Getting your CDL in Michigan

Getting your CDL in Michigan

Getting your CDL in Michigan: 

To obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) in Michigan, you need to follow certain steps and meet specific requirements. Here’s how:

1. Get a Commercial Learner’s Permit: You can get a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) by passing the knowledge test related to the type of commercial vehicle you want to drive. You must hold the CLP for at least 14 days before taking the skills test.

2. Get CDL Training: You need to complete a CDL training program or receive training from an accredited Michigan CDL instructor before taking the road skills test.

3. Pass the CDL Skills Test: The CDL skills test includes a pre-trip inspection of the vehicle, a basic control skills test, and an on-road driving test. You must pass all three sections of the skills test to obtain a CDL.

4. Submit Required Documents: After passing the CDL skills test, you must submit the required documents, including a Medical Examiner Certificate, to the Michigan Secretary of State office.

The fees for obtaining a CDL in Michigan vary depending on the type of CDL you’re seeking and the number of exams you need to take. You can contact the Michigan Department of State for more information on the fees associated with obtaining a CDL in Michigan.

To obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) in Michigan, you need to meet specific requirements and complete a series of steps. The process involves gathering documentation, passing written and skills tests, and paying the necessary fees. Here’s a general overview:

  1. Eligibility Requirements:

    • You must be at least 18 years old to drive within Michigan and 21 years old to drive across state lines or transport hazardous materials.
    • You should hold a valid Michigan driver’s license.
    • You must provide proof of your Social Security Number.
  2. Documentation:

    • Gather the required documentation, including proof of identity (e.g., birth certificate, passport), proof of residency, and proof of Social Security Number.
    • You may also need to provide documents verifying your legal presence in the United States.
  3. CDL Written Test:

    • Study the Michigan Commercial Driver License Manual thoroughly.
    • Visit a local Secretary of State (SOS) office to take the written CDL exam.
    • The exam covers general knowledge, specific vehicle classes, air brakes (if applicable), and any additional endorsements you seek.
  4. Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP):

    • Apply for a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) at an SOS office. This permit allows you to practice driving a commercial vehicle with a licensed CDL holder present.
    • You will need to pass the vision test and any required knowledge tests to obtain the CLP.
  5. CDL Skills Test:

    • Schedule an appointment at an SOS office or an authorized third-party testing location to take the CDL skills test.
    • The skills test consists of three parts: pre-trip vehicle inspection, basic vehicle control, and on-road driving.
    • You’ll need to provide the appropriate vehicle for each test, such as a commercial vehicle of the appropriate class.
  6. Medical Examination:

    • Obtain a medical examination from a certified medical examiner.
    • The medical examiner will complete the Medical Examination Report (MER) and provide you with a Medical Examiner’s Certificate (MEC).
  7. Fees:

    • The fees for obtaining a CDL in Michigan can vary. As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, the fee for a Class A, B, or C CDL was $25 for a four-year license, and the fee for a CLP was $25 for a one-year permit.
    • Additional fees may apply for duplicates, skills tests, and other services.

Please note that the fees and specific procedures may have changed since my last update. To get the most accurate and up-to-date information, please visit the official website of the Michigan Secretary of State (SOS) or contact your local SOS office in Michigan. They will provide you with the current requirements and fees for obtaining a CDL in Michigan.

What do I need to add a CDL endorsement to my license? (Choose tab)

Beginning February 7, 2022, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has established new minimum training standards for individuals applying for:

  • Class A or B Commercial Driver License (CDL) for the first time
  • An upgrade of an existing CDL (e.g., Class B CDL holder seeking a Class A CDL)
  • A Hazardous Materials (H), Passenger (P), or School Bus (S) endorsement on a CDL for the first time

These new minimum training standards are referred to as Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT). Drivers must complete the required ELDT from a training provider registered with FMCSA before being scheduled for CDL skills or knowledge tests to obtain one of the licenses or endorsements listed above. Once implemented, the FMCSA Training Provider Registry (TPR) will retain a record of which CDL applicants have completed the new training and certification process outlined in the ELDT regulations. A CLP may be issued prior to ELDT being completed. First-time hazardous applicants including those applying for a Class A, B, or C CDL must complete the hazardous portion of ELDT prior to a written knowledge test being administered at a branch office. Customers who received their Class A or B CLP prior Feb. 7, 2022, are exempt from these regulations until the CLP is expired.


ELDT Applicability (FMCSA)

Upon completing EDLT, a record of completion will be added to the Michigan Department of State records system. To locate an ELDT provider, visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website.


Locate an ELDT provider (FMCSA)

What do I need to renew my CDL? (Choose tab)

To renew your commercial driver’s license online, you will need:

  • Your driver’s license or renewal notice
  • An updated valid Medical Examiner’s Certificate (also known as a DOT Medical Card) to upload, if you have certified to non-excepted interstate driving
  • Payment with credit or debit card (additional fees apply) or e-check/bank account number. Fees: See details in FAQs below.

Note: If you have a hazardous materials (hazmat) endorsement, you can’t renew online.

Go to Online Services

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

  • What CDL endorsements are available?

    In addition to the appropriate CDL group designation, endorsements are required for the following:

    • T – Double or Triple Trailers – (Triple trailer combinations aren’t permitted in Michigan.)
    • P – Passenger – For vehicles designed to carry 16 or more people (including the driver)
    • N – Tank Vehicles – For vehicles designed to haul liquids or liquefied gases in bulk in permanently mounted tanks or portable tanks rated at 1,000 gallons or more
    • H – Hazardous Materials – To carry hazardous materials in amounts requiring placards
    • X – Appears on the license instead of the H and N codes when an applicant receives both the tank and hazardous materials endorsements
    • S – School Bus – For commercial motor vehicles used to transport pre-primary, primary, or secondary school students from home to school, school to home, or to and from school-sponsored events
  • What does it cost to add CDL endorsements?
    • $18 for a for a new photo license ($33 if you have an enhanced license)
    • $5 for each endorsement

      All Secretary of State offices can accept payment by cash, credit or debit card (additional fees apply), or money order or check made payable to the State of Michigan.
  • How can I prepare for any knowledge exams I’ll need to take?

    You will need to pass knowledge exams about any CDL endorsements for which you are applying. To help you prepare the exams, the Michigan Commercial Driver’s License Manual is available on our website.

    Michigan Commercial Driver’s License Manual

  • What documents can be used as proof or citizenship or proof of legal presence?

    If you are applying for a hazardous materials (hazmat) endorsement, you will need proof of U.S. citizenship (certified birth certificate, U.S. passport, etc.) or proof of your immigration status. Immigration documents must be verified through the federal government’s SAVE application. Verification may take more than one day.

  • What is Entry-Level Driving Training (ELDT)?

    Beginning February 7, 2022, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires customers applying for a first-time CDL or upgrading a CDL to complete Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) through an approved driver education provider. Information about finding a provider can be found on FMCSA’s Training Provider Registry.

    ELDT must be completed before you can take a hazardous materials endorsement knowledge test. For other CDL classes and endorsements, you may take knowledge tests and obtain a commercial learner’s permit (CLP) but you must complete ELDT before scheduling a CDL skills test through a driver testing business.

    Proof of completion of ELDT will show up in our system automatically through the federal government’s Commercial Skills Test Information Management System.

    FMCSA Training Provider Registry

  • How many training hours are required for entry-level driver training classes?

    There are no minimum training hours for completing entry-level driver training. For more information about specific classes, contact an approved provider listed on FMCSA’s Training Provider Registry.

    FMCSA Training Provider Registry

  • How do I complete the background check required for the hazardous materials (hazmat) endorsement?

    The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires customers to complete a background record check through the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) to add or renew a hazardous materials (hazmat) endorsement.

    Note: The TSA fingerprint and background check takes 30 to 60 days to process.

  • If I already have a CDL and I only need a hazardous materials endorsement, do I need to complete entry-level driver training?

    Yes. Entry-level driver training is required by the federal government to add an original hazardous materials endorsement to your CDL.

    Entry-level driver training isn’t required if you’re renewing a CDL that already has a hazardous materials endorsement.

  • Do all CDL endorsements require entry-level driver training?

    If you already have a CDL, you don’t need to complete entry-level driver training to add a tanker (N) endorsement, or double / triple trailer (T) endorsement.

    For passenger and school bus endorsements, you can take the required knowledge exams and apply for a commercial learner’s permit. You must then complete entry-level driver training before scheduling a CDL skills test through a driver testing business.

    For hazardous materials endorsements, entry-level driver training must be completed before you take a knowledge exam to apply for an original endorsement.

  • If I recently renewed my CDL and dropped one of my endorsements, do I need to take the knowledge exam to reapply for the endorsement?

    If you dropped the endorsement within the last two years, you can reapply for the endorsement without taking a CDL knowledge exam.

  • What if I want to add an endorsement to my commercial driver’s license but have misplaced my license?

    If your license is misplaced, you will need to provide multiple documents to prove your identity (U.S. passport, birth certificate, etc.) and your citizenship.

  • If I have equivalent military experience, do I need to take the CDL tests?

    The commercial driver’s license (CDL) knowledge skills test and on-road driving skills test requirements are waived for military service members who are trained and have been employed in the past year to operate the military equivalent to a commercial vehicle. Eligible veterans and service members may apply to convert their Michigan license to a CDL Class A or B at any Secretary of State office by completing the Application for Military Waiver Even Exchange.

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