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Kentucky CDL FAQs
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2023 Kentucky CDL License and CDL Test INFO
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Kentucky CDL Class A, B, C plus Endorsments Selector
If you need help . . .
determining what Class of CDL you need based upon the type of vehicle you will drive (A, B or C) or are not sure which CDL Endorsements you need based upon the type of loads you will carry use the free CDL Selector Tool . . .
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Not sure which CDL Tests you need to pass? Use this tool to determine what Class of CDL and which CDL Endorsements you require.

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KENTUCKY CDL Information
Specific Kentucky CDL Information

Applying for a Kentucky CDL

Effective January 30, 2012, Federal Motor Carrier's Safety Regulation 49 CFR 383.71 requires all CDL holders/applicants to have a valid DOT medical card on file with the Division of Driver Licensing in order to obtain/retain a valid CDL license/permit. Effective May 21, 2014 all CDL holders must be medically certified by a Certified Medical Examiner on the National Registry for Certified Medical Examiners. CDL holders/applicants must provide a legible copy of both front and back of the medical card. Also, prior to the issuance of an original, renewal or upgrade CDL/CLP all CDL holders/applicants must self certify as to what type driving they are operating in or expect to operate in by completing TC 94-169, Commercial Driver License Self Certification form. The above information must be forwarded to the Division of Driver Licensing and posted to the driver's CDLIS record prior to applying for issuance of a CDL/ CLP at the circuit court clerk's office.

Also, 49 CFR 384.206 mandates new CDL applicants, renewals, upgrades and CDL transfers to complete a commercial driver license application 10 year history survey. Drivers/applicants must provide a list of all states in which they held a license to operate any type vehicle in the previous 10 years. Failure to disclose the required information subjects the applicant to a possible 60 (sixty) day suspension for falsifying an application.

If you are not a U.S. citizen/permanent resident, you are not eligible to apply for a commercial learner permit or commercial license.

The Commercial Driver Licensing application and the Self Certification form are accessible from the DDL website. A CDL holder/applicant must forward the required information to the Division of Driver Licensing using one of three methods available. The information may be mailed to Division of Driver Licensing, 200 Mero St., Frankfort, KY 40622, or faxed to 502-564-3250 or scanned and emailed to All Kentucky CDL holders/applicants will receive written notification when the information has posted to their CDLIS record. Once the driver/applicant has received written notification of their approval they can proceed to the circuit court clerk's office to begin/complete the issuance process.

A supply of the Kentucky CDL applications and Self Certification forms may be obtained from the Administrative Support Branch at 502-564-1257.

All applicants will be required to successfully pass a knowledge test either in written or oral form, and a vision test. A Kentucky CDL instruction permit will then be issued that is valid for six (6) months. After the Kentucky CDL permit is issued, applicants must wait 14 days before the test is administered. Applicants must call Kentucky State Police to schedule a skill test appointment. A permit may only be renewed once in the two (2) year period. If you do not successfully pass the road skills test by the expiration of your Kentucky CDL instruction permit renewal, you will need to reapply. All fees and written/vision tests will be required prior to a new permit being issued.

Kentucky Written Skill Test Fees for Kentucky CDL Permits

If applying for a Kentucky Class B or C with P & S endorsements only, the application fee will be $9 and there will be no skill test fee required. For all others, the application fee will be $24. Effective September 5, 2006 the new skill test fees for Kentucky CDL permits, as mandated by House Bill 707, was implemented. HB 707 directs that the skill test fees collected will be placed in the Kentucky State Police CDL skill testing trust fund, and will be used by the State Police to contract with and train civilian Kentucky CDL skills examiners and to improve the logistics of the Kentucky CDL skills testing process. It applies only to original Kentucky CDL permits and will not be levied against duplicate or renewal permits.

What's on the Kentucky CDL Knowledge Test?

The Kentucky State Police will give the knowledge test at the local exam stations. Please check with your local Circuit Court Clerk regarding the days and times the examiner will be available.

The knowledge test consists of 50 questions covering a broad range of subjects, including vehicle operations under all kinds of conditions, cargo handling, and vehicle inspection.

The vision test is required whenever the driver takes a written test.

All tests are given in English. No translator is allowed.

Additional knowledge must be shown in the following areas:

Endorsements are required for the following vehicles: For each test, 80 percent of the questions must be answered correctly to pass. Failure to show basic knowledge of an air brake system will result in a license restriction limiting the driver to operating a vehicle without an air brake system. Applicants may take the basic knowledge test indefinitely without paying retest fees. However, if the applicant fails, the applicant must wait 24 hours prior to re-testing. The skills test may be taken up to 4 times on the 1st $50 skills test fee. An additional $50 will be required if a 5th test is required. The combination, airbrake, and endorsement tests require a $5 re-test fee for each time taken after the initial failure.

Kentucky CDL Re-Testing

Applicants must re-test for the hazardous materials endorsement at renewal of the Kentucky CDL if it has been more than 2 years since the last test. If transferring into Kentucky an applicant must test in order to keep a hazardous material endorsement. If a Kentucky CDL driver surrenders his commercial driving privileges, he has a year to return to the clerk's office and be re-issued the Kentucky CDL without re-testing.

If the Kentucky CDL is ever expired for one (1) year or more, the written/vision tests must be taken prior to a new license being issued. An application fee will be charged. If applying for a Kentucky CDL reinstatement, and the commercial privilege has been suspended for one (1) year or more, all tests are required.

What does the Kentucky road test cover?

Drivers will be required to take this test in the class of vehicle they intend to drive. The test includes a pre-trip inspection, off-road maneuvering, and on-road driving test. The applicant will be required to furnish a vehicle for testing.

After the Kentucky CDL permit is issued, applicants must wait 14 days before the skill test is administered. Applicants must call Kentcky State Police to schedule a skill test appointment. If you passed the written test for air brakes, you will need to skills test in an air brake vehicle, otherwise, you will receive an L restriction.

Kentucky CDL Pre-trip Inspection
Purpose: To see if you know the vehicle is safe to drive.

Test Procedure: You may be asked to do a pre-trip inspection of your vehicle or to explain to the examiner what you would inspect and why. The examiner will mark on a scoring form each time that you correctly inspect or explain.

A manual explaining what you need to inspect is available through the Kentucky State Police or the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet's Division of Drivers Licensing website.

Kentucky CDL Basic Control Skills Test

Purpose: To evaluate your basic skills in controlling the vehicle.

Setup: The test setup consists of various exercises marked out by lines, traffic cones, or something similar. The exercises may include moving the vehicle forward, backward, and turning maneuvers.

The examiner will explain to you how each exercise is to be done. You will be scored on how well you stay within the exercise boundaries and how many pull-ups you make.

Kentucky CDL Road Test

Purpose: To evaluate your ability to drive safely in a variety of on-the-road situations.

Test Procedures: The test drive is taken over a route specified by the examiner. It may include left and right turns, intersections, railway crossings, curves, up and down grades, rural or semi-rural roads, city and multi-lane streets, and expressway driving.

You will drive over the test route following instructions given by the examiner. The examiner will score specific tasks such as turns, merging into traffic, lane changes, and speed control, at specific places along the route. The examiner will also score whether you correctly do tasks such as signaling, searching for hazards, controlling speed, and lane positioning.

What does the Kentucky CDL cost?

Upgrades in Kentucky CDL Class Add Endorsements/Drop Restrictions to Kentucky CDL

$5 for tanker, doubles/triples, and hazardous materials. The new license will cost $12, for a total of $17. The following license actions will require an application fee, Kentucky CDL instruction permit fee, skills test fee and a new license fee, for a total of $97:

The following license action will require an application fee, a permit fee and license fee with a total cost of $32-$47, depending on class license wanted or held at the time of upgrade/add-on.

CDL Transfers

Kentucky CDL Permits

The state of Kentucky does not transfer commercial instruction permits from other states. If you currently hold a commercial instruction permit and wish to transfer to Kentucky, you will have to surrender the out of state permit and take the written knowledge tests in Kentucky. Upon passing those tests, you will be issued a Kentucky commercial instruction permit.

Kentucky CDL Hazardous Materials Endorsement

If you have a hazardous endorsement, you will be required to take the written hazmat test prior to transferring it to Kentucky. There is a $5.00 fee to take the written test.

If your hazmat threat assessment will not cover the life of your new Kentucky commercial license, you will be required to undergo a new threat assessment. This will cost $115.00. In some cases, you may be eligible for a ninety (90) day extension to complete your threat assessment. This will be determined by the CDL section at the Division of Driver Licensing.

Kentucky CDL Written Knowledge Tests
You will need to pass the Kentucky Knowledge Tests that are required for the class of license, restriction, and endorsements you wish to possess. A general knowledge test for the Class A or Class B and C license must be successfully completed by all CDL applicants. The information needed to pass these tests is contained in the FREE Kentucky CDL Handbook. Please read and study this manual carefully.

Classes of Kentucky CDL and Required Tests

CDL Class Tests Required Possible Endorsements and Required Tests
Class A
vehicle endorsement required)

General Knowledge Written Exam

Combination Endorsement Written Exam

Road Exam

H - Hazardous Materials Written Exam
N - Tank Vehicles Written Exam
P - Passenger Transport Written and Road Exam
T - Doubles/Triples Written Exam
X - HazMat and Tank Vehicles Written Exam
L - Air Brakes Written and Road Exam
S - School Bus Written and Road Exam
Class B

General Knowledge Written Exam

Road Exam

H - Hazardous Materials Written Exam
N - Tank Vehicles Written Exam
P - Passenger Transport Written and Road Exam
X - HazMat and Tank Vehicles Written Exam
L - Air Brakes Written and Road Exam
S - School Bus Written and Road Exam
Class C

General Knowledge Written Exam

Road Exam

Note: If upgrading to a Class C from a Class D, no road test is required UNLESS the endorsement requires one.
H - Hazardous Materials Written Exam
N - Tank Vehicles Written Exam
P - Passenger Transport Written and Road Exam
X - HazMat and Tank Vehicles Written Exam
L - Air Brakes Written and Road Exam
S - School Bus Written and Road Exam

Kentucky CDL Endorsements

Exam Time Allowed (Minutes) # of Questions on Exam # of Correct Answers Needed to Pass
General Knowledge 60 50 40
Air Brakes 25 25 20
HazMat 30 30 24
Tank 20 20 16
Passenger 20 20 16
Doubles/Triples 20 20 16
Combination Vehicles 20 20 16
School Bus 20 20 16

For the most complete and accurate official Kentucky state CDL information, go to the Official Kentucky CDL Website.

What is a CDL?
A "CDL" is a Commercial Drivers License. It meets certain minimum "standards" that are the same for every state. It differs from the Kentucky "operator's" or "chauffeur's" licenses. It is required if you drive certain kinds of commercial trucks or buses.

What is the COMMERCIAL MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY ACT OF 1986 (CMVSA/86) administered by the FMCSA?
It is a law passed by the United States Congress which requires ALL the individual states to comply with certain standards in regards to the licensing of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers. Kentucky driver licensing standards comply with the law, requiring CMV drivers to obtain a Kentucky Commercial Driver's License (CDL) when driving applicable trucks and buses. A CDL license can ONLY be issued in the driver's STATE OF LEGAL RESIDENCE, and if you have a CDL, you can have NO OTHER DRIVER'S LICENSE in ANY other state.

When do I need a Kentucky CDL instead of my regular Kentucky Drivers License?
A Kentucky CDL is required if you operate any of the following CMV's . . .
1. A vehicle with a manufacturer's gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than 26,000 lbs.
2. A vehicle towing a unit with a manufacturer's GVWR of more than 10,000 lbs. when the GCWR exceeds 26,000 lbs.
3. A vehicle used to . . .(a.) carry 15 or more passengers (excluding the driver), or (b.) carry (15) or less people (including the driver) when carrying children to or from school and home regularly for compensation.
4. A vehicle carrying hazardous materials in amounts requiring placarding.

What are the eligibility requirements to obtain a Kentucky CDL?
1. You must be 21 years old. (18 years if all commercial driving is done within Kentucky and if no hazardous materials requiring placarding are transported and if you do not drive double or triple trailer rigs).
2. You must be physically capable (in accordance with the MCSR 49 CFR 391.41 Physical Qualifications for Drivers regulations) of obtaining a valid DOT medical examiner's card (before being issued a CDL permit or taking any CDL skills test).
3. You must otherwise qualify for the license based on your driving record. Any of the following will disqualify you from obtaining a Kentucky CDL . . .
* If you possess a license from any state other than Kentucky.
* If you are currently subject to any disqualification of your commercial driving privilege from Kentucky or any other state.
* If your license is currently suspended, revoked, denied, or cancelled.
* If you have a conviction for operating a commercial motor vehicle while impaired in the 24 months immediately preceding application.
* other technical rules, and further restrictions that pertain only to Kentucky are covered in detail within the Course.

How do I obtain a Kentucky CDL?
1. Show your Kentucky driver license.
2. You must take and pass all Kentucky examinations that apply to your license class and endorsement requirements.
3. Show proof of social security number.
4. Meet Kentucky driver record eligibility requirements as determined by the State.
5. Fill out an application including certifications.
6. Provide a DOT medical certificate and pass the required CDL knowledge and vision tests (BEFORE a CDL Temporary Instruction Permit will be issued).
7. Pay the Kentucky CDL fees.
8. Schedule, take, and pass your Kentucky CDL skills test.

A separate booklet is included in the Kentucky CDL Course package which covers information such as fees, locations, contacts, procedures and other items specific to Kentucky for the written and skills examinations for ALL classes of CDL and ALL available endorsements.

What is a CDL "Skills Test" and how do I take it?
A "skills" test is the practical portion of the exam and includes . . .
1. A vehicle inspection test to measure your ability to perform a vehicle safety check.
2. A basic control skills test.
3. A driving test.
The skills test is normally given at an approved third party testing site in your area. This can vary and the latest procedures are indicated in the Kentucky CDL Course.

So let's say I get a Kentucky CDL. Can I use it Out-of-State?
Yes! It is good throughout the entire United States.

Can my Kentucky CDL be suspended or revoked?
Yes, there are MANY reasons that your Kentucky CDL can be suspended or revoked. Improper use of alcohol or drugs, traffic violations, and failure to notify top the list. The Course details ALL of the rules regarding suspension or revocation. The point to remember is that alcohol or drug use is not tolerated and your record WILL FOLLOW YOU THROUGHOUT THE UNITED STATES FOREVER!!!

So let's say that my Kentucky CDL is revoked. Can't I just apply for a CDL in another State?
No!!! Those days are gone.

Are there any exemptions to being required to have Kentucky CDL?
Yes, a few . . .
1. Active Duty Military . . . with military licenses operating military vehicles.
2. Firefighters . . . meeting approved training standards and operating authorized emergency vehicles.
3. Farmers . . . in certain cases.
4. Individuals ....operating motor homes or other vehicles used exclusively to transport personal possessions or family members, for non business purposes.

What do the terms Class A, Class B, and Class C mean on my Kentucky CDL?
It refers to the type of vehicle that you may operate . . .
CLASS A . . . allows you to operate vehicles which tow trailers or other vehicles with a GVWR over 10,000 pounds. A Class "A" license also allows you to operate Class B and C vehicles.
CLASS B . . . allows you to operate single vehicles with a GVWR of 26,001 lbs or more OR a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 lbs. or more, towing trailers/vehicles rated at 10,000 pounds GVWR or less. A Class "B" license also allows you to operate Class C vehicles.
CLASS C . . .allows you to operate vehicles under 26,001 lbs. GVWR, that would normally not require a CDL; except when they are designed to transport 16 or more persons including the driver; or that carry 15 or less people (including the driver) transporting children to or from school and home regularly for compensation, or carry hazardous materials in amounts requiring placarding. Applicable endorsements are required.

What are Endorsement Codes and when do I need them on my Kentucky CDL?
Endorsements are necessary for certain commercial driving requirements as follows . . .
(P) PASSENGER. For vehicles which are designed to carry 16 or more people (including the driver); or those which carry 15 or less people (including the driver) transporting children to or from school and home regularly for compensation.
(N) TANK VEHICLES. For vehicles designed to haul liquids or liquefied gases in bulk in permanently mounted tanks or portable tanks rated at 1,000 gallons or more.
(H) HAZARDOUS MATERIALS. To carry hazardous materials in amounts requiring placards.
(X) Endorsement code designating a Tank (N) vehicle that carries Hazardous Materials (H).

I'm over 18 years old, but not 21 years old yet. Can I get a Kentucky CDL license?
Yes . . . with restrictions. You are limited to INTRAstate driving of commercial vehicles (you cannot drive a commercial truck or bus out of Kentucky). You cannot drive a vehicle requiring HAZ MAT placarding, cannot drive double or triple trailer rigs and cannot drive a School Bus with children on board until you turn 21 years of age.

We could go on and on with FAQs but I hope this covers most of your GENERAL questions. Please be assured that the Course answers EVERYTHING that you need to know to obtain ANY or ALL of the available CDL licenses and endorsements in an easy to understand manner. The material is presented in three different ways to reinforce your retention. GOOD LUCK !!

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