Skip to main content

Applying for a Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

How do I apply for a CDL?

Online services

Unavailable for this transaction

Unavailable

Blue mailbox with two envelopes inside

Unavailable for this transaction

Unavailable

Two self-service stations

Unavailable for this transaction

Unavailable

Monthly calendar

Office visit

Schedule an office visit to apply for your CDL

Schedule an office visit

Applying for a Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

The Michigan Department of State offers the commercial driver's license (CDL) in both a standard and enhanced version. The enhanced CDL is an attractive alternative to the standard CDL because it allows you to re-enter the U.S. by land or sea from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, or the Caribbean without the need to show additional identity or citizenship documents at the border.

A chauffeur's license is needed if you are:

  • Employed for the principal purpose of operating a motor vehicle or combination of vehicles with a GVWR, GCWR, GCW, or GVW of 10,000 pounds or more
  • Operating a motor vehicle as a carrier of passengers or as a common or contract carrier of property
  • Operating a bus or school bus
  • Operating a single vehicle or a combination of vehicles with a GVW, GVWR, GCW or GCWR of 10,000 pounds or more; you must meet the commercial driver medical requirements, including possession of the appropriate medical card or medical waiver
  • Operating a commercial vehicle that requires a CDL with a Hazardous Materials endorsement (H)

A commercial driver's license is needed if you are operating a vehicle:

  • With a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more
  • Towing a trailer or other vehicles with a GVWR of 10,001 pounds or more with a gross combination weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more
  • Designed to transport 16 or more people (including the driver)
  • Carrying hazardous materials in amounts requiring placarding

CDL group designations and CDL endorsements will be added to the chauffeur's license.

Drivers between the ages of 18 and 21 can operate a commercial vehicle only in Michigan. You must be at least 21 to operate a commercial vehicle across state lines or to transport hazardous materials in amounts requiring placarding.

A CDL is not required for the following:

  • Individuals: Operating motor homes or other vehicles used exclusively to transport personal possessions or family members for nonbusiness purposes
  • Active-duty military: Operating military vehicles with military licenses (includes the National Guard)
  • Police and firefighters: Operating authorized emergency vehicles
  • Farmers: Operating vehicles within a 150-mile radius of their farm

Farmers will need either an F-endorsement or a CDL under the following conditions:

  • An F-endorsement is needed when operating combination vehicles whose towing vehicle has a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more. A knowledge test, but no skills test, is required to obtain the F-endorsement. The F-endorsement is not a CDL.
  • A CDL with a hazardous materials endorsement is required when carrying hazardous materials in amounts requiring placards while operating combination vehicles whose towing vehicles have a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more, or while operating a single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more.

Applying for a CDL (Choose tab)

To apply for a commercial driver’s license, visit a Secretary of State office and provide:

  • Your current valid Michigan driver’s license
  • Proof of legal presence in the United States
  • Proof of Social Security number

If applying for a hazardous materials endorsement, you must also provide proof of a Federal Security Threat Assessment.

At your visit, you will need to:

  1. Complete the Commercial Driver's License Certification form, which includes a statement certifying that you meet medical and driver qualifications. If you have had any change in your physical condition since your last driver license renewal which may affect your ability to drive, you may need a special form from the branch office for your physician to fill out before you can apply for your license.
  2. Meet driver record eligibility requirements as determined by Secretary of State staff.
  3. Pass the required CDL endorsement written knowledge and vision tests. You must pass all required knowledge tests to obtain a Commercial Learner's Permit (CLP). If you do not pass a knowledge test on your first attempt, you must wait one day to retake the test. There is a one-day wait period for any subsequent retest.
  4. Pay your CDL fees.

Commercial Driver's License Certification form

Commercial Driver License Manual

You may need one or more of the following endorsements on your CDL depending on the type of vehicle you are operating or the cargo you are transporting:

  • T – Double or Triple Trailers – (Triple trailer combinations aren’t permitted in Michigan.)
  • P – Passenger – For vehicles designed to carry 16 or more people (including the driver)
  • N – Tank Vehicles – For vehicles designed to haul liquids or liquefied gases in bulk in permanently mounted tanks or portable tanks rated at 1,000 gallons or more
  • H – Hazardous Materials – To carry hazardous materials in amounts requiring placards. To apply for a hazardous materials (hazmat) endorsement, you will need proof of U.S. citizenship (certified birth certificate, U.S. passport, etc.) or proof of your immigration status. Immigration documents must be verified through the federal government’s SAVE application. Verification may take more than one day.
  • X – Appears on the license instead of the H and N codes when an applicant receives both the tank and hazardous materials endorsements
  • S – School Bus – For commercial motor vehicles used to transport pre-primary, primary, or secondary school students from home to school, school to home, or to and from school-sponsored events

You will need the appropriate group designation on your CDL to operate the following vehicles:

Group A

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds or more, provided the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of any towed vehicles is 10,001 pounds or more. Group A designation will allow you to operate a Group B or Group C vehicle provided you have the required endorsement.

Group B

  • Any single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more, or any such vehicle towing a vehicle with a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or less. Group B designation will allow you to operate a Group C vehicle provided you have the required endorsement.

Group C

  • Any single vehicle, or combination of vehicles, that meets neither the definition of Group A nor that of Group B, but is either designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, or is used in the transportation of materials found to be hazardous and require the motor vehicle to be placarded under the Hazardous Materials Regulations (49 CFR, part 172, subpart F).

You must pass all required written knowledge tests before a Commercial Learner's Permit (CLP) can be issued. The CLP allows you to practice driving under the supervision of an experienced driver/instructor who has a CDL for the type of vehicle you wish to operate. 

A CLP is also required for taking the CDL skills tests (range/road testing).

Testing requirements and your CDL (Choose tab)

You will be required to take one or more knowledge tests based on the type of CDL you are applying for and cargo you will be transporting. All CDL knowledge tests are administered in written form at a computer testing station. A minimum score of 80 percent is required to pass each test. Anyone applying for the H-Hazardous Materials or S-School Bus endorsement must also pass a written knowledge test. You are only allowed to take one test per day from each testing category. Use the Commercial Driver License Manual as your study guide.

CDL Group A:

  • 70 questions, plus a 20-question combination vehicle test

CDL Group B and CDL Group C:

  • 50 questions on each test

 

Endorsements

T-Double Trailer; P-Passenger; S-School Bus, and N-Tank:

  • 20 questions on each test

H-Hazardous Materials:

  • 30 questions

 

Air brakes:

  • 25 questions
  • The vehicle you use for the skills test must be equipped with air brakes. If you do not pass the air-brake test or fail to provide a properly equipped vehicle for the skills test, you will be restricted from operating vehicles with air brakes.

Commercial Driver License Manual


After obtaining your CLP, you will then need to complete Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) with an approved ELDT provider. Beginning February 7, 2022, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has established new minimum training standards for individuals applying for:

  • Class A or B commercial driver's license (CDL) for the first time
  • An upgrade of an existing CDL (e.g., Class B CDL holder seeking a Class A CDL)
  • A Hazardous Materials (H), Passenger (P), or School Bus (S) endorsement on a CDL for the first time 

These new minimum training standards are referred to as Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT). Drivers must complete the required ELDT from a training provider registered with FMCSA before being scheduled for CDL skills or knowledge tests required to obtain one of the licenses or endorsements referred to in the first paragraph.

Once implemented, the FMCSA Training Provider Registry (TPR) will retain a record of which CDL applicants have completed the new training and certification process outlined in the ELDT regulations. A CLP may be issued prior to ELDT being completed. First-time hazardous materials endorsement applicants (including those applying for a Class A, B, or C CDL) must complete the hazardous portion of ELDT prior to a written knowledge test being administered at a Secretary of State office. 

ELDT Applicability (FMCSA)

 

Upon completing ELDT, a record of completion will be added to the Michigan Department of State records system. To locate an ELDT provider, visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website.

Locate an ELDT provider (FMCSA)

 

Upon being issued your CLP, you can begin driving under supervision of a driver who has a CDL for the type of vehicle you wish to drive. After practicing for at least 14 days, you may schedule a CDL on-road driving skills test with an approved driver testing business. Your skills test must be scheduled at least 2 days in advance of when you are eligible to test.

Search for Driver Testing Business Locations 

 

After passing your CDL driving skills test, you will need to return to a Secretary of State office to pay the group endorsement fee ($5/endorsement) and correct your standard license for $9. Your corrected CDL will be mailed to you at the address on your driving record. 

Commercial driver’s license (CDL)

CDL medical certification 

Before scheduling your skills test, you must pass all applicable ELDT requirements. Refer to the ELDT tab for more information.

A skills test is require for the CDL Group A, Group B, and Group C license types, as well as for the P-Passenger and S-School Bus endorsements.

Road skills tests are provided through public and private third-party testing organizations certified by the state to administer the CDL skills tests. The Michigan Department of State does not set road skills test fees, which may vary between testing organizations. Results from your CDL skills test are valid for one year from the date the test was given. If you have not applied for your CDL within a year's time, you will need to re-take and pass all required tests before your CDL can be issued.

After passing your road skills test, you will need to visit at a Secretary of State office to obtain your CDL temporary permit (a fee will be due), which will allow you to operate a commercial vehicle until your new photo CDL arrives in the mail.

Still have more questions?

CDL FAQs

 

Questions not answered by the information on this web page or in the Frequently Asked Questions

may be submitted to the CDL Help Desk for a response.