Any driver over 18 years of age with a valid Washington driver license can apply for a commercial driver instruction permit (CDIP). You must be at least 21 years of age to operate commercial vehicles from state to state (interstate).
How to apply for a CDIP
To get a CDIP, you must pass a knowledge test. You may apply for a CDIP at any driver licensing office that offers knowledge testing (call to find out). Bring the following with you:
- Your current license.
- Your Social Security number, which will be used for identification purposes. This is a mandatory requirement under federal and state law. (49 USC 31308, RCW 46.25.070).
- The $10 application fee. You may pay with:
- MasterCard and American Express credit or debit cards, and some Visa debit cards.
- Credit and debit cards not accepted at Coulee Dam, Davenport, Friday Harbor, Forks, Goldendale, Newport, Republic, or South Bend.
- A vendor-charged convenience fee is added to all transactions paid with a debit or credit card at driver licensing offices.
How long a CDIP is valid for 6 months and may be renewed only once.
After you have been issued a CDIP:
- You must be accompanied by another driver holding a CDL when you drive a commercial vehicle. The driver who accompanies you must:
- Hold a CDL that is valid for the type of commercial vehicle you are driving.
- Have at least 2 years’ experience driving the type of commercial vehicle you are driving.
- Have at least 5 years’ total driving experience.
- Occupy the seat beside you for the purpose of giving instruction.
- You can’t operate any commercial vehicle classified or placarded for hazardous materials.
Minimum training requirements
Before you can get a commercial driver license (CDL), you must successfully complete a training course at an approved CDL training school. The training must include at least the following:
160 total hours, including at least:
- 40 hours of classroom instruction
- 18 hours of street driving training
- 16 hours of training in backing maneuvers
- 16 hours of proficiency development
- 70 hours of combined lab training, range training and observation
48 total hours, including at least:
- 20 hours of classroom instruction
- 14 hours of street driving training
- 4 hours of training in backing maneuvers
- 4 hours of proficiency development
- 6 hours of combined lab training, range training and observation
36 total hours, including at least:
- 20 hours of classroom instruction
- 8 hours of street driving training
- 2 hours of training in backing maneuvers
- 2 hours of proficiency development
- 4 hours of combined lab training, range training and observation
After you complete the minimum training requirements
The training school will give you a certificate of completion that you must present at a driver licensing office when you get your CDL. You don’t need the training certificate to schedule and take a CDL skills test, but you must present the original certificate at the licensing office after you have passed all your tests and are ready to get your CDL. You won’t be issued a CDL unless you present the original certificate. Photocopied, faxed, handwritten, or mailed certificates won’t be accepted.
You must pass a knowledge test:
- Before you can take the skills test required to get your first CDL.
- Each time you add a class of vehicle to your CDL.
- Each time you add special endorsements to your CDL.
- To remove the air brake restriction.
How to prepare
- Study the Commercial driver guide to prepare for the test. All the information you’ll need to pass the test is in this guide.
- You may also take the practice test for a sample of the types of questions that will be on the test.
The skills test takes about 2 hours and includes a pre-trip inspection, a basic controls test (backing exercises), and a road test. You must take the skills test to:
- Get a CDL.
- Upgrade your CDL.
- Add a passenger or school bus endorsement.
- Remove the air brake restriction.
How to schedule a CDL skills test
- Go to a driver licensing office and request a CDL Skills Test Results form.
- Pay the appropriate fee.
The driver licensing office staff will schedule you for your CDL skills test with a DOL tester, or give you a list of available third-party testers you may contact to schedule and take the test.
Note: If you’re a current student at a commercial driver training school, check with your school to see if they’re partnering with us for testing and tell the driver licensing office staff if they are. If your school has arranged with us to have the skills test conducted at the school, you’ll be given a CDL Skills Test Results form that assigns you to a Department of Licensing (DOL) tester.
Where to take your test
When you apply for your CDL skills test, you’ll be scheduled with either a DOL tester or a third-party tester depending on tester availability and what is geographically convenient to you.
- Third-party testers set their own testing hours and locations.
- DOL testers conduct CDL skills tests at regional CDL skills test locations.
If you’re an employer or CDL training school, we may be able to partner with you to provide skills testing. Call the CDL Skills Testing Program at 360-902-3607 for more information.
What to bring to your test
When you arrive for your CDL skills test appointment, you must bring all of the following:
- An unloaded commercial vehicle that is representative of the class of CDL you want (A, B, or C). The vehicle must be in safe operating condition and free of all hazardous material. If you’re applying for a passenger or school bus endorsement, you must provide a bus designed to carry 16 or more passengers including the driver.
- A signed CDL Skills Test Results form issued by a driver licensing office. This is a required form and you won’t be tested or issued a license without it.
- Your valid Washington State driver license.
- Proof of valid insurance or a letter from the owner of the vehicle that authorizes you to use it for your test.
What to do if you lose your Skills Test Results form
If you lose this form you’ll be required to:
- Go back to the driver licensing office and get a new form. It will be marked as a “Duplicate.”
- Return to the tester to have them complete the new form.
- Use your duplicate form to do 1 of the following:
- If you passed all components of the test, return to the driver licensing office and have your CDL issued.
- If you’ve taken the test and failed, return to a driver licensing office, pay the required fee, and get a new form to retest.
What to do if you pass the test
- Once you pass all 3 components of the skills test (pre-trip inspection, basic controls, road test), the tester will complete and sign your CDL Skills Test Results form and return it to you.
- Take all of the following to a driver licensing office to have your CDL issued:
◦ Your completed, signed CDL Skills Test Results form.
◦ An original certificate from your school or employer to verify you’ve completed the training requirements.
What to do if you don’t pass the test
If you don’t pass all 3 components of the skills test (pre-trip inspection, basic controls, road test) on your first try, you may schedule another attempt with the tester after the required waiting period:
- Pre-trip inspection, the next day
- Basic controls test, first retest, the next day; second retest, in 3 days; third and following retests, in 7 days.
- Road test*, in 7 days.
After a failed attempt:
- You must return to the driver licensing office with the completed CDL Skills Test Results form, and get a new CDL Skills Test Results form.
- The driver licensing office will transfer your passing scores to the new form and collect the required $100 fee.
This cycle can be repeated as many times as it takes for you to successfully pass all 3 components of the skills test.
- Get commercial driver instruction permit (CDIP), $10
- Take general or endorsement knowledge test, $10
- Retake general or endorsement knowledge test, $10
- Take CDL skills test, $100*
- Retake any portion of the CDL skills test, $100*
- Take hazardous materials endorsement test (Additional fees may apply), $10
- Add CDL to a valid Washington driver license, $71
- Transfer valid out-of-state CDL to a Washington CDL (includes application), $106
- Add CDL endorsements, $10
- Renew driver license with CDL endorsement, $86
- Renew driver license with CDL and motorcycle endorsements, $111
Licensing Agency & Website:
Washington State Department of Licensing, http://www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/cdl.html