2024 Kentucky CDL Requirements

Drivers of commercial vehicles must hold a valid CDL in Kentucky, while first-time applicants need a state driver’s license and must be at least 18 years old.
Written by Kathryn Kurlychek
To apply for a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in Kentucky, you must be at least 18 years old and hold a valid Kentucky state driver’s license. 
Commercial motor vehicle drivers carry commerce, transport passengers, and navigate the special challenges that come with driving heavy vehicles. But to legally operate a CMV in Kentucky, drivers must hold a valid commercial driver’s license (commonly called a CDL). 
To qualify for a CDL in the Bluegrass State, one must hold a valid state driver’s license and be at least 18 years of age or older. Though these requirements seem fairly simple, the application process can quickly get tricky—that’s why
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In this article, we’ll cover the basic requirements, overview the application process, and help you keep the cost of your
Kentucky car insurance
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What is required for a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in Kentucky?

The minimum requirements to receive a CDL in Kentucky are having a valid Kentucky state driver’s license and being at least 18 years of age. 
But there’s a lot more that goes into the process of obtaining an actual CDL. Applicants will have to receive medical certification, pass a knowledge test, and submit a number of personal documents—and depending on the class of CDL you’re seeking, there may be additional requirements. 

Kentucky CDL classes 

There are three types of CDL in Kentucky: Class A, Class B, and Class C. The class of CDL you apply for determines the types of heavy vehicles you’re legally permitted to operate. Here’s a closer look at each class:
  • Class A: Any combination of vehicles whose Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) exceeds 26,000 pounds where the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of the towed vehicle is over 10,000 pounds. 
  • Class B: Any straight truck that has two or more axles and a GVWR that exceeds 26,001 pounds, or any other vehicle that has two or more axles and a GVWR of 26,001+ pounds that is towing a vehicle with a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or less. Also extends to single, passenger vehicles provided the GVWR is greater than 26,0001 pounds and the vehicle is designed to hold 16 or more passengers.
  • Class C: Commercial vehicles with a GVWR of 26,000 or less that are designed to transport hazardous materials or waste (placarding required). Also extends to single vehicles designed to hold 16 or more passengers that have a GVWR under 26,000 pounds. 


In Kentucky, there are five types of endorsements that allow drivers to operate specific types of heavy vehicles. They are as follows:
  • T: for operating double or triple trailers
  • P: for operating passenger vehicles
  • N: for operating tank vehicles
  • H: for transporting hazardous materials
  • S: for operating a school bus
Certain CDL endorsements, such as an H endorsement, may require you to undergo a criminal background check before qualifying, along with taking supplemental tests or meeting additional criteria. 

Minimum age requirement 

Applicants for a CDL in Kentucky must be at least 18 years of age. But if you want to drive commercial vehicles across state lines, transport hazardous materials, or carry passengers, you’ll need to be 21 or older to receive the necessary endorsements. 

Medical requirements 

In Kentucky, all CDL drivers must be medically certified no matter the class of CDL or level of endorsement held. To receive a valid US Department of Transportation (DOT) medical card, an applicant will have to:
  • Pass a vision test (at least 20/40 vision in each eye and 70” peripheral vision required) 
  • Pass a hearing test (ability to hear a forced whisper from five feet away required)
  • Have a blood pressure level below 140/90
  • Have a blood sugar level of 8% or lower
  • Have the ability to distinguish colors
  • Pass a drug test (tests for marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines, methamphetamines, and phencyclidine or PCP). 
Medical examinations must be administered by a doctor approved by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Applicants must also
that they are able to drive a commercial motor vehicle in Kentucky. If for any reason a driver fails to meet the medical requirements for a CDL, they may apply for an Intrastate Medical Waiver by contacting the
Division of Driver Licensing in Frankfort

New ELDT requirements

If you’re a first-time CDL applicant seeking a permit and you haven’t started the application process yet, you’ll be subject to the newest regulations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for
Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT)
These new regulations—valid as of February 2022—require new applicants to receive standardized training from a provider in
FMCSA’s registry
before completing their skills tests (or the knowledge test in the case of an H endorsement). Note that any applicants who have already received a CDL permit prior to Feb. 7, 2022, are exempt from the training requirements. 
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How to apply for a CDL in Kentucky

First thing’s first: before you can obtain a CDL, you’ll need to acquire a commercial learner’s permit. Just like you need a learner’s permit before getting a driver’s license, acquiring a CLP is the first step in the CDL application process. 
To receive a CLP in Kentucky, you’ll have to complete the following:
  • Pass a written knowledge test that corresponds to your desired CDL class and endorsement level
  • Pass a vision test
  • Submit a
    driving history survey
    , which includes submitting your driving record 
  • Pay a $50 skills test fee and an $11 permit fee
Upon successful completion of the above steps, you will be issued your CLP, which is valid for just six months. You can only renew your CLP once—so once you’ve gotten your permit, be sure to complete the following steps toward getting your CDL sooner rather than later!
That being said, you’ll have to wait at least two weeks after receiving your CLP before you can schedule your CDL exam. In the meantime, you’ll want to get the following documents in order:
  • Proof of US citizenship or legal residency
  • Proof of permission to work in the US 
  • Proof of Kentucky residency
  • Legitimate personal identification (such as a Social Security card, birth certificate, or green card) 
  • Medical examiner’s certificate
  • Self-certification of medical status
And, of course, your completed
CDL application
, along with the $24 application fee.  
You’ll also want to prepare for the skills and knowledge tests, which include both a written examination as well as a driving test in a vehicle similar to the type you expect to operate. The general exam will cover the contents of the
Kentucky CDL manual
, including the following sections:
  • Basic Control Skills
  • Driving Safely
  • Transporting Cargo Safely
  • Vehicle Inspection
  • Air Brakes (if applicable)
  • Road Test
There may also be additional knowledge tests or questions for certain endorsement levels:
  • T: 20 questions
  • N: 20 questions
  • P: 20 questions
  • H: 30 questions
  • S: 20 questions
Once you’re ready to take your CDL road test, you should contact Kentucky State Police to schedule a skills test appointment. 
In Kentucky, you don’t need a perfect driving record to receive a CDL. Although tickets, DUIs, and other traffic violations may affect the opinions of potential employers, most minor infractions won’t disqualify you from obtaining a CDL from the state (with the exception of an H endorsement). 
However, major offenses—like leaving the scene of an accident, operating a CMV with a BAC of .04 or greater, or refusing an alcohol test—may inhibit your ability to receive a CDL. In other cases, you may be disqualified entirely from applying. Serious traffic violations, railroad-highway crossing offenses, and violations of out-of-service orders on your record can disqualify you from being issued a CDL. 

How long is a CDL valid in Kentucky? 

Like most driver’s licenses, your Kentucky CDL remains valid for eight years. But your CDL permit is only valid for six months—so once you receive your permit, make sure to complete your skills test and CDL application within that time frame. 
If you’re obtaining a Hazmat (H) Endorsement, you may be required to take a security threat assessment (which involves a criminal background check) every five years, even if your license isn’t up for renewal. 

How to save on car insurance in Kentucky

The process of getting a CDL in Kentucky can sort of feel like insurance shopping—it’s time consuming, it’s expensive—not to mention all the papers you have to fill out! While
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