A CDL (Commercial Driver License) is a license that permits its holder to drive a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in the United States. A CDL is significant to be a professional truck driver.

A CMV is a motor vehicle used in commerce to transport passengers or goods with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more or a gross combination weight of 26,001 pounds or more, including a towed unit with a gross weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more. what are the 3 types of cdl license will be discussed ahead in the blog.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), here is a small briefing about the legal requirements to obtain a CDL:

“In order to get a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), the applicant must pass both skills and knowledge testing designed to these higher standards. In addition, CDL holders are held to a higher standard while operating any type of motor vehicle on public roads. Any major traffic violations committed by a CDL holder can impact their ability to maintain their CDL certification.”

In addition, there are 3 types of CDL licenses that are available which are classified depending on various factors. It is also significant to understand what is a CDL endorsement and how to obtain one to make the best out of it.

Role of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the federal agency that is responsible for regulating and monitoring commercial motor vehicle operations in the United States.

They specify the guidelines for CDL licensing and conduct regular inspections and audits to enforce safety regulations. While the FMCSA sets the basic requirements for CDLs, the individual states control the issuance and administration of CDLs.

What are the types of cdl license?

Commercial vehicles are categorized into three parts, Class A, B or C, based on size, weight, and function. For instance, a different license is required to drive an 18-wheeler hauling a heavy load than a school bus. Let’s delve deeper into these different types of CDLs.

1. Class A CDL

A Class A CDL is the most inclusive one and enables you to operate the largest and heaviest vehicles. To acquire a Class A CDL, you must be at least 18 years old (21 for interstate driving) and meet other state-specific requirements for the same. This class is mandatory if you want to operate tractor-trailers, truck and trailer combinations, and other heavy vehicles

Vehicles Covered Under Class A

Class A CDL holders can drive the following types of vehicles:

S. No.Truck Category (Name)Reference
4Tanker Trucks
Vehicles Covered Under Class A

In addition, a Class A CDL provides the best job opportunities within the trucking industry because, as a Class A CDL holder, you can also drive vehicles that need a Class B or C license.

2. Class B CDL

A Class B CDL incorporates a slightly limited range of vehicles compared to Class A. To get a Class B CDL, you must also meet age and other state-specific requirements. Class B is for individuals who are planning to drive vehicles that are not combination units but still exceed 26,000 pounds in Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).

Vehicles Covered Under Class B

Class B CDL holders can operate a variety of vehicles that includes:

S. No.Truck Category (Name)Reference
1Straight Trucks
2City Buses
3School Buses
4Delivery Trucks
5Dump Trucks
6Box Trucks
Vehicles Covered Under Class B

3. Class C CDL

Class C CDL are typically for vehicles that do not fall under the Class A or Class B categories. These are basically smaller commercial vehicles that carry hazardous materials or passengers.

The eligibility criteria for a Class C CDL differ state to state. For Class C CDL, the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) must be less than 26,001 pounds, or any vehicle towing a vehicle not more than 10,000 pounds GVWR.

Vehicles Covered Under Class C

Class C CDL holders are authorized to drive a range of vehicles that includes:

S. No.Truck Category (Name)Reference
1Small Hazmat Truck
2Passenger Van
Vehicles Covered Under Class C

Vehicles designed to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver), combos that don’t meet the requirements for Class A or B and small trucks towing a trailer also come under Class C CDL.

What is a Commercial Learner Permit (CLP)?

A commercial learner’s permit (CLP) is a permit given by the state that authorizes you to practice driving a commercial motor vehicle within the United States. The first step towards obtaining a commercial driver’s license is to get a CLP.

What is a CDL Endorsement?

Endorsements are additional certifications that help in expanding a CDL holder’s driving capabilities. Generally, they permit you to transport specific types of cargo or operate specialized vehicles. To procure endorsements, drivers must pass the knowledge and skills tests. Here are some common CDL endorsements:

  • Hazardous Materials (H) – Required to transport hazardous materials that includes chemicals and other dangerous goods. This endorsement consists of a background check and fingerprinting.
  • Tank Vehicles (N) – Mandatory for drivers of liquid or gas-carrying tank vehicles, such as fuel or chemical tankers.
  • Passenger Transport (P) – Needed for individuals operating vehicles that are used to transport passengers, such as buses or shuttles.
  • School Bus (S) – This is for individuals who operate school buses. It involves an additional test on the proper procedures for school bus drivers.
  • Double/Triple Trailers (T) – Required for drivers operating double or triple trailer combinations.
  • Combination of Tank Vehicle and Hazardous Materials (X) – Combines the Tank Vehicles and Hazardous Materials endorsements, enabling drivers to transport both types of cargo.

CDL Restrictions

Your CDL comes with numerous types of restrictions. Each restriction prohibits the operation of certain Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMVs). These restrictions are usually the same for all U.S. states, but depending on where you operate – there might be additional restrictions.

Most of the restrictions listed below in the table will be applicable to your CDL because you completed the CDL road skills test using a vehicle lacking the proper equipment. For instance, If you get through the driving test with a CMV that has an automatic transmission, you will receive an E restriction that forbids you from operating a CMV with a manual transmission.

S. No.RestrictionsDescription
1E RestrictionAn E restriction forbids the driver from operating a CMV with a manual transmission. Or we can say, the driver must only drive a CMV with an automatic transmission.
2F RestrictionAn F restriction specifies the driver may only operate CMVs with dual outside mirrors. It’s applicable on a driver who is physically unable to move his/her head, who is legally blind in one eye, or who has impaired hearing.

The dual outside mirrors will assist them by showing a larger area around the vehicle.
3G RestrictionA G restriction means the driver may only operate the CMV during daylight. The G restriction is applicable on drivers with poor vision upon a physician’s suggestion, usually a visual acuity of less than 50/50 in both eyes.
4K RestrictionA K restriction is used by certain states when the CDL holder is under the age of 21. It signifies the holder is only permitted to drive intrastate, i.e. must not drive interstate. This restriction will be lifted when the CDL holder turns 21.
5L RestrictionAn L restriction is quite similar to the Z restriction in that they both forbid the driver from operating CMVs equipped with full air brakes.

The L restriction will be issued if you make a mistake when you check the air brake system during the road skills test, if you can’t identify the air brake system components properly, or if you fail the air brakes knowledge test.
6M RestrictionAn M restriction signifies that the driver may only operate Class B and C school buses or passenger vehicles. It is applicable on a driver that obtains the passenger/school bus endorsement using a Class B vehicle.
7N RestrictionAn N restriction signifies that the driver may only operate Class C school buses or passenger vehicles. It is applicable on a driver that acquires the passenger/school bus endorsement using a Class C vehicle.
8O RestrictionAn O restriction prohibits the driver from driving a CMV with a fifth-wheel connection. The O restriction will be issued to drivers who accomplish the CDL road skills test using a CMV without a fifth-wheel connection or pintle hook.
9V RestrictionA V restriction is applicable to drivers with a medical variance as reported by FMCSA, such as vision or hearing impairment, seizure, or diabetes.

If you have a medical variance that is not mentioned on your current driver’s license, you must visit the local DMV office with a copy of your Medical Examiner’s Certificate to revise your CDL.
10X RestrictionAn X restriction is applicable only to Commercial Learner’s Permit holders. It means the tank vehicle must be empty and the tank must be removed.
11Z RestrictionA Z restriction restricts the driver from operating CMVs equipped with full air brakes.

Most CMVs are equipped with air brakes due to their better braking efficiency, but you may still get this restriction if you pass the CDL road skills test with a CMV that has a hydraulic brake system (and not an air brake system).
12B RestrictionA B restriction is very common for drivers with less-than-adequate vision. It basically means the driver must use corrective lenses or glasses when operating a CMV.
13P RestrictionA P restriction is applicable only to Commercial Learner’s Permit holders. It means ‘no passengers other than the driving instructor or other authorized persons (test examiner or other trainees).
CDL Restrictions


In conclusion, understanding what are the types of CDL, what is a CDL endorsement and its restrictions is important for aspiring commercial drivers. It’s like navigating a passage, where each step opens doors to different opportunities, whether hauling hazardous materials or driving a passenger bus.

Tushar C
Senior HR Officer at OpenFR8 | More posts

I'm a HR at OpenFR8 and a passionate blogger. Apart from my day job as HR, reading and writing books/blogs are two of my absolute favorite things to do. I like taking on new challenges and most importantly, I believe in bringing efficiency towards everything I do. I love expressing my thoughts and visions through the medium of words in the form of blogs or articles or books. Till this date, I've successfully published three short-novels on my own and will continue to do so.

Similar Posts