Texas commercial drivers license requirements – How to apply for a CDL?

18 June, 2021

To operate a commercial motor vehicle, drivers have to prove certain special skills, pass some tests and provide documentation. Here we summarize the main Texas commercial drivers license requirements, how to apply and more…

Texas commercial drivers license requirements

What is a Texas CDL license?

A CDL, known as commercial driver license, is a professional license to drive large commercial vehicles and buses on public roadways in Texas state and in all the United States.

This license authorize driving across state lines in the United States to operate any type combination of vehicle which has vehicles with a GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) of more than 26,000 pounds (11,793 kg).

Besides, a CDL is required to drive any single vehicle with a gross weight of more than 26,000 pounds for commercial use.

See: ¿Qué es la licencia CDL en EE.UU.?

What is considered «commercial motor vehicle» in the USA?

A «commercial motor vehicle» is any towed or self-propelled vehicle, such as some trucks and buses, used on a public highway in the United States to transport passengers or products, as long as the vehicle meets the following conditions:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a GCWR (gross combination weight rating) of 11,794 kilograms or more (26,001 pounds or more) provided the GVWR of the vehicle(s) being towed is in excess of 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds).
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 11,794 kilograms or more (26,001 pounds or more), or any vehicle towing a vehicle not in excess of 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds) GVWR.
  • Single vehicles, or combination of vehicles (that meets neither the definition of previous groups), designed to transport 16 or more passengers including the driver, or if it is used in the transportation of hazardous materials.

To become a commercial motor vehicle driver, it is mandatory to obtain a CDL.

See: Illinois CDL Requirements – Apply and Avoid Disqualification

Texas commercial drivers license requirements

Texas commercial drivers license requirements vary depending on the kind of CDL applied for, but generally if you want to apply for a CDL license in Texas, you will need to:

  • Held your CLP (Commercial Learner Permit) for a minimum of 14 days
  • Complete driving tests with a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) representative of the type of CLP you hold.
  • Complete the CDL application (form Texas Commercial Driver License Application)
  • Provide these documentation:
    • Identity
    • SSN – Social Security Number
    • Application for the issuance of a CDL
    • Pay the application fee.
  • Provide your thumbprints and a picture of you.
  • Pass Vision Exam.
  • Pass driving test:
    • Vehicle Inspection (Pre-trip) Test
    • Basic Vehicle Control Test
    • Road Test

**** If you do not meet the physical requirements necessary to obtain a CDL license, you can anyway apply for a Texas Intrastate Vision Waiver or a Texas Intrastate Limb Waiver. In case it is approved, you will be restricted to intrastate driving. To apply for these waivers, you must have a valid Texas driver license.

Texas CDL Requirements – Summarize

As a summary regarding Texas commercial drivers license requirements, drivers must hold:

  • Texas driver license
  • Commercial Learner Permit
  • Proof of their Social Security number,
  • Complete an application, a medical certification, and an interstate or intrastate driver certification form (CDL-4, CDL-5, or CDL-10) to certify that they meet or are exempt from certain physical requirements.

Any driver holding a CDL license proves that he has

  • Passed certain courses
  • Provided some documentation
  • Met certain requirements

How old do you have to be to get a CDL in Texas?

To drive intrastate (within state lines), drivers must be at least 18 years of age. But if you drive interstate (commercial vehicles across state lines) and/or haul hazardous materials or transport passengers, is mandatory to be 21 years old.

Texas CDL Requirements

Who has to apply for a CLP?

If you are applying for a CDL for the first time, or in case you need upgrading your existing CDL (Class B to Class A, or Class C to Class), or if you have to adding a passenger or school bus endorsement to an existing CDL, you will must to obtain and hold a CLP for at least 14 days.

A CLP allows you to practice on public roads in a commercial motor vehicle with a qualified CDL license operator, who must have at least 21 years of age, hold the same class of CDL as the vehicle you are driving and sitting next to you.

You must hold the CLP for 14 days before taking required exams.

To obtain a CLP, you have to hold a valid Texas driver license.

See: Licencia de conducir en Texas – Pasos, documentos y requisitos

Texas CLP Requirements

Among other requirements:

  • Texas driver license
  • U.S. Citizenship (or evidence of lawful presence)
  • Texas Residency Identity
  • Social Security Number
  • Self-Certification Of Medical Status
  • Medical Examiners Certificate
  • Proof of Texas Vehicle Registration (must be current).
  • Proof of Insurance

Any CDL holder must complete one of the following forms for medical certification.

Steps to follow

  1. Complete the CDL application.
  2. Make an appointment at your local driver license office.
  3. Provide documentation
    • CDL application for the issuance of CLP.
    • U.S. Citizenship
    • Texas Residency
    • Identity
    • Social Security Number
  4. Pay the application fee.
  5. Provide your thumbprints and have your picture taken
  6. Approve Vision Exam.
  7. Pass the knowledge test:
    • Texas Commercial Rules
    • General Knowledge
    • Combination (Class A Only)
    • Air Brake (If applicable)
    • Endorsements
  8. Schedule your skills test at the CDL testing locations.

Important considerations

First, it is important to identify which CDL license do you need.

There are different classes of CDLs license, depending on the GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) of the vehicle or vehicles towed, as well as CDLs to operate transportation in interstate and/or intrastate commerce.

It is also worth considering that some vehicles and operations require endorsements.

Texas commercial drivers license requirements

See: How to be a truck driver for Walmart?

CDL License Classes

There are three basic classes of CDLs, each one with its owns characteristics of weight and types of transports allowed:

  • Class A –Vehicles with a gross combination weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more, as long the GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) of the vehicle or vehicles towed exceeds 10,000 pounds.
  • Class B – Vehicles with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more. About vehicles towing a vehicle: not exceed 10,000 pounds GVWR. Any vehicle designed and used to transport 24 passengers or more, including the driver. In case of skills test taken in a bus, GVWR of the vehicle must be less than 26,001 pounds.
  • Class C – Single vehicles or combinations of vehicles, other than Class A or B, designed and used to transport 16 to 23 passengers including the driver, or used in the transportation of hazardous materials (placarded under 49 CFR, Part 172, Subpart F.)

Interstate / Intrastate CDL

Applying for an interstate commerce CDL allows you to operate interstate and intrastate commerce, except that you specifically apply for an interstate CDL to operate within a certain capacity.

Texas commercial drivers license requirements
  • Interstate Commerce – Trade, traffic or transportation in the U.S. between someplace in a state and a place outside such state or outside the U.S. / between two places in a state through another state or outside the U.S.
  • Intrastate Commerce – Transportation of property (commodities), where the origin and destination are within one state and the state line / An international boundary is not crossed.


Not all holders of CDL license needs endorsements. It depends on what are you transporting. An endorsement allows you to drive and operate some commercial vehicles and also transport specific things. You may need one or more of these six endorsements:

  • Double/Triple Trailer (T endorsement)
  • Passenger (P endorsement)
  • Tank Vehicle (N endorsement)
  • Hazardous Materials (H)
  • School Bus (S)
  • Combination of N and H (X)

Depending on the type of endorsement, you may be required to pass a knowledge test, a
driving test or be issued a CLP.

Where can I prepare for tests required to Texas commercial driver’s license?

Career Schools and Colleges, including Commercial Truck Driving training locations, are regulated by TWC (Texas Workforce Commission), a state regulatory agency for programs regulated by the TWC. Visit it website.

Texas CDL requirements

How much does it cost to get a CDL in Texas?

  • A Commercial Driver License in Texas has a fee of $60.00 for 5 years.
  • However, if a driver already has a valid Texas driver license (Class A, B, or C) and converts to a CDL, he will receive a $4.00 credit for each full year remaining on the current license.
  • Applicants who get a CLP (Commercial Leaners Permit) just have to pay a $24.00 fee.
  • A $10.00 fee is required for drivers who need to change the class or type of license, endorsement, or restrictions, or one that adds a class of vehicle to a CDL, as well as for a replacement (duplicate) license.

In which cases can drivers be disqualified?

Drivers who refuse to submit to a Blood-Alcohol Content test while driving a commercial motor vehicle will lose their CDL for the period of time specified in the Texas law.

Other disqualifications that could cause to lose a CDL included:

  • If you are convicted of certain offenses.
  • If you are convicted of certain types of moving violations in your personal vehicle, included in Texas Transportation Code 522.0
  • Alcohol, leaving the scene of an accident or commission of a felony
    Two serious traffic offenses (i.e. excessive speeding, etc.)

Here, in DPS (Texas Department of Public Safety) website, you can read about Commercial Driver License (CDL) Disqualifications in DPS (Texas Department of Public Safety).

Which vehicles are exempt from a Commercial Driver License?

The following vehicles are exempt from a CDL in Texas:

  • Vehicles controlled and operated by a farmer, used to transport agricultural products, farm machinery, or farm supplies to/from a farm, as long as been used within 150 air miles of the person’s farm.
  • A fire-fighting or emergency vehicle used for the preservation of life/ property / emergency governmental functions, if it is operated by an employee of a political subdivision / by a volunteer firefighter.
  • Military vehicles operated for military purposes by military personnel / members of the Reserves and National Guard / National Guard duty.
  • A recreational vehicle that is driven for personal use.
  • Vehicles owned, leased, or controlled by an air carrier, as defined by TRC (Texas Transportation Code), Section 21.155, driven or operated by an employee of the air carrier only on the premises of an airport, as defined by the TRC, Section 6.
  • A vehicle used exclusively to transport seed cotton modules /cotton burrs.

Where can I find more information about Texas commercial driver’s license requirements?

Please read the Texas Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver’s Handbook (or Spanish Version: Manual Para Conductor de Vehiculo Comercial – Texas) to help you in obtaining your Commercial Learner Permit and you Commercial Driver License.

Texas Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver’s Handbook is the best and most reliable place to get information.

For more information about Texas Vehicle Registration, visit Texas DMV vehicle registration.

We also recommend these information sources:

How do I apply commercial driver licence

Commercial Driver License (CDL) Medical Certification Requirement

And see Trucker Country website.