How to Get a Commercial Drivers License in Texas
You must get a commercial drivers license in Texas, or a CDL, if you plan to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). A CDL is a professional driver’s license that permits holders to drive large and commercial vehicles on public roads in Texas. With this type of license, you can operate many commercial vehicles, such as a vehicle that carries a specific number of passengers or one that hauls hazardous materials. Depending on your license, you can also drive a vehicle either intrastate or interstate.
To obtain a CDL license, you must first be issued a CDL permit. To get a CDL permit, you must submit the necessary forms and application to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Driver License Division. Then, you will need to take a written knowledge test. If you pass, you will be issued a CDL permit. Following the issuance of your permit, and after you pass the road skills test, you can apply for your full commercial driving credentials in Texas.
CDL Requirements in Texas
To meet the CDL license requirements in Texas, you must provide several items, in person, at the DPS office. These include the following:
- Proof of U.S. citizenship, or evidence of lawful presence
- A U.S. passport book or card
- A U.S. birth certificate
- A Permanent Resident card
- Two proofs of Texas residency
- A valid, unexpired Texas voter registration card
- A Texas motor vehicle registration or car title
- A current deed, mortgage or monthly mortgage statement
- Proof of identity
- A Texas driver license or Texas identification card
- An unexpired U.S. passport book or card
- Proof of your Social Security Number (SSN)
- A self-certification of medical status
- A Medical examiner’s certificate
- Evidence of current Texas vehicle registration, for each vehicle you own
- Proof of auto insurance for each vehicle you own
How to Apply for a CDL Permit in Texas
You must apply for a CDL permit before you can be issued a full commercial license to drive. The purpose of the CDL learners permit is to give you behind-the-wheel experience by driving a CMV on public roads. However, you must be accompanied by a licensed CDL holder, older than 21 years of age, who holds the same class of CDL for the vehicle you plan to drive.
To apply for CDL learners permit credentials, you must hold a valid Texas driver license. A CDL permit is valid for 180 days, or when your Texas driver license expires; it depends on which comes first. You can renew your CDL permit one time, up to 30 days before it expires, without needing to retake the knowledge exams. Note that you must hold the CDL permit for 14 days before taking the road skills test.
CDL Written Test in Texas
You must take and pass the CDL written test at your local driver license office for the appropriate driver’s license, which includes any endorsements you wish to add to your license. The knowledge exam must be taken in the following order:
- Texas Commercial Rules
- General Knowledge
- Combination (Class A, only)
- Air Brake (if applicable)
The CDL knowledge tests are a combination of multiple-choice and matching type tests. Depending on the specific endorsements you plan to add to your CDL, you may also need to complete additional knowledge tests. To move on to the skills test, you must answer 80 percent of the questions correctly.
Texas CDL Training Schools & Practice Tests
As a CDL practice test, you can use the Texas Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers Handbook. However, the CDL handbook is not a substitution for a training class or program. For formal CDL training, you should contact the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), which is the state regulatory agency for Commercial Truck Driving training locations.
How to Get a CDL License in Texas
You can apply for CDL licensure after you have held your CDL permit for at least 14 days. You will need to provide a CMV for the driving test, and it must be representative of the type of permit you hold. If you fail to do so, you risk a restriction being placed on your license.
Then, you will need to follow the steps enforced by the DPS to get your CDL successfully. These include the below:
- Complete the CDL application (the form must be completed before you arrive)
- Provide your proof of identity
- Provide your SSN
- Pay the application fee
- Provide your thumbprint
- Pass vision exam
- Have your picture taken
- Pass the three parts of the driving test
CDL Driving Test in Texas
You will need to take the CDL driving test to transform your CDL permit into a CDL license. To schedule a road test, you may contact any CDL testing location in the state. In Texas, the CDL driving test consists of three parts:
- The vehicle inspection
- The air brake inspection test
- The on-road exam
The CDL road test consists of several maneuvers. These include the following tasks:
- Quick, smooth stopping
- Parallel parking
- Backing up
- Upshifting and downshifting
- Lane changing
- Use of lanes
- Approach to corner
- Use of traffic signals
- Knowledge of traffic signs
- Left and right turns
Depending on the specific endorsement you plan to add to your CDL, you may also need to complete additional skills tests. If you successfully perform the maneuvers, you will be issued a CDL. If not, you will need to retake the road CDL test at another time.
How to Get a CDL as a Military Member in Texas
If you have a military CDL and operate a military vehicle, you are exempt from needing to apply for a commercial license to drive in Texas. However, you will need to fill out and complete the Application for Military Skills Test Wavier form.
CDL Medical Exams in Texas
In compliance with new DOT physical requirements, you will need to submit only the medical self-certification form that applies to you, either the Intrastate Driver Certificate (Form CDL-4) or Intrastate Driver Certificate (Form CDL-5). Also, you must submit the Certification of Physical Exemption form, which should follow a CDL physical conducted by an approved medical professional.
Types of CDL Classes in Texas
When applying for a CDL in Texas, there are three classes of licenses from which to choose. These include the Class A CDL, Class B CDL and Class C CDL. They are defined, more thoroughly as:
- Class A license: Allows you to drive a combination of vehicles weighing more than 26,000 pounds while towing over 10,000 pounds.
- Class B license: Allows you to drive a single vehicleweighing more than 26,000 pounds while towing a vehicle that does not exceed 10,000 pounds.
- Class C license: Allows you to drive a single vehicleor combination of vehicles that does/do not fall into either Class A or Class B, but is designed to carry more than 16 people, including the driver, or hazardous materials or toxins.
Types of CDL Endorsements in Texas
In Texas, there are several CDL endorsements available to add to your license. These include the below:
- T: The double or triple trailers endorsement
- P: The passenger endorsement that allows you to operate a vehicle that carries a specific number of passengers
- N: The tanker endorsement that allows you to operate a tank vehicle designed to transport liquid or liquefied gaseous materials
- H: The hazardous materials, or hazmat endorsement
- S: The school bus endorsement
- X: The combination endorsement “N” and “H” that allows you to transport hazardous materials in a tank vehicle
Interstate vs. Intrastate Commercial Drivers Licenses in Texas
You will need an intrastate CDL for intrastate commerce when you are transporting property within Texas, whereby an international boundary is not crossed.
You will need an interstate CDL for interstate commerce, which is trade, traffic or transportation within the U.S. between a place in Texas and a place outside of Texas – or outside the U.S. – or between two places in Texas through another state, or outside of the U.S.
Commercial Driving License Fees in Texas
The CDL license cost figures must be satisfied to earn your credentials in Texas. These include the following:
Commercial learners permit (CLP):
- Original: $25, expires 180 days from issuance
Commercial driver license (CDL)
- Age 18 to 84: $61, expires in five years
- Age 85 and older: $26, expires two years after the previous expiration date
Texas CDL Forms
- Intrastate Driver Certificate (Form CDL-5)
- Application for Military Skills Test Waiver
- Certification of Physical Exemption
- Texas Commercial Driver License Application
- Interstate Driver Certificate (Form CDL-4)
Note: DMV forms change regularly. The forms provided above are current based on the date of writing.
- How Do I Apply for a Commercial Driver's License from dps.texas.gov
- Texas Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers Handbook from dps.texas.gov
- Commercial Driver License (CDL) Medical Certification Requirements from dps.texas.gov