What driver’s license class do you need to drive your private SUV?
And if you’re getting a commercial driver’s license, do you need Class A, Class B, or Class C?
What about motorcycles — is there a different license to operate them?
There are several driver’s licenses available in Minnesota.
And if you’re not familiar with them, you can get VERY confused.
This is why, here, we’re going to detail the Minnesota driver’s license classes. We’ll show you what each license can operate on.
Plus, we’ll also give you a guide on how to get each license type.
There’s a lot to cover, so let’s get started right away!
What are the Driver’s License Types in Minnesota?
In Minnesota, you can get either a commercial license or a non-commercial license.
Let’s look at each license class under these categories.
Commercial Driver’s Licenses in Minnesota
There are 3 commercial driver’s licenses in Minnesota. These are:
- Class A CDL
- Class B CDL
- Class C CDL
Class A CDL
Class A CDL is the license you need to operate a combination vehicle that has a Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) exceeding 26,001 pounds. The unit it tows must weigh 10,000 pounds or more.
So drivers who need to operate big rigs or semis must have a Class A CDL. The same goes for flatbeds or tractor-trailers.
What’s more, a Class A CDL gives you the most flexibility as it allows you to operate Class B and Class C vehicles (if you have the proper endorsement).
Class B CDL
The Class B CDL is different in that it operates single vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more. It may also tow units, but these should weigh less than 10,000 pounds.
Now, despite the advantages of getting a Class A CDL, not all commercial vehicles require it. For example, you only need a Class B CDL for straight or box trucks, as well as large buses, such as those used in the city or for tours.
Carrying a Class B CDL won’t allow you to drive Class A CMVs, but you can operate those that are Class C (again, you need the proper endorsement).
Class C CDL
Not all commercial vehicles weigh more than 26,000 pounds. Some have a GVWR of fewer than 26,000 pounds and tow a unit of fewer than 10,000 pounds.
If so, then you need a Class C CDL.
Common Class C vehicles include:
- Those that carry 16 or more passengers, including the driver
- Those that transport hazardous materials in quantities that require placarding
Non-Commercial Driver’s Licenses in Minnesota
As the name suggests, non-commercial driver’s licenses should be used for personal or private purposes only.
In Minnesota, there are 2 non-commercial licenses. These are:
- Class D
- Class M
A Class D driver’s license is the most common. It’s what people typically refer to when they refer to a driver’s license.
Like Class C vehicles, Class D vehicles weigh less than 26,000 pounds.
You don’t use it for commercial purposes — only private.
Class M allows you to operate motorcycles.
Okay, Class M is more of an endorsement than an actual license. This means you don’t need a separate license if you prefer to drive two wheels over four.
You can simply include the Class M endorsement to your Class A, Class B, Class C, or Class D license.
How to Get a Class D License in Minnesota
If you are at least 15 years old but below 18 years old, you need to follow the Graduated Driver’s License (GDL) program. This comes in 3 stages, namely:
- Instruction permit
- Provisional license
- Class D license
Let’s see what each stage involves.
How to Get A Minnesota Instruction Permit
To complete stage 1, here’s what you should do.
- Begin taking an approved driver’s education program.
NOTE: You can enroll for driver’s ed when you turn 14, but remember that you must be at least 15 before applying for an instructional permit.
NOTE II: It’s great if you can already complete the program, but it isn’t necessary. At this point, you only need to meet the following:
- Take 15 out of the 30 hours of driver’s ed
- Enroll in behind-the-wheel training
- Gather the documents you need to submit. These include the following:
- Your certificate of completion from your driver’s ed provider (it may either be pink or blue, depending on how many hours you’ve taken)
- Proof of identity
- Proof of residence in Minnesota
- Social Security Number
NOTE: Not sure if you need to bring anything else? Use DVS’s pre-application feature — you’ll find a complete list of the necessary documents. Plus, it’ll lessen the time you need to spend at a testing site.
- On your visit, prepare to do the following:
- Fill out an application form (which your parent or guardian must sign in the presence of a DVS employee).
- Submit the documents you gathered.
- Pass the vision screening.
- Pass the knowledge exam.
NOTE: Register at the DVS website if you prefer to take the knowledge exam online. Remember that the DVS will require you to have a proctor for this. Also, if you do take the exam online, don’t forget to bring your passing score to the DVS office.
- Pay the instruction permit fee of $15.50.
Completing all these steps gives you your instruction permit. You can now start logging hours behind the wheel.
However, know that a licensed driver, 21 or older, must supervise you. And also, although your permit’s validity lasts two years, it’s best to complete the rest of the stages before that.
How to Get A Minnesota Provisional License
Getting your permit is only the first step — once you have that, it’s time to start working on your provisional license.
Here are the requirements and steps:
- Be at least 16 years old.
- Complete the full driver’s education (classroom instruction and behind-the-wheel training) and get your White Card.
- Have your instruction permit for at least 6 months.
- Keep your record clean of moving violations.
- Log 50 hours of driving practice. Remember, 15 hours should be done after sunset.
- Schedule your road test with the DVS.
- Bring the following to your appointment:
- Your White Card from your driver’s ed provider
- A completed application signed by your parent or guardian
- Your valid instruction permit
- Completed Driving Log for the 50-hour driving practice
- The vehicle you’ll be using for your road test
NOTE: Make sure that your vehicle’s documents are complete. Examiners will need to see proof of insurance and registration.
- Pass the road test.
- Pay the provisional license fee of $18.50.
Your provisional license will arrive by mail. While waiting for it, your application receipt and validated road test record can serve as your temporary credential.
How to Get A Minnesota Class D License
You must have your provisional license for 12 months before applying for a full Class D license.
The good news is you don’t need to do anything else. You only need to pay the $27.75 licensing fee AND certify that you’ve driven for 10 hours or more while supervised by a licensed driver (only if you’re under 21).
Need more information? Want to know how to get a Class D license in Minnesota if you’re already 18+? Then check out our article on “How to Get A Driver’s License in Minnesota.”
How to Get a Class A, B, and C CDL in Minnesota
Since there are three CDL classes, does that mean there is a different process to get each one? The short answer is no.
That’s the great thing about commercial licenses — regardless of which one you need, the steps are the same.
Now, aspiring commercial drivers in Minnesota need to go through two phases:
- Getting a commercial learner’s permit
- Getting a commercial driver’s license
Let’s look at the steps.
How to Get A Minnesota CLP
Here is how to get a commercial learner’s permit in Minnesota:
- Ensure you qualify for a CDL. It has more requirements than a standard driver’s license.
- Since there are three CDL classes, you must determine which one you need and whether or not you should apply for endorsements.
- Gather the following documents in preparation for your DVS office visit:
- Proof of identity
- Proof of Minnesota residence
- Social Security Number
- A valid Minnesota-issued Class D license
- A medical self-certification form
- A medical certificate from a medical examiner approved by the FMCSA (if applicable)
- Complete a CDL application form and submit it along with the other documents.
- Pay the CLP fee of $10.50. If you apply for endorsements, each will cost you an additional $2.50.
- Pass the written portion of the CDL exam AND any endorsement exam (if applicable)
Once you receive your CLP, you can start practicing how to drive your CDL class. But just like an instruction permit, you need to be supervised by a licensed commercial driver at least 25 years old.
How to Get A Minnesota CDL
Before scheduling your CDL road test, ensure that you’ve complied with the following requirements:
- You’ve had your CLP for 14 days or longer
- You’ve completed an ELDT program from an FMCSA-approved provider. This is only required if you are:
- A first-time applicant for a Class A or Class B CDL
- A first-time applicant for H, S, or P endorsement
- Upgrading your CDL from Class B to Class A
- You have no moving violations
If you’re good with the pre-requisites, here’s what to do next:
- Schedule your CDL road skills test by calling a DVS office.
- On your appointment, don’t forget the following:
- Your valid CLP
- A CMV to use for your road test, complete with proof of insurance and registration
- Certificate of Completion of an ELDT program (if applicable)
- Proof of identity
- Proof of legal presence
- Proof of Minnesota residency
- Pay the licensing fee of:
- Class A (if you’re under 21): $30.25
- Class A (regular): $50.25
- Class B (under 21 or regular): $42.25
- Class C (under 21 or regular): $35.25
- Pass the CDL road skills test.
- Get your CDL.
You can now operate a CMV under your CDL class.
If you need even more information, check out our article on “How to Get A CDL in Minnesota”.
How to Get a Class M Endorsement in Minnesota
Finally, let’s show you how to get a Class M endorsement in Minnesota.
Although it requires extra time and effort, getting a Class M endorsement is non-negotiable. The consequences of operating a motorcycle without one include having your bike impounded, spending up to 90 days in jail, and paying a $1,000 fine.
So if you want to drive a motorcycle, let’s go through the steps.
If you are under 18 years old:
- Earn your Minnesota Class D license.
NOTE: If you’re under 18 and are undergoing the GDL program, you must at least have your instruction permit.
- Enroll in a Basic Rider Course (BRC) through the Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center (MMSC). To pass the program, you must ensure the following:
- Complete the classroom and driving portions
- Have no absences
NOTE: Once finished, you will receive two certificates. One allows you to take the state motorcycle exam, while the other permits you to undergo the state riding test. Both certificates will remain valid until your 18th birthday.
- Pay the $6.75 knowledge test fee.
- Pass the state motorcycle exam to get your motorcycle permit.
- Take and pass the state motorcycle driving test.
- Pay the $29 endorsement fee to get your Class M endorsement.
If you are 18 and older:
- Study the Minnesota Motorcycle and Motorized Bicycle Manual to prepare for your permit exam.
- Pay the $6.75 knowledge test fee.
- Pass the motorcycle permit test.
- Get your motorcycle permit.
- Pass the state riding test.
NOTE: Completing a Basic Rider Course may exempt you from taking the riding test. However, you must ensure that you already have your motorcycle permit before the BRC skills test.
- Pay the $29 endorsement fee and get your Class M endorsement.
The Wrap Up
That was a lot, huh?
But look at it this way — now you know all the different driver’s license classes in Minnesota. And whichever you need, you have all the steps, too!
So go ahead and choose the Minnesota driver’s license class you need. From there, you can follow the steps to get it.