Tennessee CDL Requirements

CDL Classes in Tennessee

      You must be at least 16 years old to operate a commercial motor vehicle within the state of Tennessee (intrastate) and at least 21 years of age to operate a commercial motor vehicle outside the state of Tennessee (interstate). You must also be at least 21 years old to transport materials that are deemed hazardous and to transport passengers using a commercial motor vehicle. You need a Tennessee CDL in order to operate either commercial or non-commercial motor vehicles that fall into the following categories:

Class A
      Any combination of vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of 26,001 pounds or more, provided that the gross vehicle weight rating of the towed vehicle is in excess of 10,000 pounds.  

Class B
      Any single vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of 26,001 or more pounds, as well as any vehicle towing another vehicle that does not exceed a weight of 10,000 pounds. 

Class C
      Any vehicle or combination of vehicles that does not meet the criteria of either Class A or Class B, but is designed to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver), or is used in transporting materials classified as hazardous in the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act. Each applicant must also have a passenger or hazardous materials endorsement in order to obtain a Class C commercial driver’s license. 

Applying for a Tennessee Commercial Learner’s Permit

      You must already possess a Tennessee commercial learner’s permit (CLP) before you can take the CDL Skills Test. Before applying for a Tennessee commercial learner’s permit, you must already possess a valid Tennessee Class D driver’s license. You will be issued a Tennessee commercial driver’s license (CDL) when you pass both the written general knowledge test and the CDL Skills Test. 

      In order to obtain a Tennessee commercial learner’s permit, you must:

  •       Be at least 16 years old for intrastate driving (within the state of Tennessee only).
  •       Be at least 21 years of age for interstate driving (outside the state of Tennessee).
  •       Be at least 21 years of age to transport materials deemed hazardous.
  •       Be at least 21 years of age to transport passengers in a CMV.
  •       Possess a valid Tennessee Class D driver’s license.
  •       Provide your current out-of-state driver’s license or I.D. card (if you are not currently licensed in the state of Tennessee).
  •       Provide original documented proof of your identification and date of birth (see the CDL Manual for details).
  •       Provide original documented proof of your Social Security number (see the CDL Manual for details).
  •       Provide original documented proof of U.S. legal presence (see the CDL Manual for details).
  •       Provide proof of your current Tennessee residency that shows your name and address (i.e., a utility bill, vehicle registration, current filed tax return, etc.).
  •       Provide your current Medical Examiner’s Certificate and completed Medical Examination Report (or medical waivers).  
  •       Certify that your privilege to drive any motor vehicle is not currently suspended, revoked, canceled, or disqualified anywhere.
  •       Certify that you currently hold no more than one driver’s license.
  •       Self-certify that you intend to drive a CMV in either intrastate commerce or interstate commerce.
  •       Pass the physical exam (must be administered by a FMCSA certified physician).
  •       Pass the vision exam (you must have at least 20/40 vision in each eye with or without glasses).
  •       Pass the color blindness test (you must be able to recognize green, red, and amber colors).
  •       Pass the CDL written knowledge test.
  •       Pay the $14 fee for the Class PA permit (the fee is $13 for the Class PB and PC permit).
  •       Pay the $2.50 fee for each CDL endorsement.

      If you have any questions about which documents to bring to your nearest Tennessee Driver Services Center when you apply for your commercial learner’s permit, you can either call your local Driver Services Center, or you can speak to a customer service representative at the Tennessee Department of Safety Driver License Issuance Call Center by calling 1-866-849-3548 toll-free. The fax number is (615) 253-2092. You can also contact the Tennessee Department of Safety by email at Email.Safety@tn.gov. The Call Center is open Monday through Friday, from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. The Tennessee Department of Safety is closed on all statewide holidays.

The CDL Knowledge Tests

      The CDL written knowledge tests are administered at all full service Driver Services Centers. All commercial driver’s license applicants must pass the general knowledge written test in order to be eligible to receive a CDL. The CDL general knowledge test consists of 50 questions. In order to receive a passing score, each applicant is required to answer at least 80% of the questions correctly in the time allotted for that test. All written knowledge tests require a score of at least 80% to pass. Any applicant that exceeds the time limit or incorrectly answers too many questions on the general knowledge test will fail. Any applicant that uses any kind of test aid during the test will automatically fail the test. Anyone caught talking to another person during the test will automatically fail the test. Use of cell phones and camera devices is prohibited in the testing area. All applicants should arrive at the Driver Services Center at least one hour prior to closing when taking the written knowledge tests. 

      Once you successfully pass the CDL general knowledge written test, the Tennessee Department of Safety will issue you a commercial learner’s permit so that you can practice operating a commercial motor vehicle. The commercial learner’s permit will be valid for 12 months from the date of issuance. You may only operate a CMV under the supervision of a front seat passenger who is at least 21 years old and carries a valid Tennessee CDL of the same class or greater than the class of vehicle you are operating. You may not operate any vehicle that is transporting materials deemed hazardous. 

      Over 60% of first time CDL applicants fail the written test! Be sure to download and study the Tennessee Commercial Driver License Manual, as it contains the information you need to pass the CDL knowledge tests, including some sample test questions.  

      Our Free CDL Practice Tests will help prepare you for the actual CDL knowledge tests administered by the DMV.

      Click here to see the map and clickable list of full service Driver Services Centers where you can take the CDL written knowledge tests.

Let Truck Driving Schools Info Connect You With a Reputable CDL Training School In Your Area!

Are you ready to take the next step and begin your career as a well-paid professional truck driver? Our large network of nationally recognized truck driving schools will make it easy for you to find the right school and get started training immediately. The schools in our network hold one or more of the following quality standards:

  • State Licensure
  • PTDI Certification
  • Nationally Recognized Accreditation

Simply fill out the 1-minute application below.

 

Applying for a Tennessee Commercial Driver’s License

      In order to obtain a commercial driver’s license in the state of Tennessee, you must:

  •       Possess a valid Tennessee commercial learner’s permit.
  •       Possess a valid Tennessee Class D driver’s license.
  •       Possess a current D.O.T. card (cannot be more than 2 years old).
  •       Provide proof of vehicle insurance and vehicle registration (must be verified before you can take the test).
  •       Self-certify that you intend to drive a CMV in either intrastate commerce or interstate commerce.
  •       Certify that your privilege to drive any motor vehicle is not currently suspended, revoked, canceled, or disqualified anywhere.
  •       Provide a test vehicle of the same class as the CDL you are testing for that has passed inspection.
  •       Provide a passenger that is 21 years of age or older with a valid Tennessee CDL to ride with you in your test vehicle to the test location.
  •       Schedule an appointment for the CDL Skills Test.
  •       Pass the CDL Skills Test.
  •       Pay the $46 fee for a Class A CDL (the fee is $41 for a Class B or Class C CDL).
  •       Have your photo taken for the commercial driver’s license.
The CDL Skills Test

      Once you obtain your commercial learner’s permit, you will be allowed to schedule an appointment to take the CDL Skills Test at designated Driver Services Centers that offer the Skills Test. The CDL Skills Test is given by appointment only. Walk-ins are not permitted. To schedule a test appointment, contact any of the following Tennessee Driver Services Centers:

  •       Shelby County………………….(901) 543-6519 
  •       Madison County………………(731) 423-6622 
  •       Davidson County……………..(615) 532-9778 
  •       Maury County………………….(931) 380-3357 
  •       Hamilton County…………….(423) 634-0127 
  •       Putnam County……………….(931) 528-5669 
  •       Knox County……………………(865) 594-6528 
  •       Washington County…………(423) 926-1946

      The CDL Skills Test is a three part test that consists of a Pre-trip Inspection, a Basic Vehicle Controls Test, and an On-Road Driving Test. You will be required to take the test in the same class and type of motor vehicle that you plan to drive once you obtain your CDL.  If you take the CDL Skills Test in a commercial motor vehicle that is not equipped with air brakes, then you will have an air brakes restriction attached to your commercial driver’s license.  If you fail any one part of the CDL Skills Test, you will be required to retake the entire test again.

  •       Pre-trip Inspection: Before you can take the CDL driving tests, you will first be tested on your knowledge of the class of vehicle you plan on driving once you obtain your CDL. The Pre-trip inspection also determines if your commercial vehicle is safe enough to drive on public roads. If you fail the Pre-trip Inspection, you may not be allowed to take the Road Skills Test. 
  •       Basic Controls Test: Before you can take the Road Skills Test, you will first need to prove that you have the skills to operate a commercial motor vehicle on public roads. This test consists of various off-road maneuvers such as backing up your vehicle, moving your vehicle forward, and making turns within a defined area. 
  •       Road Skills Test: Once you pass the first two tests, you will be required to drive your commercial vehicle on public roads in various traffic situations. You will be required to operate the same class of commercial vehicle you plan to drive once you obtain your CDL.

      The Basic Controls Test will most likely include the following maneuvers:

  •       90 degree alley docking
  •       Straight line backing
  •       Parallel parking (driver side)
  •       Parallel parking (conventional)
  •       Offset back/right
  •       Offset back/left

      The Road Skills Test will be administered on a route predetermined by the examiner. The test route will most likely include the following:

  •       Starting
  •       Stopping
  •       Braking
  •       Turning
  •       Observing traffic signs
  •       Observing traffic signals
  •       Observing other traffic
  •       Using vehicle controls
  •       Maintaining proper lane positions
  •       Downgrades
  •       Downgrade stopping
  •       Upgrades
  •       Upgrade stopping
  •       Railroad crossings
  •       Bridge clearance
  •       Underpass clearance
  •       General observance of traffic laws
  •       General safe driving practices for trucks or buses   

     On the day of your CDL Skills Test appointment you must:

  1.       Arrive on time.
  2.       Bring your validated commercial learner’s permit.
  3.       Bring your valid D.O.T. medical card (cannot be more than 2 years old).
  4.       Bring a passenger (age 21 or older) that is qualified to drive a CMV with the same class of CDL or greater than the test vehicle.
  5.       Bring a test vehicle that is the same class of license that you are testing for and that has passed inspection.

      Failure to do any of the above may result in an immediate cancellation of your CDL Skills Test appointment! The Tennessee Department of Safety advises applicants to schedule their Skills Test appointment a few weeks in advance and to arrive early for their test appointment. If you decide to cancel your Skills Test appointment, you must cancel the appointment no less than 24 hours before your scheduled test date and time. 

      Be sure to download and study the Tennessee Commercial Driver License Manual, as it contains pertinent information that will help you pass the CDL Skills Test. 

      Click here to find a Driver Services Center near you that offers the CDL Skills Test.

Commercial Driver Self-Certification

      In the state of Tennessee, all commercial driver’s license holders must self-certify as to what type of driving they will be doing (intrastate or interstate), and whether they meet or exceed the medical and physical standards put forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to legally and safely operate a commercial motor vehicle. All CDL applicants must self-certify once they obtain their commercial driver’s license.   

      You are required to self-certify whenever you:

  •       Apply for a commercial driver’s license.
  •       Renew a commercial driver’s license.
  •       Apply for a higher class of commercial driver’s license.
  •       Apply for a new CDL endorsement.
  •       Transfer a commercial driver’s license from another state.

       All commercial drivers who intend to operate a commercial motor vehicle for the following purposes only, do not require a commercial driver’s license and are considered “exempt” and therefore are waived from self-certification:

  •       Persons operating Special Purpose Commercial vehicle with a GVWR of 26,000 lbs. or less. 
  •       Fire and emergency vehicles used to preserve life and property or to carry out governmental operations.
  •       Vehicles operated by non-civilian operators of military equipment.
  •       Recreational vehicles that are being used for personal recreational use only.
  •       Any farm vehicle used to transport agricultural products, farm machinery, or farm supplies within 150 air-miles of the owner’s farm and not used in the operation of a common or contract motor carrier.

      If you intend to operate a commercial motor vehicle for any other purpose than those listed above, then you are considered “non-exempt” and are required to hold a valid CDL and must self-certify. You may also need to provide a current Medical Examiner’s Certificate.

      If you operate a commercial motor vehicle in either intrastate or interstate commerce solely for the following purposes, then you are under “excepted” status, and therefore do not need to provide a Medical Examiner’s Certificate:

  •       Transporting school children and/or school staff members between home and school.
  •       Operating any vehicle as an employee of either Federal, State, or Local government.
  •       Operating fire and rescue vehicles for emergency purposes and other related events.
  •       Transporting sick, injured, or deceased persons.
  •       Primarily transporting propane heating fuel when responding to an emergency condition requiring an immediate response.
  •       When responding to a pipeline emergency requiring an immediate response such as a pipeline leak or rupture.
  •       When custom harvesting on a farm or to haul farm machinery and supplies to and from a farm or when transporting crops between a farm and a market or storage facility.
  •       When operating a farm vehicle that is not a combo vehicle (power unit and towed unit), and is used to haul agricultural products, farm supplies (cannot be materials deemed hazardous), or farm machinery to and from a farm and within 150 air miles of the farm.
  •       Transporting bees as an apiarist during beekeeping season.
  •       When transporting migrant workers.
  •       As a private motor carrier of passengers for non-business activities.

      If you intend to operate a commercial motor vehicle for any other purpose than those listed above, then you operate in either “non-excepted” intrastate commerce, “non-excepted” interstate commerce, or both. You are considered a “non-excepted” interstate driver if you:

  1.       Cross Tennessee state lines while operating a commercial vehicle.
  2.       Transport any cargo that originated from outside the state of Tennessee or is headed to a destination that is outside the state of Tennessee.

      You are considered a”non-excepted” intrastate driver if you:

  1.       Operating a commercial vehicle within the state of Tennessee only.
  2.       Transport any cargo that originated within the state of Tennessee and is headed to a destination within Tennessee state lines.

      “Non excepted” intrastate drivers and “non-excepted” interstate drivers must provide a current Medical Examiner’s Certificate along with a completed and signed copy of the Supplemental Application for Commercial Driver License. The Medical Examiner’s Certificate cannot expire within 60 days from the date of submission. “Excepted” intrastate drivers and “excepted” interstate drivers must complete, sign, and submit the Supplemental Application for Commercial Driver License and do not have to submit a Medical Examiner’s Certificate, but may still have to undergo a physical examination.

      If you have any questions regarding self-certification, you can speak to a customer service representative at the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security CDL Help Desk by calling (615) 687-2312 or (615) 251-5217. Please have your commercial driver’s license number readily available when you callYou can also contact the CDL Help Desk by email at Cindy.Johnson@tn.gov. Please address your emails to Cindy Johnson.

      For more information about the Medical Examiner’s Certificate, please continue reading below.

Medical Examination Report for Commercial Driver’s License

      All CDL applicants must have the Medical Examiner’s Certificate and the Medical Examination Report completed by one of the following:

  •       Licensed U.S. doctor of medicine (M.D.)
  •       Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O)
  •       Licensed physician assistant (P.A.)
  •       Advanced practice registered nurse
  •       Chiropractor

      The Medical Examiner’s Certificate must be attached to the Medical Examination Report and dated within the previous two years if you are renewing your commercial driver’s license. If you are a first time CDL applicant submitting your Medical Examiner’s Certificate, then the certificate must not expire within 60 days from the date of submission. The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security will only accept your medical forms if they have been completed by a qualified physician who has been certified by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. You can search for a FMCSA certified physician by using the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners.

      The FMSCA requires you to have at least 20/40 vision in each eye and a field of vision of at least 140 degrees (70 degrees in each eye) in order to be certified to operate a commercial motor vehicle. Under certain conditions, you may be able to be waived from these and other medical requirements.     

      Once you have completed and signed the Medical Examiner’s Certificate, the Medical Examination Report, the Supplemental Application for Commercial Driver License, and any applicable medical waivers, you can submit your documents by doing any of the following:

  •       Fax your completed and signed documents to (615) 401-7674.
  •       Scan and email your completed and signed documents in PDF format (as an email attachment) to DI.CDL.Medcert@tn.gov.      
  •       Mail your completed and signed documents to:

                              Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security 
                              Commercial Driver License Division 
                              1148 Foster Avenue 
                              Nashville, TN 37243                                                                            

      Please include your name, address, and contact number on all mailings, faxes, and emails. Make sure your information is legible and be sure to double check and, if needed, correct any errors before submitting your documents. All CDL applicants are advised to keep copies of these documents for their own records. Failure to comply with state and federal self-certification regulations will result in a cancellation of your commercial driving privileges.

         If you have any questions regarding self-certification, you can speak to a customer service representative at the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security CDL Help Desk by calling (615) 687-2312 or (615) 251-5217. Please have your commercial driver’s license number readily available when you callYou can also contact the CDL Help Desk by email at Cindy.Johnson@tn.gov. Please address your emails to Cindy Johnson.

Hazmat Endorsement

      Any person that is applying for a Hazardous Materials CDL endorsement is required to undergo a federal background check and federal fingerprint check according to guidelines set by the Transportation Security Administration. All applicants must also provide the required documents to verify their identification and legal U.S. status. For more information, check out the Transportation Security Administration’s F.A.Q. page. You can apply for the security threat assessment on the TSA Hazardous Material Endorsement Enrollment Website. You must begin applying at least 30 days before the expiration of your CDL. You can start the application process on the HTAP Online Application Website. To apply by phone call (855) 347-8371. Use the TSA Enrollment Center Locator to find the nearest TSA approved fingerprint office. 

Military Drivers

      In the state of Tennessee, if you are currently serving in the military or have been honorably discharged within the last 90 days, and you have driven military vehicles that would require a CDL to operate as a civilian with a 2 year safe driving record, then you may qualify for the waiver of the CDL Skills Test and may be exempt from taking the commercial driver skills test. You will still be required to take the written tests. Certain restrictions apply. Download, print, and complete the Tennessee CDL Skills Test Military Waiver Application to start the process. 

      If you have any questions about the Tennessee CDL Skills Test Military Waiver Application, you can either call your local Driver Services Center, or you can speak to a customer service representative at the Tennessee Department of Safety Driver License Issuance Call Center by calling 1-866-849-3548 toll-freeThe fax number is (615) 253-2092. You can also contact the Tennessee Department of Safety by email at Email.Safety@tn.gov. The Call Center is open Monday through Friday, from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. The Tennessee Department of Safety is closed on all statewide holidays.

Tennessee CDL Endorsements

      H      Placarded Hazmat      Required to transport hazardous materials under DOT regulations. 

      N      Tank Vehicles      Required to transport liquids in bulk containers of 1,000 gallons or more.

      X      Tanker/Hazardous Materials Combination   Required to transport hazardous materials in tank vehicles   

      T      Double/Triple Trailers      Indicates CDL holder is certified to operate multiple trailer haulers. 

      P     Passengers      Indicates the CDL holder is certified to operate passenger vehicles.

      S     School Bus      Indicates the CDL holder is authorized to operate a school bus.  

Methods of Payment

      All Tennessee Driver Services Centers accept the following methods of payment:

  •       Cash
  •       Checks
  •       Money Orders
  •       Credit Cards (Discover, MasterCard, and Visa)

Important Tennessee Commercial Driver’s License Resources 

Tennessee Commercial Driver License Manual
Tennessee CDL Practice Tests
Tennessee CDL Skills Test Military Waiver Application
Application for Military Skills Test Waiver
Supplemental Application for Commercial Driver License
Medical Examination Report Form 649-F
Medical Examiner’s Certificate
National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners

 

      Check out our list of truck driving schools in Tennessee that will provide you with the necessary skills to obtain your commercial driver’s license and start your career in the exciting field of commercial truck driving! You may also want to check out our nationwide list of truck driving schools.  

 

Map of Tennessee Driver Services Centers

TitleAddress
1. Anderson County DSC 704 N. Charles G. Seivers Blvd, Clinton, TN 37716
2. Bedford County DSC 1304 Railroad Avenue, Shelbyville, TN 37160
3. Blount County DSC 318 Home Avenue, Maryville, TN 37801
4. Bradley County DSC 301 James Asbury Drive NW, Cleveland, TN 37312
5. Carter County DSC 206 Cherokee Park Drive, Suite 3, Elizabethton, TN 37643
6. Coffee County DSC 307 Industrial Blvd, Tullahoma, TN 37388
7. Cumberland County DSC 136 Dooley Street, Crossville, TN 38555
8. Davidson County DSC 6604 Centennial Blvd, Nashville, TN 37209
9. Davidson County DSC** 624 Hart Lane, Nashville, TN 37216
10. Dickson County DSC 114 W. Christi Drive, Dickson, TN 37055
11. Dyersburg County DSC 180 Hwy 51 Bypass North, Dyersburg, TN 38024
12. Fayette County DSC 160 Beau Tisdale Drive, Oakland, TN 38060
13. Gibson County DSC 2211 Hwy 45 Bypass, South Trenton, TN 38382
14. Greene County DSC 1210 Hal Henard Road, Greeneville, TN 37743
15. Hamblen County DSC 2567 Buffalo Trail, Morristown, TN 37814
16. Hamilton County DSC** 6502 Bonny Oaks Drive, Chattanooga, TN 37416
17. Hamilton County DSC 4873 Dayton Blvd, Chattanooga, TN 37415
18. Hardeman County DSC 200 Harris Street, Whiteville, TN 38075
19. Hardin County DSC 60 Brazelton Street, Unit 10, Savannah, TN 38372
20. Henry County DSC 1120 Tyson Avenue, Paris, TN 38242
21. Knox County DSC** 7320 Region Lane, Knoxville, TN 37914
22. Lincoln County DSC 4110 Thornton Taylor Pkwy, Fayetteville, TN 37334
23. Madison County DSC** 100 Benchmark Circle, Jackson, TN 38301
24. Marion County DSC 4950 Main Street, Building D, Jasper, TN 37347
25. Maury County DSC** 1701 Hampshire Pike, Columbia, TN 38401
26. McMinn County DSC 150 Plaza Circle, Athens, TN 37303
27. Montgomery County DSC 220 W. Dunbar Cave Road, Clarksville, TN 37040
28. Obion County DSC 1604B West Reelfoot Avenue, Union City, TN 38261
29. Putnam County DSC** 4600 S. Jefferson Avenue, Cookeville, TN 38506
30. Roane County DSC 1070 N. Gateway Avenue, Rockwood, TN 37854
31. Robertson County DSC 4676 Hwy 41 North, Suite C, Springfield, TN
32. Rutherford County DSC 1035 Samsonite Blvd, Murfreesboro, TN 37129
33. Sevier County DSC 1220 Graduate Drive, Sevierville, TN 37862
34. Shelby County DSC 3200 E. Shelby Drive, Memphis, TN 38118
35. Sullivan County DSC 3769 Hwy 11-W, Blountville, TN 37617
36. Sumner County DSC 855 N. Bluejay Way, Gallatin, TN 37066
37. Tipton County DSC 220 Hwy 51 North, Suite 1, Covington, TN 38019
38. Warren County DSC 594 Vervilla Road, McMinnville, TN 37110
39. Washington County DSC** 4717 Lake Park Drive, Johnson City, TN 37615
40. Weakley County DSC 8598 Hwy 22, Dresden, TN 38225
41. Williamson County DSC 3830 Carothers Pkwy, Franklin, TN 37067
42. Wilson County DSC 204 Maddox Simpson Pkwy, Lebanon, TN 37090

 

 

**The CDL Skills Test is administered at this location.

Some CDL testing locations require you to set up an appointment. CDL testing hours may vary. Please call the testing location for more information.

 

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Tennessee CDL Requirements
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