Tennessee CDL Requirements

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


Tennessee 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 Tennessee CDL Required

You need an Tennessee 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 Tennessee 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.

Tennessee 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 Tennessee CDL

To qualify/apply to obtain a Commercial Instruction Permit:

Obtain Your D.O.T. Medical Card
All drivers applying for a CDL license must have a current, valid DOT medical card before they are allowed to renew, get a duplicate, take a test or in any way proceed with the CDL process.
Having a current, valid medical card is also required if you are employed by a government entity and require the passenger, school bus or hazardous material endorsement(s).

Please bring the following documents with you when applying for a CDL license.

  • Your current valid medical card
  • Any and all driver licenses, and state issued ID’s.
  • Proof of your Social Security Number.
  • Proof of U.S. Citizenship or Lawful Permanent Resident Status.
  • Two proofs of domicile and either a Tennessee license or valid CDL from another state.

More information from Tennessee DPS 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 Tennessee driver license
  • Other state’s driver license (if transferring from another state)
  • Military ID card

How much does the Tennessee CDL cost?

Commercial Driver’s License Fees

Fees for Common, Basic CDL’s
(Issued for 5 years)
NOTE: The length of your license is determined by the “Drive for Five” law. It may actually be from 4 to 7 years, depending upon the date of your next birthday evenly divided by 5. The cost is:

  • Class A: $46 ($6 non-refundable application fee plus $40 license fee).
  • Class B or C: $41 ($6 non-refundable application fee plus $35 license fee).
  • Add $2.50 for each endorsement you require, plus $18.50 for motorcycle class.

More information about fees from TN CDL Manual.

Sources:
Official Tennessee CDL Manual
Tennessee DMV/DPS
FMSCA Guidelines