Commercial Driver FAQs in Texas

It seems to have gotten more difficult to get a commercial driver's license in Texas. Why is that?

In recent years, and particularly after 9/11, increased national security measures have tightened the requirements for obtaining and keeping a commercial drivers license (CDL). This affects all states, not just Texas.

Generally, commercial license applicants and license holders will have to go in person to a driver license office to apply for and to renew or make any changes to their licenses.

That's only the beginning. For detailed information about the stricter requirements, including new regulations concerning carriers of hazardous materials, read the federal guidelines.

What do I need in order to apply for a Texas CDL?

Applying for a new CDL is a little complicated, so make sure you can provide the following:

  1. Present proof of identity. This consists of either one piece of primary identification, two pieces of secondary identification, or multiple pieces of supporting identification. The first two categories are clear-cut, but supporting identification will be accepted only at the discretion of the license examiner.
  2. Provide proof of your Social Security number.
  3. If you own your own commercial vehicle, proof of registration and liability insurance must be provided.
  4. You must complete the necessary application forms at the driver license office. These forms may vary depending on the types of endorsements you seek.
  5. Pay the required fee. Each special endorsement and any related testing may require its own fee.
  6. Pass the vision exam.
  7. Pass the written tests, including any special testing for the various available endorsements.
  8. Pass the skills test (driving test) in the vehicle of the type for which you will be licensed. You must provide this vehicle.
  9. Be photographed and fingerprinted at the driver license office.

How do I get a hazardous materials permit?

The issuance of hazardous materials endorsements is under the authority of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Drivers seeking a hazmat endorsement on their licenses must agree to a background check and fingerprinting. Read detailed information on applying for a hazmat endorsement.

My CDL in another state is suspended. Can I get a Texas CDL?

No. If your license is suspended in any state, you cannot get at Texas CDL until that suspension is cleared according to the requirements of the issuing state.

I have a regular Texas driver license, but it is suspended or restricted. Can I apply for a Texas CDL?

No. You will not be issued a Texas CDL if your regular Texas driver license is suspended or restricted.

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

Texas offers both interstate and intrastate CDLs. The requirements for intrastate (Texas-only) licenses are less strict than the federally controlled interstate licenses. Intrastate drivers do not need to speak English, and the medical requirements are less stringent.

You can get an intrastate CDL at the age of 18 years old. To be licensed to drive a commercial vehicle across state lines, however, you need to be at least 21 years old.

Drivers with some disabilities may still qualify for a CDL at the intrastate level. There are Limb Waiver (Form (CDL-37) and Vision Waiver (Form CDL-36) packets available to allow exemptions for drivers missing a limb or unable to fully meet the vision testing requirements.

All applicants for a Texas CDL are urged to review the Texas Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers Handbook.

I don't have an existing CDL or regular driver's license to use as ID. What other proofs of identity are accepted for a Texas CDL?

If you don't have any single piece of primary identification, then other pieces of secondary identification or a combination of secondary identification and supporting identification will be required. Please see the DPS' list of acceptable identity requirements for further information.

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