South Dakota CDL Requirements (A Complete 2024 Guide)

South Dakota CDL Requirements

If you’re planning on getting a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in South Dakota, then this article is for you.

Here, we tell you everything you need to know — from the types of CDL classes and endorsements to the requirements and steps.

We won’t skip any details.

What’s more, we’ll also answer some frequently asked questions, such as:

  • What disqualifies you from getting a CDL in South Dakota?
  • Who needs a CDL in South Dakota?
  • How much do CDL drivers make in South Dakota?
  • And more!

There’s a lot to cover, so let’s jump right in!

CDL Classes in South Dakota

There are 3 CDL classes in South Dakota. These are:

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

To differentiate the classes, there are two important acronyms you need to know about – GCWR and GVWR

I know, I know. 

It’s a bit confusing. 

But stay with us. 

GCWR or Gross Combination Weight Rating is the total combined weight of a vehicle with another vehicle being towed. 

Meanwhile, the GVWR or Gross Vehicle Weight Rating is the weight of a single vehicle.

Knowing this will make it easier to see the difference between the CDL classes. 

Class A CDL

This classification is for combined commercial vehicles with a GCWR of more than 26,000 pounds. The towed vehicle’s GVWR should be more than 10,000 pounds. 

This is the highest CDL class as it can operate the heaviest vehicles. 

And because of that, you can use a Class A CDL to drive commercial vehicles that fall under Class B and Class C, too.

Class B CDL

This class is for heavy, straight commercial vehicles that have a GVWR of more than 26,000 pounds. If the vehicle tows a unit, that unit should NOT weigh more than 10,000 pounds. 

As the second CDL class, holders can operate Class C vehicles but not those under Class A. 

Class C CDL

A Class C CDL operates a commercial vehicle that has a GVWR of fewer than 26,0000 pounds and, if it tows, the unit should be fewer than 10,000 pounds. 

So it’s not as heavy as the other CDL classes. 

But that’s not all. 

You only need a Class C CDL if the vehicle you drive fulfills one of these purposes: 

  • Transports 16 or more passengers including the driver
  • Transports hazardous materials and is required to be placarded according to the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act

CDL Endorsements in South Dakota

On top of the CDL classes, there are also endorsements that you might need. 

An endorsement in your CDL proves that you have the proper knowledge to operate certain commercial vehicles and transport certain loads. 

Here are the 6 endorsements available in South Dakota: 

  • H endorsement – If you plan on transporting hazardous materials
  • N endorsement – If you plan on driving tank vehicles
  • P endorsement – If you plan on transporting passengers
  • S endorsement – If you plan on driving a school bus
  • T endorsement – If you plan on driving double/triple trailers
  • X endorsement – If you plan on driving a tank vehicle that transports hazardous materials

Take note that you can only apply for an N, P, and S endorsement with your CDL permit. The rest will have to be obtained after you get your commercial license. 

CDL Requirements in South Dakota

So, now you know which CDL class and endorsement you need. 

But before you can get started with the application process, you need to meet certain eligibility requirements. 

  • You need to be at least 18 years old if driving intrastate, or 21 years old if driving interstate or getting an H endorsement. 
  • You must have a current and valid driver’s license.
  • You must be a resident of South Dakota. 
  • You must be a US citizen or have a legal presence in the US.
  • You must be physically and mentally well to operate a commercial vehicle. 

If you can answer “yes” to all that, then let’s get to the steps!

If not, make sure to work on those first. 

How to Get A CDL in South Dakota

The CDL application process comes in 2 stages: 

  • Commercial learner’s permit (CLP) – also called a CDL permit
  • Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)

To make it easier for you, let’s walk you through these stages one by one. 

How to Get Your SD CDL Permit 

All CDL applicants are required to get a CDL permit. 

This permit allows you to practice driving the commercial vehicle under your CDL class and endorsement (N, P, or S).

Of course, as permits go, you should ALWAYS be supervised by someone who has the same CDL class as you. 

That said, here are the steps to getting your CDL permit in South Dakota: 

  1. Prepare the following documents:
    1. A completed license application form
    2. A completed medical self-certification statement
    3. Proof of identity
    4. 2 proofs of residence in South Dakota (must show your name and is not more than 1 year old)
    5. Proof of citizenship or lawful status
    6. Social Security Number

You can click here to find acceptable documents. 

  1. (OPTIONAL): Prepare for the CDL knowledge exam by reviewing the SD CDL Manual.
  1. Mail, fax, or email your medical self-certification statement and (if applicable) a Medical Examiner Certificate to OR this address:

Driver Licensing Program

118 West Capitol Avenue

Pierre, SD 57501

Fax: (605) 773-3018

  1. Schedule an appointment for your CDL knowledge test. 
  1. On your scheduled date, submit all your documents and pay $33 for the application fee and $15 for any endorsement knowledge test. 
  1. Take and pass all the required CDL knowledge tests. 
  1. Receiving your CDL permit. 

Now you can practice driving your commercial vehicle!

How to Get Your SD CDL

To upgrade to an official CDL, you must complete these requirements and follow these steps:

  1. Hold your CDL permit for at least 14 days. 
  1. Complete an Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) IF:
    1. You are getting a CDL Class A or B for the first time
    2. You are upgrading to a Class A CDL from a Class B CDL
    3. You are getting an N, P, or S endorsement for the first time
  1. Schedule a CDL driving skills test at a third-party site at least 2 days before. Walk-ins are not allowed. 
  1. On your visit, bring the following:
    1. Valid CDL permit
    2. Proof of identity
    3. $90 plus tax for the test fee
    4. Any document that the third-party site asks for
  1. Take and pass the CDL driving skills test. 
  1. Go to a local SD Driver Licensing location and bring:
    1. Your valid CDL permit
    2. Your skills test passing certificate
    3. A completed license application form
    4. Proof of identity
    5. 2 proofs of residence in South Dakota (must show your name and is not more than 1 year old)
    6. Proof of citizenship or lawful status
    7. Social Security Number
  1. Receive your official CDL. 

And you are an official commercial driver!

You can now start your new career. 


Frequently Asked Questions About South Dakota CDL Requirements

How Much Do CDL Drivers Make in South Dakota?

According to ZipRecruiter, truck drivers in South Dakota earn an average of $75,562 a year. That amounts to $36 an hour. 

However, the earning range can go from lows of $26,285/year all the way up to $111,324/year. This will depend on your experience, company, workload, and more. 

How Much Does a CDL Cost in South Dakota?

Expect to pay around $4,143 to $6,177 to get a CDL in South Dakota. 

Your biggest expense will be the ELDT program. This will set you back at least $4,000.

Here is a breakdown of the costs you’ll have to spend:

  • CDL application fee – $33
  • Endorsement knowledge test – $15 per test
  • ELDT program – $4,000 to $6,000
  • CDL driving skills test – $90 plus tax
  • TOTAL – $4,143 to $6,177

Of course, there might be other expenses — such as going to a medical examiner (if applicable).

How Long is a CDL Permit Good for in South Dakota?

The CDL permit is valid for 180 days. However, if you’re still not finished with your ELDT program or are not yet ready to take the CDL skills test, you can renew it for another 360 days. 

How Many Questions Are on the South Dakota CDL Permit Test?

For the general CDL knowledge test, you’ll have to answer 50 questions. To pass, you need to get at least 40 correct. 

Now, if you apply for an endorsement, you’ll have to take a separate knowledge test for that — and the question count will depend on the type of endorsement you’re getting. 


And that was the South Dakota CDL requirements. 

Yes, there are a lot of things to keep in mind. 

But if you just follow the steps one by one, you’ll soon be on your way to getting a commercial driver’s license. 

Just make sure that you choose your CDL class and endorsement, and meet the eligibility requirements before applying. 

From there, you can follow the steps that we listed above. 

Good luck!

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