Looking to get a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in Pennsylvania?
Then you’ve come to the right place.
Here, we’re going to give you a complete guide on Pennsylvania CDL requirements.
We’ll look at:
- PA CDL classes
- PA CDL endorsements
- PA CDL requirements
- PA CDL steps
We don’t skip any details.
So you’ll be able to get your CDL in no time.
Let’s dive right in!
CDL Classes in Pennsylvania
First things first…
You need to know what CDL class to get.
Will it be:
- Class A CDL
- Class B CDL
- Class C CDL
Let’s find out.
Class A CDL
A Class A CDL is for drivers operating a combination commercial vehicle with a Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) of more than 26,000 pounds.
Since it’s a combination vehicle, it should tow a unit or vehicle that weighs more than 10,000 pounds.
Now, this is the highest CDL.
So if you have it, you can also operate commercial vehicles under Class B and Class C.
Class B CDL
Class B CDL holders can operate single commercial vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of more than 26,000 pounds.
It can also operate combination vehicles, but the towed unit/vehicle should NOT exceed 10,000 pounds.
And yes, Class B CDLs can also operate Class C vehicles, but not Class A vehicles.
Class C CDL
Lastly, Class C CDL holders can operate single commercial vehicles that have a GVWR of fewer than 26,000 pounds.
Also, the vehicle should fulfill one of these purposes:
- Transports hazardous materials requiring placards
- Carries 16 or more passengers
- Carries children to and from school (a school bus)
Anyone with a Class C CDL must also get an S, P, or H endorsement.
CDL Endorsements in Pennsylvania
We just mentioned endorsements…
But what do they mean?
Well, endorsements allow you to operate certain types of vehicles OR transport specific loads.
Let’s look at the CDL endorsements in Pennsylvania:
- H endorsement – for operating vehicles transporting hazardous materials
- P endorsement – for operating vehicles that carry passengers
- S endorsement – for operating a school bus
- N endorsement – for operating tank vehicles
- T endorsement – for operating double and triple trailers (specifically for Class A CDL holders)
- X endorsement – for operating a tank vehicle that transports hazardous materials
Remember, to get an endorsement, you must pass a separate knowledge test and (for some endorsements) a skills test.
CDL Requirements in Pennsylvania
So you already know the CDL class and endorsement you need.
Now, it’s time to see if you’re eligible to get a CDL in Pennsylvania.
You should have these minimum requirements before applying for a CDL:
- Be at least 18 years old if driving intrastate or 21 years old if driving interstate
- Have a valid driver’s license
- Can show proof of citizenship or legal presence
- Can show proof of residency in Pennsylvania
- Meet the physical requirements for driving a commercial vehicle
- Be able to speak, read, and write in English
If you’re able to check all the boxes, then let’s move on to the actual steps…
How to Get a CDL in Pennsylvania
To make it simpler for you, we divided the whole process into 2 phases:
- Phase 1: CDL permit
- Phase 2: CDL
Let’s walk you through these phases.
How to Get Your PA CDL Permit
A CDL permit allows you to practice driving your chosen commercial vehicle.
But like a regular learner’s permit, you must be supervised at all times — and that’s by a commercial driver with the same CDL class as yours.
That out of the way, here are the steps to get your PA CDL permit:
- Go to a Driver License Center and submit the following:
- Completed Commercial Learner’s Permit Application Form (DL-31CD)
- Completed Self-Certification Form (DL-11CD)
- Valid Medical Examiner’s Certificate (check the self-certification form if you need this document)
- Required fees (check your application form for the total cost).
- Proof of identity, PA residency, citizenship or legal presence, and SSN
- Your valid driver’s license
- Once your application is processed, you will receive a Knowledge Test Authorization (KTA) for each test required.
- You can take the CDL knowledge test(s) in a Driver’s License Center on the same day. However, this will depend on availability.
|NOTE: If you take the knowledge test(s) on another day, don’t forget to bring your proof documents and the KTA.|
- Pass a vision screening.
- Pass all the CDL knowledge test(s).
- Receive your CDL permit.
How to Get Your PA CDL
You have to hold your CDL permit for 15 days.
After that, you can take your CDL skills test.
Here’s the full process:
- Hold your CDL permit for at least 15 days.
- Complete an Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) approved by the FMCSA. This is required if:
- You are getting a Class A or B CDL for the first time.
- You are getting the H, S, or P endorsement
- You are upgrading from a Class B to Class A CDL
- Schedule a CDL skills test online or by calling 717-412-5300.
- On the day of your test, bring the following:
- Your valid CDL permit
- Your valid driver’s license
- Proof of SSN
- A vehicle that fits your CDL class and endorsement
- The vehicle’s registration and insurance papers
- Pass the 3 parts of the CDL skills test:
- Vehicle inspection
- Basic vehicle control
- On-the-road test
- Receive your CDL Driving Document (camera card or photo license).
- Go to a Photo License Center and provide proof of identification.
- Have your photo taken.
- Receive your official CDL.
You did it!
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Does it Cost to Get a CDL in Pennsylvania?
Here are the fees depending on what you get:
- Restriction removal – $5 each
- Endorsements – $5 each
- CDL class – $5
- Increase fee if you’re upgrading from a non-commercial license to a CDL:
- 7-12 months before driver’s license expiration – $18
- 13-24 months before driver’s license expiration – $36
- 25-36 months before driver’s license expiration – $54
- 37-48 months before driver’s license expiration – $7
- HAZMAT fee – $18
- Photo fee – $15.50
Add up everything you plan on getting and you’ll have your total cost.
You’ll also have to consider the tuition fee of your ELDT program.
This can range between $4,500 to $7,000.
If that’s too expensive for you, you can consider going to a company-sponsored trucking school.
How Many Questions Are on the PA CDL Test?
Check the table below for the number of questions and the ELDT and skills test requirements:
|License:||Questions for the Knowledge Test:||ELDT Requirement:||Skills Test:|
|Class A CDL||70||YES||YES|
|Class B CDL||50||YES||YES|
|Class C CDL||50||YES||YES|
|Passenger Endorsement||20||YES||YES (on a bus)|
|School Bus Endorsement (passenger endorsement required)||25||YES||YES (must be on a school bus)|
|Tank Vehicle Endorsement||20||NO||NO|
|Hazardous Materials Endorsement ||30||YES (initial only)||NO|
|L/Z Air Brake Restriction Removal||25||NO||YES (in vehicles equipped with air brakes)|
|C/N Restriction Removal ||N/A||NO||YES (in a class B bus)|
|E Restriction Removal||N/A||NO||YES|
|K Restriction Removal||N/A||NO||NO|
|O Restriction Removal||N/A||NO||YES|
What Are the 3 Tests for a CDL in PA?
To get a PA CDL, you will need to pass these tests:
- Vision screening.
- Knowledge test, which includes a general knowledge test and any endorsement test.
- Skills test, which includes vehicle inspection, basic vehicle control, and on-the-road skills
Where Can I Take My CDL Test in PA?
You can take both the knowledge and skills test at a Driver’s License Center.
For the knowledge test, you must have a signed Knowledge Test Authorization (TKA).
As for your skills test, you can schedule it online or by calling 717-412-5300.
How Many Times Can You Fail a CDL Test in PA?
Your Knowledge Test Authorization (KTA) is valid for 1 year. With this, you’ll be given 3 attempts.
If you fail all 3, you’ll have to resubmit Form DL-31 CD (Commercial Learner’s Permit Application).
What Disqualifies You from Getting a CDL in PA?
Your CDL will be disqualified if you have any of these:
- Driving under the influence convictions
- Serious traffic violations such as speeding, reckless driving, improper or erratic lane changes
- Other traffic violations that result in fatal accidents
- Out-of-service violation
- Railroad highway crossing violation
- Refusing to submit to DUI testing
- Causing death while operating a commercial vehicle
- Committing a felony
You can read more about the CDL disqualifications here.
And that was the whole Pennsylvania CDL requirements process.
At first glance, it might seem complicated.
But if you just follow the steps one by one, you’ll see that it’s very manageable.
So what are you waiting for?
Go ahead and get started today!
Best of luck!