FAQ
Commercial Drivers - General Questions
How do I apply for an original Commercial Driver License (CDL)?

To apply for an original Commercial Driver License (CDL) you will need to show your valid Michigan driver's license, proof of U.S. Citizenship or Legal Presence and proof of your Social Security number. Acceptable proof is your Social Security card, W-2 income tax form, an employee paycheck stub showing either your name and Social Security number or a military identification card.

For a CDL Group A driver's license, a general knowledge written test and a combination vehicle written test are required. For a CDL Group B or C driver's license, only the general knowledge written test is required. A written test is required for each CDL endorsement (H-Hazardous Material, N-Tank, P-Passenger, S-School Bus, and T-Double Trailers.) If the vehicle you will be driving is equipped with air brakes, an air brake knowledge written test is required. If you are applying for a hazardous materials endorsement, you must present proof of U.S. Citizenship or Lawful Permanent Residence, and a Federal Security Threat Assessment

A driving skills test consisting of a Pre-trip Vehicle Inspection Test, a Basic Vehicle Control Skills Test and an On-road Driving Test must be successfully completed through a Road Skills Testing Organization.

For more complete information about obtaining a CDL, you may download a Commercial Driver License Manual.

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How do I convert an out-of-state Commercial Driver License (CDL) to a Michigan CDL?

If you currently have a hazardous materials endorsement, federal rules require you to take the hazardous materials written test every time you renew the endorsement.

You must present a Federal Security Threat Assessment letter from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)  and proof of U.S. Citizenship or Lawful Permanent Residence to renew a CDL with a hazardous materials endorsement. 

A vision test must be passed. No other CDL written tests are required unless you want to upgrade the group designator, remove an air brake restriction, or add a new endorsement when renewing your license.

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What tests are necessary to renew a Commercial Driver License (CDL)?

If you currently have a hazardous materials endorsement, federal rules require you to take the hazardous materials written test every time you renew the endorsement.

You must present a Federal Security Threat Assessment letter from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and proof of U.S. Citizenship or Lawful Permanent Residence to renew a CDL with a hazardous materials endorsement.

A vision test must be passed. No other CDL written tests are required unless you want to upgrade the group designator, remove an air brake restriction, or add a new endorsement when renewing your license.

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If I currently have a hazardous materials endorsement, do I need to apply for a background record check before I renew?

You should apply for a federal background records check with the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) Universal Enrollment Services at:   https://universalenroll.dhs.gov/ approximately 45-60 days before you renew your license.

If you receive the TSA letter of approval by the time you wish to renew, bring the letter with you when you visit a Secretary of State office to renew. You should receive your photo license with the hazardous materials endorsement within two weeks of your renewal application.

If your photo license has not expired and you wish to renew before receiving TSA's letter, you may renew your license and will  receive a 90-day temporary operator permit (TOP) with a hazardous material endorsement. Your photo license will not be produced until the Secretary of State receives TSA's response.  If the Secretary of State does not receive a TSA response  and you do not receive a TSA letter prior to the expiration of the 90-day TOP, you must return to a Secretary of State office and re-apply for a driver license without the hazardous material endorsement.

§  If  the Secretary of State receives a TSA response of "approved" prior to the expiration of the 90-day TOP, you will  receive your photo license with the hazardous materials endorsement within two weeks of the Secretary of State receiving the TSA response; or

§  If the Secretary of State receives a TSA response of "denied"  prior to the expiration of the  90-day TOP, you will receive your photo license without the hazardous material endorsement, within two weeks of the Secretary of State receiving the TSA response.

If your photo license is expired when you renew, you will receive a 60-day TOP without a hazardous material endorsement. You will be allowed drive other vehicles and will receive a photo license without the hazardous materials endorsement. When you receive a TSA response of "approved" you  must return to a Secretary of State office and pay a fee to add the hazardous materials endorsement. 

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How do I apply for the background record check?

You cannot apply for a hazardous materials endorsement and request a federal background record check if:

  1. Your driving privilege is currently suspended, revoked or denied.
     
  2. You do not meet the federal standards established by the USA PATRIOT Act or you have a federal disqualification. The disqualifications are listed beginning in 49 C.F.R. 1572.103 and at the TSA website.

Universal Enrollment Services (UES) is responsible for coordinating the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) approved fingerprint office locations in Michigan. Please visit UES at https://universalenroll.dhs.gov/ or you may call the UES call center at their toll-free number 855-347-8371 to help you preregister for a background record check, inquire about enrollment statuses, or answer any questions. UES' call center hours of operation are from 8:00am to 10pm Eastern, Monday through Friday.
 
You should complete a federal background record check application 45-60 days before you need your hazardous materials endorsement. However, you will first be required to complete ALL of the following before the TSA fingerprint collection offices listed at https://universalenroll.dhs.gov/ can collect your fingerprints:

  1. Preregister online at https://universalenroll.dhs.gov/ or call UES' call center at their toll-free number: 855-347-8371.  
     
  2. If you do not pay the required fingerprint fee when you pre-register, you will be required to pay the fee at the *in-person enrollment before you will be fingerprinted. You may pay with a credit card or money order, company check, or certified/cashier's check payable to MorphoTrust USA. Enrollment centers accept Visa®, MasterCard®, American Express, and Discover credit cards. Cash and personal checks are NOT accepted.
     
  3. Appear in person at a TSA approved fingerprint office to have your fingerprints collected. The fingerprint office will ask you to present acceptable enrollment document(s) listed at: https://www.tsa.gov/sites/default/files/
    precheckapplicationprogramrequiredid_factsheet_071615-508.pdf
    before the technician can take your fingerprints.
     
  4. Upon completing the preregistration for a federal background records check, you will be given a confirmation number for your records and to use if you need to contact MorphoTrust after you have pre-enrolled.
     
  5. Before going to a fingerprint office, please also visit https://universalenroll.dhs.gov/ to ensure you have everything you need to be fingerprinted and to check for any fingerprint office alerts.

* In-person enrollment is completed at the fingerprint location where you will provide Transportation Security Administration (TSA) acceptable enrollment documents found at: https://www.tsa.gov/sites/default/files/
precheckapplicationprogramrequiredid_factsheet_071615-508.pdf
and provide your fingerprints. Preregistering significantly reduces the amount of time you will spend at the fingerprint office. 

 

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How much will this cost?

The Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) fee for a background record check is $86.50.

If you do not pay the required fingerprint fee when you pre-register you will be required to pay the fee at the *in-person enrollment before you can be fingerprinted. You may pay with a credit card or money order, company check, or certified/cashier's check payable to Morpho Trust USA. Enrollment centers accept Visa®, MasterCard®, American Express, and Discover credit cards. Cash and personal checks are NOT accepted. These fees were established by the TSA.

The state of Michigan does not collect or receive any fees related to the background checks. The $86.50 is for the federal background check only and does not cover any other driver licensing fees.

In-person enrollment is completed at the fingerprint location where you will provide Transportation Security Administration (TSA) acceptable enrollment documents found at: https://www.tsa.gov/sites/default/files/
precheckapplicationprogramrequiredid_factsheet_071615-508.pdf
and provide your fingerprints. Preregistering significantly reduces the amount of time you will spend at the fingerprint office.

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Why should I preregister?

Preregistering means that you applied to have a federal background records check completed ahead of being fingerprinted. You may preregister at: https://universalenroll.dhs.gov/ or you may call the Universal Enrollment Services (UES) call center at their toll-free number 855-347-8371. If you do not preregister before visiting a UES fingerprint location, you will be asked to preregister before any further action is taken. Written applications are not completed at the fingerprint location and will not be accepted at the fingerprint location.  

If you pre-registered but did not pay the required fingerprint fee of $86.50 you will be required to pay the fee at the *in-person enrollment before you are fingerprinted. You may pay with a credit card or money order, company check, or certified/cashier's check payable to MorphoTrust USA. Enrollment centers accept Visa®, MasterCard®, American Express, and Discover credit cards. Cash and personal checks are NOT accepted.

* In-person enrollment is completed at the fingerprint location where you will provide Transportation Security Administration (TSA) acceptable enrollment documents found at: https://www.tsa.gov/sites/default/files/
precheckapplicationprogramrequiredid_factsheet_071615-508.pdf

and provide your fingerprints. Preregistering significantly reduces the amount of time you will spend at the fingerprint office.

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How long does the background record check take?

TSA estimates that most background record checks will take 30 days or less, however in some instances the process can take up to 60 days and in rare instances longer.  An example of a rare instance is to have to take your fingerprints a second time; there is no fee for the second fingerprinting and you will be contacted by TSA if a reprint is needed.  If you have not received the results of the background record check (BRC) by U.S. mail after 30 days please visit the Universal Enrollment Services website at:  https://universalenroll.dhs.gov/ or call the UES call center's toll-free number 855-347-8371 to inquire about the status of your BRC results.  The UES' call center hours of operation are from 8:00am to 10pm Eastern, Monday through Friday.

When contacting UES, you will be required to provide identifying information such as your name, social security number, or commercial driver license number to initiate a status inquiry. Status information will not be given to others affiliated with you, such as associates, family members, spouses, or employers. Additionally, no specific information that indicates whether or not you may pose a security threat will be provided over the phone. 

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How will I know if I passed the background record check?

TSA will notify you of its decision by letter. TSA will also notify the Secretary of State, however, you may receive your letter before the Secretary of State receives and updates the TSA results to your driving record. To avoid unnecessary delays be sure to bring the TSA letter when you visit a Secretary of State office to apply for your driver license.

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Where can I go to get a fingerprint check completed?

You may have your fingerprints collected at any TSA approved fingerprint office location in any TSA agent state. Please search for the locations nearest you at https://universalenroll.dhs.gov/locator.

You should preregister with TSA before visiting the TSA approved fingerprint office.

If you pre-registered but did not pay the required fingerprint fee of $86.50 you will be required to pay the fee at the in-person enrollment* before you are fingerprinted. You may pay with a credit card or money order, company check, or certified/cashier's check payable to MorphoTrust USA. Enrollment centers accept Visa®, MasterCard®, American Express, and Discover credit cards. Cash and personal checks are NOT accepted.

*In-person enrollment is completed at the fingerprint location where you will provide Transportation Security Administration (TSA) acceptable enrollment documents found at: https://www.tsa.gov/sites/default/files/precheckapplicationprogramrequiredid_factsheet_071615-508.pdf and provide your fingerprints. Preregistering significantly reduces the amount of time you will spend at the fingerprint office.

Michigan's TSA Fingerprint Offices Are Closed On Federal Holidays.

Please check for additional business day closures around the holidays at: https://universalenroll.dhs.gov/locator.

Inclement weather conditions in MI may cause a TSA fingerprint office location to close; please call the

UES call center's** toll-free number 855-DHS-UES1 (855-347-8371) or check the Universal Enrollment Services (UES) site at:  https://universalenroll.dhs.gov/locator for office closure announcements. 

TSA Results: If you have not received a letter from TSA two weeks after you have been fingerprinted, please call the UES call center's** toll-free number 855-DHS-UES1 (855-347-8371) to inquire about the status of your background record check results.

**The UES' call center hours of operation are from 8:00am to 10pm Eastern, Monday through Friday.
 
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Will I be required to show any identification when I get fingerprinted?

Yes, the fingerprint office will ask you to present documents from TSA's acceptable enrollment document lists found at: https://www.tsa.gov/sites/default/files/
precheckapplicationprogramrequiredid_factsheet_071615-508.pdf

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Why do I have to provide my fingerprints every four years?

The Federal USA PATRIOT Act established in 2005 requires fingerprints be taken and a federal background records check be completed before issuance of a new or renewed hazardous materials endorsement.  Transportation Security Administration (TSA) approval for a hazardous materials endorsement is valid for 5-years from the date TSA issued their approval.  The TSA's length of approval must meet or exceed the expiration date of a 4-year MI driver license, if it does not, TSA and the Secretary of State will require a new BRC be completed and pay the required background record check fees.

Requiring new fingerprints provides an additional measure of security. For example, if someone stole your identity, getting fingerprints would prevent that person from renewing a hazardous materials endorsement. If fingerprints were not taken with each renewal, that person could renew the endorsement using your good record.

In addition, the FBI and the other agencies involved do not normally store the fingerprints that are sent to them for routine background records checks. The FBI will keep fingerprints of people who have been arrested or work in certain high-security or highly sensitive areas. You must be fingerprinted with every renewal of your hazardous materials endorsement because every renewal requires a new background records check, and the new check is starting from scratch.  

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When do the hazardous materials endorsement approvals issued by the Transportation Security Administration expire?

TSA approvals allowing drivers to apply for a hazardous material endorsement, expires five years from the date the approval was issued. The length of the TSA approval must match or exceed the new expiration date of the driver license being issued. If the TSA approval period is less than the expiration date of the license being issued, you must apply for a new federal background record check to maintain the hazardous materials endorsement on your driver's license.

Drivers are also reminded that fingerprint and background checks take 30-60 days to complete. Drivers wishing to renew their hazardous materials endorsement should begin the application process at least 60 days before their license expires to allow enough time to meet all requirements.

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What do I need to do if I am moving to Michigan and need a hazardous materials endorsement?

Drivers who move to Michigan must immediately apply for a Michigan license, which is valid for up to four years and expires on the driver's birthday. You must be at least 21 years old to obtain the required endorsement to drive vehicles carrying hazardous materials.

Learn more about the requirements for a Michigan driver's license at www.Michigan.gov/sos.

  • If you do not have a hazardous materials endorsement on your out-of-state license and wish to apply for one on your Michigan license, you must apply for a federal background record check (BRC) with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and TSA must approve your application for a hazardous materials endorsement (HME) on your driver license.  The TSA will send their results to you by letter once your background check is completed.
     
    • The TSA approval letter verifies that you have passed the background records check. This approval is good for five years from the date the letter was issued. You must present the TSA approval letter at the Secretary of State office when you apply for your hazardous materials endorsement.

       
  • If possible, apply for the background record check at least 45-60 days before you move to Michigan. Although TSA believes most applicants will receive a response within 30 days, you may want to allow time for mailing and unexpected delays. To learn more about the Hazardous Material Threat Assessment Program and its requirements please visit TSA Hazmat Endorsement and the Universal Enrollment Services site at:  https://universalenroll.dhs.gov/

 

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Where can I find out more about these rules and laws?

You may view information at the Transportation Security Administration Web site https://www.tsa.gov.

You may view the entire Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).

Particular sections of note include:

  1. 49 C.F.R. 1572.105 (Citizenship / lawful permanent resident requirement)
  2. 49 C.F.R. 1572.5 (Fingerprint requirement)
  3. 49 C.F.R. 1572.9 (TSA Security Threat Risk assessment requirement)
  4. 49 C.F.R. 1572.5 et al (Federal standards to apply for a hazardous materials endorsement)
  5. 49 C.F.R. 1572.103 et al (Federal disqualifications)
  6. 49 C.F.R. 1572.141 and 49 C.F.R. 1572.143 (Appeal and waiver rights)

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Where can I find more information?

You can find more information at the following Web sites:

The Transportation Security Administration

TSA is the federal agency responsible for administering the portions of the USA PATRIOT Act related to federal background record checks for hazardous materials drivers.
 www.tsa.gov and Universal Enrollment Services at: https://universalenroll.dhs.gov/.

Universal Enrollment Service Call Center -  Toll-free number 855-DHS-UES1 (855-347-8371) call  to:

§  Pre-register for a background record check,

§  Inquire about the status of BRC results, or

§  For other TSA questions

The UES' call center hours of operation are from 8:00am to 10pm Eastern, Monday through Friday.

Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

www.ecfr.gov 

The CFR provides the legal authority and basis for requirements for a federal background record check.

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What are my rights if I am denied?

If the TSA notifies a state that a driver is not eligible for a hazardous materials endorsement (HME), the state is required to deny an application of a HME or revoke an HME if currently on a person's driver license. This will not affect your CDL Group or any other endorsements, and does not affect your base Operator or Chauffeur license. If you currently have an X endorsement, it will be converted to an N endorsement.

If TSA disqualified you from holding a hazardous materials endorsement you may appeal to the TSA  and in some circumstances request a waiver from TSA. Only the TSA may hear appeals or consider requests for waivers. You can find more information about appeals and waivers at the TSA website.

The state cannot hear any appeals on TSA denials or revocations and cannot accept or grant requests for TSA waivers  to apply for a hazardous materials endorsement (HME). Neither the Secretary of State nor the Michigan courts can provide any relief or assistance related to obtaining a HME or appealing an unfavorable  TSA decision.

 

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