Getting your CDL in Minnesota

Getting your CDL in Minnesota

To get a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) in Minnesota, there are a few steps you need to follow. First, you must have a valid Minnesota driver’s license and be at least 18 years old to drive intrastate (within Minnesota) or 21 years old to drive interstate (across state lines).

Next, you will need to obtain a copy of the Minnesota Commercial Driver’s Manual and study it thoroughly. You can download a copy of the manual from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety website.

After studying the manual, you will need to pass a written knowledge test at a Minnesota Department of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) exam station. The test will cover general knowledge, air brakes, and combination vehicles.

Once you pass the written test, you will need to obtain a commercial learner’s permit (CLP) by passing a skills test consisting of a pre-trip inspection, basic vehicle control, and on-road driving.

Finally, after obtaining a CLP, you will need to pass a road skills test in the type of commercial vehicle you plan to drive.

The cost of getting a CDL in Minnesota varies depending on several factors such as your age, type of CDL, endorsements required, and fees for each step of the process. 

To obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) in Minnesota, you need to go through a process that includes several steps. The process involves meeting certain 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 Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

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

1. Determine the CDL Class: Minnesota offers several classes of CDL, depending on the type of vehicle you intend to operate. The classes include Class A, Class B, and Class C.

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

3. Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP): Before obtaining a CDL, you will need to obtain a 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.

4. CDL Training: Consider enrolling in a CDL training program at a commercial driving school or a community college. These programs provide hands-on training and prepare you for the CDL skills test.

5. Skills Test: Once you’ve obtained your CLP and completed your training, you can schedule an appointment with the Minnesota DPS to take the CDL skills test. The skills test includes a pre-trip inspection, basic vehicle control, and an on-road driving test.

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 Minnesota may vary. As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, the base fee for a CDL in Minnesota is $45, and an additional $4.25 fee is charged for each endorsement. These fees are subject to change, so it’s best to check the Minnesota DPS website or contact them 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 Minnesota, please refer to the official website of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety or contact their office directly.

Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)

Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS)


A person must  have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate any of the following commercial motor vehicles (CMV) in Minnesota:

A combination of vehicles in which the gross combination weight (GCW) is more than 26,000 pounds and the towed unit has a gross vehicle weight (GVW)* of more than 10,000 pounds — Minimum age is 18

A single vehicle with a GVW exceeding 26,000 pounds — Minimum age is 18

A vehicle designed to transport more than 15 persons, including the driver — Minimum age is 18

Any size vehicle that requires hazardous materials placards — in most cases, a person must be 21 years of age to transport hazardous materials. **

Any size vehicle outwardly equipped and identified as a school bus — Minimum age is 18

* Minnesota law defines gross vehicle weight (GVW) as the greater of:

  • The actual weight of the vehicle or combination of vehicles plus the weight of the load, or 
  • The manufacturer’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVW)

Interstate transportation refers to trade, traffic, or transportation between

  • A state and another state or country, or
  • Two places in a state on a route that goes through another state or country, or
  • Two places in a state as part of trade, traffic, or transportation originating or terminating outside the state

Intrastate driving refers to driving only within the state of licensure — in this case, Minnesota.

Intrastate transportation refers to transportation that does not involve interstate travel.

Commercial Motor Carrier Requirements

If you operate any class of vehicle as an employer or employee, you may be subject to commercial motor carrier requirements. This includes driving single unit and combination vehicles of over 10,000 pounds GVW (such as construction vehicles), and vehicles used to deliver packages and other articles. Also included are vehicles designed or used to transport more than eight passengers (including the driver) for compensation. The requirements may include the need to possess a valid U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) medical examiner’s certificate, and restrictions on the number of hours you may drive. There may also be vehicle maintenance, insurance, and inspection requirements.

Commercial Driver’s License Classes

Class A — Any vehicle towing a unit of more than 10,000 pounds GVWR with a gross combination weight rating (truck plus trailer) over 26,000 pounds.

Class B — A single-unit vehicle that is over 26,000 pounds GVWR.

  • For a passenger endorsement, the skill test must be passed in a bus with a GVWR greater than 26,000 pounds and a passenger capacity of more than 15, including the driver.
  • For a school bus endorsement, the skill test must be passed in a school bus with a GVWR greater than 26,000 pounds and a passenger capacity of more than 15, including the driver

Class C — A single-unit vehicle, 26,000 pounds GVWR or less, with one or more of the following endorsements:

  • Hazardous materials
    • Passenger
        • School bus (with passenger endorsement)

You must be at least 18 years old and have a valid Minnesota driver’s license in order to obtain a Minnesota commercial learner permit (CLP). All applicants must obtain a CLP, which will allow them to practice driving the commercial vehicle only with another driver with the same class license or higher. The CLP must be held for 14 calendar days before being able to take the CDL road tests.

The process to apply for the CLP requires:

    Passing all the applicable knowledge tests for the class and endorsements desired.

    Complete the application for a CLP.

    Submitting a self-certification form and providing a valid medical examiner certificate, if applicable.

    Providing citizenship documents which includes:

        o Valid, unexpired U.S. Passport or Passport card

        o Certified copy of birth certificate from a U.S. State, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa or the Northern Mariana Islands

        o Consular Report of Birth Abroad issued by the U.S. Department of State

        o Certificate of Naturalization issued by DHS

        o Certificate of Citizenship issued by DHS

        o Valid, unexpired Permanent Residence Card


        o Unexpired employment authorization document issued by USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) or an unexpired foreign passport accompanied by an approved I-94 form

If the name on your U.S. passport, birth certificate or permanent residency card has changed you must also present proof of your legal name change(s). Acceptable proof consists of certified marriage certificates, certified divorce decrees or other certified court orders. Divorce decrees or other court orders must specify the name change. Your identity and name change documents need to show a clear link between your citizenship or permanent residency document and your current name.

Commercial Learner Permits are valid for 180 days and are not renewable; the applicant must retake the knowledge tests for another CLP.

A driver’s license may be restricted to the size and type of vehicle used for the road test. Unless the CMV used for testing has air brakes, the driver will be restricted to driving vehicles without air brakes, even if they passed the air brake knowledge test.

Endorsements and Restrictions

Additional testing and fees are required to add endorsements or remove restrictions from a CDL. Adding school bus and passenger transport endorsements requires a road test in an appropriate vehicle.

To renew a CDL with hazmat or school bus endorsement, the hazmat or school bus endorsement knowledge test needs to retaken. The knowledge test is not required to renew licenses with other endorsements.

In order to upgrade a driver’s license with school bus, hazmat or other endorsements, the driver must pass a written test for each endorsement.


(H) Hazardous Materials*               

(N) Tank Vehicle                                      

(P) Passenger Transport                         

(S) School Bus                                        

(T) Doubles/Triples                               

(X) Tanker and Hazardous Materials        



(E) Automatic Transmission CMV

(K) Intrastate only

(L) Vehicles without air brakes                                                   

(M) No Class A passenger bus                                                

(N) No Class B passenger bus                                                   
(O) No Tractor-trailer CMV 
(P) No passengers in CMV bus                                                   
(V) FMCSA waiver                                                        
(W) Buses less than 24 passenger capacity                                                    

(X) No cargo in CMV tank vehicle 
(Z) Air over hydraulic brake system

  Review the Minnesota Dept. of Public Safety, Driver and Vehicle Services Driver’s License Information and the

Minnesota Commercial Driver’s Manual


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