Iowa CDL Requirements
Iowa CDL Classes
You must be at least 18 years old to operate a commercial motor vehicle within the state of Iowa (intrastate) and at least 21 years of age to drive a commercial motor vehicle across Iowa state lines (interstate). You need an Iowa CDL in order to operate either commercial or non-commercial motor vehicles that fall into the following categories:
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.
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.
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 an Iowa Commercial Learner’s Permit
You must already possess an Iowa commercial learner’s permit (CLP) before you can take the CDL Skills Test. Before applying for an Iowa commercial learner’s permit, you must already possess a valid Iowa noncommercial Class C driver’s license (operator’s license). You will be issued an Iowa commercial driver’s license (CDL) when you pass both the written general knowledge test and the CDL Road/Skills Test.
In order to obtain an Iowa commercial learner’s permit, you must:
- Provide a valid Iowa noncommercial Class C driver’s license (operator’s license).
- Prove that you are at least 18 years old.
- Provide proof of your legal U.S. status.
- Provide your current DOT medical examination (cannot be more than 2 years old).
- Pass the vision exam (you must have at least 20/40 vision in each eye)
- Pass the CDL general knowledge written test.
- Pay any applicable fees.
Over 60% of first time CDL applicants fail the written test! Be sure to download the Complete CDL Practice Test Study Package, as it contains practice tests containing questions and answers specifically designed to help you pass the actual CDL written tests administered by the DMV. You may also want to download the Complete CDL Cheat Sheet Study Package as it includes a collection of study guides with key information designed to help you rapidly learn all the sections of the CDL manual you must know in order to pass the CDL written exams.
Our Free CDL Test will help prepare you for the actual CDL knowledge tests administered by the DMV.
Click here to see a map and clickable list of Iowa CDL test locations that offer the CDL general knowledge written tests.
Applying for an Iowa Commercial Driver’s License
You will need the following in order to obtain a commercial driver’s license in the state of Iowa:
- A valid Iowa commercial learner’s permit or a valid commercial driver’s license from another state.
- Your Social Security card
- A current Department of Transportation medical card.
- Proof of vehicle insurance and vehicle registration (must be verified before you can take the test).
- A passenger with a valid Iowa CDL to ride with you in your commercial vehicle to the test site.
- Proof of your current Iowa residency that shows your name and current address (i.e., your utility bill, vehicle registration, etc.).
- The necessary funds to cover the cost of the CDL Road/Skills Test.
- The necessary funds cover the cost of the commercial driver’s license.
The CDL Road/Skills Test
The CDL Road/Skills test is a three part test and consists of the following:
- 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.
- Skills Test: Before you can take the CDL Road 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.
- Road 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 CDL Road/Skills Test must be taken in the same class and type of motor vehicle you plan to drive once you obtain your CDL. If you take the CDL Road/Skills Test in a commercial vehicle that is not equipped with air brakes, then you will have an air brakes restriction attached to your commercial driver’s license.
Once you obtain your Iowa commercial driver’s license, it will be valid for up to five to eight years from the date it is issued.
Be sure to download and study the Iowa Commercial Driver License Manual as it contains the information you need to pass the CDL Road/Skills test.
Click here to see a map and clickable list of Iowa CDL test locations that offer the CDL Road/Skills Test.
CDL Pre-Trip Inspection
Medical Examination Report for Commercial Driver’s License
In order to apply for a commercial driver’s license, you must have a medical form 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
The Medical Examiner’s Certificate must be dated within the previous two years and attached to the Medical Examination Report. You can search for a qualified physician by using the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners.
Once you have completed the initial self-certification process and have submitted your Medical Examiner’s Certificate for the first time, you can submit all future Medical Examiner’s Certificates by doing any of the following:
- Fax the completed certificate to the Office of Driver Services at: (515) 239-1837
- Email a scanned copy of the completed certificate to the Iowa Department of Transportation at: CDLMedCert@dot.iowa.gov (the certificate must be scanned and attached to the email in PDF format)
- Bring the completed certificate to any Iowa Driver License Station or participating Treasurer’s Office.
- Mail the completed certificate to:
Iowa Department of Transportation
Office of Driver Services
P.O. Box 9204
Des Moines, IA 50306-9204
Please include your name, address, and contact phone number on all mailings and faxes. 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 suspension, downgrade, or cancellation of your commercial driving privileges.
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.
In the state of Iowa, 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 test. Download, print, and complete the Application for Military Skills Test Waiver to start the process.
Iowa 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. The “P” endorsement is also required.
Important Iowa Commercial Driver’s License Resources
Complete CDL Practice Test Study Package
Complete CDL Cheat Sheet Study Package
Iowa D.O.T. CDL Application Changes Brochure
Iowa Driver’s License Types and Fees
Application for Military Skills Test Waiver
Self-Certify Using myMVD
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 Iowa 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.
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Map of Iowa CDL Testing Locations
**The CDL Road/Skills Test is not offered 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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