Applying for a New CDL in North Dakota
Driving a big rig across the country can be a great way to make a living, but in order to do it, you'll first have to get your commercial driver's license (CDL).
To do so in North Dakota, you'll need to complete the licensing process overseen by the Department of Transportation (DOT), which follows to the national guidelines set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
IMPORTANT FEDERAL TRAINING REQUIREMENTS UPDATE
Per new federal entry-level driver training requirements effective February 7, 2022, the ND Department of Transportation now mandates new CDL applicants complete an entry-level driver training course through an authorized provider. You’ll need to complete this training prior to applying for your first commercial driver’s license, upgrading your existing CDL class, or applying for a HAZMAT, school bus, or passenger endorsement.
Who Can Get a North Dakota CDL?
To be eligible for a North Dakota commercial driver's license, you must:
- Have a valid, non-commercial North Dakota driver's license.
- Be fluent in English—reading, writing, and speaking.
- Be at least:
- 18 years old to drive intrastate (within North Dakota only).
- 21 years old to drive interstate (crossing state lines).
- Offer proof of your:
- Identity (birth certificate, U.S. passport, etc.).
- Legal presence in the United States (Certificate of Naturalization, permanent resident card, etc.)
- North Dakota address—2 documents.
- Social Security number (Social Security card, W-2 form, etc.).
For a full list of acceptable documents to prove the above qualifications, please refer to the ND CDL Manual and the DOT's document guide.
If you hold a CDL from another state, you'll need to transfer it to North Dakota within 30 days of establishing residency.
Commercial Learner's Permit in ND
Before you can get your commercial driver's license, you'll have to get your commercial learner's permit (CLP).
The process can be complicated, so it might be helpful to take a CDL training course first, although this step is not required by either the FMCSA or the ND Department of Transportation.
When you feel ready to begin the process, schedule an appointment with your nearest DOT office, and be prepared to:
- Bring the proper identifying information (see above).
- Have all of the appropriate medical forms with you (outlined below).
- Complete a CDL application at the ND DOT office.
- Submit to a driving record check.
- Pass an eye exam.
- Pay the appropriate testing and CLP fees (see below).
At your appointment, you'll also have to take all of the written exams for the CDL class you need, plus for any endorsements you hope to add to your commercial driver license. If you don't pass right away, that's okay! You'll be able to retake the test once every day.
After passing the tests successfully and completing all of the above, you'll be the owner of a commercial learner's permit—and one step closer to your commercial driver's license!
North Dakota CLP Restrictions
You're officially a commercial learner's permit holder. It's an important step toward your CDL, but one that comes with its own set of rules.
Per Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rules, you'll have to stick to public roads only while driving with your commercial learner's permit, and you can only drive while accompanied by a full CDL holder licensed to operate the same class of vehicle.
You'll also have to wait at least 14 days after receiving your CLP to take the skills exam in order to earn your full commercial driver's license.
How to Get Your Commercial Driver's License in ND
You're almost there! Only one more step stands between you and your North Dakota CDL: the skills test.
When at least 14 days have passed since you've received your CLP, and you feel ready to take on the task, schedule an appointment with your North Dakota DOT office. Don't forget to bring:
- Your regular ND license.
- Your commercial learner's permit.
- The $5 road test fee.
Make sure that you arrange to take the exam in the same class of vehicle you intend on driving with your commercial driver's license. Otherwise, you will have a restriction placed on your CDL until you can re-test to remove it.
The exam itself consists of several parts, including the:
- Pre-trip inspection.
- Basic vehicle controls.
- On-road test.
Once you've aced each section, you'll be finished with the process and be an official CDL holder!
CDL Fees in North Dakota
The North Dakota Department of Transportation currently charges the following for commercial driver's licenses and other services:
- Knowledge test: $5 per attempt.
- Commercial learner's permit: $15.
- Non-domiciled CLP: $20.
- Endorsements: $3 each.
- Road test: $5.
CDL Medical Requirements
In order to get a commercial driver's license in North Dakota, you'll first have to be considered physically fit for the job.
The North Dakota DOT requires all applicants to be medically certified before applying for their commercial learner's permit. The process includes completing the following forms:
- Self-Certification Affidavit.
- Medical Examiner's Certificate (Form MCSA-5876).
- Must be completed by a FMCSA-approved physician.
Depending on how you answer your self-certification form, you will either have to:
- Bring the paperwork with you to your first DOT appointment.
- Send it to the Department of Transportation beforehand by either:
- E-mailing it to email@example.com.
- Faxing it to (701) 328-0308.
- Mailing it to:
- Drivers License Division
- 608 East Boulevard Avenue
- Bismarck, ND 58505
For more information on how to self-certify, you can check out the ND DOT's guide to certification requirements, and even more information on the medical program can be found on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's medical page.
Military CDL Testing Waivers
The FMCSA and ND DOT have partnered to make it easier for military veterans or current service members to earn a CDL by allowing them to waive the skills test.
To qualify, you'll need to:
- Be currently enlisted in a position that requires driving a commercial vehicle.
- Have left such a military position within the last 12 months.
To apply, you and your commanding officer will need to fill out the Application for CDL Skills Test Waiver (Form SFN 60071).
Once completed, mail the form to the DOT at:
Drivers License Division
608 East Boulevard Avenue
Bismarck, ND 58505
If you're approved, you'll receive a letter back from the Department of Transportation. Take it with you when applying for your commercial learner's permit.
NOTE: Eligible applicants will still need to take all written exams and pay all applicable fees.
- SFN 60071
- Application for CDL Skills Test Waiver Military
- Submit this form to waive the North Dakota Department of Transportation CDL skills test if you recently drove a commercial vehicle in the military. Must be signed by a commanding officer.
- Medical Examiners Certificate
- You must submit this medical form when applying for a CDL OR other special vehicle classes (e.g. school buses or farm vehicles) in ND. MUST be completed by a medical examiner.