Getting your CDL in South Carolina

To obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) in South Carolina, you need to follow a certain process and meet specific requirements. Here is an overview of the steps involved:

1. Meet the age and residency requirements: You must be at least 18 years old and have been a resident of South Carolina for at least 30 days.

2. Obtain a medical certificate: You need to pass a physical examination from a certified medical examiner that proves you are physically capable of operating a commercial motor vehicle. The cost of the medical certificate 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 $24.

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 $15. With a CLP, you can practice driving under the supervision of a licensed CDL holder.

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 $25 to obtain your CDL.

The cost of getting a CDL in South Carolina ranges from around $1,500 to $10,000, depending on the provider and other factors such as endorsements and additional fees. It is important to research your options and choose a reputable provider that meets your needs and budget.

In summary, the process of getting a CDL in South Carolina involves meeting age and residency requirements, obtaining a medical certificate, passing the CDL knowledge test, obtaining a learner’s permit, completing CDL training, passing the CDL skills test, and obtaining your CDL by paying the necessary fees.

To obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) in South Carolina, 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 South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

Here is a general outline of the CDL process in South Carolina:

  1. Determine the CDL Class: South Carolina 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 South Carolina DMV. You must be at least 18 years old for an intrastate CDL (within South Carolina) 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 South Carolina DMV 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 South Carolina may vary. As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, the base fee for a CDL in South Carolina is $25 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 South Carolina DMV 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 South Carolina, please refer to the official website of the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles or contact their office directly.

Quick Links

Classes A, B, and C
CDL Restriction Codes
CDL Testing
Check Medical Certificate Status
Getting your First CDL
Entry Level Driver Training
Hazmat Requirements
Moving your CDL to SC
Renew or Upgrade your CDL

Medical Examiner’s Certificate

If you’re a commercial driver, you must maintain a medical examiner’s certificate that complies with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations if the type of commerce in which you intend to operate requires it. A medical professional on FMCSA’s National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners must examine and certify you.

If you’re required to carry a medical examiner’s certificate, you must keep your certificate current. You must submit proof that you are medically qualified every time you apply for a CLP, CDL, upgrade your CDL license, renew your CDL license, change your address, or request a duplicate CDL.

You may fax your medical examiner certificate to 803-896-2676 or scan and email it to the SCDMV if it is replaced before you need a new CDL.


Applying for a CDL

You must complete an application for a Commercial Driver’s License or Commercial Learner’s Permit (SCDMV Form 447-CDL). Additionally, you may be required to complete Affidavit of Previous Driver’s License (SCDMV Form DL-402) and Commercial Driver’s License CDL Holders Medical Certification (Form DL-405A) if the SCDMV does not have a current one on file.

The SCDMV will contact the jurisdictions where you previously held a license to get information on any and all traffic violations you committed over the past 10 years. Your commercial driver’s license (CDL) may be suspended or revoked if there are unresolved or disqualifying violations.

Database Checks

The SCDMV will check your driving history in other states using the Problem Driver Pointer System (PDPS) and the Commercial Driver License Information System (CDLIS). These checks happen when you apply for an original CDL, renew a CDL, retest for a CDL, or move from a commercial learner’s permit (CLP) to a CDL. 

Disqualifications from holding a CDL

You will not be able to hold a CDL if you have committed any of the following violations:

  • Operated a commercial vehicle with a revoked, suspended, or canceled CDL
  • Caused a death through the negligent or criminal operation of a commercial vehicle
  • Operated a commercial vehicle without a CDL
  • Operated a commercial vehicle without a CDL with you
  • Operated without a required endorsement

Entry Level Driver Training

Following the successful completion of your CDL Knowledge examination for a commercial learner’s permit, you will need to complete an FMCSA approved ELDT training program to be eligible to take the CDL Skills test.

FMCSA’s Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT) regulations set uniform minimum training standards for entry-level drivers seeking to obtain certain commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) and CDL endorsements, as established in 49 CFR part 380 subpart F.

Entry level drivers include those applying to:

  • Obtain a Class A or Class B CDL for the first time;
  • Upgrade an existing Class B CDL to a Class A CDL; or
  • Obtain a school bus (S), passenger (P), or hazardous materials (H) endorsement for the first time.

Find out more about ELDT.

Social Security Verification

The SCDMV uses the Social Security Online Verification (SSOLV) to check your name, date of birth, and social security number against your Social Security Administration (SSA) record.

If the information you provide does not match your SSA record, you must correct the information with the SSA before the SCDMV may issue you a CDL.

Anytime you apply for a CDL the SCDMV will verify your information through (SSOLV). This process will impact you if any of the following are true:

  • You are applying for your first Class A, B, or C CLP or CDL.
  • You are a new resident exchanging your out-of-state CDL for a South Carolina CDL.
  • You are applying for a change in CDL class. For example, if you’re changing from a Class B to a Class A license.

To avoid a licensing delay, make sure your legal name, date of birth and social security number matches the information contained in your SSA record.

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