Do I need a CDL to drive an RV?

It’s hard for people to believe that driving a 40′ Class A motorhome towing a 15′ car behind it doesn’t require a CDL, or “Commercial Drivers License” like big-rig truckers are required to get. The key word in that phrase is “commercial,” and as long as you aren’t driving for business, a CDL is not required in most states.

The CDL is a federal minimum standard, but states make their own laws about how they license drivers. However, if you happen to be a rare bird driving a big rig motorhome in Hawaii, you might need a CDL.  There are also some large towing combination lengths that might require a CDL in some states. But most importantly, many states require a special non-commercial license for RVs over 26,000 lbs or certain towing combinations. Illinois is perhaps the most strict state, requiring an upgraded license over 16,000 lbs.

Below is our chart, which we believe to be accurate as of May 2017, of the state-by-state requirements. It is not always clear on the state websites whether the weight considered is the actual weight of the vehicle or if it is the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating).  Usually, the weight considered is the total weight rating (or GVWR) of your rig, including tow vehicles, towed vehicles, dollys, and trailers. You may also need a different license if you are double towing, or if you have air brakes.

States have reciprocal agreements on driver’s licenses, so if you have the proper license in your home state, you should be ok with it across the country. We have linked a source where available so that you can further investigate what your state requires.

Note: RV Miles has found many errors in other RV websites’ listings of driver’s license requirements. You should always check with your state’s driver’s license servicer to see what license is required for your rig.

State CDL Required? Special License Required?
Alabama No No
Alaska No No
Arizona No No
Arkansas No No
California No Yes, if over 40′ motorhome or towing 10,000lb+ travel trailer or 15,000lb+ 5th wheel
Colorado No No
Connecticut No No
Delaware No No
Florida No No
Georgia No No
Hawaii Yes, if over 26,000 lbs No
Idaho No No
Illinois No Yes, if over 16,000 lbs or towing over 10,000 lbs
Indiana No No
Iowa No No
Kansas No Yes, if over 26,000 lbs
Kentucky No No
Louisiana No No
Maine No No
Maryland No Yes, if over 26,000 lbs
Massachusetts No No
Michigan No No
Minnesota No No
Mississippi No No
Missouri No No
Montana No No
Nebraska No No
Nevada No Yes, if over 26,000 lbs
New Hampshire No No
New Jersey No No
New Mexico No Yes, if over 26,000 lbs
New York No Yes, if over 26,000 lbs
North Carolina No Yes, if over 26,000 lbs or towing over 10,000 lbs
North Dakota No No
Ohio No No
Oklahoma No No
Oregon No No
Pennsylvania No Yes, if over 26,000 lbs
Rhode Island No No
South Carolina No Yes, if over 26,000 lbs
South Dakota No No
Tennessee No No
Texas No Yes, if over 26,000 lbs
Utah No No
Vermont No No
Virginia No No
Washington No No
Washington D.C. No Yes, if over 26,000 lbs
West Virginia No No
Wisconsin No No
Wyoming No Yes, if over 26,000 lbs or towing over 10,000 lbs
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  • Rickey Frasure#1

    November 25, 2018

    What is the biggest rv my wife can drive with a regular drivers lisense in texas??

    • RV Miles Editors#2

      November 26, 2018

      Up to 26,000lbs gross vehicle weight rating. So not the weight, but what the vehicle is rated for.

  • Jeff Dunham#3

    December 17, 2018

    What is the biggest pickup/5th wheel combo my wife can drive with a regular drivers license in Wyoming?

  • Jan Eric Nordmo#4

    January 23, 2019

    Your information regarding California is not entirely correct. Specific RVS, correct a CDL, it is not required, however, housecar drivers are also not required a special license if the vehicle is 40 feet or less. Housecars drivers are exempt from the 26,000 lbs. condition. Weight is a factor when it comes to towing if the RV is over 15,000, then, a non-commercial A is required. Hope this helps?

    • Jason Epperson#5

      January 29, 2019

      Thanks, It looks like they’ve made a change. We will update.

  • Robert R#6

    September 20, 2019

    How many of those same States and Provinces also require an Air Brake Endorsement?

    • RV Miles Editors#7

      September 26, 2019

      Believe it or not, in most states there is no statute that mentions air brakes for non-commercial vehicles. It’s a pretty major loophole.

  • Randy D. Cole#8

    October 25, 2019

    So I am from Canada I would need a special licence to drive in Texas or Nevada? How would I get that or probably easier to
    avoid those states.

    • Jason Epperson#9

      November 7, 2019

      No, it goes by your home state’s laws (or country).

  • Jack#10

    November 23, 2019

    If I am licensed in a state that does not require any special license do I need to have a special license for a state that doea?


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