The process for getting a commercial driver’s license (CDL) is a bit more involved than getting a standard, non-commercial driver’s license.
But, for those with the diligence, patience, and skill, getting a CDL is the gateway into a good career that can take you all over the country.
While fees, specific procedures, and eligibility requirements may vary from state to state, CDL requirements are mostly the same across the country.
This page is designed to give you an overview of the CDL application and testing process and provide you with links to CDL application resources and CDL manuals for your home state.
CDL Eligibility Requirements
To be eligible for a CDL, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- You must apply for your CDL in your home state.
- Be at least 18 years to travel within the state.
- Be at least 21 years old to travel interstate.
- or to transport hazardous materials with the HAZMAT endorsement.
- Have a valid, clean non-commercial driver’s license and driving record.
- Have at least 2 years of driving experience (time requirement may vary).
- Submit information about all states in which you’ve held a driver’s license in the past 10 years.
- Provide proof of Social Security Number, U.S. Citizenship, and residency in your home state.
- Provide proof of your identity and date of birth.
- Be able to speak, read, and write English.
- Pass a medical evaluation and submit a certified Medical Examination Report and hold an up-to-date DOT Medical Examiner’s Certificate Card.
- Pass all required written knowledge tests.
- Hold a commercial learner’s permit (CLP) for at least 14 days (time requirement may vary).
- Pass all required portions of the skills and road tests in the type of commercial vehicle you plan to drive.
- Complete all requirements within the 180 days CLP period (time requirement may vary).
CDL Application Process & Requirements
If you can meet the requirements above, you’ll be able to move through the CDL application process.
The first step will be to determine which type of CDL and which endorsements you plan to apply for.
Each CDL class and each CDL endorsement carries its own testing requirements. Some may require passing additional knowledge tests, and others may require additional skills testing.
The general CDL application/licensing process is as follows:
- Visit your local DMV or licensing agency office.
- Submit the proper application.
- Provide all required identification, citizenship, residency, and medical documents.
- Pass a vision test.
- Pass the required written knowledge tests.
- Pay all required application and testing fees.
- Receive your Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) and practice for your skills test for at least 14 days.
- Complete a CDL training program, if necessary.
- Schedule your skills test.
- Pass the skills test in the commercial vehicle you plan to be licensed to operate.
- Receive your full CDL and begin working as a commercial truck driver.
CDL Testing Requirements
Your CLP and CDL require you to pass both written knowledge tests and practical skills exams.
At a minimum, you’ll need to take and pass the CDL General Knowledge written exam.
Other common written exams you’ll need to pass include Air Brakes and Combination Vehicles.
If you plan on adding any endorsements to your CDL, you’ll need to pass the applicable written test for each endorsement.
Passing the written tests allows you to get your CLP and begin preparing for your skills test.
Your CLP allows you to practice driving a commercial vehicle when accompanied by a licensed, CDL holder or instructor.
After you’ve held your permit for at least 14 days, you’ll be able to schedule and take the skills tests. Some states may require you to complete a CDL training course.
The CDL skills tests consists of a:
- Vehicle Inspection/Pre-trip Inspection test.
- Basic Control test.
- Road test.
You’ll need to take the skills test in the type of vehicle you want to be authorized to drive. e.g. If you want to be able to drive manual CVs or CVs equipped with air brakes, your testing vehicle will need to meet those criteria.
State CDL Practice Tests, Application Requirements, and Costs
Select your state below for information about applying for a CDL, which tests you’ll need to take, and more!
State CDL Manuals & DMV Links
Find your state below to visit the DMV website and download the CDL Manual.