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Getting a Commercial Driver License (CDL) or Permit (CLP)

Overview

Image of a large commercial truck
Generally, you must have a CDL to operate a motor vehicle on highways or premises open to the public in Oregon if the gross vehicle weight or gross vehicle weight rating is greater than 26,000 pounds, the vehicle is used to transport 16 or more passengers including the driver, or the vehicle is used to transport hazardous materials.  Exceptions exist for recreational vehicles operated solely for personal use, certain farm vehicles when the driver is operating within the limitations of a farm endorsement, emergency fire vehicles operated by firefighters as defined in ORS 652.050, and emergency vehicles operated by emergency service workers as defined in ORS 401.025. 
 
Issuance of a CDL or permit for operating a CMV in interstate commerce is regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and Oregon statute. Interstate commerce is defined as trade, traffic or transportation:
  • Between a place in a state and a place outside such state;
  • Between two places in a state through another state or a place outside of the United States; or
  • Between two places in a state as part of trade, traffic or transportation originating or terminating outside the United States.
In other words, you may be engaged in interstate commerce even if your vehicle does not leave the state.
 
Interstate commerce may be “non-excepted” or “excepted”. All federal rules and standards are applicable to drivers of vehicles in non-excepted interstate commerce, while some federal rules and standards are not applicable to drivers of vehicles in excepted interstate commerce. Excepted interstate commerce includes:
  • Transportation of school children and/or school staff between home and school;
  • Operation by Federal, State or local government employees;
  • Transportation of human corpses or sick or injured persons;
  • Operation of fire truck or rescue vehicle during emergencies and other related activities;
  • Transportation of propane winter heating fuel when responding to an emergency condition requiring immediate response such as damage to a propane gas system after a storm or flooding;
  • Operation of vehicles responding to a pipeline emergency condition requiring immediate response such as a pipeline leak or rupture;
  • Custom harvesting on a farm or to transport farm machinery and supplies used in the custom harvesting operation to and from a farm or to transport custom harvested crops to storage or market;
  • Seasonal transportation of bees by beekeepers;
  • Operation of a vehicle controlled and operated by a farmer, but is not a combination vehicle (power unit and towed unit), and is used to transport agricultural products, farm machinery or farm supplies (no placardable hazardous materials) to and from a farm and within 150 air-miles of the farm;
  • Operation by a private motor carrier of passengers for non-business purposes; or
  • Transportation of migrant workers.
Issuance of a CDL or permit for operating a CMV in intrastate or excepted interstate commerce is regulated by Oregon statute.  Intrastate commerce is any trade, traffic, or transportation in any state which is not described in the term interstate commerce.
 
Use the links below to go directly to any section:
Commercial Driver License
To Qualify/Apply
The qualifications needed to obtain and hold a CDL are dependent on the type of driving you do or intend to do and the type of driving you certify.
 
If you certify a driving type of intrastate or excepted interstate, you must: If you certify a driving type of non-excepted interstate, you must meet the following qualifications, in addition to those listed above:
  • Be at least 21 years of age;
  • Submit a copy of a valid medical examiner's certificate and, when required, a medical waiver or exemption that proves you meet minimum federal medical standards for holding a CDL;
  • Certify that you meet or will meet all other federal requirements for operation of a CMV in non-excepted interstate commerce; and
  • Certify your intent and/or qualification to operate a vehicle in non-excepted interstate commerce.

DMV strongly recommends that you certify a driving type of non-excepted interstate if you meet federal qualifications and there is any chance you might operate a CMV in non-excepted interstate commerce. Otherwise your CDL might be needlessly restricted.
 
After you meet all requirements, you will be issued an interim card to use until you receive your CDL in the mail.
 
If you surrendered a previous driver license, permit or identification card, it will be hole-punched and returned to you.  The hole-punched card is not valid by itself, but may be used as additional proof of identity with the interim card.

Note: There are specific requirements for each CDL Class as well as available endorsements.

Training
If you need to practice or train for the Commercial Drive Test you must obtain a CDL Instruction Permit (see section below). You may take the Commercial Drive Test at a DMV office without a CDL Instruction Permit. However, you must have a CDL Instruction Permit or CDL in order to take the Commercial Drive Test with a CDL Third Party Tester.

CDL Instruction/Learner's Permit
A CDL Instruction (or Learner's) Permit authorizes the operation of any vehicle, except a motorcycle or a vehicle carrying hazardous materials, when accompanied by a person who:
  • Is at least 21 years of age;
  • Has a valid commercial driver license for the class of vehicle being driven by the permit holder;
  • Has the proper endorsements for the vehicle being operated; and
  • Is sitting in the front seat next to the permit holder. 

CDL instruction permits are valid for one year from the date of issuance. If you need more practice driving with your instruction permit, you may renew it prior to the expiration of your current one. Renewing an instruction permit does not extend the validity of the current permit. The renewed permit will be valid for one year after the date of issuance. If your permit has been expired for more than one year you will be required to successfully complete the knowledge and vision test and pay all applicable fees.

To Qualify/Apply
The qualifications needed to obtain and hold a CDL instruction (or learner's) permit are dependent on the type of driving you do or intend to do and the type of driving you certify.
 
If you certify a driving type of intrastate or excepted interstate, you must: If you certify a driving type of non-excepted interstate, you must meet the following qualifications, in addition to those listed above:
  • Be at least 21 years of age;
  • Submit a copy of a valid medical examiner's certificate and, when required, a medical waiver or exemption that proves you meet minimum federal medical standards for holding a CDL instruction permit;
  • Certify that you meet or will meet all other federal requirements for operation of a CMV in non-excepted interstate commerce; and
  • Certify your intent and/or qualification to operate a vehicle in non-excepted interstate commerce.
DMV strongly recommends that you certify a driving type of non-excepted interstate if you meet federal qualifications and there is any chance you might operate a CMV in non-excepted interstate commerce. Otherwise your CDL permit might be needlessly restricted.
 
After you meet all requirements, you will be issued an interim card to use until you receive your CDL instruction permit in the mail.
 
If you surrendered a previous driver license, permit or identification card, it will be hole-punched and returned to you.  The hole-punched card is not valid by itself, but may be used as additional proof of identity with the interim card.
 
Related Information

Additional information that may be relevant includes: