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Applying for a New CDL in Ohio

School buses, semi-trucks, and other commercial vehicles are larger and typically more difficult to drive than average cars or trucks, which is why you need a commercial driver's license (CDL) in order to legally operate such vehicles.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) determines the national policies regarding CDLs, and the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) is in charge of the licensing process in Ohio.

Who Can Get an Ohio CDL?

To qualify for an Ohio commercial driver license, you must:

  • Have a valid, non-CDL Ohio license.
  • Be at least 18 years old.

CDL holders under 21 years old will only be allowed to drive commercial vehicles within OH (i.e., intrastate), per FMCSA requirements.

Ohio Commercial Learner's Permits

Before you can apply for an OH commercial driver's license, you'll have to get your Ohio commercial learner's permit (CLP). While it's not required, it's recommended to first take a CDL training course, to prepare yourself for the various exams involved in the process.

When you're ready to take your written exams, schedule an appointment with your local Ohio BMV office. You will have to:

  • Provide the following:
    • All required medical documents.
    • The $27 commercial learner's permit fee.
    • Proper forms of identification, proving your:
      • Full legal name.
      • Date of birth.
      • Social Security number (SSN).
      • U.S. citizenship/permanent legal presence.
      • Residential Ohio address.
        • See “Proofs of Identity" below for more information.
  • Submit to a vision exam.
  • Submit to a driving record check
    • Your record for the past 10 years in all 50 states and the District of Columbia will be under review.

Proofs of Identity

To satisfactorily show these facts, the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles requires CDL applicants to bring identification that covers all 5 elements:

  • Full legal name
  • Date of birth
  • Legal presence
  • Social Security Number
  • Ohio street Address

Before you head to the BMV check the list of acceptable documents to make sure you have the appropriate proof of identity.

*NOTE: The OH Bureau of Motor Vehicles will accept an Ohio driver's license, state ID card, or commercial driver's license that is current OR expired less than 6 months as sufficient proof of all elements of identification.

OH CLP Restrictions

After passing the written and vision exams, supplying the BMV with the proper documents, and paying the fee, you will be issued your Ohio commercial learner's permit.

Your OH CLP will be valid for 6 months and you will be allowed to renew it 1 time before it expires. A renewal fee may apply.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires all commercial license permit holders to drive on public roads only, and only while a full CDL holder is in the vehicle.

CLP holders must often carry their commercial learner's permit for a certain period of time before they can schedule a skills test and get their commercial driver license. The FMCSA sets its federal standard at 14 days, but this could be different in your state.

Call your local BMV office for details on what Ohio requires for CLP holders; for more on FMCSA standards, please see our page on CDL federal requirements.

Obtaining Your Ohio Commercial Driver's License

To convert your CLP to a CDL, you'll have to return to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles office to take your skills/road test. These types of tests are typically appointment only.

Bring with you:

  • Your Ohio commercial learner's permit.
  • Your Ohio driver's license.
  • Payment for:
    • The $42 first-time CDL fee.
    • Your testing fee (see below).

Arrange to take the test in the same type of vehicle you hope to drive with your CDL. If you can not, a restriction may be placed on your commercial driver license.

The skills/road test includes a:

  • Pre-trip inspection.
    • You will have 30 minutes to complete this.
  • Basic maneuverability test.
    • You will have 40 minutes to complete this.
    • Tests your ability to maneuver a commercial vehicle around other objects.
  • Road test.
    • Tests basic road skills such as turning, stopping/starting the vehicle, and general driving behaviors.

You can either take this test through the BMV or a third party testing center. Fees vary based on location:

  • State-owned testing facilities:
    • Pre-trip inspection fee: $10.
    • Basic maneuverability test: $10.
    • Road test: $30.
  • Third-party testing facilities:
  • Pre-trip inspection: $20.
  • Basic maneuverability test: $20.
  • Road test: $45.

If you fail any part of the test, you must wait at least 1 week to try again.

Ohio CDLs for Military Members

If you're currently enlisted or have left the military in the past 12 months, you may be eligible for a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration program allowing certain service members to waive their CDL skills tests.

To qualify, you will need to have some experience driving commercial vehicles or their equivalent while in the military.

You and your commanding officer will also have to fill out the Application for Skills Test Waiver Military Exception (Form BMV 2070).

Bring the completed form to your initial appointment with the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

*NOTE: Qualifying military members will still have to take all written exams and pay all applicable fees.

For more information on the program, see our guide to the CDL skills test waiver.

OH CDL Farm Waivers

Ohio offers restricted CDLs to certain drivers, allowing them to operate commercial vehicles seasonally. The restricted Class B is valid no more than 180 days in a period of 12 months.

If you're interested in this type of commercial driver's license from the OH BMV, you may be eligible to have your written and skills exams waived if you work with:

  • Farm retail outlets and suppliers.
  • Agri-chemical businesses.
  • Custom harvesters.
    OR
  • Livestock feeders.

Eligible applicants must:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • NOT have any other type of commercial driver license.

To apply for the waiver, you will need to:

Mail the application and the money to:

Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Attn: CDL UNIT
P.O. Box 16784
Columbus, OH 43216

*NOTE: You must submit your application no more than 90 days before the seasonal period begins.

Medical Requirements for OH CDLs

Medical Self-Certification

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires all CDL holders to be medically certified before receiving their commercial driver's license.

To receive your certification, you'll have to schedule an appointment with a CDL-certified doctor and have him or her help you fill out:

You will also have to report to the state the type of commercial vehicle driving you intend to do, through a process called self-certification.

Once you receive medical certification, you'll have to obtain a new physical examination at least every 2 years.

You will get a medical certificate that you must keep with you at all times while you're operating a commercial motor vehicle.

For more information, you can call the Ohio FMCSA office at (614) 280-5657 or visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's medical certification page.

OH Vision Requirements

All Ohio CDL drivers must pass a vision test in order to receive their commercial driver's license. Applicants are required to have:

  • Vision in both eyes.
  • A minimum acuity of 20/40 in each eye.
    • Can be with or without lenses.
  • A visual field of no less than 70 degrees.

If you're not able to meet the minimum visual acuity standards, you may receive a restriction on your commercial driver's license. See the OH BMV's full visual standards chart for more information.

*NOTE: If you have a K restriction on your license, which prohibits you from driving a commercial vehicle outside of Ohio, and you want to drive for a company regulated by the Public Commission Utilities of Ohio (PUCO), you will need to obtain a vision waiver from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. For more information, see PUCO's medical requirements page.

Commercial Driver License Classifications

The FMCSA has established several categories of commercial driver's license, each of which allowing the holder to drive different types of vehicles.

The CDL classes include:

  • Class A CDLs—Lets you drive multiple vehicles over a certain weight, like a tractor-tralier.
  • Class B CDLs—Permits you to drive a single vehicle over a certain weight, like a straight truck.
  • Class C CDLs—Covers all other types of vehicle over a certain weight not addressed by Class A or Class B CDLs.

Depending on the type of commercial driver license you're applying for, you may have to take different written or skills exams and/or pay different fees.

Check out our page on CDL Classifications for the federally-stated requirements for Class A, B, and C commercial driver's licenses.

OH CDL Endorsements & Restrictions

An endorsement is an additional certification that allows you to operate a larger number of commercial vehicles. By taking extra written tests and paying the proper fees, you can earn endorsements that will let you drive:

On the other hand, restrictions can be placed on your commercial driver license, which would restrict the number of commercial vehicles you're permitted to drive. You may receive a restriction if:

  • You can't operate full air brakes.
  • You can't drive a manual transmission.

For more information, check out our guide to endorsements and restrictions.

Commercial Driver's License Fees In Ohio

The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles currently charges the following for commercial driver licenses and related services:

  • Commercial learner's permit: $27
  • Commercial driver's license: $42.
  • Endorsements: $43 each.
  • Farm waiver: $25
  • Duplicate/replacement CDL: $27.
  • CDL renewal: $44.75.

Testing fees vary, depending on if you choose to test at a state-owned or third-party facility. Testing fees include:

  • State-owned testing facilities:
    • Pre-trip inspection fee: $10.
    • Basic maneuverability test: $10.
    • Road test: $30.
  • Third-party testing facilities:
    • Pre-trip inspection: $20.
    • Basic maneuverability test: $20.
    • Road test: $45.

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