Want to become a commercial licensed driver in Kentucky?
Then you need to apply for a CDL.
Now, the basic steps are the same as a regular driver’s license — pass a written exam, get a permit, and pass a driving test.
However, if you drill down on the details, you’ll realize how different the process is.
And this is what we’re here to do.
Today, we’ll give you a complete guide on how to get a CDL in Kentucky. To be sure, we’ll list all the requirements, steps, and more in an easy-to-read format.
This way, you will know where to begin and what to do after.
Are you ready to begin?
Kentucky CDL Classes
So, you’ve decided to get a commercial driver’s license — that’s a great start!
But which one do you need?
In Kentucky, there are three CDL classes:
- Class A CDL
- Class B CDL
- Class C CDL
Let’s break it down into specifics. This way, you can determine which one you must carry.
Class A CDL
Holding a Class A CDL allows you to operate combination commercial motor vehicles (CMV) with a Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) exceeding 26,001 pounds. The unit it tows must weigh more than 10,000 pounds.
CMVs such as tractor-trailers, flatbeds, or semis, require a Class A CDL.
Class B CDL
Let’s say you’re driving a single CMV that has a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or heavier. In this situation, you need to have a Class B CDL.
The same applies if your CMV is towing a unit weighing 10,000 pounds or less.
Class B vehicles include straight or box trucks, dump trucks with small trailers, and large buses, such as those used in the city or for tours.
Class C CDL
The last type of CDL is Class C, which allows you to operate CMVs that meet the following criteria:
- It weighs less than 26,000 pounds but can fit 16 or more passengers, including the driver
- It transports hazardous materials in quantities that require placarding
If your vehicle doesn’t fit the descriptions above, you might not need a commercial driver’s license.
Kentucky CDL Requirements
After you’ve determined which CDL class you need, the next step is ensuring you meet all the eligibility requirements for a CDL.
We’ve come up with a list of prerequisites. Check off the ones that apply to you while going through it.
- You meet the age requirement (18 if you’re driving within Kentucky, 21 if driving to other states)
- You have a valid non-commercial driver’s license
- Your driving privileges are not suspended, canceled, revoked, or disqualified
- You meet the medical requirements set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR)
- You are a U.S. Citizen or a permanent resident
- You are residing in Kentucky
- You can read and speak in English
So, how did you do?
If you were able to check all the boxes, YAY!
Now it’s time to get your CDL.
How to Get Your CDL in Kentucky
The process of getting your CDL isn’t complicated — it’s particularly true in Kentucky since they offer an online system that can make it convenient for applicants.
That said, you’ll need to go through two stages:
- Your commercial learner’s permit (CLP)
- Your commercial driver’s license (CDL)
Here’s what you have to do for each stage.
How to Get Your Kentucky CLP
Here are the steps to getting your CLP in Kentucky:
- Ensure you meet all the requirements in the section above.
- Decide on the CDL class you need.
- Create an account on the Kentucky Online Gateway.
- Once you have it set up, fill out the online application form. You will get a confirmation email that you’ve submitted your application.
- You can use the same portal to complete your self-certification and upload your medical certificate.
NOTE: If you prefer to complete a paper application, download and fill out the Commercial Driver License Application and Commercial Driver License Self-Certification forms. You must then send them and your Medical Examiner’s Certificate by mail to this address:
Division of Driver Licensing
200 Mero St.
Frankfurt, KY 40622
You will receive a confirmation letter if the office accepts your documents.
- Schedule a CDL written test appointment with the Kentucky State Police.
- Pass a vision test.
- Pass the written portion of the CDL exam.
- Go to your local Driver Licensing Regional Office.
- Submit a 10-year driving record and a valid ID.
- Pay the application fees:
- If applying for a Class B or Class C CDL with a P or S endorsement – $9
- If applying for any other CDL – $24
- CLP fee – $11
- Get your CLP.
And there you have it — the steps to getting your CLP.
Remember that, just like a learner’s permit, a CLP comes with restrictions. Although you can already drive a CMV on public roads, a licensed commercial driver at least 21 years old must always be with you.
How to Get Your Kentucky CDL
Now here are the steps to getting your CDL in Kentucky:
- Complete the required Entry-Level Driver Training program.
NOTE: All applicants who fit the following criteria must take the course from an FMCSA-approved provider
- First-time Class A or Class B applicants
- First-time applicants for S, P, or H endorsements
- Applicants upgrading their CDL from a Class B to a Class A
- Hold your CLP for at least 14 days.
- Call (800) 542-5990 and press option 1 to schedule your CDL skills test with the Kentucky State Police.
- Pay the skills test fees:
- If applying for a Class B or Class C CDL with a P or S endorsement – no fee required
- If applying for any other CDL and have held your driver’s license for more than 30 days – $50
- If applying for any other CDL and have held your driver’s license for less than 30 days – $150
- Pass the skills portion of the CDL exam.
NOTE: You must pass all three parts — pre-trip inspection, basic controls, and road skills.
- Pay the CDL fee of up to $40.
- Surrender your CLP.
- Get your CDL.
You now have your official KY CDL.
Kentucky CDL Endorsements
Need an endorsement?
An endorsement indicates that you received training and have special knowledge suited for a specific commercial vehicle you’re driving.
Now, depending on what you’re driving or transporting, one of these endorsements might apply:
- P — if you use your CMV to transport passengers
- S — If you’re operating a school bus
- N — If you’re driving a tank vehicle
- T — If you’re working with a vehicle that pulls a double or triple trailer
- H — If you’re transporting hazardous material in quantities that require your vehicle to display a placard
Out of the six available endorsements, only the first three (P, S, and N) are allowed with your CLP. The remaining ones become available with your CDL.
Each endorsement requires you to take a written exam besides the one for general knowledge.
Before we go, let’s answer some of the most frequently asked questions about CDLs in Kentucky. This way, you get even more information.
What felonies disqualify you from getting a CDL in Kentucky?
Several violations can disqualify you from getting a CDL in Kentucky. However, if we’re focusing specifically on felonies, the list narrows down to these:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance
- Refusing to take an alcohol test
- Leaving the scene of an accident
- Driving when your privileges have been suspended, revoked, or canceled
- Reckless driving resulting in a fatality
How long is CDL training in Kentucky?
Most CDL programs in Kentucky run for 160 hours, spread over 4 weeks. Of course, there may be variations between providers.
How many questions are on the CDL permit in Kentucky?
The written portion of the CDL exam in Kentucky has 50 questions. You must get 80% or higher to pass — that’s 40 correct answers.
Remember, if you’re adding an endorsement to your CLP/CDL, you need to take other exams. The test to receive the H endorsement has 30 questions. Everything else has 20.
Is the Kentucky CDL test multiple choice?
Yes, all the questions in the written portion of the CDL exam are multiple choice.
How much does it cost to get a CDL in Kentucky?
Be prepared to spend around $3,700 to $10,000 while working on your CDL. Here’s how we got to that rounded-up number:
- Application fee: $24 (or $9 if applying for a Class B or C CDL with an S or P endorsement)
- CLP fee: $11
- CDL school: $3,500 to $9,000 (average)
- Skills test fee: $50 OR $150
- CDL fee: up to $40
The Wrap Up
And that was your complete guide on how to get a CDL in Kentucky.
Sure, the process can take quite a while. However, if you follow each step one at a time, you’ll soon be on your way to becoming a licensed commercial driver in the state.
How awesome is that?
Now, the only thing for you to do is begin your application!
And don’t forget to get yourself a copy of the Kentucky CDL manual — it’ll be a great help while preparing for your exam.