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Getting a Commercial Driver License or Commercial Learner Permit

You must have a CDL if you operate:

  • Any single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating or actual gross vehicle weight, whichever is greater, of 26,001 pounds or more;
  • A trailer, or multiple trailers, with a total gross vehicle weight rating or actual gross vehicle weight of more than 10,000 pounds when the gross combination weight rating or actual gross combination weight, whichever is greater, of all vehicles combined is 26,001 pounds or more;
  • A vehicle that transports 16 or more passengers (including the driver); or
  • Any size vehicle that is used in the transportation of any material that requires hazardous materials placards or any amount of a material listed as a select agent or toxin in 42 CFR, Part 73.

There are exceptions for:

  • Personal-use recreational vehicles;
  • Emergency fire vehicles used by firefighters (ORS 652.050); or
  • Emergency vehicles used by qualified emergency service volunteers (ORS 401.358). 

Use the chart below to help you decide if you need a CDL.

Do I need a CDL graph
 

The type of driving you intend to do, and self-certify to, determines the qualifications for a commercial driver license.

If you self-certify an intrastate or excepted interstate driving type, you must:

If you certify a driving type of non-excepted interstate, you must meet the following qualification, 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 federal exemption and/ or Skills Performance Evaluation.

The type of driving you intend to do, and self-certify to, determines the qualifications for a commercial driver license.

If you self-certify an intrastate or excepted interstate driving type, you must:

To certify a driving type of non-excepted interstate, you must be at least 21 years of age.

When applying for a commercial driver license or commercial learner permit, you must certify the type of driving you intend to do. Oregon options:

  • Non-excepted Interstate;
  • Excepted Interstate; or
  • Non-excepted Intrastate.

Interstate Commerce

Interstate commerce is trade, traffic or transportation:

  • Between a place in a state and a place outside the same state;
  • Between two places in a state while going through another state or a place outside of the United States; and
  • Between two places in a state as part of trade, traffic or transportation beginning or ending outside the United States.

In other words, you could take part in interstate commerce even if your vehicle does not leave the state.

Some federal rules and standards do not apply to drivers of vehicles in excepted interstate. These include:

  • School bus operations;
  • Transport by government entities;
  • Some drivers of farm equipment; and
  • Seasonal transport of bees by beekeepers.

DMV strongly recommends that you certify a non-excepted interstate driving type  if you:

  • Meet federal qualifications; or
  • Might operate a commercial motor vehicle in non-excepted interstate commerce.

Otherwise, your commercial driver license or commercial learner permit will be restricted.

Intrastate Commerce

Oregon statute regulates the licensing of commercial drivers in intrastate commerce.

Intrastate commerce is any trade, traffic or transportation in any state that is not described in the term interstate commerce.

We require commercial driver license or commercial learner permit applicants to take one or more knowledge tests depending on the class of license or permit and the endorsements needed.

You can find the information you need to pass Commercial Knowledge Tests in the Oregon Commercial Driver Manual. We offer the tests in English only. Translators are not permitted.

You must pay test fees before taking any test.

Commercial Knowledge Tests

  • General Knowledge Test:  required for commercial learner permit applicants.
  • Combination Vehicles Test:  required to drive Class A combination vehicles.
  • Air Brakes Test:  required to drive vehicles with air brakes.
  • Passenger Endorsement Test:  required to drive vehicles designed  to transport 16 persons or more, including the driver.
  • Tank Endorsement Test:  required to haul liquids or gas in bulk.
  • School Bus Endorsement Test: required to transport students from home to school, from school to home, or to and from school sponsored events.
  • Hazardous Materials Endorsement Test: required to haul hazardous materials or waste in amounts which require placards. Must also take test to renew.
  • Doubles/Triples Endorsement Test: required to pull double or triple trailers.

About Knowledge Tests

  • Refer to the "What Sections Should You Study" table in the Oregon Commercial Driver Manual to find out the specific sections you need to study to get the desired endorsements.

Waiving Knowledge Tests

DMV will waive all Commercial Knowledge Tests EXCEPT the Hazardous Materials Endorsement Test if you surrender a current, valid commercial driver license from another jurisdiction for a comparable Oregon Commercial Driver License.

Commercial learner permits from other jurisdictions may not be used to waive Commercial Knowledge Tests.

Scheduling

There are two ways to get a drive test. 
  1. Schedule a test with DMV by calling 503-945-5000.
  2. Schedule a test with a Third Party CDL Tester. 

Requirements

  • You must get and hold an Oregon Commercial Learner Permit for 14 days before the test;
  • You may use an unexpired Oregon Commercial Instruction Permit issued before September 26, 2016 for the Commercial Skills Test if you have already passed all of the required Commercial Knowledge Test(s);
  • We offer the tests in English only. Translators are not permitted.

DMV will not conduct a skills test in a vehicle that:

  • Is transporting any load;
  • Is placarded for hazardous materials;
  • Has more than one trailer;
  • Pulls a trailer that has no brakes or uses surge brakes; or
  • Is clearly illegal or unsafe.

About the Test

Commercial Driver License Skills Tests consist of three parts:

  1. Pre-trip Vehicle Inspection
    • You will be asked to complete a pre-trip inspection of your vehicle and explain to the examiner what you should inspect and why.
    • Section 11 of the Oregon Commercial Driver Manual tells you what to inspect and how to inspect it.
  2. Basic Control Skills
    • You will be asked to perform backing exercises to show your ability to control your vehicle.
    • Section 12 of the Oregon Commercial Driver Manual has more information about this portion of the skills test.
  3. On-Road Driving Test
    • The examiner will test you on your ability to safely drive your vehicle in a variety of traffic situations that will include:
      • left and right turns;
      • intersections;
      • railway crossings;
      • curves;
      • single and multi-lane roads; and
      • highways.

Section 13 of the Oregon Commercial Driver Manual explains more about this test.

DMV may waive the Class A or B CDL Skills Test requirements for qualified military commercial motor vehicle operators.

We will not waive Passenger and School Bus Endorsement Skills Tests.

To apply for a military skills test waiver you must:

  • Hold or be eligible for an Oregon Class C Driver License;
  • Provide proof that you are a U.S. citizen or permanent lawful resident;
  • Be currently employed, or have been employed within the last 12 months, in a military specialty in which the primary duty is, or was, the operation of a commercial motor vehicle (e.g. Army primary MOS 88M and MOS 12N, Marine primary MOS 3531 and Air Force primary AFSC 2T1X1);
  • Complete an Oregon Application for Military Skills Test Waiver, or equivalent application from the Department of Defense or another state, signed by you and your commanding officer;
  • Provide a copy of your DD 214 or, if you are currently in military service, a copy of your Military Identification Card;
  • Provide a copy of your military vehicle operator’s permit that DMV can use to properly classify the type of commercial motor vehicle that you operate, or operated. The vehicle must be associated with a specific federal commercial motor vehicle classification that can be verified;
  • Otherwise meet the requirements described in Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation 383.77.

Send the Oregon Application for Military Skills Test Waiver along with copies of other required documents to:

    Oregon DMV
    CDL Policy Unit
    1905 Lana Ave NE
    Salem, OR  97314

If DMV determines  that you meet the qualifications for the military skills test waiver, a copy of your application and an approval letter, with instructions, will be mailed to you.

If you do not meet the qualifications for the military skills test waiver, DMV will return your documents to you.

 

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