Commercial Driver's Licenses & Permits
A commercial driver's license (CDL) allows you to operate commercial vehicles such as semi-trucks, cargo vans and buses.
A commercial learner's permit (CLP) allows you to drive a commercial vehicle only when a person licensed to drive the same type of vehicle is with you. To get a CDL, you must hold a CLP for at least 14 days and complete Entry Level Driver Training.
- A standard CDL with no endorsements costs $64 and is valid for 8 years.
- A CLP costs $3.
- Endorsements cost an additional $1 per year.
See the DMV Fee Chart for more details.
You must be at least at age 18 to get an intrastate CDL and age 21 to get an interstate CDL.
How to Apply for a CDL or CLP
To apply for a CDL or CLP, please present DMV with a completed Commercial Driver's License Application and documents proving your eligibility.
You must apply for your CDL or CLP in person at a DMV customer service center.
Before you apply, did you…
- Complete the application?
- Meet the testing requirements?
- Meet the identification and residency requirements?
- Meet the medical certification requirements?
- Meet the driver training requirements?
To be eligible for a CDL or CLP, you must meet all requirements for a Virginia driver's license, as well as the potential additional requirements listed below.
CDL applicants must pass a series of CDL skills tests.
Tests may include a vision screening, CDL knowledge exams and a CDL road skills test. You may also need to take the two-part driver's license knowledge exam. A DMV representative will tell you which tests you need to take.
For more information, see CDL skills test eligibility requirements.
Identification and Residency Requirements
If you have ever held a Virginia driver's license or ID card, you must present the following documents to prove your eligibility:
- Current Virginia license or ID
- One federally required document.
If you have never held a Virginia driver's license or ID card, you must present the following documents to prove your eligibility:
- One proof of identity
- One proof of legal presence
- One proof of your social security number
- Two proofs of Virginia residency
- Current driver's license if you are applying to exchange one issued by another U.S. state, territory or jurisdiction for a Virginia driver's license
- Proof of name change if your name appears differently on your proof documents
- One proof that you are eligible under federal requirements.
Prepare Your Documents With Confidence
Use our Interactive Document Guide to walk through what you need to bring and what information to include.
Medical Certification Requirements
All CDL and CLP applicants must certify to one of four categories of commercial motor vehicle operation:
- Excepted interstate
- Excepted intrastate
- Non-excepted interstate
- Non-excepted intrastate
To learn about these categories and the medical certification requirements for each, please read the Medical Certification Requirements.
Driver Training Requirements
If you are 18 or older and have not previously held a CDL, you must either hold a valid Virginia driver's license or meet all the requirements necessary to get a driver's license.
You must also:
- Pass a state-approved Entry Level Driver Training Program designed specifically for commercial motor vehicles
- Hold a commercial learner's permit for at least 14 days
Note: If applicable, you must complete Entry Level Driver Training before taking the HAZMAT knowledge exam, and before road skills testing for a Class A or B CDL.
HME applicants must be fingerprinted for a background check. The non-refundable fee is $83 and the HME is valid for five years.
Applicants using a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC®) comparability for a reduced HME fee do not have to be fingerprinted. The non-refundable fee is $41 and the background check will be valid through your TWIC’s expiration.
Duration of a CDL or CLP
Typically, your Virginia CDL is valid for eight years and expires on your birthday.
Your Virginia CLP is valid for one year and cannot be renewed. You must reapply.
- Individuals temporarily authorized to be in the U.S., and have less than one year remaining, will receive a CLP that expires on the same expiration date shown on the document used to prove legal presence.
- For many individuals who are living in another country, but are authorized to be in the U.S. temporarily, a CLP/CDL will carry the notation "non-domiciled CDL" or "non-domiciled CLP" and will only be valid for the amount of time the individual is legally permitted to stay in the U.S.
- These individuals will not be eligible to receive a CLP/CDL if their authorized stay in the U.S. is less than 30 days from the date of their application.
- Their CDL expiration will be the same as the expiration date shown on the document used to prove legal presence. If the document does not show an expiration date, the CDL will be valid for one year.
- Individuals required to register with the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry will be issued CDLs valid for five years. They are not eligible for a Virginia CDL or CLP with an "S" endorsement during any period in which registration with the Registry is required. They are also not eligible for a Virginia CDL or CLP with a "P" endorsement unless it includes a restriction code prohibiting the driver from transporting children for school and/or daycare activities.
Receiving Your License
Once you pass your required testing, DMV will mail you your CDL or CLP. For security purposes, pick up is not possible.
If you have moved, notify DMV right away.
What is a commercial motor vehicle?
A commercial motor vehicle is defined as:
- A single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more
- A combination of vehicles with a GCWR of 26,001 pounds or more if the vehicle(s) being towed has a GVWR of more than 10,000 pounds
- A vehicle that carries 16 or more passengers, including the driver
- Any size vehicle that transports hazardous materials and that requires federal placarding.
Do I need a CDL to operate a school bus?
Yes, if you’re operating a school bus designed to carry more than 16 occupants (including the driver).
To operate a school bus designed to carry less than 16 occupants (including the driver), you do not need CDL. However, you will need to take the CDL knowledge test and school bus test to get the school bus endorsement on your driver's license, and you will be restricted to driving a bus designed to carry less than 16 passengers. This restriction will be printed on your license.
Can I hold a driver’s license and a CDL at the same time?
No. You may hold either a driver's license or a CDL, but not both.
Do I need to register with the Selective Service in order to get a CDL?
If you are required by federal law to register with the Selective Service and have not already done so, you must authorize DMV to send your information to the Selective Service. If you refuse, we cannot issue you a CDL.
Generally, males under age 26 must register with the Selective Service. If you have questions about Selective Service registration, visit the Selective Service website at sss.gov or call 847-688-6888 (TTY: 847-688-2567).
Can I register to vote when applying for a CDL?
Yes, you can apply to register to vote, change your voter registration address, or indicate your desire to become an organ donor when you apply for your CDL.