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Commercial Driver FAQs in Texas

The world of commercial driving can be tough to navigate at times. Below are some frequently asked questions regarding CDLs in Texas—hopefully the answers will pave a smooth road to get you on your way.

CDL Eligibility and Application

Who is required to have a CDL in Texas?

In accordance with federal law, anyone who operates a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) must have a commercial driver's license (CDL).

The only exceptions to this are:

  • Farmers operating a vehicle for agricultural purposes 150 air miles from his or her farm.
  • Operators of emergency vehicles, such as a fire truck or ambulance, in emergency situations.
  • Military personal who are operating military vehicles.
  • Drivers of some recreational vehicles, such as an RV.

How do I apply for a CDL in Texas?

In Texas, the application process can vary slightly depending on the endorsements required for your CDL. At a minimum, you can expect to:

For the full process, please visit our guide to Applying for a Texas CDL.

What tests do I have to pass to get my commercial license?

In addition to filling out the Texas Commercial Driver License Application (Form CDL-1) and the corresponding forms for each endorsement you plan to test for, you will be required to pass the following:

  • A knowledge test with a score of 80% or higher.
    • This is a multiple-choice test that must be taken prior to the skills and road tests.
  • A safety inspection.
    • A test examiner will inspect your test vehicle prior to the road test. This is done to:
      • Certify equipment requirements.
      • Determine liability insurance.
      • Certify registration requirements.
  • A skills test to determine your operating skills behind the wheel.
  • A road test to determine the safe operation of the vehicle.

If any portion of any test is failed, a restriction may be placed on your license. To remove a restriction, you must undergo further testing and pay additional fees.

Classifications & Endorsements

What are the differences between Class A, B, and C commercial driver's licenses?

CDL classifications are determined by the type of vehicle you intend to operate. These vehicles (and CDL classes) are determined by vehicle weight, towing weight, and/or materials hauled.

Visit our guide to CDL Classifications for details on each of these class types.

Do I need an endorsement on my CDL to haul hazardous materials?

Yes, you will need to obtain a specific HAZMAT endorsement and ensure that you have the proper license class to haul hazardous materials. Visit our HAZMAT Endorsement and CDL Classifications pages for details.

In addition to a hazardous materials endorsement, other endorsements may also be required depending on the type of vehicle you intend to operate. Below are a few of the more common endorsements you may need:

  • T: Operating double or triple trailers.
  • N: Tankers.
  • H: Hazardous materials.
  • X: Tankers hauling hazardous materials (N and H combination).

Our page on CDL Endorsements & Restrictions has details.

CMV Operation & Certification

Can I have a Texas commercial driver's license and live in another state?

No. All drivers who have a Texas CDL must have residency in Texas.

Can I operate a commercial vehicle with a commercial learner's permit?

Yes, but you may not operate the vehicle alone or with any passengers other than a licensed CDL operator, who is required to instruct you from the front seat.

What's the difference between an interstate and an intrastate CDL?

Interstate versus intrastate comes down to where you will be driving to and from.

  • Interstate commerce includes transportation across state lines within the U.S.
  • Intrastate commerce is restricted to transportation of a product or property within a single state's boundaries.

In the state of Texas, the requirements to obtain an intrastate CDL are less stringent than they are for an interstate commercial driver's license.

Are all drivers in Texas required to submit a self-certifying medical form?

Yes. Self-certifying determines whether or not you will need to see a qualifying physician so that he or she can conduct a Medical Examination Report. This determination is based on the type of vehicle you intend to drive and where you'll be driving (interstate or intrastate).

Is a medical examination required to get my commercial driver's license?

It depends. By federal law, all drivers of commercial vehicles operating across state lines (interstate commerce) are required to to see qualified physician, who will fill out a Medical Examination Report. This will determine whether or not you are physically able to perform the work necessary of a commercial driver. If you operate strictly in the state of Texas (intrastate commerce), you may not need a to see a physician for a physical examination.

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