Commercial Driver’s License in Massachusetts

As you research the process for becoming a licensed commercial driver, you will find that there are a series of steps and tests you must comply with. It’s important to note that the process you need to take also depends on which class of commercial drivers license (CDL) you are interested in, as well as which endorsement(s) you want.

To begin the process, first answer this question: Has your drivers license or right to operate a vehicle been revoked or suspended by the RMV?

If your answer is yes, you will be unable to apply for a CDL.

If your answer is no, familiarize yourself with the sections below to get started on your new career path.

Information Related to CDL

Interstate vs. Intrastate

Keep in mind that if you are between 18 and 20 years of age, you are eligible only for an intrastate license. That means you are allowed to drive for commercial purposes within the state of Massachusetts only. When you are 21, you may apply for an interstate CDL, which will allow you to cross state borders as a commercial driver.
To apply for a CDL, you must at least 18 years old, and pass a series of tests:

  • General knowledge test
  • Air brakes (if applicable)
  • Pre-trip
  • Basic skills
  • CDL road test
  • Applicable exams for desired endorsements
  • Combinations vehicles exams (Class A CDL)

CDL Classes of Licenses

There are three types of CDL classes:

  1. CDL Class A: This type of CDL allows MA drivers to operate:
  2. One or many trucks weighing 26,000 pounds or more.
  3. A towing vehicle that weighs over 10,000 pounds.
  4. Possible endorsements are H, N, P, T, X, L and S.
  5. Requires the following examinations:
    • General Knowledge Written Exam
    • Combination Endorsement Written Exam
    • Road Exam
  6. CDL Class B: This type of CDL gives MA drivers the authority to drive:
  7. Straight trucks and buses weight 26,001 pounds or more.
  8. Possible endorsements are H, N, P, X, L and S.
  9. Requires the following examinations:
    • General Knowledge Written Exam
    • Road Exam
  10. CDL Class C: This class of CDL license is required to:
  11. Drive a vehicle weighing less than 26,001 pounds.
  12. Transport more than 15 passengers.
  13. Drive a vehicle that carries hazardous materials.
  14. Possible endorsements are H, N, P, X, L and S.
  15. Requires the following examinations:
    • General Knowledge Written Exam
    • Road Exam Note: Your are not required to take a road test if you are upgrading a Class D license to a Class C license.

Types of CDL Endorsements

There are different types of endorsements you will need to earn depending on which type of commercial driver you want to be. Keep in mind that these examinations are in addition to the required CDL Class A, B or C examinations.

  • CDL H endorsement: Placard hazmat: A commercial driving license needs an “H” if you want to transport placarded hazardous materials. Drivers will need to pass:
    • Written test.
  • CDL N endorsement: Tank vehicles: Drivers will have to pass:
    • Written test.
  • CDL P endorsement: Passenger: If you want to transport passengers or be a chauffeur in Massachusetts, you are required to get a P endorsement on your CDL driving license. You will have to pass:
    • Written test.
    • Road skills test.
  • CDL S endorsement: School bus: To drive a MA school bus that transports, preprimary, primary or secondary school students to and from home, school and school-sponsored events, MA drivers will have to pass:
    • Written test.
    • Road skills test.
    • Testing for “P’ endorsement as well.
  • CDL T endorsement: Double/triple trailers: MA drivers who want to drive tractors or trailers, will need to pass:
    • Written test.
  • CDL X endorsement: Placarded hazmat and tank vehicles:
    • Written test

Get a CDL Permit in Massachusetts

The first step to getting a commercial drivers license is to get a CDL permit. Follow these steps to get a commercial license permit:

  1. Study the official Massachusetts Commercial Drivers Handbook.
  2. If you are going for an S endorsement (school bus), you will also have to study the 2004 Model Commercial Driver’s License Section 10 School Bus Manual.
  3. Take a CDL Practice Test.
  4. Be sure to study for specific endorsements you want.
  5. Print, complete and sign a CDL Application Form 21756 (also available at an RMV office).
  6. Find your local RMV full-service office.
  7. You do not have to make an appointment. Tests are done on a walk-in basis and you may go in two hours before that RMV office’s closing time.
  8. Bring the following documentation (all originals)*:
  9. One proof of date of birth
    • U.S. or non-U.S. passport
    • Birth certificate
    • MA drivers license
  10. One proof of signature
    • U.S. or non-U.S. passport
    • U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner card
    • Current or expired (within 12 months) MA drivers license
  11. One proof of Massachusetts residency
    • Current or expired (within 12 months) MA drivers license
    • Lease or Mortgage
  12. One proof of Social Security Number
    • Social Security card
    • U.S. Passport
    • Denial Notice (no older than 60 days) from the SSA
  13. Pass a vision exam.
  14. For more types of acceptable documentation, visit this page.

If you pass, you will be issued a two-year CDL permit.

CDL Permit Fees

The initial cost to take your exams and get a CDL permit is $30. Any additional endorsement tests costs $10 after.

CDL Drivers Education in Massachusetts

Commercial drivers are expected to be the safest drivers on the road. Since you are going to be carrying passengers, hazardous materials or other important goods, there is little room for negligent driving behavior. Fortunately, there are a number of accredited schools that will prepare you to get a license to drive commercial vehicles. Be sure to enroll in CDL driver training as soon as possible.
Once you have your CDL permit, you are expected to practice driving for as long as it takes to perfect driving a commercial vehicle. Enroll into an accredited CDL training course to master the necessary skills!
You will learn how to:

  1. Use the mirrors.
  2. Safely brake.
  3. Where your blind spots are.
  4. The unique mechanics of the vehicle.
  5. Safe speeds of driving.

CDL Medical Certifications

Any CDL driver who operates a vehicle that is more than 10,000 lbs, transports 15 or more passengers or contains hazardous materials must have a United States Department of Transportation (D.O.T) approved medical certificate. Additionally, you will need to submit a self-certification form indicating your type of driving.
You are required to renew your medical examiner certificate every two years. A notice in the mail with your self-certification expiration date will provide further details about the renewal process.

How to Get a CDL License in Massachusetts

Now that you have a CDL permit and have taken the CDL training courses, you are ready for the final step: To apply for a CDL.
Follow these steps to get a commercial driving license in MA:

  1. Call the RMV Telephone Center and make an appointment for the road skills test.
  2. Note: If you are upgrading a Class D drivers license to a Class C, you do not need to take the road skills test.
  3. Bring the following:
  4. Valid CDL permit
  5. Current MA driver’s license
  6. A D.O.T. approved Medical Certification form (A medical examiner must conduct a physical exam on you, they will give you the proper form.)
  7. The corresponding commercial vehicle to the class of CDL you are applying for* (It must be insured.)
  8. Vehicle registration
  9. If you rent the vehicle, bring the rental agreement and written permission authorizing the vehicle’s use in a test on the rental car company’s letterhead.

Once you pass your CDL road skills test, you will be granted a Massachusetts license to drive. At this point in time, you must look into the following:

  1. If your company does not provide insurance, then you are responsible for getting CDL insurance that meets Massachusetts law requirements. Don’t risk your new CDL license and be sure to review CDL insurance quotes online today.
  2. Get a background check. Commercial driving employers want to hire MA drivers with clean records. When going in for a job interview, you will more likely be hired if you bring copies of your background check and driving record.

CDL License Fees in Massachusetts:

  • First-time CDL issuance: $75
  • Add a CDL endorsement for the first time and to renew: $30 each

Related Links

Last updated on Thursday, February 15 2018.

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