Commercial Driver License

Operators of larger and more complex vehicles will need to apply for a Commercial Driver License (CDL). These licenses include Class A, B, and C depending upon the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR), and what is being transported. In general, a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) is any vehicle or combination of vehicles with a GVWR more than 26,001, is transporting hazardous materials, or is designed to transport more than fifteen (15) passengers including the driver.

Commercial Driver License Classes

Commercial Driver Licenses include Class A, B, and C depending upon the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR), and what is being transported.

  • Class A - Any combination of vehicles with a GCWR rating of 26,001 or more pounds. The trailer has to be 10,001 or more for class A. 10,000-pound trailer or less is Class B
  • Class B - Heavy Straight Vehicle - Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more, or any such vehicle which tows vehicle or trailer up to 10,000 pounds GVWR.
  • Class C - Any single vehicle or combination of vehicles that is designed to transport more than 15 passengers including the driver or is used in the transportation of materials found to be hazardous under the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act.

NOTE: If a driver holds a valid Class A, B, or C Commercial Driver License, this license is also valid for operating a Class D vehicle. A separate Regular (Class D) License is not required.

NOTE: A Temporary Driver License is not available to cover any type of commercial motor vehicle.

Apply for a Commercial Driver License

CDL applicants must be at least 18 years of age. If they are under 21, they will be restricted to operate only within Tennessee. Applicants must be able to provide proof of U.S. Citizenship or Lawful Permanent Resident status.  All CDL applicants must pass vision, knowledge, and skills tests. To prepare for the tests, applicants should study the Commercial Driver License Manual.

Hard copies of the Commercial Driver License Manual are available at all Driver Services Centers.

NOTE: All new applicants must successfully complete Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT) by a registered Training Provider.

The required knowledge tests may include a combination vehicles test, air brakes test, and applicable exams for endorsements in addition to the general knowledge test. Prior to completing the required road skills test an applicant must also successfully complete a Pre-trip Vehicle Inspection and basic vehicle control.

CDL Learner's Permit

To obtain a CDL Learner's Permit, you must take and pass the CDL general knowledge test and other necessary knowledge exams (Air Brake, Combination, Tanker, Multiple Trailer, Passenger, School Bus) at a Full-Service Driver Services Center.   

How to Conduct a CDL Pre-Trip Inspection Video

Schedule a CDL Skills Test at a Driver Services Center

To schedule a CDL Road Skills Test at a Driver Services Center call 615-502-4179 Monday to Friday between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. CT or you can email us at

Certified CDL Third-Party Testing

See the list below of Certified CDL Third-Party Organizations that offer CDL Skills Tests. These tests should be scheduled directly with the Certified CDL Third Party Testing Program participant. 

NOTE: Third party testing organizations may charge additional fees for the skills test.

Tennessee Driver Education and Improvement System Login for Organizations Providing Certified CDL Third-Party Testing

Commercial Driver License Endorsements 

An Endorsement is a special authorization, which permits a driver to drive certain types of vehicles, to transport certain types of property, or a certain number of passengers. The following endorsements can be placed on Class A, B, or C commercial driver licenses.

  • Hazardous Materials (H) – If the CMV transports hazardous materials, it is required to be placarded under the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act
  • Cargo Tanker (N) – If the CMV is designed to transport, as its primary cargo, any liquid or gaseous material with a tank permanently or temporarily attached to the vehicle when said tank is designed to carry 1,000 gallons or more.
  • Passenger (P) – If CMV designed to transport more than 15 passengers including the driver. Capacity determined by manufacturer’s original design, or the legally modified design, whichever is greater.
  • School Bus (S) – If vehicle used as a school bus (designed to pick up and discharge children on public roadways to transport them to and from school/ school related activities). Those who drive students on activity trips using a school bus need the ‘S’. Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act (MCSIA), passed in 1999, MCSIA requirement: the representative vehicle for the school bus test requires a school bus with a capacity for at least 16 passengers. School Bus Mechanics who do not transport students do not need the ‘S’ endorsement, but they must have the ‘P’ endorsement and a class B license.
  • Multiple-Trailer (T) – Class A only: for CMV authorized to pull more than one trailer. Required for double or triple trailers.
  • Haz Mat & Tanker (X) – To operate a tanker transporting hazardous materials.

Tests Required to add an Endorsement

  • (c)(1) Double/Triple Trailers - knowledge test   
  • (c)(2) Passenger - knowledge and skills test
  • (c)(3) Tank vehicle - knowledge test
  • (c)(4) Hazardous Materials - knowledge test
  • (c)(5) School bus - knowledge and skills test

Vehicles that do not Require a Commercial Driver License

  • Recreational vehicles such as a motorhome
  • Military vehicles driven by military service members
  • Firefighting equipment
  • Emergency snowplows used during emergency snow removal operations
  • Farm vehicles when operated by a farm employee within Tennessee and within 150 miles of the farm

Code 24 Restricted CDL for Farm Vehicles

The CDL Farm Vehicles - Intrastate (Only)/Code 24 Restriction applies to a farm-related service industry employee that must otherwise obtain a CDL. These drivers can only drive within 150 miles of the place of business of the licensee’s employer or the farm being served, and never outside the State of Tennessee. To be eligible, the employee work in an agri-chemical business, custom harvester, a farm retail outlet or supplier or livestock feeder. 

Under 55-50-404 (b), the driver must satisfy all the requirements to earn a CDL except taking the knowledge and skills tests. Issuance of a restricted CDL is only valid for farm-related Class B and Class C service vehicles, not a Class A vehicle. The restricted CDL may be held no more than 180 days consecutively within a 12-month calendar period. The issuance date, expiration date, and restriction/description will be printed on license. The driver MUST keep the letter with their restricted CDL.

Drivers with a restricted CDL are not authorized to operate any vehicle transporting hazardous materials except diesel fuel in quantities of one thousand gallons (1,000), or less, liquid fertilizers in quantities of three thousand gallons (3,000) or less, or sold fertilizers that are not transported with any organic substance.