Applying for a New CDL in Massachusetts
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With so much rich history in Massachusetts, it can be challenging to make enough time to see all of the cultural wonders that characterize the state. However, if you decide to apply for a MA commercial driver's license (CDL), you'll be able to experience Massachusetts in a way like never before.
The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV), in accordance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), has set out a series of laws and regulations to follow in order to get your CDL in Massachusetts.
Who Can Get a Massachusetts CDL?
Eligibility requirements for a MA commercial driver's license state that you must:
- Already possess a Class D Massachusetts driver's license.
- Be at least 18 years old*.
- Have the proper documentation (see below) to prove:
- Date of birth.
- Massachusetts residency.
- Provide a Social Security number.
*NOTE: You must be 21 years or older to operate a commercial vehicle on an interstate basis. All other drivers may only drive intrastate (within Massachusetts).
As you read above, in addition to your SSN you'll need to present documentation authenticating your identity when applying for your MA commercial driver's license.
The RMV provides a complete list of acceptable documents you can use. Here are a few examples for each point of identity you'll need to satisfy:
- Birth date:
- Massachusetts driver's license.
- Valid U.S. passport.
- U.S. birth certificate.
- Military ID.
- Valid U.S. passport.
- MA driver's license.
- Marriage certificate.
- Social Security card.
- MA residency.
- Pay stub from work.
- Massachusetts driver's license.
- Cell phone, credit card, or utility bill.
- Cancelled personal check.
NOTE: You cannot use the same piece of documentation to authenticate multiple items. For example, you can use a MA driver's license to prove either your date of birth or signature; not both.
MA Commercial Learner Permit
The first step to getting your Massachusetts CDL is getting your MA commercial learner's permit (CLP). When you're ready to apply for your CLP, schedule an appointment with your local Registry of Motor Vehicles office location.
Before leaving the house, make sure you bring the following to your appointment:
- Completed CDL Application (Form T21756), which includes:
- Medical certificate (if applicable).
- See below for details on medical requirements for CDLs.
- Proper documentation proving your birth date, signature, and MA residency (see above).
- Payment for the applicable fees (see below).
After arriving at the RMV office, you'll be required to:
- Consent to a driving record check dating back 10 years and covering every location you've held a driver's license in.
- Take a basic color vision test.
- Pass written tests specific to the classification, endorsement(s), and restriction(s) on your desired MA commercial driver license.
- Taking a commercial Driver's Ed course will give you optimal preparation for the RMV's written (and eventual behind-the-wheel) CDL tests.
When you've passed all of your written exams and received your commercial learner permit, give yourself a pat on the back—you're now a big step closer to getting your official Massachusetts CDL!
Your Massachusetts CLP is valid for 180 days. Before you get out on the road and begin to hone your skills as a commercial driver, let's make sure that you're familiar with the laws and restrictions surrounding your Massachusetts commercial learner's permit.
While operating a commercial vehicle you must:
- Only drive vehicles with the same classification as your MA commercial learner permit.
- Always be accompanied by a licensed supervisor who holds a CDL with the same classification and endorsement(s) listed on your CLP.
You can renew your commercial learner's permit once for an additional 180 days of behind-the-wheel practice. After that, you'll need to reapply for another Massachusetts CLP and take all of the applicable written CDL tests.
Obtaining a MA Commercial Driver License
Once you've had your Massachusetts CLP for at least 14 days and feel ready to take the RMV's behind-the-wheel exam, call the RMV contact center to schedule a testing appointment.
Before leaving for your appointment, make sure you have:
- A completed CDL Road Test Application (Form T21845).
- Your current:
- Class D driver's license.
- CDL permit with appropriate endorsement(s).
- Medical certificate or waiver (see below).
- A sponsor who's at least 21 years old, and holds the same CDL as what you're applying for.
- Payment for the $35 road testing fee.
The commercial vehicle you bring to your road test must:
- Be of the same classification and gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) as your prospective commercial driver's license allows.
- Pass a safety check (no hazardous/dangerous material onboard).
- Have valid vehicle registration and proof of insurance.
- Have authorization of permission to use the vehicle, if you're renting it.
Finally, for the actual CDL road test, you'll need to be prepared to perform the following:
- Pre-trip vehicle inspection.
- Locate and identify the functionality of different vehicle parts, inside and out.
- Off-street skills test.
- Includes backing up, parallel parking, and docking in an alley.
- On the road.
- Drive safely on public roads, demonstrating your ability to turn, brake, follow traffic laws, and more.
If this seems overwhelming, remember that enrolling in a MA behind-the-wheel CDL training program will give you ample preparation for all of the skills the Registry of Motor Vehicles expects you to execute.
When you successfully complete all parts of the RMV's CDL road test you'll receive your Massachusetts commercial driver's license! Now you can officially begin working and living out on the wide open road.
MA CDL Fees
The following are fees involved in applying for a Massachusetts CDL:
- General knowledge written exam—$30.
- Written endorsement tests:
- Taken WITH general written exam—$10 per test.
- Taken AFTER issue of learner's permit:
- $30 for first endorsement test.
- $10 for each additional test.
- CDL road test—$35.
Self-Certification & Medical Requirements
As part of applying for your Massachusetts CDL, you'll need to provide the Registry of Motor Vehicles with self-certification, and in some cases, medical certification.
Basically, the purpose of self-certification is to let the RMV know how you'll be operating your commercial vehicle. When you go to get your commercial learner's permit, you'll have to present your completed CDL Self-Certification Form (Form T21893).
To fill out the form you'll need to determine:
- Whether you're driving interstate (across multiple states) or intrastate (only in MA).
- If you're required by the FMCSA to carry a medical certificate.
CDL Medical Certificate
You are not required to get medical certification if you:
- Plan on operating a federal, state, or municipal commercial vehicle.
- Drive a commercial vehicle weighing 10,000 lbs. or less.
All other CDL applicants must present a medical certificate when applying for a CLP, meaning most CDL applicants will have to get medical certification.
For your medical certificate to be acceptable, you'll need to go to a certified Massachusetts medical examiner, approved by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. You'll be examined on the following criteria:
- Vision and ability to distinguish between colors.
- Risk or onset of diabetes.
- Heart/cardiovascular health.
- Missing limbs.
- Hearing abilities.
If the medical examiner diagnoses you with one of the above but still feels you'll be able to perform your commercial driver duties, you'll need to submit an Application for Intrastate Medical Waivers to Operate Class A, B, or C Commercial Motor Vehicles (Form 21556) to the Registry of Motor Vehicles. In other words, you'll need to submit a medical waiver which allows you to have an intrastate commercial driver's license.
If you'd like more information about getting your self-certification and medical certificate, take a look at the RMV's FAQ page on the subject.