Wisconsin CDL Requirements

You must get an Wisconsin commercial driver’s license (CDL) to be able to drive commercial vehicles in Wisconsin. For Federal CDL Requirements applicable to every state, click here.

Wisconsin adopted the Federal Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986, and is part of a nationally uniform system of classifying, testing, and licensing commercial vehicle drivers.

When is an Wisconsin CDL Required

You need an Wisconsin CDL when you operate the following vehicles:

CLASS A – Applies only to “combination” vehicles with a Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) more than 26,000 pounds, and the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is more than 10,000 pounds. A driver with a Class A CDL (plus any appropriate endorsements) can also operate all vehicles included in Class B, C, and D (below)

CLASS B – Includes single or combination vehicles where the GVWR of the single vehicle is more than 26,000 pounds. The vehicle being pulled must not be more than 10,000 pounds. A driver with an Wisconsin Class B CDL (plus appropriate endorsements) can also legally operate all vehicles in Class C or D.

CLASS C – Any single vehicle, or combination of vehicles, that meets neither the definition of Group A nor that of Group B as contained in this section, but that either is designed to transport 16 or more passengers including the driver, or is used in the transportation of materials found to be hazardous for the purposes of the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act and which require the motor vehicle to be placarded under the Hazardous Materials Regulations (49 CFR part 172, subpart F).

CLASS D – Private passenger, regular operator.

Wisconsin CDL Age Requirements

You must be at least 18 years of age to drive within state lines (intrastate).

You must be at least 21 years old to:

  • drive commercial vehicles across state lines (interstate)
  • haul hazardous materials

How to Apply for an Wisconsin CDL

To qualify/apply to obtain a Commercial Driver’s Instruction Permit:

New commercial drivers must get a Commercial Learner Permit (CLP) to practice driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) to prepare for the CDL skills test.

To obtain the permit you must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age.
  • Hold a valid driver license.
  • Pass the knowledge tests for the type of vehicle you will be driving.
  • Have a valid federal medical card. Persons who do not have a valid federal medical card will be restricted to:
    • No CMV operation in interstate commerce.
    • No intrastate CMV operation unless exempt
  • A Commercial Learner Permit (CLP) is valid only for CMVs. The permit is valid for 6 months and will list the type of vehicles and endorsements for which you have qualified.

Certain restrictions will apply to your operation with a Commercial Learner Permit (CLP):

  • You must have a qualified driving instructor or a person who is licensed to operate that type of CMV and who is at least 21 years old, sitting next to you at all times.
  • You may not transport passengers. However, if the accompanying driver is a qualified instructor, 3 other persons with Commercial Learner Permits (CLP) may also ride along.
  • Unless you are restricted, you may carry property in a CMV while you are driving on a Commercial Learner Permit (CLP).
  • Unless you are at least 21 years old and have a federal medical certificate (Fed Med Card), you may not operate in interstate commerce on a Commercial Learner Permit (CLP).
  • Drivers who upgrade class, restrictions or endorsements will need a Commercial Learner Permit (CLP) if the upgrade requires a skills test.

More information from Wisconsin DMV about Getting a CDL or CLP.

Documentation Requirements

You will need to provide proper identification when you apply for your CDL. Some acceptable forms are:

  • Birth Certificate
  • Social Security Card (or proof of the number)
  • U.S. Passport
  • Birth Certificate
  • A Wisconsin driver license
  • Other state’s driver license (if transferring from another state)
  • Military ID card

More information on documentation required here.

How much does the Wisconsin CDL cost?

Commercial Driver’s License Fees

  • Commercial Learner Permit (CLP) (Class A, B, C) (6 months) $30
  • Original (Class A, B, C) (prorated for time remaining on existing Wisconsin driver license) $74
  • Renewal (Class A, B, C) (8 year) $74
  • Duplicate $14
  • School bus endorsement – S $5
  • Hazardous Material Endorsement (HME) – payable to DMV and non-refundable. $44 (or $34 if in conjunction with a CDL renewal. Note: You will also be required to pay $24.25 for fingerprinting – payable to Fieldprint and non-refundable. Visit www.fieldprintwisconsin.com
  • Class upgrades $15 (one or more classes)
  • Endorsement upgrades $5 (each) plus a $10 issuance fee
  • Lifting restriction – “No CMV operation in interstate commerce” $14
  • Lifting restrictions – “No CMV operation with air brakes” $14 (plus skills exam fee)
  • Skills exam (Class A, B, C) $20
  • Skills exam school bus (Class B, C, D) $15
  • Knowledge test $0

More information about fees from this WI DMV.

Official Wisconsin CDL Manual
Wisconsin DMV/DPS
FMSCA Guidelines