How to Obtain a Commercial Drivers License in Pennsylvania

For those Pennsylvania drivers wondering how to get a commercial drivers license (CDL), you are required to obtain a CDL license if you are operating a vehicle for commercial purposes in the state. Commercial drivers license requests in the state are handled by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, or PennDOT. While some exceptions apply, generally, CDL operators include those who drive vehicles over a certain weight, with the capacity to transport a large number of people or hazardous materials. CDL license requirements vary depending on the kind of vehicle the driver expects to operate once he or she receives a CDL drivers license, and so the required exams and documentation necessary will also differ for each applicant. Below, learn more about Pennsylvania CDL qualifications and the application process to help you get certified quickly and easily.

Pennsylvania CDL License Requirements

Before discussing how to apply to a commercial drivers license, there are some pieces of information that must be prepared in order to confirm if the applicant is eligible to be commercially licensed in Pennsylvania. To get a commercial drivers license in PA, the applicant must verify that he or she is a U.S. citizen, a Pennsylvania resident and, also, a currently-licensed driver in Pennsylvania.

To verify U.S. citizenship, acceptable documentation, such as a U.S. birth certificate, a passport, or a naturalization form must be submitted to your local Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) office.

Next, to confirm residency in Pennsylvania, applicants must provide tax records, lease agreements or mortgage documents from the state of Pennsylvania. Supporting documentation also includes a W-2 form, a weapons permit, a utility bill or a CDL renewal notice.

Finally, applicants for CDL licenses must also already be non-CDL license holders in Pennsylvania. Non-CDL licenses include the standard license necessary to drive a car or truck in the state. Note that a non-CDL license can also be used to verify current Pennsylvania residency. Interested applicants seeking more CDL information can download our free guide.

The CDL License Application Process in Pennsylvania

To review how to apply to a commercial drivers license in Pennsylvania, the process can be largely be summarized by two scheduled visits to your local PennDOT Driver License Center. Note that you should only begin the process to obtain a commercial drivers license by scheduling the first visit with PennDOT once you are prepared to take a general knowledge exam. It is during this visit that you will submit the required documentation mentioned above, in addition to other items and information requested by PennDOT.

Getting a commercial drivers license begins with compiling the CDL drivers license required application information and providing requested items, which include the following steps:

  • Submit the “Commercial Learner's Permit (CLP) Application” form (DL-31CD)
  • Submit the “Self-Certification” form (DL-11CD)
  • Pay the applicable fees
  • Pass a driving record check

Download our comprehensive guide to review the CDL procedures in more detail.

Once all of the listed steps have been taken to prepare for obtaining your CDL, you will immediately take your first CDL test, the general knowledge exam. This written exam can be anywhere between 50 to 70 questions, depending on your selected CDL license class or the endorsements you wish to obtain. Should you pass this exam, you will be given a CDL learner's permit, and can proceed to the second stage of the application process.

The second part of the CDL license requirements for commercial drivers includes receiving a learner's permit. Once you receive this beginner CDL license, you will be ready to proceed to the next stage of the licensing process. Note that you can only begin taking steps within the second stage of the process after 15 days of having your learner's permit. This is because the second stage will involve skills testing and require the applicant to drive a vehicle to receive his or her full PA CDL license. The second phase of the CDL licensing process includes the following tests:

  • The pre-trip inspection
  • The basic vehicle control test
  • The on-road driving test

If you pass all of the previously listed CDL license tests, you will be awarded with a CDL driving document. This will be either a photo license or camera card that you can used to get your photo taken at a certified Photo Center, and then receive your CDL license card. To learn more about CDL licensing procedures in Pennsylvania, download our free and informative guide.