Pennsylvania CDL Requirements

PA CDL Classes

      You must be at least 18 years old to operate a commercial motor vehicle within the state of Pennsylvania (intrastate) and at least 21 years of age to operate a commercial motor vehicle outside the state of Pennsylvania (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 Pennsylvania (PA) 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 Pennsylvania Commercial Learner’s Permit

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

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

      If you have any questions about which documents to bring to your nearest PennDOT Driver License Center when you apply for your commercial learner’s permit, you can either call your local Driver License Center, or you can speak to a customer service representative at the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Driver License Center by calling (toll-free in-state) 1-800-932-4600 or (717) 412-5300 (out-of-state) Monday through Friday, from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, EST. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is closed on all statewide holidays.

CDL Written Tests

      Once you submit the Commercial Learner’s Permit Application, you will be issued a Knowledge Test Authorization if you are planning on taking both the general knowledge written test and the CDL Road Test. Both the Knowledge Test Authorization and the commercial learner’s permit have a combined length of one year but, you first need to pass the general knowledge written test in order to obtain the commercial learner’s permit. 

      The CDL written tests are administered at all Driver License 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 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.

      All applicants should arrive at the Driver License Center at least one hour prior to closing when taking the written tests. 

      Once you successfully pass the CDL general knowledge written test, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will issue you a commercial learner’s permit so that you can practice operating a commercial motor vehicle. 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 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 Pennsylvania Commercial Driver’s Manual, as it contains the information you need to pass the CDL tests, including some sample test questions. The Pennsylvania School Bus Driver’s Manual and Hazardous Materials Endorsement Renewal Manual are also available to download and study. 

      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 PennDOT Driver License Centers that administer the CDL written tests.

Applying for a Pennsylvania Commercial Driver’s License

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

  • Possess a valid Pennsylvania commercial learner’s permit.
  • 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 excepted interstate commerce (Form DL-11CD).
  • 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 Pennsylvania CDL to ride with you in your test vehicle to the test location.
  • Schedule an appointment for the CDL Road Test at a Driver License Center or CDL Third Party Tester.
  • Pass the CDL Road Test.
  • Have your photo taken for the commercial driver’s license.

The CDL Road Test

      Once you obtain your commercial learner’s permit, you must wait at least 15 days before you will be allowed to schedule an appointment to take the CDL Road Test. You can take the Road Test at either a PennDOT Driver License Center or a state certified CDL Third Party Tester. The Road Test is administered by appointment only. Walk-ins are not permitted. To schedule a test appointment, call any Driver License Center that administers the Road Test, or call a CDL Third Party Tester. 

      The CDL Road Test is a three part test that consists of a Pre-trip Inspection, a Basic Vehicle Controls Test, and an On-Road Driving Test. The PennDOT Driver License Centers will not supply a vehicle for you to test in. You must bring your own test vehicle. Some CDL Third Party Testers may provide certain vehicles for you to test in, but you will most likely have to pay a rental fee.

      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 Road 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. 

  • 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 may include the following maneuvers:

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

      The Road Skills Test will be administered on a route predetermined by the safety specialist. 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 Road 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 Road Test appointment! The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation advises applicants to schedule their Road Test appointment a few weeks in advance and to arrive early for their test appointment. 

      If you decide to cancel your Road Test appointment, you must cancel the appointment no less than 24 hours before your scheduled test date and time. PennDOT has the right to cancel any CDL Road Test appointment due to bad weather, under sourced staffing, or any other unforseen circumstances. Be sure to call the DMV Office or CDL Third Party Tester on the day of your Road Test to see if your appointment has been canceled due to bad weather.

      Be sure to download and study the Pennsylvania Commercial Driver’s Manual, as it contains pertinent information that will help you pass the CDL Road Test. The Pennsylvania School Bus Driver’s Manual and Hazardous Materials Endorsement Renewal Manual are also available to download and study.

     Click here to see the map and clickable list of PennDOT Driver License Centers and CDL Third Party Testers that administer the CDL Road Test. 

Commercial Driver Self-Certification     

      In the state of Pennsylvania, 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.   

       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 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. “Non excepted” interstate drivers and “non-excepted” intrastate drivers must submit a current Medical Examiner’s Certificate along with a completed and signed copy of the PennDOT Self-Certification Form. The Medical Examiner’s Certificate cannot expire within 60 days from the date of submission. All other commercial drivers who do not fall into this category must complete, sign, and submit the PennDOT Self-Certification Form only. 

      If you have any questions regarding self-certification, you can check out the Self-Certification/Medical Examiner’s Certification Fact Sheet, or you can speak to a customer service representative at the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation CDL Call Center by calling (877) 726-8824 Monday through Friday, from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, EST.

      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 Pennsylvania Department of Transportation 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 PennDOT Self-Certification Form, and any applicable medical waivers, you can submit your documents by doing any of the following:

  • Fax your completed and signed documents to (717) 783-5429
  • Mail your completed and signed documents to:

                              PA Department of Transportation 
                              Bureau of Driver Licensing 
                              P.O. Box 68678 
                              Harrisburg, PA 17106-8678                                           

      Please include your name, address, and contact number on all mailings, faxes, and emails. Please 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 check out the Self-Certification/Medical Examiner’s Certification Fact Sheet, or you can speak to a customer service representative at the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation CDL Call Center by calling (877) 726-8824 Monday through Friday, from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, EST.

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. Please read the New Requirements for CDL Holders with a HAZMAT Endorsement Fact Sheet and the USA Patriot Act Requirements Fact Sheet.

Military Drivers

      In the state of Pennsylvania, 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 PennDOT Application for Military Skills Test Waiver to start the process. 

      If you have any questions about the PennDOT Application for Military Skills Test Waiver, you can check out the Military Commercial Driver’s License Skills Test Waiver Fact Sheet. You can also call your local Driver License Center, or you can speak to a customer service representative at the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Driver License Center by calling (toll-free in-state) 1-800-932-4600 or (717) 412-5300 (out-of-state) Monday through Friday, from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, EST. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is closed on all statewide holidays.

Pennsylvania 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. 

Pennsylvania CDL Restrictions

      A      Driver is Restricted to Drive in an Exempt Intracity Zone

      B     Cannot Drive Class A Buses

      C      Cannot Drive Class A or Class B Buses

      G      Driver is Qualified Medically

      L      Air Brakes Restriction

      Q      Driver Must Wear corrective Lenses

      V      Medical Variance

      Y      Hearing Aid Required

Methods of Payment       

      All PennDOT Driver License Centers accept the following methods of payment:

  • Checks
  • Money Orders

      PennDOT Driver License Centers do not accept cash, credit cards, or debit cards.

Important Pennsylvania Commercial Driver’s License Resources

Pennsylvania Commercial Driver’s Manual
Pennsylvania School Bus Driver’s Manual
Hazardous Materials Endorsement Renewal Manual
Pennsylvania CDL Practice Tests
Commercial Driver’s License Fact Sheet
Commercial Driver’s License: New Learner’s Permit Procedures
Commercial Learner’s Permit Application
Application for Commercial Driver’s License by Out-Of-State CDL Driver
Application for Renewal of Commercial Driver’s License
Commercial Driver’s License Application to Replace/Correct
Application for Revision/Return of CDL Classification
Acknowledgement of Out-of-State License Status
Identification and Residency Requirements for U.S. Citizens
Commercial Driver’s License Request for Ten Year History From Other States
New Requirements for CDL Holders with a HAZMAT Endorsement Fact Sheet
USA Patriot Act Requirements Fact Sheet
Hazardous Materials Endorsement Application for Security Threat Assessment
Military Commercial Driver’s License Skills Test Waiver Fact Sheet
PennDOT Application for Military Skills Test Waiver
Application for Military Skills Test Waiver
Self-Certification/Medical Examiner’s Certification Fact Sheet
PennDOT Self-Certification Form
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 Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania CDL Written Test Locations

 

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

 

Map of Pennsylvania CDL Road Test Locations

 

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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Pennsylvania CDL Requirements
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