Getting a CDL means that you have to be qualified for all the requirements that were given before. However, not all truck drivers know and understand the CDL requirements, which leads to the waste of time or missing some needed documents. Hence, we combined a comprehensive set of CDL Requirements that are essential for all types of CDL Classes as well as Endorsements for readers. Let’s jump to the main part! 


cdl requirements
What are the CDL requirements for truck drivers?


1. What is CDL requirements?

CDL requirements is a set of conditional qualifications that all CDL drivers must meet in order to operate a commercial truck. The CDL requirements are enacted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s laws and regulations (FMCSA). Generally, each state has its own application procedure, fee, and forms. To know more about the state’s CDL requirements, you can look for the CDL Manual Book of your state. 


2. What are the types of CDL requirements for drivers?


2.1. Minimum CDL Requirements 

Although there exist some differences among states, they share the same minimum CDL requirements, which can be listed in detail below: 

  • Drivers must be at least 18 years old and have a valid regular DMV license (non-commercial license) 
  • Drivers must be at least 21 years old to be eligible to drive a truck interstate
  • Drivers must have at least one or two years of driving experience
  • Drivers must provide  proof of citizenship or lawful permanent residency 
  • Drivers must show a social security card or other forms of identification
  • Drivers must have a birth certificate or green card 
  • Drivers must pass the background check
  • Drivers don’t have suspensions or revocations of DMV license
  • Drivers don’t have any disqualification under state laws 
  • Drivers must be able to communicate in English


2.2. New Federal CDL Requirements

Throughout the years, the FMCSA has made several advances in the field of “compliance requirements” (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration). The FMCSA exists to make American roadways safer, particularly by reducing commercial vehicle accidents, as the name indicates: 

  • Since the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986, drivers have been unable to hold a CDL in more than one state. This effectively ended the practice of people obtaining several driver’s licenses in order to conceal whatever unfavorable records they may have had in another state.
  • States were due to begin enforcing the texting ban statute in late 2013.
  • Then, starting in 2014, commercial drivers were obliged to “self-certify” their medical information and may only use “authorized” medical examiners who were enrolled with the National Medical Registry.


2.3. Medical and Physical Requirements

A truck driver must be physically capable of operating a commercial motor vehicle as well as performing several non-driving work activities. Unloading and loading freight, as well as long hours on the road, are all part of the job of a truck driver. This can lead to sleep deprivation, excessive stress levels, relational troubles, and physical wear and tear. With that in mind, it’s vital to make sure you’re physically and mentally prepared for the work.

The physical demands of trucking work are one of the most essential CDL licensing requirements. Your physical and medical criteria will be reviewed by an FMCSA National Registry certified Medical Examiner. The following aspects will be scrutinized during the Department of Transportation (DOT) medical exam:


Vision: With or without correction, each eye’s visual acuity should be at least 20/40. (This includes spectacles or contacts.) Furthermore, each eye must have at least 70 degrees of peripheral vision measured horizontally.


Hearing: From a distance of more than 5 feet, truckers should be able to hear a forced whisper in at least one ear. Hearing aids are permitted to be used to help to hear.


Diabetes: Truck drivers who must inject insulin with a needle do not meet the requirements. Diabetic drivers who use oral medications, on the other hand, are permitted to drive.


Blood Pressure: A driver with a blood pressure of less than 140/90 will be awarded a two-year license. For stage 1 high blood pressure of 140-159/90-99, a one-year card will be provided. A three-month temporary certificate will be issued for stage 2 high blood pressure of 160-179/100-109. (at examiner’s discretion). If your blood pressure is higher than 180/110 at stage 3, you will be disqualified.


Blood Sugar: A blood sugar level of less than 10% is required. Certificates will be awarded at the examiner’s discretion for levels more than 10%.


Sleep Apnea: Sleep apnea CDL drivers may be disqualified unless the issue is proven to be under control. A recent annual sleep study and a physician’s release are included. Follow the Sleep Apnea CDL Drivers: Tips to Improve this Sleeping Issue to minimize it.



2.4. CDL Self Certification

Beginning in 2014, commercial drivers must “self-certify” their medical information and can only employ “approved” medical examiners on the National Medical Registry.

All commercial drivers are now required to self-certify the type of vehicle they will operate in the following categories:

  • Non-Excepted Interstate: This simply means that you must have a Federal DOT medical card and be able to operate across state boundaries.
  • Excepted Interstate: You are exempt from meeting the Federal DOT medical card criteria if you operate across state boundaries.
  • Non-Excepted Intrastate: You must have a Federal DOT medical card and only operate in your own state.
  • Excepted Intrastate: You are exempt from meeting the Federal DOT medical card criteria if you exclusively operate in your home state.


cdl requirements for drivers
CDL self-certification is a must for drivers



3. What are the CDL exams that you must take? 


3.1. Written and Knowledge exams

You must pass knowledge and skills examinations to obtain a CDL. The CDL guidebook will assist you in passing the state examinations. This document is not intended to be a replacement for a truck driver training class or program. Formal training is the most dependable approach to master the numerous particular abilities necessary for safely operating a large commercial vehicle and becoming a professional truck driver.

In addition, you can look for some websites or applications to take some CDL Practice Test in order to score high on the CDL exam. 


3.2. Skill and Road Test

For the road and skills tests, you must utilize the same type of commercial vehicle for which you are licensed.

The three-part driving exam consists of the following components:

  • Pre-Trip Vehicle Inspection: You must be certain that your vehicle is safe to drive. Sections 11, 12, and 13 of the CDL Manual address how to explain what you’re inspecting and why.
  • Basic Vehicle Control: Your ability to control your vehicle will be evaluated. This involves driving forward, backward, and inside a certain region.
  • On-Road Driving Exam: You must demonstrate your ability to operate a commercial vehicle safely on the road in a variety of traffic circumstances. (Turning left and right, halting, bends, railroad crossings, and so forth.)


4. Are the CDL requirements changing?

The rules for getting or upgrading a CDL requirements will change on February 7, 2022, according to the United States Department of Transportation. The modification is known as Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT). On or after February 7, 2022, drivers must complete extensive classroom and behind-the-wheel instruction from an FMCSA-registered training provider:

  • Obtaining your first Class A or Class B CDL.
  • Converting a Class B CDL to a Class A CDL
  • For the first time, obtain a School Bus (S), Passenger (P), or Hazardous Materials (H) endorsement.

Drivers will be able to take the knowledge exam required for a commercial learner’s permit (CLP) without any entry-level training but will require instruction before attempting a CDL or endorsement skills test (or the H endorsement knowledge test). If your CLP expires, you must complete the ELDT before sitting for the exams. Besides, the age limit requirements also decrease from 21 to only 18 years old in some states. 


>> Read more: Is Changing In CDL Age Requirement a Risky?


cdl requirements for truck drivers
CDL requirements for truck drivers is changing


5. Is Military Waiver affect your CDL requirements?

Have you ever driven a CMV (or the military equivalent of a commercial motor vehicle) while serving in the military? The skills test element of the commercial driver’s license skills test may be waived. Military drivers must apply within a year after being discharged from active duty.

Service personnel who are presently licensed and who are or were employed within the past 90 days in military employment requiring the operation of a military motor vehicle comparable to a CDL may use the Commercial Driver License abilities test waiver form (CMV). This waiver permits a qualifying military member to apply for a CDL without having to take any skills tests. It is not possible to waive the CDL knowledge (written) test(s). School Bus(es) and/or Passenger (P) endorsements under this Waiver Program are not allowed.


Operating a CDL truck requires you to have a lot of qualifications and they will be changed over time. Thus, you should read clearly and prepare carefully to meet all the CDL Requirements to obtain the license successfully. Remember, passing the CLP is the key factor. Thus, we strongly suggest you take the CDL Practice Test to score high!