Applying for a New CDL in New Jersey

Any trip along the New Jersey Turnpike or Garden State Parkway isn't complete without a spate of big trucks, buses, and tanks navigating the greater northeast corridor. If you'd like to join their ranks, driving commercial vehicles along the major roadways, you'll first have to get a commercial driver's license (CDL).

To do so, you'll have to follow all national regulations created by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) and get your license in New Jersey through the Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC).

* NOTE: For new residents to New Jersey looking to transfer an out-of-state CDL, please see Transferring a CDL to New Jersey below.

Who Can Get a NJ CDL?

To qualify for a commercial driver's license in New Jersey, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old.*
  • Already have a basic Class D New Jersey driver's license.
  • Have at least 20/40 vision in each eye (with or without corrective lenses).
  • Be able to recognize red, green, and amber colors.

*NOTE: Drivers under 21 years old will be restricted to driving commercial vehicles within New Jersey, per MVC and FMCSA regulations.

Commercial Learner's Permits in NJ

Before you can get a New Jersey CDL, you'll have to get your commercial learner's permit (CLP).

While it's not required by either the NJ MVC or the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, it is recommended by both agencies to first take a CDL education course, to help prepare you for the extensive testing process.

When you're ready, schedule an appointment with your local Motor Vehicle Commission office and:

  • Bring the following documents:
  • All proper medical paperwork (see below).
  • Your Social Security card.
  • Identification totaling 6 points, to include at least:
    • 1 primary identification.
    • 1 secondary identification.
    • Proof of address.
  • Take the vision test.
  • Submit to a driving record check.
  • Take all written exams and endorsement tests, if applicable.
    • Must have a passing grade of at least 80% on every test.
  • Purchase the $125 CLP examination test receipt.*
    • Also covers the commercial learner's permit fee.

Once you have completed the above, the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission will issue your NJ commercial learner's permit.

*NOTE: Your CLP exam receipt must be purchased BEFORE you can take your knowledge and endorsement exams (if applicable).

New Jersey CLP Restrictions

New Jersey commercial learner's permits are valid for 180 days. You'll need to wait at least 20 days before you can take your skills tests, during which time you may wish to consider enrolling in a CDL training course to ensure you're entirely prepared for your upcoming behind-the-wheel exams.

FMCSA regulations stipulate that, while using your CLP, you will only be able to drive:

  • On public roads.
  • With your Class D New Jersey driver's license on your person.
  • While accompanied by a full CDL holder.

New Jersey Commercial Driver Licenses

When the appropriate amount of time has passed and you feel comfortable driving with your CLP, you can apply for your full commercial driver license.

Schedule another appointment with the NJ MVC office and be prepared to take your skills tests, which include:

  • Pre-trip inspections.
  • Basic vehicle control.
  • Roadway operations.

You will need to bring with you:

  • Your commercial learner's permit.
  • Your NJ Class D driver's license.
  • The $42 CDL fee.
  • Any endorsement fees, if needed.

You should also plan to take your skills tests in the same type of vehicle you intend to operate with your commercial driver's license. If you don't, a restriction may be placed on your CDL.

After passing the tests and paying the fees, you'll receive your New Jersey commercial driver's license. The document will be valid for 4 years. Check out our guide to renewing your CDL for tips on what to do once it expires.

CDL Fees in New Jersey

The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission currently charges the following fees for commercial driver's licenses and CDL-related services:

  • CLP examination test receipt: $125.*
    • Duplicate test receipt: $3.
  • Commercial driver's license: $42.
    • Duplicate CDL: $11.
  • Endorsements: $2 each.

*NOTE: The fee accounts for your:

  • Written exams.
  • Commercial learner's permit.
  • Payment for medical form review.

The NJ MVC accepts most checks, cash, money order, and most credit cards for payment.

Transferring a CDL to New Jersey

You will need to transfer your out-of-state CDL within 60 days of establishing your New Jersey residency, if you plan on remaining in the state for more than 6 months and you want to use your commercial driver's license during that time.

To do so, you will need to visit a Motor Vehicle Commission office and:

  • Bring your medical examiner's certificate.
  • Complete a CDL Holder Self Certification form.
  • Pass the vision test.
  • Purchase the $10 CDL transfer permit.
  • Pay the CDL transfer fee and any required licensing fees.
    • Contact the MVC for fee details.
  • Retake HAZMAT and passenger endorsement tests, if applicable.
    • These endorsement transfers also require you to submit your fingerprints for a federal background check.

The NJ Motor Vehicle Commission should issue your transfer commercial driver's license if you follow all these steps.

Military CDL Skills Test Waivers

The New Jersey MVC has created a program to help more current or recently discharged service members acquire their CDL by waiving their commercial driver's license skills tests.

To qualify, you must:

  • Show proof that you currently are or were actively employed by the U.S. military within 12 months of your application date.
    • Your position must have required operation of military motor vehicles equivalent to commercial vehicles.
  • Provide your current or expired military commercial driver's license.
  • Have a valid NJ driver's license.
  • Complete the Application for Military Skills Test Waiver (Form CDL-SK TST WVR).
    • Must be signed by your commanding officer.

Bring the information with you when applying for your commercial learner's permit.

NOTE: Applicants must still pay all fees, submit all medical and identification documentation, and pass all written tests.

New Jersey CDL Medical Requirements

Before you can get your CDL, you will need to get the proper medical certifications. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires all commercial vehicle drivers to be deemed physically fit in order to receive their license.

You will need to:

Bring these forms with you when you apply for your CLP.

The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission has compiled an FAQ page for additional questions about the procedure.

*NOTE: Drivers who self-certify as Category 2 or Category 4 do not need to submit a Medical Examiner's Certificate UNLESS also applying for a passenger vehicle endorsement.

NJ Commercial Driver's License Classifications

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has designated several categories of commercial driver license, each of which allowing you to drive different types of vehicles. The classifications include:

  • Class A CDL: Allows you to drive a combination of vehicles over a certain weight, such as a tractor-trailer.
  • Class B CDL: Permits you to drive a single vehicle over a certain weight, like a box truck.
  • Class C CDL: Addresses all other types of commercial motor vehicles over a certain weight not covered by Class A or Class B CDLs.

The classification of commercial driver license you apply for may determine several things about your licensing process, such as the types of knowledge and skills tests you take and how much your CDL will cost.

For more information, see our guide to CDL classifications.

NJ CDL Endorsements & Restrictions

An endorsement is an extra authorization on your commercial driver's license that allows you to drive additional types of vehicles. You can obtain endorsements by taking additional written and skill exams and paying extra fees.

The FMCSA will allow you to get an endorsement to drive:

A restriction, on the other hand, is placed on your CDL to limit the types of vehicles you can drive. You might receive a restriction if:

  • You can't drive a manual transmission.
  • You can't operate air brakes.
  • You take your driving test in a different type of vehicle.

Additionally, in New Jersey, all drivers under 21 years old are restricted from obtaining HAZMAT or passenger endorsements.

You can typically have a restriction removed from your commercial driver license by filing additional paperwork, taking extra tests, or paying more fees.

Check out our guide to endorsements and restrictions for more information.

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