How do I get my CDL in Michigan? (First-time commercial drivers)

Ken Haddad
Ken Haddad
  • Updated

A commercial driver's license is needed if you are operating a vehicle:

  • With a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more
  • Towing a trailer or other vehicles with a GVWR of 10,001 pounds or more with a gross combination weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more
  • Designed to transport 16 or more people (including the driver)
  • Carrying hazardous materials in amounts requiring placarding
  • Drivers between the ages of 18 and 21 who are a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident can operate a commercial vehicle only in Michigan. You must be at least 21 to operate a commercial vehicle across state lines or to transport hazardous materials in amounts requiring placarding.


To apply for a commercial driver’s license, visit a Secretary of State office and provide:

  • Your current valid Michigan driver’s license 
  • Proof of legal presence in the United States
  • Proof of Social Security number 

If applying for a hazardous materials endorsement, you must also provide proof of a Federal Security Threat Assessment. 

At your visit, you will need to:

  1. Complete an application which includes a statement certifying that you meet medical and driver qualifications. If you have had any change in your physical condition since your last driver license renewal which may affect your ability to drive, you may need a special form from the branch office for your physician to fill out before you can apply for your license.
  2. Meet driver record eligibility requirements as determined by Secretary of State staff. 
  3. Pass the CDL endorsement(s) written knowledge and vision tests. You must pass all required knowledge tests to obtain a Commercial Learner's Permit (CLP). If you do not pass a knowledge test on your first attempt, you must wait one day to retake the test. There is a one-day wait period for any subsequent retest.
  4. Pay your CDL fees. 
  5. Click here to learn more.

After obtaining your CLP, you will then need to complete Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) with an approved ELDT provider. Beginning February 7, 2022, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has established new minimum training standards for individuals applying for:

  • Class A or B Commercial Driver License (CDL) for the first time
  • An upgrade of an existing CDL (e.g., Class B CDL holder seeking a Class A CDL)
  • A Hazardous Materials (H), Passenger (P), or School Bus (S) endorsement on a CDL for the first time

These new minimum training standards are referred to as Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT). Drivers must complete the required ELDT from a training provider registered with FMCSA before being scheduled for CDL skills or knowledge tests to obtain one of the licenses or endorsements listed above. Once implemented, the FMCSA Training Provider Registry (TPR) will retain a record of which CDL applicants have completed the new training and certification process outlined in the ELDT regulations. A CLP may be issued prior to ELDT being completed. First-time hazardous applicants including those applying for a Class A, B, or C CDL must complete the hazardous portion of ELDT prior to a written knowledge test being administered at a branch office. Customers who received their Class A or B CLP prior Feb. 7, 2022, are exempt from these regulations until the CLP is expired.

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