Washington CDL Test Requirements and Endorsement
- CDL Endorsement by Vehicle Type
- How to Prepare for the CDL Exam
- License Classifications and ID Requirements
How To Get your Commercial Driver's License
CDL drivers will have to take one or more knowledge tests, depending on what License Class and Endorsements you need. All CDL applicants must take the General Knowledge Test.
Select your Vehicle Type below to tell you any additional tests you must take:
Available CDL Courses
- General Knowledge
- Air Brakes
- Combination Vehicles
- Hazardous Materials
- School Bus
- Passenger Transport
- Pre-trip Inspection
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Do I Need a Commercial Driver License in Washington?
If you live in Washington and drive a Class A, B or C commercial vehicle, you must have an Washington Commercial Driver License (CDL). CDL Endorsements are required for double/triple trailers, tanker vehicles, passenger vehicles and vehicles placarded for hazardous materials.
To operate a commercial vehicle in one of the following classifications, you must have a Washington CDL Endorsement.
- Class A License - This classification applies only to "combination" vehicles with a Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) exceeding 26,000 pounds, provided the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed exceeds 10,000 pounds. The holder of a Class A license, which includes any appropriate endorsements, may operate all vehicles included in Class B, C, and D (Operator License).
- Class B License - This class includes single or combination vehicles where the GVWR of the single vehicle exceeds 26,000 pounds. The vehicle in tow must not exceed 10,000 pounds. Class B licensees, with appropriate endorsements, may drive all vehicles in Class C or D.
- Class C License - Vehicles designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, and vehicles placarded for hazardous materials, that do not meet the criteria for Class A or B above fall under this classification and may drive all vehicles in Class D.
CDL Endorsements are required for double/triple trailers, tanker vehicles, passenger vehicles and vehicles placarded for hazardous materials.
The law exempts three groups of drivers from the CDL:
- Farmers transporting farm equipment, supplies, or products to or from a farm in a farm vehicle are exempted provided a farmer or a farm employee operates the vehicle. (Products include Christmas trees or wood products transported by vehicles 40,000 pounds GVW or less.)
- Fire-fighters/Law Enforcement Personnel operating emergency equipment are exempted provided they have completed the Emergency Vehicle Accident Prevention Program (EVAP) and they carry a card certifying completion.
- Recreational Vehicle Operators are exempted when driving RV's for non-commercial purposes. This includes two axle rental trucks, and horse trailers for non-commercial purposes.
About the CDL Knowledge Tests
Knowledge testing is first come first served, so drivers should allow at least an hour at the licensing office to complete the application and the test. Driver licensing offices do not begin any CDL testing after 3:30 p.m., so applicants are encouraged to arrive in time to complete the application and begin the test by that time. You will have to take one or more knowledge tests, depending on what class of license and what endorsements you need. All CDL applicants must take the general knowledge test.(The $10 test fee is valid for a single test attempt but can apply to several different tests.)
Washington CDL Skills Tests
If you pass the required knowledge test(s), you can take the CDL skills tests at any regional CDL skills test location.. There are three types of general skills that will be tested: pre-trip inspection, basic vehicle control, and on-road driving. You must take these tests in the type of vehicle for which you wish to be licensed. A vehicle may not be used for testing purposes if it is not legally licensed, has defective equipment or does not meet necessary state or federal guidelines. The skills tests take approximately 2 hours.
- Pre-Trip Vehicle Inspection: You will be tested to see if you know whether your vehicle is safe to drive. You will be asked to do a pre-trip inspection of your vehicle and explain to the examiner what you would inspect and why.
- Basic Vehicle Control: You will be tested on your skill to control the vehicle. You will be asked to move your vehicle forward, backward, and turn it within a defined area. These areas may be marked with traffic lanes, cones, barriers, or something similar. The examiner will tell you how each control test is to be done.
- On-road Test: You will be tested on your skill to safely drive your vehicle in a variety of traffic situations. The situations may include left and right turns, intersections, railway crossings, curves, up and down grades, and single or multi-lane roads, streets, or highways. The examiner will tell you where to drive.
What Are The Other Requirements For A CDL?
To obtain a CDL or CDL instruction permit (CDIP) you must be at least 18 years of age and have a valid Washington State driver license. You must be at least 21 years of age to apply for an interstate CDL.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations require drivers to pass a physical examination once every 2 years. The main physical requirements include good hearing, 20/40 vision with or without glasses or corrective lenses, and a 70-degree field of vision in each eye. Drivers must not be colorblind.
What Should I Bring To The Department Of Motor Vehicles?
Along with all the required identification documents, and your medical release form, make sure you have:
- A signed CDL Skills Test Results form issued by a driver licensing office. This is a required form and you won't be tested or issued a license without it.
- Your valid Washington State driver license.
- Proof of valid insurance or a letter from the owner of the vehicle that authorizes you to use it for your test.
What Fees Will I Have To Pay?
To obtain a CDL you will need to pay the appropriate fees.
- $10 testing fee for the knowledge test;
- $10 fee for the CDIP;
- $40 Commercial Drivers License fee;
- $75 maximum per test skill test fee.
This charge is for one test only; retests will cost up to an additional $75. These fees are in addition to any fees for your basic driver license.
What Is A CDIP?
A Commercial Driver Instruction Permit (CDIP) allows the holder to drive a commercial motor vehicle on a highway only when accompanied by the holder of a commercial driver license, valid for the type of vehicle driven, who occupies a seat beside the individual, for the purpose of giving instruction in driving the commercial motor vehicle. The CDIP is valid for six months and may be renewed one time only.
For current CDL licensing and endorsement fees visit the Washington DMV.
Where Can I Get More Information?
Washington CDL Manual: Washington Driver's Handbook
For Federal Requirements for a CDL: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration-licensing/cdl/cdl.htm
For Medical Requirements for a CDL: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rules-regulations/administration/medical.htm