Getting a CDL In Tennessee

To obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) in Tennessee, you need to follow certain steps. Here is an overview of the process and associated fees:

1. Meet the age and residency requirements: You must be at least 18 years old, or 21 years old for interstate driving, and have a valid Tennessee driver’s license.
2. Obtain a medical certificate: You will need to pass a physical examination by a certified medical examiner to prove you are physically capable of operating a commercial motor vehicle. The cost of the medical exam varies depending on the examiner.
3. Pass the CDL knowledge test: You must pass a written knowledge test that covers general driving knowledge and specific information related to commercial driving. The fee for the knowledge test is $39.
4. Obtain a learner’s permit: You must obtain a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) by passing the knowledge test and paying a fee of $10. With a CLP, you can practice driving under supervision.
5. Complete CDL training: You must complete a CDL training program from an approved provider or receive employer-sponsored training.
6. Pass the CDL skills test: You must pass a skills test that includes pre-trip inspection, basic control skills, and a road test. The fee for the skills test is $100.
7. Obtain your CDL: If you pass the skills test, you will need to pay a fee of $75 to obtain your CDL.

The cost of getting a CDL in Tennessee ranges from around $150 to $1,000 depending on the type of endorsement and training program. It is important to research your options and choose a reputable provider that meets your needs and budget.

To obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) in Tennessee, you need to go through a process that includes meeting specific requirements, completing training, passing written and practical exams, and paying the necessary fees. Please note that the information provided is based on the knowledge available up until September 2021, and there may have been updates or changes since then. It’s always best to consult the official website of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

Here is a general outline of the CDL process in Tennessee:

  1. Determine the CDL Class: Tennessee offers several classes of CDL, including Class A, Class B, and Class C, depending on the type of vehicle you plan to operate.

  2. Eligibility Requirements: Ensure you meet the basic requirements set by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security. You must be at least 18 years old for an intrastate CDL (within Tennessee) or 21 years old for an interstate CDL (across state lines). You must have a valid regular driver’s license and provide proof of legal presence in the United States.

  3. Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP): Before obtaining a CDL, you will need to obtain a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP). To get a CLP, you need to pass a written knowledge test specific to the class of CDL you’re seeking. The test covers topics like general knowledge, air brakes (if applicable), combination vehicles (if applicable), and any endorsements you may need. You must also pass a vision screening and provide proper identification.

  4. CDL Training: While not mandatory, it is highly recommended to complete a CDL training program to receive professional instruction and hands-on training. CDL training programs can be found at commercial driving schools or community colleges. These programs help prepare you for the CDL skills test and provide valuable knowledge and experience.

  5. Skills Test: Once you’ve obtained your CLP and completed your training, you can schedule an appointment with the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security to take the CDL skills test. The skills test typically includes a pre-trip inspection, basic vehicle control, and an on-road driving test. You may also need to complete additional tests for specific endorsements.

  6. Endorsements: If you plan to operate vehicles with additional features or requirements, such as carrying hazardous materials, transporting passengers, or driving a tanker, you may need to obtain specific endorsements. Endorsements require additional written tests and possibly additional skills tests.

  7. Fees: The fees associated with obtaining a CDL in Tennessee may vary. As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, the base fee for a CDL in Tennessee is $38.50 for a five-year license. There may be additional fees for specific endorsements or other services. These fees are subject to change, so it’s best to check the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security website or contact their office directly for the most current fee information.

It’s important to note that additional costs may arise, such as those related to CDL training programs, medical examinations, and background checks.

For the most accurate and up-to-date information on CDL requirements and fees in Tennessee, please refer to the official website of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security or contact their office directly.

Commercial Driver License


  • New CDL services available online in e-Services: CDL duplicates, CDL renewals, and CDL medical certification renewal. To visit e-Services, click the button below and enter your driver information to get started.

CDL Help Center

Please see the new CDL Customer Service Center for helpful articles and an online request form.

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What is a Commercial License?

Operators of larger and more complex vehicles will need to apply for a Commercial Driver License (CDL). These licenses include Class A, B, and C depending upon the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR), and what is being transported. In general, state law defines a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) as any vehicle or combination of vehicles weighing more than 26,000 pounds. If hazardous materials are transported, or if the vehicle is designed to transport more than fifteen (15) passengers including the driver, or if the vehicle is used as a school bus, a CDL would also be required, regardless of the weight of the vehicle. Drivers who need a CDL should obtain the Commercial Driver License Manual which contains detailed information necessary to prepare for the tests. These manuals are available at all driver license stations.

The Temporary Driver License is not available to cover any type of commercial motor vehicle. An applicant for a CDL must be able to provide proof of U.S. Citizenship or Lawful Permanent Resident status in order to qualify for issuance of a Tennessee CDL.

See the Commercial Motor Vehicles Guide for more information.

NOTE: If a person holds a valid commercial driver license (Class A, B, or C license), this license is also valid for operating a Class D vehicle. No separate Class D license is required.

What class license do I need?

Commercial licenses include Class A, B, and C depending upon the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR), and what is being transported.

Some drivers may require an A/57 license. This license applies to drivers who do not require a class A license, but who haul an excess of 10,001 pounds or more. Examples are: F450 pick-up truck hauling a 10,001 or more pound trailer, an electric department truck hauling a 10,000 pound forklift on a flatbed trailer, etc.

View the Endorsement Table in PDF format.

Hazardous Materials Endorsement/Fingerprint-

Based Background Checks

Under the provisions of the USA Patriot Act (Public Law 107-56, § 1012), rules of the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) (49 CFR Part 1572) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) (Title 49 of Code of Federal Regulation 383.71(a)(9)), the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Driver Service Centers may not issue a hazardous materials endorsement (HME) until the applicant has first submitted to a fingerprint-based background check. TSA must determine that the applicant does not pose a security threat before the HME can be issued. No person applying for a first-time INITIAL, current RENEWING or current out of state TRANSFERRING HME after February 20, 2013, may be issued an HME until the TSA background check has been completed. The background check must have been completed within the last ninety (90) days.

Click Hazardous Materials Endorsement for more information.

What documents do I need to bring when I apply

for a CDL?

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

  1. Valid DOT Medical Card
    • PLEASE NOTE: Employees of a government entity must have a current, valid D.O.T. medical card if making application for a CDL with a HazMat (H), Passenger (P) or School Bus (S) endorsement.
  2. Proof of your Social Security Number
  3. Tennessee driver’s license or ID, or a valid driver license or CDL from another state.
  4. Proof of Domicile in Tennessee.
    • Applicants for a CDL or permit will be required to present two proofs of domicile
  5. Proof of U.S. Citizenship or Lawful Permanent Resident Status

What proof of U.S. citizenship documents are authorized?

  • Valid, unexpired U.S. Passport.
  • Certified birth certificate filed with a State Office of Vital Statistics or equivalent agency in the individual’s State of birth, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) issued by the U.S. Department of State. (DS-1350 or FS-545)
  • Certificate of Naturalization issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). (N550, N570 or N578)
  • Certificate of Citizenship issued by DHS. (N560 or N561)

What Proof of Lawful Permanent Resident document is authorized?

  • Valid, unexpired Permanent Resident Card, issued by USCIS or INS.

What do I need to bring for domicile?

All documents must include a Tennessee residential address–the SAME residential address must be on each document presented. No photocopies accepted!

Acceptable Documents:

  1. Current utility bill including landline telephone, electric, water, gas, cable, etc. (Wireless telephone bills cannot be accepted).
  2. Current vehicle registration (personal vehicle not company vehicle) dated within the last 12 months.
  3. TN vehicle title showing TN address (but can’t use a title and vehicle registration as both proofs).
  4. Mortgage papers – such as the property deed or mortgage payment coupon/book.
  5. Copy of Lease Agreement or Contract with notarized signatures OR accompanied by signed realty agency letterhead confirming lease validity.
  6. Voter registration card – NOT the application for voter registration.
  7. Military LES papers listing Tennessee as home of record.
  8. Current filed tax return – not tax return booklet.

NOTE: (E-filed returns must include the W2 form AND confirmation page and are acceptable only if dated within the last 12 months.)

Unacceptable documents:

  1. Bank statements
  2. Cell phone bills
  3. Credit card statements
  4. Utility connection or deposit receipt
  5. Employer letters
  6. Extended stay hotel receipts
  7. Magazine subscriptions or junk mail
  8. Personal or business postmarked mail
  9. Prescription bottles
  10. USCIS identity documents (i.e. I-551, I-766, Visas, etc.)
  11. Hunting, fishing or boating licenses
  12. Letters from a public or private school or educational institution

Proof of Relationship

Domicile may also be established through proof of relationship to a spouse, parent/child, sibling, or grandparent.

  • The spouse, parent/child, sibling, or grandparent of a CDL applicant needing to use a relative’s address and domicile documents MUST hold a valid Tennessee driver license or identification license.
  • The CDL applicant will be required to present two (2) items with a Tennessee residential address from the list of acceptable domicile documents in the name of the immediate relative. This relative must be present at the time of application! This is required for all transfers from out of state and for class D upgrades.
  • CDL applicants using items in the name of one of these immediate relatives as proof of domicile must also provide proof of the relationship such as:
    • Spouse = marriage certificate
    • Parent/Child = Birth Certificate
    • Sibling = both the applicant’s AND the sibling’s birth certificates in order to verify they share at least one common parent.
    • Grandparent = applicant’s birth certificate AND birth certificate of the applicant’s parent.
    • (This is necessary to show that the grandparent is the mother/father of the applicant’s parent)

How do I obtain a CDL learner’s permit?

To obtain your permit, you must take and pass the CDL general knowledge test. Full-Service Driver Service Centers throughout the state** offer the CDL general knowledge test and the knowledge tests for any endorsement needed.

Is a temporary CDL authorized?

No. The Temporary Driver License is not available to cover any type of commercial motor vehicle.

Which tests are required when adding an endorsement to a CDL?

Per federal regulation §383.93, paragraph C:

The following tests are required for endorsements:

(c)(1) Double/Triple Trailers – a knowledge test;
(c)(2) Passenger – knowledge and a skills test;
(c)(3) Tank vehicle – a knowledge test;
(c)(4) Hazardous Materials – a knowledge test; and
(c)(5) School bus – knowledge and a skills test.

Where can I take a CDL knowledge test?

CDL knowledge tests can be taken at our Full-Service Driver Service Centers

How can I schedule a CDL skills test?

At a Driver Services Center location:

CDL skills tests can be scheduled for any of the Commercial Driver License Road Skills Test locations across the state by calling 615-502-4179 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. CST Monday through Friday. 

At a certified CDL Third Party Program Participant:

Click here to view a current list of certified CDL Third Party Testing Program participants. Testing should be scheduled directly through the certified CDL Third Party Testing Program participant using the information provided on the list. CDL skills tests administered by certified CDL Third Party Program participants may include additional fees or costs for the skills tests.

Medical Certification Requirements

What is changing? The method of submitting your Medical Certificate and your Self-Certification Affidavit to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security (TDOSHS) is changing.

When does this change start? This change starts on Monday, May 16, 2022.

How should the Medical Certification Information be submitted? The Medical Card & Self-Certification Affidavit should be submitted using the Driver Services Online Portal:

To Submit Med Cert Info: Click Here

In order for the CDL office to process your medical certification, two documents must be submitted (uploaded) on the On-Line Portal:

    1. Affidavit Self-Certification
    2. Medical Examiner Certification (Form MCSA-5876)

Please do not attach your full (long form) medical report.

We cannot accept your personal medical information for an update to your medical certification.

If you are subject to the DOT medical card requirements, please submit (upload) your new DOT Medical Card & Self-Certification Affidavit to TDOSHS 5 business days prior to the expiration of your current DOT medical card.

For questions regarding a CDL cancellation letter from TDOSHS due to an expired Medical Card, please contact the Commercial Driver License Med Cert Section at 615-687-2312.

For additional Medical Certification information from FMCSA: Click Here

To Find or ensure that your provider is a FMCSA Certified Provider: Click Here

Medical Examiner’s Certificate (MEC), Form MCSA-5876: Click Here

CDL Holder Self-Certification Affidavit: Click Here

FMCSA Medical Certificate FAQ’s: Click Here

What is not changing? The driver physical qualification requirements are not changing.

What are CDL holders required to do?

  1. You must determine what type of commerce you operate in. You must certify to TDOSHS to one of the four types of commerce you operate in as listed below,
    • Interstate Non-Excepted: You are an Interstate non-excepted driver and must meet the Federal DOT medical card requirements (e.g. – you are “not excepted”).
    • Interstate Excepted: You are an Interstate excepted driver and do not have to meet the Federal DOT medical card requirements.
    • Intrastate Non-Excepted: You are an Intrastate non-excepted driver and are required to meet the medical requirements for Tennessee.
    • Intrastate Excepted: You are an Intrastate excepted driver and do not have to meet the medical requirements for Tennessee.  

For more detailed information read the following:

CDL holders must provide information to TDOSHS regarding the type of commercial motor vehicle operation they drive in or expect to drive in with their CDL. Drivers operating in certain types of commerce will be required to submit a current medical examiner’s certificate to TDOSHS to obtain a “certified” medical status as part of their driving record. CDL holders required to have a ”certified” medical status who fail to provide and keep up-to-date their medical examiner’s certificate with TDOSHS will become ”not-certified” and they may lose their CDL privileges.

Who is responsible for notifying the State that I have a valid medical certificate?
The certified medical professional that performed the physical and certified the driver is required to send electronically, by midnight the following day, a record of everyone that was certified by him or her to the FMCSA. However, the driver is ultimately responsible for the notification to the state.

We have enhanced our available online services!

For added convenience you may:

     • Renew your CDL; 

     • Order a Duplicate CDL; and

     • Submit your Self-Certification Affidavit and Medical Exam Certificate at: Driver Services Online

New Medical Certification Requirements Frequently Asked Questions

Commercial Driver License Manual

Click here to access a free online version of The Tennessee Code. To find a particular statute, enter the statute number (i.e. 39-17-1351) into the search box at the top left of the page and click the ‘search’ button. That will give you a direct link to the statute you want to read.

CDL Citation Reporting Information for the Judiciary

and Court Clerks

New Tennessee Law – Effective 1/1/2011

Effective January 1, 2011, the State reporting requirement for commercial vehicle convictions was changed from 10 days to 5 days (Tenn. Code Ann. §55-50-409).

For more information and the new reporting requirements, visit our CDL Citations page.

Highways for Heroes

Click waiver for more information.

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