Commercial Driver's License & Endorsements
COMMERCIAL DRIVER'S LICENSE
Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDL) requirements are set by the Iowa Department of Transportation. The requirements include:
- Be at least age 18
- Provide proof of full name, date of birth, and Social Security number
- Provide proof of citizenship, lawful permanent residency, or an employment authorization document (EAD) or I-94 document
- Provide proof of Iowa residency (your license showing your Iowa address will meet this requirement)
- Pass vision screening
- Hold a CLP (commercial learner’s permit) for at least 14 days prior to application for CDL
- We will check your driving record in all other states; the check must show you are eligible for commercial licensing in all other states
- You must certify how you will use the commercial motor vehicles you will operate, which may require you to obtain a medical certificate
The Iowa DOT provides additional resources to help applicants prepare for the CDL knowledge test:
CDL Quick Guide - Resource to help determine who needs a CDL, the CDL class needed and licensing requirements and restrictions.
CDL Manual - Manual provides driver license testing information for drivers who wish to have a commercial driver license.
Iowa CDL Test App - The Iowa CDL test app has everything you need to pass your Iowa Commercial Drivers License (CDL) test the first time! With over 600 exam-like questions, lifetime access to the complete CDL Manual, and dozens of test-taking strategies, the Iowa CDL test app helps you get the score you need. Spanning every stage of a CDL professional's career, from pre-licensing and your initial license to driving combinations, hazardous materials, school buses, and more, the Iowa CDL test app offers a comprehensive review of critical material.
Medical Certification - Federal regulations require all CDL holders and applicants to certify how they operate their commercial motor vehicle whenever they renew, upgrade, or obtain a CDL for the first time. A CDL holder must certify to one of four categories that apply to the type of driving they do.
For more additional overview of the process to get a Commercial Driver's License in the State of Iowa, visit the Iowa Department of Transportation website.
Any driver who transports hazardous materials in amounts requiring placarding must have a hazardous material endorsement added to his CDL. To obtain this endorsement you must pass the CDL Hazardous Material examination. This examination is required each time you renew your license. Additionally, federal regulations require that you must make application with Integrated Bio-metric Technology (IBT) for verification and fingerprinting. The fingerprint-based threat assessment is also required each time you renew your license and is also required if you are transferring an out-of-state license. Learn more about the fingerprint-based background checks.
Any driver who wishes to drive a motor vehicle having a design capacity to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver, must have a passenger endorsement on their CDL. This also includes a redesigned or modified vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 10,001 or more pounds used to transport less than 16 handicapped persons. To obtain this endorsement you must pass the CDL Passenger knowledge examination, as well as a pre-trip, skills, and a driving test in a passenger vehicle representative of the class of vehicle you wish to operate with the license.
Note: The Passenger endorsement alone is not valid for the operation of school buses. School bus operation requires both the passenger endorsement as well as the school bus endorsement.
SCHOOL BUS ENDORSEMENT
Any driver who wishes to drive a school bus having a design capacity to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver, must have both a school bus endorsement as well as a passenger endorsement on their CDL. This includes a redesigned or modified school bus with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 10,001 or more pounds used to transport less than 16 handicapped persons. To obtain the school bus and passenger endorsements you must pass the CDL School Bus knowledge examination, Passenger knowledge examination, and a pre-trip, skills, and a driving test in a school bus representative of the class of vehicle you wish to operate with the license.
Liquids in bulk can cause driving control problems because the cargo is heavy, prone to shifting, and has a high center of gravity. Drivers of any commercial motor vehicle designed to transport any liquid or gaseous materials within a tank or tanks that have an individual rated capacity of more than 119 gallons and an aggregate rated capacity of 1,000 gallons or more that is either permanently or temporarily attached to the vehicle or the chassis, must obtain a tank endorsement on their CDL. To obtain the tank endorsement, you must pass the CDL Tanker knowledge examination.
Drivers who pull double or triple trailers must have an endorsement on their CDL. To obtain this endorsement you must pass a CDL Double and Triple Trailers knowledge examination. A double/triple endorsement is not required to operate a commercial motor vehicle with two or more towed vehicles that are not trailers. For example, a semi-tractor pulling other tractors “piggy back”.
Note: Current Iowa law does not permit the operation of triple trailers; however, a driver whose home state is Iowa must be able to obtain the endorsement in order to haul a triple trailer in those jurisdictions where they are legal.
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