In the United States, driver’s licenses are issued by each individual state, territory,
and the District of Columbia rather than by the federal government because of the concept
of federalism. Drivers are normally required to obtain a license from their state of
residence and all states recognize each other’s licenses for non-resident age requirements.
A state may also suspend an individual’s driving privilege within its borders for traffic violations.
Many states share a common system of license classes, with some exceptions, e.g. commercial license classes are standardized by federal regulation at 49 C.F.R
Class C licenses are issued in all states, except Massachusetts, in both commercial and non-commercial status. A non-commercial Class C license may not be used for hire. Most recreational vehicles that do not fall into the class D/E category, such as converted buses, tractor, lawn mowers, or full size (greater than 40 feet (12 m) campers require a non-commercial Class C license and the corresponding permit from the state with which you reside
- Class A: Combination (tractor plus trailer) vehicle of 26,001 pounds (11,794 kg) or more.
Includes split (coupled) buses.
- Class B: Single (straight) vehicle of 26,001 pounds (11,794 kg) or more (includes most buses including
articulated buses). Also includes combination vehicles for commercial use weighing no less than 26,001 lb.
- Class C: Commercial vehicle that doesn’t fit classes A or B, but is placarded for hazardous materials or is intended to carry 16 or more persons (excluding Georgia.) May include heavy-duty non-commercial vehicles with or without trailers, trailer must have a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 10,001 pounds (4,536 kg). Vehicles must have a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 26,001 pounds (11,794 kg).
- Professional drivers are usually required to add endorsements to their CDL in order to drive certain types of vehicles that require additional training. CDL endorsements requirements are mostly similar, but some vary slightly from state to state. The training and testing requirements are regulated by the US Department of Transportation.
Endorsements are as follows
- P: Passenger Transport (buses carrying 16 or more persons. Vans for hire carrying 11 or more persons in California)
- H: Hazardous Materials (requires a TSA background check as well as an extensive written exam. The driver must be a US Citizen or permanent lawful resident to obtain an H or X endorsement.)
- M: Metal coil
- N: Tank Vehicles (Required for carrying liquids in bulk.)
- T: Double/Triple Trailers (Road trains) (Class A licenses only.)
- X: Hazardous Materials and Tank Combination
- L: Air Brakes
- S: School Bus (In addition to a standard bus endorsement, more stringent TSA and CORI background checks are required