How to Get a Commercial Drivers License in Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania CDL allows commercial drivers to operate their vehicles. The commercial drivers license allows drivers to steer trucks or buses, depending on which endorsements are elected. This CDL license has different requirements than a standard license, because commercial vehicles require extra training and additional responsibility. You must already have a standard drivers license before you can apply for the commercial license, though the standard license does not need to be issued from the state of Pennsylvania.
In order to apply for CDL credentials in PA successfully, you must first compile the required documents to bring to the Department of Transportation (DOT). Next, you must satisfy the learner permit requirements, followed by passing CDL tests to gain your full commercial driving privileges. Once you are licensed officially, you can begin to drive a commercial motor vehicle, or CMV, professionally.
CDL Requirements in Pennsylvania
CDL license requirements in Pennsylvania state that you need to be at least 18 years old to drive a commercial vehicle. Note that you can only cross state lines with a commercial vehicle once you have turned 21.
Additionally, both a written test and a road test must be passed before you can get your license. More tests will be required if you want to add any specific endorsements to your credential.
CDL requirements also state that some people can be disqualified for a number of criminal convictions. For instance, a felony conviction that is connected to controlled substances and your commercial vehicle is grounds for an immediate disqualification. Two felony convictions involving the use of your commercial vehicle will also permanently disqualify you from getting a CDL.
How to Apply for a CDL Permit in Pennsylvania
You need to get the Pennsylvania CDL permit before you are allowed to get a license. This CDL learners permit allows you to practice driving for your road test. To fulfill CDL permit requirements in Pennsylvania, certain documentation needs to be on-file with the Department of Transportation, which includes:
- Identity documentation, which is most commonly a passport or birth certificate. You can also use a Certificate of Naturalization or Certificate of U.S. Citizenship.
- SSN documentation, which is usually your Social Security card. A W-2 or 1099 may be used if it shows your full name and SSN.
- Address documentation, which can be any official paper showing your name and address. This can be a water bill, electricity bill, mortgage agreement or another official document.
If you already have a standard license, the Department of Transportation will have this documentation on file. If not, you will need to submit it at a DOT office.
Pennsylvania CDL permit rules state that you are only allowed to drive with a permit when accompanied by a licensed commercial driver. This driver needs to be licensed to operate the vehicle you are driving for practice.
CDL Written Test in Pennsylvania
You need to pass the Pennsylvania CDL general knowledge test in order to get your commercial license. You will need to take an additional CDL written test for each endorsement you want to add to your credential.
An online CDL test in Pennsylvania is not available at this time. Instead, you must take the test in person, at a DOT office. CDL permit test questions will quiz you on the material covered in your commercial driver manual. This includes subjects like road signs, road laws and the proper way to pack your commercial vehicle.
Pennsylvania CDL Training Schools & Practice Tests
A Pennsylvania CDL practice test can be found at the back of every section of your CDL handbook. The book is one of the most important forms of CDL prep in which you can engage, because the DOT pulls from the questions in the handbook when creating the test. These questions also allow you to test whether you have fully absorbed the material from each DOT chapter.
You need to go to a CDL school in Pennsylvania if you want to drive a school bus. For all other applicants, this form of CDL training is recommended, but not required. Essentially, this training will give you hands-on experience that will prepare you for your road test. This schooling should cover vehicle inspection, parking and on-road driving.
How to Get a CDL License in Pennsylvania
Understanding how to get a CDL license is simpler than understanding how to get a permit, because once your identity, SSN and address documentation are on file with the Department of Transportation, you are not required to submit these items again. To apply for CDL credentials in PA, you need to go to a Department of Transportation office at least two weeks after you have received your permit.
The Pennsylvania CDL application needs to be filled out entirely, and submitted at a DOT office. Once you complete the application process, you can expect to get your CDL in the mail, as it is shipped out from a central office location.
CDL Driving Test in Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania CDL test consists of three sections. They include:
- Inspecting your vehicle, which means checking both the interior and exterior of the vehicle to ensure that it is safe to drive.
- Parking your vehicle, via parallel parking and alley docking.
- Driving your vehicle on the road, which means operating your vehicle on roads and highways, and engaging in simple maneuvers like braking, turning and curving.
You can schedule your CDL driving test online, or by calling 800-423-5542. Either way, you will learn about available testing locations when you schedule.
How to Get a CDL as a Military Member in Pennsylvania
Active service members do not need to get a military CDL while driving a commercial vehicle as part of their service. To get a CDL once you have been discharged, all of the following must apply:
- You drove a commercial vehicle for the military sometime within the past year
- You drove a commercial vehicle for the military that would require the CDL for which you are you applying, sometime within the past two years
- You were not required to do so when you drove a commercial vehicle for the military
The process of getting a CDL for veterans who do not fulfill one of the above requirements is the same as it is for civilians. However, you can apply for a veteran designation on your license, if you so choose.
CDL Medical Exams in Pennsylvania
New DOT physical requirements in Pennsylvania state that the majority of commercial drivers need to submit a Medical Certificate to the Department of Transportation. This CDL physical checks for any problems that could prevent you from driving a commercial vehicle safety. These problems include, but are not limited to, deafness or heart conditions.
If your CDL medical exam discovers medical issues, you may be able to qualify for medical variance. Variance allows you to continue driving commercially. You will then need to get regular examinations from a DOT medical examiner in Pennsylvania, though the specific requirements vary, depending on your ailment.
Types of CDL Classes in Pennsylvania
The commercial Class A license, B license and C license are all offered by Pennsylvania. Which one you choose to get will be determined by what vehicle you plan to drive professionally. In defining the three types of CDLs further, note that:
- The Class A CDL is designed for drivers who will be operating combination vehicles that are a minimum of 26,001 pounds. These drivers are allowed to tow a vehicle weighing 10,000 pounds or more.
- The Class B CDL is designed for drivers who will be operating single vehicles that are a minimum of 26,001 pounds. These drivers are not allowed to tow a vehicle weighing 10,000 pounds or more.
- The Class C CDL is designed for drivers who want to apply for the hazmat endorsement, passenger endorsement or school bus endorsement.
Types of CDL Endorsements in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania CDL endorsements grant commercial drivers additional privileges. Testing is required for all of the available endorsements, which include:
- The hazmat endorsement, which allows you to pack hazardous cargo in your vehicle.
- The tanker endorsement, which allows you to pack liquid and gas tanks in your vehicle.
- The hazmat tanker endorsement, which allows you to pack liquid and gas tanks in your vehicle. (These tanks are allowed to contain hazardous liquids and gases.)
- The passenger endorsement, which allows you to operate a vehicle carrying 15 other people.
- The school bus endorsement, which allows you to operate a school bus that has students in it. If you are transporting the school bus to a location, but it does not have students in it, you do not need this endorsement.
- The doubles/triples endorsement, which allows you to operate combination vehicles.
Interstate vs. Intrastate Commercial Drivers Licenses in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania has stricter regulations for motorists who cross state lines while operating commercial vehicles. The Pennsylvania intrastate CDL is designed for motorists who will be driving commercially within the state.
The Pennsylvania interstate CDL, on the other hand, is designed for motorists who may cross state lines for their jobs. If you do a mix of interstate and intrastate jobs, you still need the interstate license.
Commercial Driving License Fees in Pennsylvania
CDL license cost in Pennsylvania is determined by whether or not you have a Pennsylvania drivers license, and how much time the license has left until it expires. CDL permit cost is included in the price of your license. When calculating the fees, keep in mind:
- If your standard drivers license was issued in another state and you are younger than 65 years of age, your commercial license will cost $94.50.
- If your standard drivers license was issued in another state and you are 65 years of age or older, your commercial license will cost $52.
- If you have a Pennsylvania drivers license that is set to expire in 7 to 12 months, the CDL cost is $30.50.
- If you have a Pennsylvania drivers license that is set to expire in 13 to 24 months, the commercial license fee is $46.50.
- If you have a Pennsylvania drivers license that is set to expire in 25 to 36 months the CDL price is $62.50.
- If you have a Pennsylvania drivers license that is set to expire in 37 to 48 months, the cost of your CDL is $78.50.
Pennsylvania CDL Forms
- Commercial Learners Permit: Application to Apply for an Initial/Extend/Upgrade
- Military Commercial Drivers License (CDL) Skills Test Waiver Application
Note: DMV forms change regularly. The forms provided above are current based on the date of writing.
- Commercial Drivers Manual from dot.state.pa.us
- Commercial Drivers License Frequently Asked Questions from dot.state.pa.us
- Military Commercial Drivers License (CDL) Skills Testing Waiver FACT SHEET from dot.state.pa.us