Commercial Driver FAQs in Texas
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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.
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:
- 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.
- Provide proof of your Social Security number.
- If you own your own commercial vehicle, proof of registration and liability insurance must be provided.
- You must complete the necessary application forms at the driver license office. These forms may vary depending on the types of endorsements you seek.
- Pay the required fee. Each special endorsement and any related testing may require its own fee.
- Pass the vision exam.
- Pass the written tests, including any special testing for the various available endorsements.
- Pass the skills test (driving test) in the vehicle of the type for which you will be licensed. You must provide this vehicle.
- 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. To be licensed to drive a commercial vehicle across state lines, however, you need to be at least 21.
Drivers with some disabilities may still qualify for a CDL at the intrastate level. There are limb waiver and vision waiver 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 two pieces of secondary identification or a combination of secondary identification and supporting identification will be required.
Primary identification documents include a Texas driver's license or identification card. These must be either current or within two years of the indicated expiration date. A valid (unexpired) U.S. passport is also considered to be primary identification, as are naturalization certificates showing verifiable data and a photograph, any other type of U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) documents with verifiable data and a photograph, or an unexpired U.S. military identification card. Older INS documents might not include current information or a photograph, and these will not be accepted as primary identification in Texas.
The key here is that all these forms of ID are, with the exception of the Texas driver's license or ID card, federally issued documents with information that can be validated, and each document includes a photograph.
Two pieces of secondary identification are required if you don't have any of the above primary documents. All of these are official government documents. Here, Canadian-issued documents are acceptable. These include original or certified copies of a birth certificate, unexpired driver's license, or ID card from other U.S. states or Canadian provinces. These also include any official court order showing full birth information.
For applicants born before 1961, an original or certified copy of Form DD-214 or any original or certified copy of any document showing the Social Security number is acceptable. These items are not accepted for persons born in 1961 or later.
Form DD-214 is a certificate of discharge from the military, and is sometimes known as a "discharge paper" or a "separation paper." If this item has been lost and you need it to complete your Texas CDL proof of identity process, contact your service branch or write to the following address:
- Military Personnel Records Center
- 9700 Page Blvd.
- St. Louis, MO 63132-5100
The third category of proof of identity is vague. The licensing employee examining these documents may accept or decline them, and other documents not listed here may be found acceptable. These include school records, insurance policies issued at least two years ago, vehicle titles, military records, a current military dependent identification card, original or certified marriage licenses or divorce papers, voter registration cards, Social Security cards, pilot's or concealed handgun licenses, or a Texas driver license temporary receipt.
Also possibly accepted as supporting identification are expired driver's licenses or identification cards from the U.S. or Canada as long as they are within two years of the expiration date, foreign passports, and any other consular documents.
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