Montana CDL Requirements (A Complete 2023 Guide)

Montana CDL Requirements (A Complete Guide)

Getting a Montana CDL might seem like a very complicated task. 

But it really isn’t. 

All you need is to know every requirement and step.

And this is why, here, we’re going to give you a complete guide to Montana CDL requirements. We’ll talk about the CDL classes and endorsements, the basic CDL requirements, the steps to getting a CDL, and more. 

With this, you’ll know everything you need to know. In turn, it will be a lot easier for you to go through the whole process. 

So let’s get started!

CDL Classes in Montana

Montana has two types of commercial driver’s licenses:

  • Type 1 (interstate) — allows you to drive a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) for interstate commerce. This means your job requires you to cross state lines.
  • Type 2 (intrastate) — allows you to operate a CMV for commerce within Montana only.

Under each type, you can choose between three classes:

  • Class A CDL
  • Class B CDL
  • Class C CDL

Remember, the CDL class you hold affects the kind of CMVs you can operate, so choosing the appropriate one is vital.

Let’s go through each class in detail.

Class A CDL

You need a Class A CDL to operate a combination CMV with a Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds or heavier, towing a unit weighing more than 10,000 pounds.

Commercial drivers usually prefer getting a Class A CDL because it gives the most flexibility. Besides Class A CMVs, you can also drive Class B and Class C vehicles (of course, you need to have the right endorsement for this).

Class B CDL

On the other hand, Class B CDLs can operate straight CMVs with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of at least 26,001 pounds. However, if towing, the unit should weigh fewer than 10,000 pounds.

Although you can’t drive Class A vehicles with a Class B CDL, it will allow you to operate Class C CMVs (provided you have the right endorsement).

Class C CDL

Finally, you need a Class C CDL to operate a combination or straight CMV with a GVWR of 26,000 pounds or less. 

Usually, Class C vehicles are used for the following:  

  • To move hazardous materials in amounts that require placarding.
  • To transport 16 or more people (including the driver).

CDL Endorsements in Montana

Knowing which CDL you need is one thing — figuring out whether or not you need endorsements is another.

Some specific commercial vehicles or loads require additional training and testing. An endorsement on your CDL will show that you got that and are therefore qualified to drive that CMV or carry that load.

The following endorsements are available in Montana:

  • T endorsement – allows you to drive a double/triple trailer 
  • P endorsement – allows you to carry passengers
  • S endorsement – allows you to drive a school bus
  • N endorsement – allows you to drive a tank
  • H endorsement – allows you to carry hazardous materials 

NOTE: You’ll need to complete a security background for an H endorsement.

CDL Requirements in Montana

Okay, so you now know what CDL class you need and whether or not you should get an endorsement. 

Now, let’s ensure you meet all the qualifications before we jump into the steps to getting your CDL in Montana. We’ve come up with a comprehensive list — see how many you can check off:

  • Must meet the age requirement
    • 18 to drive intrastate
    • 21 to drive interstate
  • Must have a Montana-issued Class D driver’s license
  • Must have complete driving privileges at the time of application
  • Must be compliant with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations’ health requirements
  • Must have U.S. citizenship or are legally permitted to work in the country
  • Must be a Montana resident
  • Must demonstrate proficiency in English

If you check everything, then you can start working on your CDL.

How to Get A CDL in Montana

Getting your commercial license in Montana involves two phases:

  • Earning your commercial learner’s permit (CLP)
  • Working on your commercial driver’s license (CDL)

Let’s break down each phase. 

How to Get Your CLP in Montana

Here are the steps to getting a CLP in Montana: 

  1. Work on the requirements. You can refer to the section above for the qualifications. Ensure you comply with all of these before anything else.
  1. Decide on the following:
    1. Your CDL type (interstate or intrastate)
    2. Your CDL class (Class A, Class B, or Class C)
    3. Your CDL endorsements (P, S, and N). NOTE: you cannot get T and H endorsement in your CLP, only on your CDL. 
  1. Make an online appointment for your CDL written test with a driver license station. You can also schedule an appointment by calling 1 (406) 444-1772.

NOTE: If you choose to go to a rural driver license station, you must prepay for the service at a County Treasurer’s Office. Also, ensure that the location you select offers driver exam services. 

  1. Submit the following documents on your scheduled visit:
Applicants with an out-of-state driver’s licenseApplicants with a Montana-issued driver’s license
Proof of identity
Proof of Montana residency
Proof of authorized presence
Proof of Social Security number
Valid Medical Examiner’s Certificate
Completed Application for Commercial Driver License form 
Completed CDL Self-Certification Classification and Medical Documentation (for Interstate Excepted only)
Proof of Social Security number
Proof of authorized presence
Valid Medical Examiner’s Certificate
Completed Application for Commercial Driver License form 
Completed CDL Self-Certification Classification and Medical Documentation (for Interstate Excepted only)

NOTE: Click here to see which documents you can use.

  1. Take and pass the CDL written test and any endorsement test (if applicable)

NOTE: You can prepare for the test by studying the Montana CDL Manual.

  1. Pay the appropriate licensing fee. Check below for prices. 
AgeIntrastate CDL FeeInterstate CDL Fee
21 to 71$35.54$41.72
75 and older$35.54$41.72
  1. Get your CLP.

And just like that, you’re done with phase one.


Now it’s time to get some driving experience under your belt before moving to phase two.

How to Get Your CDL in Montana

And here are the requirements and steps to getting your CDL in Montana: 

  1. Hold your CLP for 14 days or longer.

NOTE: Your CDL permit remains valid for 180 days. You must renew it if it is about to expire and you are not yet ready to take the CDL skills test (CDL permit renewals are free). 

If your permit expires before completing all three parts of the CDL skills test, the ones you passed will be forfeited.

  1. Complete the Entry-Level Driver Training from an FMCSA-approved provider. This is only required if:
    1. You’re a first-time applicant for a Class A or Class B CDL.
    2. You’re a first-time applicant for an S, P, or H endorsement.
    3. You are trying to upgrade your Class B CDL to a Class A CDL.
  1. Make an appointment for your CDL skills exam. You can use the DOJ’s online scheduling system or call (406) 444-1772.
  1. Ensure you bring the following on your visit:
    1. A vehicle for your skills test
    2. Valid vehicle registration (including the trailer’s reg if you’re testing for a Class A CDL)
    3. Proof of insurance
    4. Your valid CLP
    5. Your valid class D driver’s license
    6. Proof of Social Security number
    7. Proof of authorized presence
    8. Valid Medical Examiner’s Certificate 
    9. Completed Application for Commercial Driver License form 
    10. Completed CDL Self-Certification Classification and Medical Documentation (for Interstate Excepted only)

NOTE: The vehicle you use for your skills test must meet the CMV requirements of the CDL type and class you indicated in your application.

  1. Take and pass all three parts of your CDL skills test.
  1. Receive your CDL.

There you have it! You’re all set for your new career.


For more information about CDLs in Montana, let’s go over some frequently asked questions. 

How much does a CDL cost in Montana?

Prepare to spend an average of $4,200 for your CDL in Montana. This figure is affected by two things:

  • Cost of ELDT. Trucking school rates vary between providers, but the average amount is $4,072.
  • Cost of Commercial License. CDL fees vary depending on two things — the type and your age. It can be as low as $9.27 or as high as $41.72.

How long is a CDL good for in Montana?

The validity of your Montana CDL depends on your age. Commercial drivers between 21 to 71 and those 75 and older have 4-year licenses.

If you are under 18 when you received your CDL, you must renew it when you turn 21.

If you are over 71 when you got your credential, you must renew it when you turn 75.

What requires a CDL in Montana?

Here are some examples of commercial motor vehicles that require you to have a CDL in Montana.

Class AClass BClass C
Big rigs
Large passenger buses
Segmented buses
Refuse trucks whether or not they tow small trailers
Straight trucks
Box trucks
School buses
Passenger vans
Hazmat vehicles weighing less than 26,000 pounds

Can you get a CDL if you have a DUI in Montana?

The good news is a DUI doesn’t mean you have no chance of getting a commercial driver’s license. However, finding employment may become more challenging if you have a DUI conviction on your record.  

And also, if you already have your CDL and have a BAC higher than 0.04%, you’ll face a 3-year license suspension.

The Wrap Up

And those were all the Montana CDL requirements and steps. 

Remember, it all begins with understanding what you need — what type of CDL, which class, whether or not you must get endorsements, and if you have all the basic requirements. 

Next, it’s working on your CLP, then your CDL.

The process may seem overwhelming, but don’t worry — as long as you follow the steps we’ve outlined, you’re sure to get your Montana CDL in no time.

Good luck!

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