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How to Get Your CDL Driver's License

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Driving a large vehicle for commercial purposes, such as a semi truck or large passenger bus, requires you to obtain a special type of driver's license. A commercial driver's license allows you to drive vehicles that transport passengers or freight throughout the United States. To obtain your CDL license, you need to show your skills in driving commercial transportation vehicles and pass a written examination. Each state has its own requirements and qualifications in obtaining a CDL. Contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles for more information.

Enroll in a training program designed to teach you how to drive the commercial vehicle and important safety issues. Ensure the training program covers all aspects of the written test and the road examination for your particular state requirements.

Meet the basic requirements to take the CDL tests. You must be at least 18 to 21 years of age depending on the state and the type of traveling you will be doing (intrastate or interstate). Show you are a legal U.S. resident with a social security number, regular driver's license and valid mailing address. Obtain a medical examiner's certificate to show you are fit to drive a commercial vehicle.

Fill out the CDL application. Pass a vision screening test. Pay the fees for the tests and the issuance of a CDL license.

Take the CDL tests in the class of vehicle you will be driving, such as A, B or C. Pass the general core knowledge test regarding driving safely, transporting cargo and passengers, using air brakes and hauling hazardous materials or liquid gas.

Pass the road test by demonstrating your commercial driving skills. Have a photograph taken for your CDL license. Receive an interim card until the CDL license arrives at your home address by mail.


Your previous driver's license will be hole-punched and returned. You can still use it as proof of identity with the interim card until the CDL license arrives.