Tom Wolf, Governor Leslie S. Richards, Secretary, Department of Transportation

Applying for a Commercial Driverís License

How to Obtain a CDL Permit When Not Licensed in PA or Another State

If you were never licensed before, you can apply for a permit. You must pass a physical examination, a vision screening, and a knowledge test.

The vision screening and knowledge tests are given at PennDOT Driver Licensing Centers. The vision screening will measure your vision with or without glasses. The knowledge test will measure your knowledge of traffic signs and the operation of your commercial motor vehicle. Study the "Commercial Driver's Manual" and the "Pennsylvania Driver's Manual" carefully before taking the test.

Applying for a CDL When You are Already Licensed in Pennsylvania

If you are licensed as a non-commercial driver in Pennsylvania and want to obtain a CDL, you would apply for your permit(s) using a DL-31CD, Application for Commercial Learner's Permit. In addition, you must also self-certify the type of driving in which you intend to engage using a DL-11CD.

When completing an application for the permits needed to upgrade your non-commercial driver's license to a CDL, you will need to pay an increased annual license fee and a photo fee, in addition to the permit fees for any privileges requested. The increase fee required as part of your higher annual fee will be prorated based on how many years, full or partial, are remaining on your current non-commercial driver's license.

The fee for your CDL permit(s) will be based on how many privileges you apply for as part of your application. There are fees for each class, endorsement and restriction removal.

Applying for a PA CDL When Licensed in Another State

If you are a new resident and wish to apply for a Pennsylvania CDL, you must surrender all valid driver's licenses issued to you by any other state(s). The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act requires that no person shall have more than one valid driver's license at any time. Pennsylvania can prohibit issuance of driver license products to an out-of-state address. New Resident Information Center


Step 1: Acquire a DL-31CD and a Pennsylvania Commercial Driver's License Manual

Step 2: Go to a Driver License Center with the following:

  • A completed application
  • Valid Pennsylvania Driver's License,
  • Proof of identity and residency
  • Social Security card,
  • If your name has change due to marriage, divorce or court order, please bring your original documents to a Driver License Center showing the change.
  • A check or money order made payable to PennDOT for the appropriate fees (cash is not accepted at the Driver's License Centers).

Step 3: Submit Form DL-31CD to upgrade your driving privilege from a Non-commercial Driverís License to a CDL, along with a DL-11CD to self-certify the type of driving in which you intend to engage.

Step 4: Upon processing a request for a CDL Learner's Permit, if any of the requested privileges require both a Knowledge Test and Road Test, a Knowledge Test Authorization will be issued. The Knowledge Test Authorization does not allow you to begin on-the-road practicing. Once you successfully complete the Knowledge Test, the Driver License Center will issue you a CDL Learnerís Permit(s). The combined length of the Knowledge Test Authorization and the CDL Learnerís Permit will be one year. EXAMPLE: If you take three months to pass the knowledge test, the corresponding skills permit will be valid for nine months. We will still refer to the process as applying for a permit.

Step 5: Before you may take the Road Test for a Commercial Driver's License, you must have held a Commercial Learner's Permit for 15 days for the class of vehicle you intend to drive and the requisite endorsements. You may schedule your Road Test as soon as you have the permit, but the actual date for the skills testing to be performed must be outside the 15-day window.

Step 6: If you wish to apply for a hazardous materials endorsement you must successfully complete a Federal Security Threat Assessment and have your fingerprints taken at an approved fingerprint location.

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