A commercial driver license (CDL) is a type of driver license an individual can apply for to transport interstate or intrastate commerce.
With the exception of motorcycles and mopeds, individuals who hold a valid CDL may drive all vehicles in the class for which that license is issued, including their personal vehicle, so long as all applicable restrictions and endorsements are adhered to.
Any vehicle that requires an endorsement (i.e. school bus, hazardous material, etc.) may not be driven unless the proper endorsement appears on the CDL.
Individuals are required to have a CDL if they operate a motor vehicle:
Any individual whose driver license is currently suspended, cancelled or revoked in Texas or in any other state is not eligible for a CDL.
Individuals who operate any of the following vehicles are not required to obtain a CDL but must have the correct class of driver license for the vehicle they are operating. Individuals must also certify to the Texas Class A or B Driver License Application - Non-CDL Exempt Vehicles (CDL-2). See CDL-Exempt Vehicle Test Sites.
Interstate versus Intrastate
Individuals may apply for a CDL that allows the transportation of either interstate or intrastate commerce. At the driver license office, individuals must specify if they are applying for interstate or intrastate commerce.
The Bill of Lading will be an indicator as to whether a shipment or commodity is interstate or intrastate. If there is not a Bill of Lading then the origin and destination of the shipment will be an indicator.
For information on the requirements needed to apply for an intrastate or interstate CDL please see the Texas Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers Handbook.
A Commercial Learner Permit (CLP) will be issued to individuals applying for a CDL for the first time, upgrading (Class C to Class B or Class A, or Class B to Class A).
Apply for a CDL
To apply for a Texas CDL or CLP, an individual must:
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) may waive the knowledge and skills tests and issue a restricted CDL to an individual who is an employee of a farm-related service industry. The applicant must certify to the Texas Commercial Driver License Application - Restricted Commercial Driver License (CDL-1F) and meet all other CDL requirements.
NOTE: A CDL with a Farm-Related Service Industry waiver is only issued for Class B and Class C vehicles.
Individuals who do not meet the physical requirements necessary to obtain a CDL may be eligible to apply for a Texas Intrastate Vision Waiver or a Texas Intrastate Limb Waiver. If the waiver is approved, individuals will be restricted to intrastate driving. The driver must certify the Texas Commercial Driver Application Intrastate Driver Certification - Section B and provide a valid DOT medical examiners certificate (CDL-5).
The application packet must be fully completed then returned to DPS within 45 days of the physical examination date.
Texas Department of Public Safety
License and Record Service
P.O. Box 4087
Austin, TX 78773-0320
NOTE: An individual must have a valid Texas driver license to obtain a Texas Intrastate Vision and Limb Waiver. Individuals must surrender their out-of-state license, obtain a Texas Class C driver license then apply for the waiver. If the waiver is approved, the individual must retest for a Texas CDL and obtain a CDL with the appropriate restrictions within 60 days of the approval.
The SPE Certification Program, formerly the Limb Waiver Program, is a federally-sponsored program available to certain individuals who hold a CDL. This program provides an opportunity for some individuals who would otherwise be medically unqualified to obtain a CDL to apply for and maintain an interstate CDL.
For more information on the SPE Certification Program or other interstate medical variances that are available including the Federal Diabetes Exemption Program, please visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
The Federal Diabetes and Vision Exemption Programs have specific requirements for each application. For more information on these programs please visit the FMCSA Driver Exemption Programs.
Endorsements and Restrictions
For more information on how to apply for an endorsement or to have a restriction code removed, please visit the Driver License Endorsements and Restrictions web page.
CDL Third Party Skills Testing Program
The Texas Commercial Driver License (CDL) Third Party Skills Testing (TPST) program was implemented April 3, 2017. Please visit CDL Third Party Skills Testing Program web page for more information.