Applying for a New CDL in New York

Driving a semi-truck, school bus, or other type of commercial vehicle is typically more difficult than operating an average car or truck. That's why in order to legally do so, you must first obtain a commercial driver's license (CDL).

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires that you pass certain additional knowledge and skills tests when applying for a CDL. In New York, these tests are administered by the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Who Can Get a CDL In NY?

In order to be eligible to apply for a commercial driver's license in New York State (NYS), you must:

  • Already have a valid non-CDL driver's license from any state.
  • Be able to provide proof of identity and legal presence in the United States.

If you already have a commercial driver license and want to transfer it to NY, you'll need to:

  • Surrender your out-of-state CDL to the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles.
  • Provide fingerprints for federal and New York State background checks.

Drivers with a hazardous materials (HAZMAT) endorsement must retake the hazardous materials knowledge test in order to maintain the endorsement in New York.

Getting a NY Commercial Learner's Permit

Before you can get your commercial driver license in NY, you will need to apply for a commercial learner's permit (CLP).

To do so, you will have to:

  • Pass the appropriate written tests for the type of CDL you want.
    • You'll be taking the tests for both your CLP and your CDL at the same time.
  • Submit to a driving record check.
    • Your record for the past 10 years in all 50 states and the District of Columbia will be reviewed.
  • Pay the $10 application fee.*

*NOTE: If you need to take any written tests after your initial CLP appointment, there will be an additional $5 fee per test.

Schedule an appointment with your local NYS DMV office, and bring with you:

  • Your valid driver's license.
  • Proof that you're medically qualified to drive a commercial vehicle.
  • Proof of:
    • U.S. citizenship.
    • New York residency.
    • Your legal name.
      • The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles uses a point-based system to to prove identity and residency in the state. See the NYS DMV guide to proofs of identity for more information.

CLP Parameters

While you hold a commercial learner's permit in New York, you will only be permitted to drive if a full CDL holder is in the vehicle with you and if you stay on public roads.

Before you can apply for your NY commercial driver license, you must have your CLP for at least 14 days.

Obtaining a NY Commercial Driver License

After you've had your CLP for the appropriate amount of time, you can apply for your commercial driver's license in New York.

To get your CDL, you'll have to:

  • Pass the appropriate skills tests for the CDL class you're applying for.
    • Schedule your road test through the online system provided by the NYS DMV.
  • Pay the $40 testing fee.*
    • You may pay this fee in person after receiving your CLP or online through the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles.
    • Fee must be paid before you take the skills/road test.

You will need to take the skills/road tests in a vehicle that is the same type that you'll be driving with your CDL. If you can not take the test in an appropriate vehicle, there may be restrictions added to your commercial driver license.

Once you've successfully passed all tests and paid all fees, the New York State DMV will issue you a temporary commercial driver's license, which is valid for 90 days.

You should receive your photo CDL in the mail within 4 weeks.

*NOTE: This fee is for taking the road test only. The cost of getting a CDL from the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles is a separate charge and depends on:

  • Your current driver's license class and expiration date.
  • The date you receive your new commercial driver's license.

New York Military CDL Holders

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration allows for certain veterans or service members to forego the skills/road test portion of the CDL licensing process.

To qualify for the program in New York, you must:

  • Have a valid New York State driver's license.
  • Be EITHER:
    • Currently employed by the military.
    • Have left the service within 1 year of the date of your application.
  • Have at least 2 years experience driving commercial vehicles in the military.
    • Experience must be with the same type of vehicles you expect to drive with your NY CDL.

To apply, bring the following to the NYS DMV:

NOTE: Qualifying military members will still have to pay the appropriate fees and pass all knowledge and written tests, but road test fees will be waived.

For more information, check out our page on the FMCSA skills test waiver.

Commercial Driver's License Classes

The FMCSA has created several CDL class designations based on the type of vehicles they allow holders to drive. These classes include:

  • Class A CDL—Needed for driving multiple vehicles over a certain weight, such as a tractor-trailer.
  • Class B CDL—Used for operating a single vehicle over a certain weight, like a box truck.
  • Class C CDL—Required for driving certain other vehicles not covered by Class A or Class B CDLs.

Before you apply for your CDL or CLP, you should determine which class of commercial driver's license you want, since different knowledge or skills tests may be required for each type.

For more information on the different classes of CDL, see our guide on CDL classifications.

Endorsements & Restrictions

Endorsements are additional certifications that may be added to your CDL if you pass the appropriate knowledge or skills tests. Among other designations, endorsements will allow you to:

  • Drive a HAZMAT vehicle.
  • Operate a vehicle that carries over a certain number of passengers.
  • Drive a double or triple trailer.

A restriction could be placed on your commercial driver's license to indicate that you are not qualified to operate certain vehicles. This typically happens if you fail a portion of your medical requirements, or you test for your CDL in a vehicle inappropriate for your license class.

You can often have a restriction removed from your CDL if you take additional tests or provide certain paperwork.

Check out our page on endorsements and restrictions to find out more on how they work.

New York CDL Medical Exams

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires every CDL holder to be deemed physically fit to operate a commercial vehicle before receiving his or her commercial driver's license.

To be considered medically qualified, you must complete a Medical Examination Report (Form 649-F), which needs to be filled out by both you and your physician.

You'll also have to declare to the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles that you're medically fit through a process called self-certification.

Once you've been physically cleared by a doctor and the state, you'll be issued a Medical Examiner's Certificate, which you must keep on your person at all times while operating a commercial vehicle.

For more information on how the medical certification process works in NY, visit the New York State DMV's page on CDL medical requirements.

CDL Fees in New York

The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles currently charges the following fees for CDL-related transactions:

  • Commercial learner's permit application fee: $10.
    • Additional tests taken after initial CLP appointment: $5 each.
  • CDL road test: $40.

The fee for your NY commercial driver's license varies depending on:

  • Your current license's class and expiration date.
  • Your CDL date of issue.

Contact your local DMV office for more details.

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