Commercial Driver License Classes & Certifications

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CDL Classes

There are three classes of CDLs:

  • Commercial A: Any legal combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds or more, provided the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle(s) being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Commercial B: Any single vehicle with a GVWR of more than 26,000 pounds, any such vehicle towing a vehicle not in excess of 10,000 pounds GVWR, or a 3-axle vehicle weighing over 6,000 pounds.
  • Commercial C: Any Class C vehicle with one or more of the following endorsements:
    • Hazardous Materials (HazMat)
    • Passenger Vehicle (PV)
    • Tank Vehicle (TV)

All CDL classes are available as a REAL ID compliant or federal non-compliant card.

For more information on which class you may apply for and the requirements of each, see the California Commercial Driver Handbook.

Commercial Operation Self-Certification

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation (§383.71) requires commercial drivers to certify the type of commercial operation they’re engaged in – Non-Excepted Interstate, Non-Excepted Intrastate, Excepted Interstate, or Excepted Intrastate.

To change or update your self-certification status on your driver record, complete a California Commercial Driver License Self-Certification Form (DL 694) and either mail it to the address on the form or bring it to any DMV office. If you also need a corrected CDL card, you will need to visit a DMV office and pay for a corrected card.

Non-Excepted Interstate (NI)

You operate or expect to operate a CMV in interstate commerce and you meet the qualification requirements under Title 49, CFR, part 391. The license does not restrict the transport, origination, or destination of the load to be transported.

Interstate commerce means trade, traffic, or transportation in the United States (U.S.) that is:

  • Between a place in a state and a place outside of that state (including a place outside of the U.S.).
  • Between two places in a state through another state or place outside of the U.S.
  • Between two places in a state as part of trade, traffic, or transportation originating or terminating outside the state or the U.S.

It’s important to note that you may be engaged in interstate commerce even if your vehicle does not leave the state. We strongly recommend that you certify a driving type of NI if you meet the federal qualifications and there is any chance you might operate a CMV in interstate commerce.

Non-Excepted Intrastate (NA)

You operate or expect to operate a CMV in intrastate commerce and you meet the qualification requirements under Title 49, CFR, part 391. The cargo and passengers must originate and end in California. While driving commercially you may not cross state or international borders.

If you self-certify as operating NA, your CDL card and driver record will reflect a CDL Intrastate Only restriction (40/K).

Excepted Interstate (EI) and Excepted Intrastate (EA)

Some states issue CDLs that do not require drivers to meet the qualifications outlined in Title 49, CFR, part 391. Those drivers are considered “excepted” drivers. California does not issue these types of CDLs. All drivers licensed by California to drive CMVs are non-excepted drivers.