2023 New Mexico CDL Requirements Guide

The basic New Mexico CDL requirements include a valid New Mexico driver’s license or out-of-state CDL and a clean driving record without any major violations.
Written by Talullah Blanco
You must be at least 18 years old and either hold a valid
New Mexico driver’s license
or out-of-state CDL with a clean driving record to apply for a commercial driver’s license in New Mexico.
Commercial motor vehicle drivers in New Mexico must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate these larger vehicles legally. While the application process for a New Mexico CDL can be tough to navigate, understanding the basic requirements is the first step. Let's dive in.

What is required for a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in New Mexico? 

You’ll need to meet several medical, residency, knowledge, and skills requirements to get a CDL in
New Mexico
. You'll need identification documents, a
clean driving record
, and a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) with which you can take to your CDL skills test.  
Need to know: Depending on the class of CDL you’re applying for and the endorsements required to operate a specific vehicle, you’ll have to take additional knowledge tests, as well.

New Mexico CDL classes

In New Mexico, there are three types of CDL classifications—Class A, Class B, and Class C, from most to least comprehensive. Each class allows you to operate these vehicles: 
  • Class A: Any combination of vehicles with a Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) of 26,000 pounds or more and the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of the towed vehicle exceeds 10,000 pounds
  • Class B: A single or combination of vehicles with a GVWR over 26,000 pounds but the vehicle being towed is less than 10,000 pounds
  • Class C: Commercial vehicles designed to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) or hazardous materials 
You’ll need a Class A CDL to operate tractor-trailers, tanker vehicles, and livestock carriers just to name a few. However, large city or tour buses, box trucks, and dump trucks with trailers in tow will require a Class B CDL. You’ll just need a Class C CDL to drive large passenger vans and HAZMAT vehicles. 


New Mexico CDLs have six types of endorsements that allow drivers to operate specific vehicles. They are as follows:
  • T: for towing double or triple trailers
  • P: for passenger vehicles
  • N: for tank vehicles
  • H: for transportation of hazardous materials 
  • X: for transportation of hazardous materials in a tank vehicle
  • S: for school buses
Some CDL endorsements like H, P, and S require you to take additional knowledge or skills tests and may have specific criteria.

Minimum age requirement

You can be 18 years old and get a New Mexico CDL to operate a commercial vehicle within state lines. You must be at least 21 years of age or older to drive a commercial vehicle across state lines and get a CDL with an H or X endorsement.

Medical requirements

New Mexico also requires anyone applying for a CDL to pass a physical skills test to make sure you’re in good health. Here are the physical requirements to get a New Mexico CDL:
  • At least 20/40 vision in both eyes
  • Blood pressure of 160/100 or better
  • Blood sugar no higher than 200 
  • Diabetes that is controlled through diet or medication but controlled through insulin injections is not permitted
  • Ability to distinguish traffic signal colors 
  • Ability to hear a forced whisper from at least 5 feet away
  • No use of Schedule 1 drugs, amphetamines, narcotics, or any habit-forming drugs
The physical test will need to be administered by an approved medical professional on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. Use the
National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners
to find a doctor near you. 

New ELDT requirements

If you haven't already started your application process, you’ll need to follow the new regulations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for
Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT)
that were instated in February 2022. 
These regulations require new applicants to complete an ELDT with a provider from FMCSA’s
Training Provider Registry
before taking the skills or H knowledge test. 

How to apply for a CDL in New Mexico

First, make sure you are eligible to apply for a CDL in New Mexico. You’ll need a valid New Mexico driver’s license or out-of-state CDL and a clean
driving record
Traffic violations could delay your eligibility for 10 years while other major offenses will disqualify you for life. You won't be able to obtain a CDL if you've:
  • Been involved in a
    hit and run
  • Been charged with a
  • Used a commercial vehicle to commit a felony, or manufacture, distribute or dispense a controlled substance 
Once you’ve confirmed your license and record don’t disqualify you from getting a CDL, you can begin the application process.
Before applying for a full CDL, you’ll need to apply for a commercial learner’s permit (CLP). Here’s what you’ll need for that application:
  • New Mexico driver license or out-of-state CDL 
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or legal residency
  • Social Security Card
  • Two proofs of
    New Mexico residency
  • Commercial Driver Medical Certificate and or medical waiver
  • Completed CDL application
  • Completed self-certified driving type form
Bring these documents to your local MVD office to take the written tests for your CDL class and endorsements you applied for to get your CLP. You’ll take one or more of these knowledge tests:
  • General Knowledge
  • Vehicle Inspection
  • Passenger Transport (only for bus driver applicants)
  • Combination (if you want to drive combination vehicles)
  • Air Brake (if applicable) 
  • Endorsements (if applicable) 
These assessments consist of multiple choice and matching questions and you’ll need to answer at least 80% of the questions correctly to pass. If you fail, you can retake the written tests that same week but taking the written test more than two times in a seven-day period is not permitted.
You will need to hold your CLP for at least 14 days before you can take the skills exams. Use this time to complete the ELDT with an approved training provider and practice on public roads with a CDL holder 21 years or older.The commercial learner’s permit is valid for 180 days after that, you’ll have to retake the written test to renew your permit. 
Once you’ve completed the ELDT, you can schedule your skills test with an
approved third party CDL examiner
in your area where you’ll be tested on pre-trip inspection, basic control skills, and road testing.
Be prepared to bring your CMV to the test and $18 for a four-year license fee or $34 for an eight-year license fee to your appointment.
Here’s what your road test will include:
  • Starting the vehicle 
  • Parallel parking
  • Off-set backing
  • Straight-line backing
  • Lane change
  • Merge
  • Use of lanes
  • Right-of-way
  • Traffic signs and signals
  • Left and right turns
  • Intersections
  • Railroad crossings
  • Curves
  • Roadside stop/start
  • Upshifting and downshifting (only for manual transmissions) 
After you pass your skills tests, bring your driver’s license and learner's permit to the MVD and verify your score. That’s it, you’re a New Mexico CDL holder!

How long is a CDL valid in New Mexico? 

How long your CDL is valid will depend on the license you paid for and your age. New Mexico CDLs are valid for either four or eight years unless you are 75 years or older. In that case, your CDL is valid for one year and will have to be renewed annually, but the renewal fee will be waived. 
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