Applying for a New CDL in Alabama
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Driving a semi-truck or other type of commercial vehicle is a good way for many people to make a living, but if you're interested in doing so, you'll need to get a commercial driver's license (CDL).
Since commercial vehicles are frequently larger and more difficult to drive than average cars and trucks, CDL holders must pass additional rounds of testing to earn their license and follow all regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Commercial drivers in Alabama will also have to go through the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) for state-specific requirements.
Who Can Get an Alabama CDL?
To qualify for a commercial driver's license in Alabama, you must:
- Already have a valid, non-CDL driver's license.
- Have proof of legal presence in the United States, if you're not a citizen. Paperwork must show you:
- Have legal permanent status.
- Are domiciled in Alabama.
- Have legal permanent status.
If you plan to drive interstate routes (i.e. you intend to cross state lines), you must be at least 21 years old.
If you have a CDL from another state and wish to transfer it to Alabama, you will have to show additional identification when applying for your commercial driver license. See the section on CDL transfer documents for more details.
Alabama Commercial Learner's Permits
Before you get your CDL, you'll have to get your Alabama commercial learner's permit (CLP).
To do so, you'll have to schedule an appointment through the ALEA at a driver license office that handles commercial driver's licenses. It's a good idea to call ahead to make sure they offer CDL services.
You'll have to pass all written exams for the classification of CDL you want. You may want to look into taking a CDL training course to help prepare you for these tests.
You'll have to bring to your appointment:
- Your current driver's license.
- Proof of your Social Security number (SSN). Proof can include:
- Your Social Security card.
- U.S. military discharge/separation papers.
- Medicare/Medicaid cards.
- Tax forms.
- The proper medical forms.
- Proof of legal presence in the U.S., if you are not a citizen.
- The $25 testing fee (no checks).
- The $36.25 fee to purchase your AL CLP.
You will also have to submit to a driving record check, which will cover your record for the past 10 years in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Documents for CDL Transfers
If you're transferring your out-of-state commercial driver's license to Alabama, you will be required to bring in the above documentation, as well as 1 primary document for identification purposes.
You may not use the same document to count as both your proof of SSN and primary document.
The ALEA will accept the following as primary documents:
- Certified U.S. birth certificates.
- A U.S. passport.
- An Alabama identification card.
- An AL driver's license.
- See the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency's full list of primary documents for more examples.
If you plan on transferring your hazardous materials endorsement or applying for a new one, you will also need to bring a Transportation Security Administration background check.
Alabama CLP Restrictions
After successfully passing the proper exams, you will receive your Alabama commercial learner's permit from the ALEA.
Per state and federal regulations, your CLP will only allow you to drive on public roads with a full CDL holder in the vehicle with you.
You will be required to hold your CLP for a specific period of time before you're able to take your road test for your full Alabama CDL. IMPORTANT NOTE: While federal laws mandate a holding period of at least 14 days, this could be different for you. Check with your local driver license office to confirm what the holding period is in your state.
Getting an Alabama CDL
Once the required amount of time has passed and you feel comfortable enough driving with your CLP, you will have to make a second appointment with your local AL driver license office to schedule a CDL skills/road test.
You'll need to take this portion of the test in the same type of vehicle you plan on driving with your CDL. If you do not, you may receive a restriction on your AL commercial driver's license.
Bring with you to the appointment:
- Your CLP.
- Proof of insurance.
- The $20 skills test fee.
- The appropriate fee to purchase the class of CDL you want.
Alabama CDLs for Military Members
The FMCSA offers a nationwide program to waive the CDL skills test for veterans or military members about to leave the service.
Though the ALEA doesn't specifically mention these military skills test waivers in its current regulations, Alabama veterans may still be eligible. Contact your local driver license office to inquire as to whether this waiver is applicable in your state.
For more details on the waiver program, visit our guide to the veterans CDL skills test waiver.
CDL Medical Exams in AL
To have permission to operate a commercial vehicle, you will have to be considered medically qualified.
Before scheduling your commercial learner's permit appointment, you will have to visit your doctor and have him or her fill out the Medical Examination Report for Commercial Driver Fitness Determination (Form 649-F).
You will also have to declare your physical fitness to Alabama, through a process called self-certification. To do so, you will need to complete the Self-Certification Affidavit, and either:
- Fax it to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency at (334) 353-1980.
- Submit it directly to the ALEA online.
- Mail it to the ALEA at:
- Alabama Law Enforcement Agency
- Driver License Division
- CDL Unit P.O. Box 1471
- Montgomery, AL 36102
For more information on the self-certification process, see the ALEA's questions and answers page.
After you're medically approved, you will receive a Medical Examiner's Card, which you must keep on you at all times while operating a commercial vehicle.
Commercial Driver License Classifications
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has established several types of commercial driver licenses, each of which allowing you to operate a different kind of vehicle. They include:
- Class A CDLs—For multiple vehicles that weigh over a certain amount, such as a tractor-trailer.
- Class B CDLs—Used to operate a single vehicle that weighs over a certain amount, like a straight truck.
- Class C CDLs—Covering all types of vehicles not included in Class A or Class B CDLs.
You will likely have to take slightly different tests depending on which classification of CDL you're applying for.
See our guide to CDL classifications for more information.
CDL Endorsements & Restrictions
An endorsement is an additional certification you can add to your commercial driver's license that will allow you to drive a larger number of vehicles. You can apply for endorsements for driving:
*NOTE: If you apply for a hazardous materials (HAZMAT) endorsement in Alabama, you must bring a background check conducted by the Transport Security Administration when you apply for your CLP.
A restriction can be placed on your license to limit the number or types of vehicles you can drive. For example, you may receive a restriction if you cannot drive a manual car, fail the eye exam, or for a number of other reasons.
Check out our guide for more information on how endorsements and restrictions work.
Alabama Commercial Driver's License Fees
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency currently charges the following for CDLs and other related services:
- Commercial learner's permit testing fee: $25.
- Issuing a commercial learner's permit: $36.25.
- Commercial driver's license skills test: $20.
- Class A CDL: $66.25.
- Class B CDL: $56.25.
- Class C CDL: $36.25.
If you're transferring your out-of-state CDL to Alabama, you may also have to pay a $5 transfer fee that applies to other license classes.
Medical Examination Report for Commercial Driver Fitness Determination - 649-F
Medical exam your doctor must complete when you apply for an Alabama commercial driver's license.