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CDL License Requirements by California

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CDL License Requirements by California

Obtaining a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) in California involves meeting several state-specific requirements and completing various steps to ensure you are qualified to operate commercial vehicles. Here’s a detailed breakdown of what you need to know to get your CDL in California.

Basic Requirements

  1. Age Requirement:
    • You must be at least 18 years old to apply for a CDL for intrastate (within California) driving.
    • You must be 21 years old to drive interstate (between states) or to transport hazardous materials.
  2. Residency:
    • You must be a legal resident of California and provide proof of residency.
  3. Social Security Number:
    • You need to provide a valid Social Security Number.

Steps to Obtain a CDL

  1. Obtain a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP):
    • Study the CDL Handbook: Familiarize yourself with the California Commercial Driver Handbook, which can be found here.
    • Complete the Application: Fill out the California CDL application form (DL 44C), available at DMV offices.
    • Submit Documentation: Provide proof of identity, residency, and your Social Security Number.
    • Medical Examination: Submit a Medical Examination Report (Form MCSA-5875) and a Medical Examiner’s Certificate (Form MCSA-5876). More information on the medical requirements can be found here.
    • Pass the Written Tests: Take and pass the written knowledge tests for the type of CDL you are seeking. You may also need to pass additional tests for specific endorsements.
    • Pay the Fee: Pay the required fee for the CLP.
  2. Complete Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT):
    • As of February 7, 2022, you must complete ELDT from a registered training provider before taking the CDL skills test. For more information, visit the FMCSA’s ELDT page.
  3. Practice with Your CLP:
    • You must hold your CLP for at least 14 days before taking the skills test. Use this time to practice driving under the supervision of a qualified CDL holder.
  4. Schedule and Pass the Skills Test:
    • Pre-trip Inspection: Demonstrate a thorough inspection of the vehicle.
    • Basic Vehicle Control: Show proficiency in basic control of the vehicle.
    • On-Road Driving: Successfully navigate a road test, demonstrating safe driving practices and adherence to traffic laws.
    • You can schedule your skills test through the California DMV’s appointment system.
  5. Pay the CDL Fee:
    • After passing the skills test, pay the required fee for the CDL issuance.
  6. Receive Your CDL:
    • Once all the steps are completed and fees are paid, you will receive your CDL.


To operate certain types of commercial vehicles or transport specific goods, you may need additional endorsements. Common endorsements include:

  • Hazardous Materials (H): Requires passing a written test and undergoing a background check.
  • Passenger (P): Requires passing a written test and a skills test in a passenger vehicle.
  • Tank Vehicle (N): Requires passing a written test.
  • Doubles/Triples (T): Requires passing a written test.

Each endorsement may have specific requirements and tests, so be sure to check the California DMV guidelines for detailed information.

Links to Official Resources and Forms

By following these steps and utilizing the provided resources, you can navigate the process of obtaining your CDL in California efficiently. Make sure to stay informed about any updates to regulations or requirements to ensure compliance and a smooth application process. Safe driving!