How to Get a Commercial Driver’s License

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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.

StateDMV WebsiteCDL Manual
ALAlabama DMV WebsiteAlabama CDL Manual
AKAlaska DMV WebsiteAlaska CDL Manual
AZArizona MVD WebsiteArizona CDL Manual
ARArkansas DFA WebsiteArkansas CDL Manual
CACalifornia DMV WebsiteCalifornia CDL Manual
COColorado DMV WebsiteColorado CDL Manual
CTConnecticut DMV WebsiteConnecticut CDL Manual
DEDelaware DMV WebsiteDelaware CDL Manual
FLFlorida FLHSMV WebsiteFlorida CDL Manual
GAGeorgia DDS WebsiteGeorgia CDL Manual
HIHawaii DMV WebsiteHawaii CDL Manual
IDIdaho DMV WebsiteIdaho CDL Manual
ILIllinois DMV WebsiteIllinois CDL Manual
INIndiana BMV WebsiteIndiana CDL Manual
IAIowa MVD WebsiteIowa CDL Manual
KSKansas DMV WebsiteKansas CDL Manual
KYKentucky DMV WebsiteKentucky CDL Manual
LALouisiana DPS WebsiteLouisiana CDL Manual
MEMaine BMV WebsiteMaine CDL Manual
MDMaryland MVA WebsiteMaryland CDL Manual
MAMassachusetts RMV WebsiteMassachusetts CDL Manual
MIMichigan SOS WebsiteMichigan CDL Manual
MNMinnesota DVS WebsiteMinnesota CDL Manual
MSMississippi DPS WebsiteMississippi CDL Manual
MOMissouri DOR WebsiteMissouri CDL Manual
MTMontana DOJMT WebsiteMontana CDL Manual
NENebraska DMV WebsiteNebraska CDL Manual
NVNevada DMV WebsiteNevada CDL Manual
NHNew Hampshire DMV WebsiteNew Hampshire CDL Manual
NJNew Jersey MVC WebsiteNew Jersey CDL Manual
NMNew Mexico MVD WebsiteNew Mexico CDL Manual
NYNew York DMV WebsiteNew York CDL Manual
NCNorth Carolina DMV WebsiteNorth Carolina CDL Manual
NDNorth Dakota NDDOT WebsiteNorth Dakota CDL Manual
OHOhio BMV WebsiteOhio CDL Manual
OKOklahoma DPS WebsiteOklahoma CDL Manual
OROregon DMV WebsiteOregon CDL Manual
PAPennsylvania DMV WebsitePennsylvania CDL Manual
RIRhode Island DMV WebsiteRhode Island CDL Manual
SCSouth Carolina DMV WebsiteSouth Carolina CDL Manual
SDSouth Dakota DPS WebsiteSouth Dakota CDL Manual
TNTennessee DMV WebsiteTennessee CDL Manual
TXTexas DPS WebsiteTexas CDL Manual
UTUtah DPS WebsiteUtah CDL Manual
VTVermont DMV WebsiteVermont CDL Manual
VAVirginia DMV WebsiteVirginia CDL Manual
WAWashington DOL WebsiteWashington CDL Manual
WVWest Virginia DMV WebsiteWest Virginia CDL Manual
WIWisconsin DMV WebsiteWisconsin CDL Manual
WYWyoming DOT WebsiteWyoming CDL Manual
DCWashington D.C. DMV WebsiteWashington D.C. CDL Manual