2023 North Dakota CDL Requirements Guide

The basic North Dakota CDL requirements include a valid North Dakota driver’s license and a clean record with no major driving violations.
Written by Jennifer Justice
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
If you want a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in North Dakota, you must be at least 18 years old for an intrastate license and at least 21 years old if you want to cross state lines. You also need an up-to-date North Dakota driver’s license and a good driving record. 
If you want to drive a bus, truck, or commercial vehicle in North Dakota, you need a commercial driver’s license. While going through all the steps can take some doing, the main thing you’ll need is a driver’s license and a solid driving record, pass the knowledge and driving tests for the type of commercial vehicle you want to qualify for, and have some paperwork on hand, like proof of residency.
Thankfully, we can help walk you through all those requirements for a CDL in North Dakota.
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What is required for a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in North Dakota? 

You’ll definitely need to jump through a few hoops if you want to get a CDL in North Dakota. You will need multiple documents to help prove your identity, pass both a written and skills test, have a
clean driving record
, and access to a commercial vehicle that is the same type (class) of vehicle you want to drive commercially.
You also need to know which class of CDL you want to drive since the requirements will be different for each category. You may have to add separate endorsements to your CDL depending on the vehicle.

North Dakota CDL classes

There are three types of CDL in North Dakota. 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 (Combination Vehicle): Any set of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds or more, as long as the vehicle(s) being towed has a GVWR greater than 10,000 pounds – this includes tractor-trailers, doubles, triples, and a straight truck with trailer (a truck with a trailer attached in a fixed position)
  • Class B (Heavy Straight Vehicle): Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more, or any such vehicle towing a vehicle not over 10,000 pounds GVWR – a straight vehicle means the axles share a single frame; this can include vehicles such as trucks, dump trucks, and buses
  • Class C (Small Vehicle): A commercial vehicle that does not meet the A or B requirements and which either 1) can transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, or 2) is be used to transport dangerous materials that require a warning sign, such as toxins, chemicals, or biological materials

Endorsements

An endorsement means a driver has a special permit to drive certain kinds of vehicles beyond the standard ones. You need special permission to drive some commercial vehicles, and an endorsement gives you this added ability. North Dakota has six different categories of endorsements:
  • T – for double or triple trailers (two or three trailers)
  • H – for vehicles transporting dangerous materials that require a warning sign or materials classified as an agent or toxin by federal law
  • P – for vehicles meant to transport 16 or more people, which includes the driver; a driver must pass a Class A Passenger Bus test separately if you want to drive a tractor-bus trailer combination
  • S – for school buses transporting 16 or more people, which includes the driver, for transporting K-12 school students to and from home or for school-related activities; if the bus you test for is under 26,001 GVWR, you cannot drive a Class A or B passenger bus
  • N – for commercial tank vehicles that transport liquids or gases using one or more tanks; if you are driving a vehicle designed to carry 119 gallons or more, or you are hauling one or more tanks that add up to at least 1,000 gallons, you need this endorsement
  • L or Z – while North Dakota does not have an airbrakes endorsement, they will restrict a commercial driver to “No Airbrake Equipped CMV” or “No Full Airbrake Equipped CMV” unless the driver tests with a vehicle that has airbrakes 

Minimum age requirement

The age requirements depend on where you will be using the commercial vehicle:
  • 16 years – you can apply for a restricted licence for harvesting operations
  • 18-20 years – you can apply for a license that allows you to drive within North Dakota
  • 21 and older – you can apply for a commercial licence that permits you to cross state lines
Class and endorsement restrictions apply as well.

Medical requirements

North Dakota also adds some medical restrictions for commercial drivers, and it’s up to you to prove that you are legally safe to drive. Requirements include:
  • Blood pressure can be up to 160/100 as long as the applicant receives medical treatment for blood pressure
  • Vision of 20/40 or better, with or without corrective lenses
  • Blood sugar levels below 200; the driver cannot be on insulin injections
  • Can hear a whispered voice in at least one ear at least five feet away
  • Must be able to see colors found on traffic signals
  • Cannot use a Schedule 1 drug, amphetamine, narcotic, or habit-forming drugs 
  • Cannot have a missing limb or lost use in a limb
  • No recent heart procedures
  • Sleep apnea must be under treatment
  • No medical conditions such as epilepsy or narcolepsy 
You need to have a physician who is qualified to perform the CDL medical tests go through the required exams with you as part of the process.

New ELDT requirements

As of February 2022, any new commercial drivers need to meet the updated requirements for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for
Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT)
. The new law is to help make sure commercial drivers have the same level of training across the US. Drivers with existing CDLs who want to upgrade their licenses must meet the new restrictions.
You will need to go through a registered training program as part of getting your CDL. You can check the list of providers using the
FMCSA’s registry
or
visit the FAQs
for more information.
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How to apply for a CDL in North Dakota

You’ll need to have a regular
driver’s license from North Dakota
before you can even go through the process for getting a CDL learner's permit. You’ll need a
clean driving record
since some previous offenses, like DUIs or felonies, can affect your eligibility for a CDL. If you have your regular driver’s license, then you’ll need a few things first:
  • Have proof you live in North Dakota
  • Have proof you legally live in the US
  • Pass an eye exam
  • Not have a Lifetime CDL Disqualification on record OR go through the official Lifetime CDL Disqualification Reinstatement process
  • Be able to read, write, and speak English
  • Meet the Federal Medical Requirements in 49 CFR 391
Once you have all those things ready, you’ll have to pass an in-person test based on the  
Commercial Drivers License Manual
at your local driver license site ($5 per try)  – this must be for the class of vehicle you want to drive. You’ll need to score 80% or higher on the test. If you pass the knowledge test, then you can purchase the Commercial Learners Permit (CLP) for $15.
Next, you’ll need to wait at least 14 days after earning your CLP before you are allowed to take your CDL road test. Fortunately, that will give you some time to practice all those driving skills! Don’t forget to schedule the test and have the type of vehicle you want to qualify for ready to go.
The last step is the road test, which has three parts: 
  • Pre-trip inspection – you need to be able to inspect your vehicle successfully and explain your process to the examiner
  • Basic vehicle control – this is a mini-driving test on skills like backing up to a dock
  • Road test – a driving test requiring you to perform turns, change lanes, drive in traffic, and other important skills while on the road
Remember that you’ll need to qualify for endorsements separately, but once you pass through all the hoops and tests, that’s it! Congrats on your new CDL!

How long is a CDL valid in North Dakota?

Your CDL renewal cycle partially depends on things like your medical exam. If you are in good health, then your CDL lasts four years. However, some medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, may drop the number down to two years or even a few months, depending on the circumstances. 
MORE: How to deal with rising gas prices in North Dakota

How to save on car insurance in North Dakota

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