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The process to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) varies depending on the state you live in due to regulations established by the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986. Before that date, drivers could obtain licenses in various states, but now they must register in the state where they reside.

While you may not be able to choose which state to train in and apply for your license, there are ways to make your state the easiest for obtaining a CDL, with preparation and knowledge. It’s essential to know the federal requirements when applying for a CDL in any of the 50 states. Here are some basic aspects to consider:


Age: You must be at least 21 years old to drive out of state or transport hazardous materials. The minimum age for driving within state boundaries varies, but most states require you to be at least 18 years old.

Experience: Some states require one or two years of driving experience and a valid non-commercial driver’s license.

Citizenship: You will need to provide proof of citizenship or permanent legal residence.

Passing a background check: This involves not having active license suspensions or revocations.

Meeting medical and physical requirements: You must be physically fit to operate a commercial vehicle and perform tasks associated with driving.

Passing the written exam: The exam questions are based on the CDL manual, which is based on federal regulations.

Obtaining a learner’s permit for at least two weeks before taking the driving exam.

Passing the driving exam, which includes vehicle inspection, basic maneuvers, and a road driving test.

Renewing the license periodically and undergoing annual medical exams.


While it’s possible to obtain a CDL without attending a specialized school, the process can be more challenging and require more effort. One option is to self-study for the written exam and gain practical driving experience with the help of a mentor. However, attending a school like San Jose Truck Driving School may be more efficient and effective as it provides a structured curriculum, hands-on experience, and ongoing support.

If you’re considering attending a CDL school in another state, make sure you understand your state’s specific requirements and the license transfer process. Overall, with proper preparation, you can make your state the easiest for obtaining a CDL and start a successful career as a truck driver.