Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Information

How to Apply for a Maryland Commercial Driver Learner’s Permit

 

You do not need to make an appointment to start the process, but please bring proof of your age, identity, and Maryland residence with you when you come to the MVA. Please refer to sources of proof for the required documentation.

If you have a Limited Term-“T” restricted driver’s license, you may apply for a commercial learner’s permit as long as you reside in Maryland, and can provide the following federally-required documents:

  • Unexpired employment authorization documents (EAD), form I-766; or
  • Unexpired foreign passport with current admission stamp and/or I-94.

The MVA has received guidance from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) that a Mexican or Canadian national with an Employment Authorization Document may not obtain a non-domiciled CDL. In order to obtain a CDL, in accordance with federal regulation 49 CFR Sections 383.71(f) and 383.73(f), Mexican and Canadian nationals will have to obtain documentation of U.S. Citizenship or Lawful Permanent Residence. The list of acceptable documentation includes the following:

  1. U.S. Passport
  2. U.S. Certificate of Citizenship or Naturalization
  3. Consular report of Birth Abroad (CRBA)
  4. Certified copy of a birth certificate filed with a U.S. State Office of Vital Statistics or equivalent agency in the individual’s state of birth, including Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
  5. Permanent Resident Card

The Maryland Department of Transportation’s Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) is now printing/mailing one of the most secure driver’s licenses, learner’s permits and identification (ID) cards in the nation. All cards are now delivered through the mail within 4-7 business days. The new cards incorporate cutting-edge security features to help protect against identity theft and fraud. The new cards also meet all state and federal standards and are REAL ID compliant. As always, we encourage customers to Skip the Trip and renew their driver’s license or ID card via web, kiosk and mail. The MVA’s online services can be found here. Much more information on our new secure cards, including how to expedite delivery of the new products, can be found here.

A commercial driver license holder with a HAZMAT endorsement​ must undergo a criminal background check, including a fingerprint process. (U.S.A. Patriot Act).

Drivers of heavy trucks, buses and vehicles placarded for hazardous materials must have a special commercial driver's license with proper endorsements. Vehicles over 26,000 lbs., buses designed to transport 16 or more passengers including the driver, all school buses, mobile cranes, uncoupled tractors (i.e., bob tails), and most tow trucks are included.

  • You must be 18 years old to obtain a learner's permit for an intrastate commercial driver’s license, 21 years of age for an interstate one. In addition, you must also have a full Maryland driver's license (not a motorcycle license).
  • You may be required to provide documented proof of your social security number. Your name must match the Social Security Administration’s records to be verified by their files. If you change your name, you must update your file with the Social Security Administration (not at the MVA) and it may take a minimum of 48 hours or longer for them to update their records with your name change.
    • You must pass a vision screening and knowledge test.
    • Out-of-state learner's permits cannot be exchanged for a Maryland learner's permit or license.
    • A valid U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) physical card and a valid intrastate or interstate waiver/exemption if required. A “MCSA-5876 - Medical Examiner Certificate” is provided by a National Registered Medical Examiner only. For additional information, please contact www.fmcsa.dot.gov. The CDL Medical Waiver Information Packet​ for an intrastate or interstate waiver is also available.

In Maryland, all commercial driving (CDL) applicants are required to present valid Med Cert documentation (DOT card, skills performance evaluation, waiver exemption, etc.) whether they are applying for a new license or they are renewing, duplicating or correcting a commercial driver’s license. Commercial drivers are also required to submit updated Med Cert documentation to the MVA for the duration of their license. In addition, all commercial drivers are required to "self-certify" regarding the type of commercial driving they will be doing (dependent on type of commerce and/or their medical qualifications).CDL holders are no longer required to submit a self-certification form when updating their medical certification. The self-certification will only be required when a customer is obtaining a new CDL’s, transferring a CDL, renewing a CDL, upgrading a license to a CDL, or changing their status from intrastate to interstate or vice versa. If a waiver/exemption is needed, it should be submitted along with the medical certification card.

If you already hold a learner’s permit and want to obtain a new one, you must reapply and provide the same documents you initially provided. You will also be required to pay the fee and retake the vision screening and knowledge test. Please refer to sources of proof​ for the required documentation.

For more information on adding an endorsement to your Maryland commercial driver's license, please click here​. Or call 1-410-424-3011.

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Veterans: Waiver of the Commercial Driver’s License Skills Test

 

To assist veterans and active duty personnel who are transitioning to a civilian career, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) adopted regulations that expedite the licensing process for a commercial driver’s license (CDL). The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration will waive the CDL skills test​ requirements for a class A or B commercial license for veterans who have been discharged within the previous 12 months, active duty personnel, reservists and national guard personnel who meet specific criteria.

The applicants must:

  • have a good driving record.
  • have a valid Maryland class C (non-provisional) non-commercial driver’s license, or higher.
  • have 2 years of driving experience operating a military motor vehicle as part of their job function. The vehicle must represent the commercial motor vehicle that the individual expects to operate after discharge from the military.
  • the commanding officer certifies the service member’s years of operating the military vehicle as well as the type of vehicle operated.
  • must pass the required CDL vision and knowledge tests. The skills test waiver only applies to CDL driver’s licenses for classes A and B.
  • must provide the MVA with a valid U.S. Department of Transportation physical card and an exemption or waiver if required.

For additional information please visit the FMCSA’s website:

http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration-licensing/cdl/Military-CDL-Waiver.aspx​.

Veterans: Veteran Designation on Your Driver’s License or Identification Card

 

If you present an original or a certified copy of your veteran status with the United States Military, or a blue card, the identification card for retired uniformed service members (DD form 2), you may add a veteran's designation to your license or ID card. The designation indicates that you are a United States veteran and makes you eligible for certain benefits. You can add the designation when you renew, correct or obtain a new license or ID card. There is no fee to add or remove the veteran's designation.

  1. With the veteran’s code, you consent to being contacted by the appropriate executive branch agencies regarding your eligibility for state or federal veteran benefits.
  2. "Veteran" means an individual who served in the armed forces of the United States, other than for training, and was discharged or released honorably.
  3. If you do not have acceptable proof of veteran status (listed below), you will need to contact the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) service office to obtain the documentation verifying your status as a veteran. You may call 1-800-446-4926 or visit the MDVA website at: https://veterans.maryland.gov/maryland-department-of-veterans-affairs-service-benefits-program/​​ for information and assistance.

The acceptable proof of veteran status:

  1. DD214 Military Discharge Certificate, (original or unaltered photocopy) or;
  2. Honorable Discharge Certificate, or;
  3. Letter for the U.S. Military Center in St. Louis, Missouri, or;
  4. Letter from the Maryland Veterans Administration Service Program
  5. United State Uniformed Services Retiree Identification Card (DD Form 2)

The documents must show the veteran status as:

  1. Honorable, or;
  2. General, or;
  3. General under honorable conditions, or;
  4. Discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable

Renewing Your Commercial Driver’s License

 

A renewal notice will be mailed to your last address of record with the MDOT MVA, 60 days prior to the expiration of your commercial driver’s license. It will not be forwarded to a new address if you have moved. Due to federal requirements, certain customers will be notified upon renewal to provide MDOT MVA with required documents. If you have already been notified, click here to create your checklist and schedule an appointment.

Remember, Maryland law requires you to report address changes to the MDOT MVA within 30 days. Commercial drivers must apply in person for a change of address to get an updated Maryland license.

A Maryland commercial driver's license can only be renewed at full-service MDOT MVA offices. Please bring your expiring license, a valid U. S. Department of Transportation (DOT) physical card, a valid intrastate or interstate waiver/ exemption if required, and any documentation required for renewal as instructed within your renewal notice. In addition:

  • You must pass a vision screening or submit a vision certification form.
  • To renew a Maryland commercial driver’s license with a Hazardous materials endorsement, you must pass the HAZMAT test. The test is written or automated, and given only in English. Tests are administered Mon. - Fri., 8:30 AM - 3:00 PM and Sat. 8:30 AM - 10:00 AM. You must also receive a TSA threat assessment of "O." The U.S.A. Patriot Act requires all commercial driver license holders with a HAZMAT endorsement to undergo a criminal background check, including a fingerprint process, even if they had previously completed one.
  • A “MCSA-5876 - Medical Examiner Certificate” is provided bya National Registered Medical Examiner only. For additional information, please contact www.fmcsa.dot.gov​ and a CDL waiver/exemption if required to operate interstate or intrastate.
  • A commercial driver's license fee is required and an additional fee for the commercial driver licensing information system surcharge.

Commercial driver's license (CDL) fee​

There is also a fee charged by the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) for the Hazmat background record check. The state and federal fingerprint/background checks and the TSA processing fee is $86.00. The DPSCS only accepts checks, Master Card, Visa and Discover credit cards. Checks must be made payable to the “CJIS Central Repository.” Cash is not accepted.
Note: The Salisbury office does not currently accept Discover credit cards.

Commercial Driver’s License Skills Testing

 

You must schedule an appointment to take the driving skills test, please click here or call the MVA Customer Service Center at 1-410-768-7000. Hearing impaired customers, please call 1-800-492-4575.

Drivers of commercial motor vehicles must have a valid Med Cert documentation (DOT card, skills performance evaluation, waiver exemption, etc.). In addition, all commercial drivers are required to "self-certify" regarding the type of commercial driving they will be doing.

Passenger and school bus operators are not authorized for a waiver for interstate or intrastate operation.

The time limit for the pre-trip inspection will be 45 minutes.

The time limit for the skills maneuver test will be 10 minutes per maneuver.

The Commercial Driver's License Manual provides the instruction and general information needed to prepare for the commercial driver’s licensing tests.

The School Bus Endorsement Study Guide​ (section 10) provides the information needed for the testing of school bus skills.

Intrastate Non-Commercial Driver Information

 

If you are a Maryland non-commercial driver operating a commercial motor vehicle within the State of Maryland (intrastate) and the vehicle weighs 10,001 and up to 26,000 pounds, you are required to have a valid MCSA-5876 - Medical Examiner Certificate in your possession. If you were licensed before October 1, 2003, have a preexisting medical condition, and the onset was prior to 10/01/03, you will be exempt from the requirement for a 20-year period, provided your preexisting condition does not worsen. You are still required to maintain a DOT physical.​

Skills Tests from other States Accepted for Maryland Commercial Driver’s Licenses

 

Maryland commercial driver’s license (CDL) permit holders can now complete their skills tests in another state. The permit must be valid and cannot expire before the new Maryland CDL can be issued. However, Maryland does not perform CDL skills tests for permit holders from other states. Please make certain that the state in which you wish to be tested will do so before obtaining a Maryland CDL permit.

How to apply another state’s CDL skills test for a Maryland CDL:

The Maryland MVA works with the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) through a Report Out of State Skills Test Results system (ROOSTR Lite)

  • When a Maryland CDL applicant completes a skills test out-of-state, the AAMVA sends the results to the MVA through the ROOSTR lite site.
  • The skills test results can then be viewed and printed and a scanned confirmation of the testing results, including all relevant information, can be placed in the MVA’s system.
  • When the CDL applicant reports an out-of-state test and requests a Maryland CDL, the CDL process can be completed, provided the permit is still valid.

Out-of State Commercial Driver’s License Training Schools and Temporary Commercial Driver’s Licenses

 

A temporary commercial driver’s license, issued by another state or jurisdiction, cannot be converted or transferred into a Maryland commercial driver’s license. The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) does not issue temporary commercial driver’s licenses nor does it recognize temporary commercial driver’s licenses issued by other states, the District of Columbia, or Canada.

It is highly recommended that you contact the commercial driver’s license training school before you attend any training to find out what type of commercial driver’s license you will be eligible to receive. Unfortunately, many applicants complete out-of-state licensing processes and are issued temporary commercial driver’s licenses that they cannot convert to a Maryland commercial driver’s license. They can only receive a Maryland non-commercial driver's license.

A temporary commercial driver’s license is usually issued when a driver's license applicant attends an out-of-state commercial driver’s license training school and is tested and certified by that school or the jurisdiction’s department of motor vehicles. Because the majority of the new commercial drivers are not residents of that issuing jurisdiction, most of the commercial driver’s licenses that are issued by the jurisdiction are valid for only 30 - 90 days.

To obtain a Maryland commercial driver’s license (CDL), one must start the process in Maryland. A CDL is typically obtained after one receives a CDL learner's permit and passes the skills tests in a commercial motor vehicle. ​

Commercial Driver’s License Name Changes

 

If your name is different from the name on your birth certificate, then you are required to provide the MVA with an original or certified copy of the document that changed your name (i.e. marriage certificate, divorce decree, court ordered name change, etc.). A cross-reference record will be created with the name on your birth certificate.

The MVA will only accept a certificate of marriage that has been certified and issued by that jurisdiction’s authority (i.e. department of vital records/statistics or local or state court system).

Same-sex marriages also require a certified copy of the marriage certificate be presented to the MVA if a name change is requested. The MVA also recognizes same-sex marriages and civil unions performed in other jurisdictions where they are legal. ​

Restrictions on Commercial Driver’s License

 

“O” Restriction

An applicant with a class “A” commercial driver’s license (CDL) cannot drive with a tractor trailer if the applicant holds an "O" restriction. The “O” restriction is given to those who did not test with a tractor trailer to obtain their CDL. They tested in a heavy truck with a trailer. The trailer had a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than 10,000 lbs. Combined with the truck, the combination exceeded 26,000 lbs.

To upgrade from an “A” class CDL and or remove the “O” restriction, the CDL driver must:

  • Obtain a CDL learner’s permit
  • Retain the learner's permit for at least 14 days
  • Schedule a skills test with a proper accompanying driver and provide the correct type and class of vehicle and trailer combination for your test
  • Complete and pass a full pre-trip, on-the-course and on-the-road skills tests.
  • Obtain a new CDL license that removes the restriction

“E” Restriction

Applicants who test for a CDL in a commercial motor vehicle equipped with an automatic transmission are given an “E” restriction on their licenses. The driver is not permitted to operate any commercial vehicle that does not have an automatic transmission. To operate a commercial motor vehicle with a standard shift or manual transmission, the driver will be required to retest in a commercial motor vehicle that is equipped with a standard shift or manual transmission.

To remove the “E” restriction, the CDL driver must:

  • Obtain a CDL learner’s permit
  • Retain the learner's permit for at least 14 days
  • Schedule a skills test with a proper accompanying driver and provide a representative vehicle of the correct type and class. The vehicle must have a standard shift or manual transmission.
  • Conduct an air brake check (if equipped) to make sure the brake system is working properly. This is not scored.
  • Pass an on-the-road skills test
  • Obtain a new CDL license that removes the restriction

"L " Restriction

An “L” restriction is placed on a Maryland CDL for drivers who have tested and qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle with no air brakes. The L restriction states that the license is issued for a commercial motor vehicle not equipped with air brakes.

“Z” Restriction

A “Z” restriction is placed on a Maryland CDL for drivers who have tested and qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle equipped with air over hydraulic brakes. The Z restriction states that the license is issued for a commercial motor vehicle with a system that is equipped without full air brakes.

To remove an “L” or a “Z” restriction, the applicant must get a new permit and pass a modified pre-trip and road test in the same type and class of vehicle.

The restrictions can only be removed from a valid CDL and the commercial driver must:

  • Pass the air brake law test and obtain a CDL learner's permit
  • Retain the learner's permit for at least 14 days
  • Schedule a skills test and provide a representative vehicle with airbrakes for testing with a proper accompanying driver
  • Pass a modified pre-trip and on-the-road skills test
  • Obtain a new CDL license that removes the restriction

A pre-trip inspection is required on the vehicle’s air brake components as part of the test and the applicant is asked to check and describe the components, including those inside the cab. The pre-trip inspection is timed, not to exceed twenty minutes. The applicant must receive a score of 100% to pass. Otherwise it is an automatic failure.

The trailer is not required to have air brakes so long as the truck does.

Once the applicant has successfully completed the pre-trip inspection, a public on-the-road test will be administered. Because the applicant is not upgrading the class of the license, the on-the-course skills test of maneuvers is not required.

To upgrade a license or to remove the “O” restriction to be able to drive with a tractor trailer, a full pre-trip, on-the-course and on-the-road skills tests are required.

The pre-trip inspection includes:

  • The air compressor
  • The slack adjuster and push rod
  • The brake chambers
  • The brake hose /lines
  • Perform an inside the vehicle air break check
  • An inspection of the air/electrical lines from the tractor and the air/electrical connections to the trailer will be performed for class “A” vehicles

Please note that before any vehicle can be used for testing, a cursory inspection is made by the examiner to make certain that the vehicle is safe to go on the road. The examiner will be looking for defective equipment (bad tires, leaks, broken lights) that might otherwise disqualify the vehicle. The applicant is not scored on the cursory inspection.

School Buses and Passengers

A commercial driver who wishes to upgrade their license to add a school bus endorsement or add passengers is not required to test in a commercial motor vehicle with a manual transmission if they hold a license without the "E" restriction for no manual transmission equipped commercial motor vehicles. The same is true of commercial drivers who do not have an "L" restriction on their license. They are not required to test in a commercial vehicle with a full air brake system.

For class and restriction codes, please click here​.

Helpful Links

 

Please click here to view frequently asked questions about obtaining a Maryland commercial driver’s license.

The Maryland Trucking Handbook

IFTA Information

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
(Available in both English and Spanish)

US Department of Transportation​