2024 Hawaii CDL Requirements Guide

You must be 21 years old and hold a valid basic Hawaiian driver’s license to obtain a CDL license in the Aloha State.
Written by Jacqulyn Graber
Reviewed by Brenna Swanston
background
To apply for a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in Hawaii, you must be at least 21 years old and already possess a valid Hawaii driver’s license with a Department of Transportation certificate that verifies that you meet the medical and physical requirements.
Commercial driver’s licenses, also known as CDLs, are intended for truckers, bus operators, and other commercial motor vehicle drivers. These specialized licenses exist because of the unique driving challenges posed by operating these extra-large vehicles on Hawaiian roads.
Applying for a CDL license in Hawaii is a thorough process, with several important requirements, including certain documentation, fees, and written tests. To help you sort through the process,
Jerry
, a trusted
car insurance
broker app, has created this handy guide. 

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

Getting a CDL license in Hawaii requires a pretty long list of documents and the completion of a variety of written tests.
Although the documentation required is always the same, the exact exams you’ll have to take will vary based on the class of CDL license you’re applying for.

Hawaii CDL classes

There are three types of CDL licenses in Hawaii. From most to least comprehensive, they are: Class A, Class B, and Class C.
Here are the types of vehicles each class allows you to operate: 
  • Class A: any combination of Truck/Tractor and trailer that exceeds 26,001 GCVWR with a trailer GVW that exceeds 10,001 GVWR.
  • Class B: any single vehicle that has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001.
  • Class C: any single vehicle that does not meet the GVW of Class B but requires a passenger or hazardous endorsement.
The class CDL you should apply for should be based entirely on the type of vehicle you intend to drive. Everything from a school bus to a tractor-trailer requires a CDL license, so be sure to look into the specific requirements for your vehicle before applying.

Endorsements

Additional endorsements are often required to operate specific kinds of vehicles with your CDL license. Here are the various endorsement codes applicable to Hawaiian drivers:
  • T: Double/triple trailers
  • P: Passenger vehicles
  • N: Tank vehicle
  • H: Hazardous materials
  • X: Combination of tank vehicle and hazardous materials
  • S: School bus
  • W: Tow truck
Typically, additional tests are required to receive any of these endorsements. 

Minimum age requirement

Those in possession of a valid Hawaiian driver’s license may apply for a CDL permit as soon as they are 18 years of age. However, the actual license may not be obtained until at least 21 years of age.

Medical requirements

When applying for a CDL license, you must submit a Federal Department of Transportation (DOT) Certificate (Form MCSA-5876), which verifies that you meet the medical and physical requirements.
These requirements include:
  • Blood pressure of 160/100 or better
  • Blood sugar under 200 controlled without insulin injections
  • At least 20/40 vision 
  • Ability to distinguish colors
  • Ability to hear a forced whisper from at least five feet away
  • No use of Schedule 1 drugs, amphetamines, narcotics, or any habit-forming drugs

New ELDT requirements

If applying for a Hawaiian CDL for the first time, you’ll need to follow new regulations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for
Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT)
As of February 2022, these requirements articulate that new applicants must find a registered training provider in
FMCSA’s registry
and complete training with them before taking their skills tests or the H knowledge test. 
MORE: Everything you need to know about driving in Honolulu

How to apply for a CDL in Hawaii 

Are you ready to submit your CDL application? Here’s exactly what you need to do:
  • Be at least 18 years of age to apply for a permit (and 21 to obtain a license).
  • Possess a valid basic Hawaii driver’s license.
  • Submit a DOT Certificate (Form MCSA-5876).
  • Pass the required vision test with a minimum of 20/40 in both eyes.
  • Submit a certified United States birth certificate.
  • Submit a current front facial photo.
  • Submit 2 proof of residence documents.
  • Pass all required written tests for the class of license you wish to drive.
The written test(s) you’ll be required to take are as follows:
  • The general knowledge test
  • The air brake test for any vehicle equipped with air brakes
  • Passenger endorsement test, for those that carry 16 or more passengers including the driver
  • Hazardous material test, for those who will carry hazardous material with amounts that require placarding
  • Tanker endorsement test if the vehicle or trailer tank carried exceeds 1,000 gallons
  • Combination test if you will be driving a combination vehicle
  • Double/triples test if you will be pulling double or triple trailers
  • School bus endorsement test if applicable
In addition to the written tests, you’ll need to make an appointment with a CDL representative to pass the following in-person skills tests:
  • Pre-trip: The first test to complete is the Pre-trip vehicle test. It will demonstrate your knowledge of the commercial vehicle of the category you intend to drive and determine if the vehicle is safe to operate on public roadways.
  • Skill test: This test consists of various backing maneuvers and tests your skills to operate a commercial motor vehicle of the category you intend to drive under different simulated off-road situations. You must pass this test before taking the road test.
  • Road test: This test will demonstrate your ability to operate a commercial vehicle of the category you intend to drive, through various traffic situations on public roadways.
Finally, you’ll have to pay all of your fees:
  • $30 application fee for a permit.
  • $5 fee per year or a fraction thereof for a new or renewed license.
  • $15 fee for a duplicate license or any change to the information on the license.
  • $15 fee to take the general knowledge test.
  • $5 fee to take each special knowledge test.
  • $15 additional fee to take the aural test.
  • $41 to reinstate or $66 if reinstating and renewing.
  • $50 fee in advance to schedule an appointment to take the skills tests. Only drivers with prepaid appointments and proof of payment will be allowed to test. If an applicant misses an appointment, he or she forfeits the prepaid fee.

How long is a CDL valid in Hawaii? 

A CDL instructional permit is valid for one year in Hawaii and allows you to practice driving under the supervision of a driver who has a CDL for the type of vehicle you wish to drive.
Once you obtain your CDL license, it is valid for five years before you have to renew it. However, keep in mind that you’ll also need to maintain it. Getting regular physicals is key, for example, in order to prove that you’re still in good enough health to drive. 
You have ninety (90) days after the expiration date to renew your CDL. After 90 days, a $5 late fee is assessed for every month (even partial months). After one year past the expiration date, you must start over and take the written test as well as the road test.

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