drive.

CDL Classes for Every State

The Act established separate classes of commercial driver's licenses. Every state issues licenses in these categories:

  • Class A: Any combination of vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GWVR) of 26,001 or more pounds, provided the GVWR of the vehicle(s) being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Class B: Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing a vehicle not in excess of 10,000 pounds GVWR.
  • Class C: Any single vehicle, or combination of vehicles, that does not meet the definition of Class A or Class B, but is either designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, or is placarded for hazardous materials.

Many states make exceptions for farm vehicles, snow removal vehicles, fire and emergency vehicles, and some military vehicles.

Minimum Training Requirements

There are no federal standards in place for on-the-road commercial driver training. The government only requires that you take and pass your CDL knowledge (written) and skills (driving) tests. Longer-combination-vehicle (LCV) drivers must receive training in driver wellness, driver qualifications, hours of service, and whistleblower protection.

Hazmat Background Checks

Under the USA PATRIOT Act, commercial drivers transporting hazardous materials (hazmat) must pass a background records check and be fingerprinted. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is responsible for conducting the background checks for all commercial drivers with hazmat endorsements or who want to add hazmat endorsements to their licenses. The TSA developed this program to carry out the USA PATRIOT Act mandate and protect citizens from the potential threat of terrorists using hazmat cargo.

If the TSA disqualifies you because of your background, you can appeal their finding or seek a waiver. However, if you are found guilty of a disqualifying crime, you must declare any disqualifying conditions and surrender your hazmat endorsement (if you already have it) to your state's department of motor vehicles or other licensing agency.

Applying for a Hazardous Materials Background Check

After you get a CDL, apply for a background check (also known as a "threat assessment") from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) if you'll be obtaining a hazardous materials endorsement. You may do this online or by contacting a TSA agent. They will ask for:

  • Your CDL or CDL permit number.
  • Proof of legal status.
  • Proof of Identity.

Next, the TSA will ask you to go to a fingerprint office to give your fingerprints. The TSA and the FBI will conduct background investigations. You will need to pay various fees.

Disqualifying Crimes

Conviction of any of the following crimes will disqualify you from being eligible for a hazmat endorsement:

  • Terrorism
  • Murder
  • Assault with intent to murder
  • Espionage
  • Sedition
  • Kidnapping or hostage-taking
  • Treason
  • Rape or aggravated sexual abuse
  • Extortion
  • Robbery
  • Arson
  • Bribery
  • Smuggling
  • Immigration violations
  • RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) violations
  • Unlawful possession, use, sale, distribution, or manufacture of an explosive device, firearm, or other weapon
  • Distribution of, intent to distribute, possession, or importation of a controlled substance
  • Dishonesty, fraud, or misrepresentation, including identity fraud
  • Crimes involving a severe transportation security incident
  • Improper transportation of a hazardous material
  • Conspiracy or attempt to commit any of these crimes

Remember that your state also has its own guidelines that may be stricter than the federal ones. For more information, consult your employer, the DMV, or the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association.

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