Obtaining a CDL Permit and License

Important Self-Certification Information for all Commercial Drivers

By January 30, 2014 all CDL drivers are required under Federal regulation to inform the RMV of the type of commerce they plan to operate within (interstate or intrastate) and whether or not they are required to hold a medical certificate. This notification is called self-certification. It is called self-certification because the driver alone needs to determine the self-certification category he/she falls into based on his/her driving information.

Beginning August 15, 2012 customers who wish to obtain, or who currently hold a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) that is being renewed, upgraded, or transferred from another State, will be required to complete their CDL Self-Certification. The CDL Self-Certification Form and a copy of the medical certificate, if applicable, must be presented at the time of the transaction.

If a driver's medical examiner's certificate is only valid with a vision, diabetes, or skills performance evaluation variance granted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the driver will also need to provide this documentation to the RMV.

CDL drivers that will not be completing a transaction with the RMV between now and January 30, 2014, do not have to visit a RMV branch office at this time. Compliance information for these drivers will be available in early 2013.

Click here for the CDL Self-Certification Form.

Click here for the CDL Self-Certification Policy.

Click here for a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The following chart lists the Commercial Driver License classes, endorsements, and testing requirements. There are a number of endorsements which require a written exam but not a road test.

CDL Class Tests Required Possible Endorsements and Required Tests
Class A
(Combination vehicle endorsement required)

General Knowledge Written Exam

Combination Endorsement Written Exam

Road Exam

H - Hazardous Materials Written Exam
N - Tank Vehicles Written Exam
P - Passenger Transport Written and Road Exam
T - Doubles/Triples Written Exam
X - HazMat and Tank Vehicles Written Exam
L - Air Brakes Written and Road Exam
S - School Bus Written and Road Exam
Class B

General Knowledge Written Exam

Road Exam

H - Hazardous Materials Written Exam
N - Tank Vehicles Written Exam
P - Passenger Transport Written and Road Exam
X - HazMat and Tank Vehicles Written Exam
L - Air Brakes Written and Road Exam
S - School Bus Written and Road Exam
Class C

General Knowledge Written Exam

Road Exam

Note: If upgrading to a Class C from a Class D, no road test is required UNLESS the endorsement requires one.
H - Hazardous Materials Written Exam
N - Tank Vehicles Written Exam
P - Passenger Transport Written and Road Exam
X - HazMat and Tank Vehicles Written Exam
L - Air Brakes Written and Road Exam
S - School Bus Written and Road Exam

Eligibility Requirements for CDL Permit and License

If you are at least 21 years of age and have not had your driver's license or right to operate taken away by the Registrar, you may apply for an interstate (all states) transport CDL permit at any RMV full-service office. If you are at least 18 years of age and have not had your driver's license or right to operate taken away by the Registrar, you may apply for an intrastate (Massachusetts only) transport CDL permit at any RMV full-service office.

Documentation Requirements

If you do not have an existing Massachusetts license at the time of application and you are 18 years of age or older, you must present all of the following:

  • Document proving date of birth
  • Document proving signature
  • Document proving Massachusetts residency

All documents must be originals. Photocopies will not be accepted.

Federal law requires that commercial drivers have a social security number. Your Social Security Number must verify with the Social Security Administration.

Your application will be processed through the National Driver Register and the Commercial Driver License Information System to verify the status of your operating privileges in other jurisdictions.

D.O.T. Medical Certifcate

Drivers of commercial vehicles over 10,000 lbs. must carry a valid US Department of Transportation (D.O.T.) approved medical certificate. Also, drivers transporting 15 or more passengers or carrying placarded hazardous materials, regardless of vehicle size, are required to carry a D.O.T. medical certificate. The only exception from this certification is state or municipal employees using a state or municipal vehicle. Contact the D.O.T. for information on this medical certificate.

To Obtain Your CDL Permit

Complete the Initial CDL Application. This form is available at any RMV full service office. You may also download it from the Forms and Files section on our website.

You must present the application, the required identification documentation, and the $30.00 written test fee, and the fee for any endorsements, in person, to any RMV full service office to take the written test. The test is given on an automated testing system on a walk-in basis up to two (2) hours before the branch's closing time.

Written Exam Information
Exam Time Allowed (Minutes) # of Questions on Exam # of Correct Answers Needed to Pass
General Knowledge 60 50 40
Air Brakes 25 25 20
HazMat 30 30 24
Tank 20 20 16
Passenger 20 20 16
Doubles/Triples 20 20 16
Combination Vehicles 20 20 16
School Bus 20 20 16

Commercial Driver's License Manuals are available at RMV Branch offices or on this website. You should study the manual before applying for a CDL permit. If you are applying for a school bus license, you must also study the 2004 Model Commercial Driver's License Section 10 School Bus Manual. This document is also available at branch offices.

At the time of your written test, you must also pass an eye screening for field vision and basic colors.

If you pass the written test, you will receive a 2-year permit. Practice driving your commercial vehicle during this time.

If you fail the written test and you do not currently have a Massachusetts license in another class, you must present the required sources of identification documentation and take the required tests again the next time you apply for a permit. Please refer to the list of identification requirements to ensure that you bring the necessary documents with you.

Fees

The fee for the CDL general knowledge written test is $30.00. The fee for each CDL endorsement test you take at the same time as the general knowledge test is $10.00.

If you take a CDL endorsement test after the CDL permit or license has been issued, the fee will be $30.00. Each additional endorsement test you take during this same transaction will be an additional $10.00.

The fee for a road test is $35.00.

Operation of a Vehicle with a CDL Permit

You may only operate a vehicle for the same class permit that you hold. You must be accompanied by a licensed operator who holds a valid license with the correct class and endorsements for the vehicle you are operating. Your permit MUST be with you while you are operating the vehicle.

Expired CDL Permit

Permits expire two (2) years from the date of issue. If your permit expires and you want to get a new permit, you need to present the required sources of identification, take and pass the written tests, and pay the $30 written test fee plus the fee for any endorsements.

Applying for a Commercial Driver's License

A road test is usually required when applying for a Commercial License. If you already have a Class D license and are applying for a Class C license, a road test is required only if you are also applying for passenger, school bus, and/or air brakes endorsements.

Once you have passed the written permit test, you should practice driving in a Commercial vehicle. When you are ready to take a road test, you must call the RMV Telephone Center to schedule your road test. All road tests must be scheduled by the Telephone Center. You may NOT make a road test appointment in person.

Requirements for Road Test

Bring the following to the road test:

  • a completed Initial CDL Application for your license
  • your valid CDL permit
  • your current driver's license (if applicable)
  • a valid D.O.T medical certificate or medical waiver
  • a qualified sponsor
  • a properly equipped vehicle with proof of insurance coverage
  • vehicle registration

For all road tests, you are required to supply a properly equipped, legally registered and insured vehicle that has a valid inspection sticker. It also must be of the proper type and manufacturer's gross vehicle weight rating for the class license you are applying for, and it must pass a safety check by the examiner.

If the vehicle is rented, you must provide the rental agreement and written permission on the rental company's letterhead authorizing use of the vehicle for a road test.

To take the road test, you must bring a sponsor who has a valid Commercial driver's license with the proper endorsements for the vehicle class you are using. Your sponsor must also have a current D.O.T. Medical Certificate.

Taking the Road Test

The following describes the types of skills that will be tested during a CDL road test.

Pre-trip Vehicle Inspection
During the pre-trip vehicle inspection, you will be asked to do a vehicle inspection and point out to the examiner what you would inspect on the vehicle and why.

Basic Vehicle Control
During the basic vehicle control part of the road test, the examiner will test the your ability to control the vehicle. You will be required to navigate the commercial vehicle between cones or barriers and demonstrate control of the vehicle.

On-Road Test
During the on-road test portion of the road exam, you will be tested on your skill to drive the commercial vehicle in a variety of traffic situations.

  • Passed Road Test
    The road test examiner will stamp and sign your permit indicating you passed the road test and return it to you.


  • Failed Road Test
    The road test examiner will stamp your permit to indicate the parts of the road test that were failed and return it to you.
Obtaining a Commercial Driver's License

Pass the road test before the expiration date on your permit.

To receive your Commercial Driver's License, you must bring the stamped, signed permit and the appropriate fees to any RMV full service office.

Upgrading to a Commercial Driver's License

Class D to Class C

To upgrade from a Class D license to a Class C license, you need to take and pass the general knowledge written test. You should also obtain at least one of the following endorsements, in addition to any other endorsements requested:

  • The P Endorsement
  • The H Endorsement

You are not required to take a road test for the Class C driver's license. However, if the requested endorsement requires a road test, you must take the road test for that endorsement before obtaining the Class C driver's license. There is not a benefit to obtaining a Class C driver's license without an endorsement because there are no specific commercial motor vehicles that require a Class C license on its own. You will be issued your Commercial License after passing the required written test and paying all applicable fees.

Class D to a Class A or B

Upgrading from a Class D license to a Class A requires the general knowledge written test, combination vehicle endorsement written test, and written tests for any other endorsement you select. You will also be required to take a road test in a Class A vehicle. See Applying for a Commercial Driver's License section for information about road tests. You will be issued your Commercial License after passing the road test and paying all applicable fees.

Upgrading from a Class D license to a Class B requires the general knowledge written test and written tests for any other endorsements you select. You will also be required to take a road test in a Class B vehicle. See Applying for a Commercial Driver's License section for information about road tests. You will be issued your Commercial License after passing the road test and paying all applicable fees.

Adding Endorsement(s) to a Massachusetts Commercial License

Refer to the CDL Class chart at the beginning of this section to determine what type of test you need to take for a specific endorsement.

A written test is required for all endorsements. A written test and a road test are required for Airbrake, Passenger, and School Bus endorsements.

Obtaining or Renewing a Hazardous Materials Endorsement

There are two requirements you must meet before obtaining or renewing a Hazardous Materials Endorsement.

  • Apply for and successfully pass the Transportation Security Administration's Security Background Check. This is now required for all Hazardous Materials Endorsement applicants. It could take approximately 60 days or more to receive the results.

    Call 1-877-429-7746 or go to https://hazprints.tsa.dhs.gov to begin the process.

  • Take and pass the Hazardous Materials Endorsement exam. You can do this at the same time you obtain or renew your Commercial Driver's License.

Click here to see the Hazardous Materials Endorsement brochure for more information.

Note: You can still obtain or renew a Commercial Driver's License without the Hazardous Materials Endorsement if you do not meet the criteria listed above.

Converting an Out-of-State Commercial Driver's License

When converting an out-of-state CDL, the written and road tests may be waived if the CMV operator is currently licensed at the time of his/her application, and the following criteria are met:

  1. An applicant must certify that, during the two-year period immediately prior to applying for a CDL he/she:
    1. Has not had more than one license;
    2. Has not had any license suspended, revoked, or canceled;
    3. Has not had any convictions for any type of motor vehicle for the disqualifying offenses contained in 49 CFR § 383.51(b);
    4. Has not had more than one conviction for any type of motor vehicle for serious traffic violations; and
    5. Has not had any conviction for a violation of State or local law relating to motor vehicle traffic control (other than a parking violation) arising in connection with any traffic accident, and has no record of an accident in which he/she was at fault; and
  2. An applicant must provide evidence and certify that:
    1. He/she is regularly employed in a job requiring operation of a CMV; and
    2. He/she has operated, for at least 2 years immediately preceding application for a CDL, a vehicle representative of the commercial motor vehicle the driver

The following documentation must be provided for waiver consideration:

  • Current out-of-state Commercial Driver's License
  • A copy of a driving record from a previous state of licensure, indicating that the customer has the minimum requirement of two years of experience from the date of issuance of the Commercial Driver's License
  • Verification of employment on company letterhead, which must contain dates of employment and class of vehicle operated

If the above requirements are met, the customer can obtain a Massachusetts Commercial Driver's License without taking the general knowledge exam or a road test. If the customer cannot meet the above requirements, the out-of-state Commercial Driver's License can be converted to a Massachusetts Class D driver's license. The out-of-state license must be surrendered at this time. The customer may then apply for a Massachusetts Commercial Learner's Permit. Customers must pass the written and road tests in order to obtain the Commercial Driver's License.

The conversion process is the same for all commercial motor vehicle classes (Class A, Class B, and Class C). However, note that some states issue non-commercial Class A, B, and/or C driver's licenses that do not qualify as Commercial Driver's Licenses under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's definition. These can only be converted into a Massachusetts Class D driver's license.

Expired Commercial Driver's Licenses cannot be converted. However, an out-of-state Commercial Driver's License that has been expired for less than four years can be converted to a Massachusetts Class D driver's license.

Transferring Endorsements

When a customer applies for a Commercial Driver's License out-of-state conversion, he/she may also choose to transfer the endorsements on the previous Commercial Driver's License. However, due to federal requirements, a H Endorsement is not transferable. To receive a H Endorsement on a Massachusetts Commercial Driver's License, the customer must reapply for the endorsement.



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