CDL renewal is part of a commercial driver’s life. Truck drivers spend a lot of time obtaining their original license, but you will still need to renew your license every so often. Thankfully, CDL license renewal doesn’t require an extensive test.
For most drivers, the renewal process is as simple and straightforward as renewing your traditional license.
How Long is a CDL License Valid?
You’ve completed your training, passed the test and obtained your CDL. How often will you have to renew it? Does a CDL license expire?
Yes. A CDL can be valid for anywhere from 5-8 years. Each state has its own rules.
Although your license is valid for several years, you still need to get an annual physical exam to maintain it. Yearly physicals ensure that you’re healthy enough to drive and do your job.
Along with annual physicals, you also need to maintain a clean driving record and criminal record. Felonies, reckless driving and DUI convictions can result in a suspension or revocation of your CDL.
Can I Renew My CDL Online?
Maybe. Many states allow you to renew your CDL online, but there are some that will require you to go in-person to the renewal. Traditionally, you’ll receive a reminder to renew in the mail a few months before your license expires.
Your reminder will include the many ways that you can renew your license.
Unfortunately, you’ll need to review your state’s procedures to answer this question correctly. However, if you do opt for an online renewal, you’ll still need to supply information with your application, such as:
- Recent eye exam
- Medical Examiner’s Certificate (depending on the state)
- Pay state fees
Renewals online are the easiest way to keep driving commercially. However, you need to renew your license using any method that your local DMV requires.
Can I Renew My CDL License After It Expires?
In many states, you can renew your license after it expires for up to 2 years. For example, in North Carolina, you can renew the license for up to two years after it expires. The issue is that the rules vary greatly from one state to another.
You cannot legally drive with an expired license, so if you’re hauling freight, your career must be put on hold.
Unfortunately, other states have harsh requirements for getting your license back after it expires, such as:
- Full retesting
- Paying fees
You may even need to retake the road portion of the test if a lot of time has passed since you last drove commercially.
Can I Continue Driving with an Expired CDL?
No. If your CDL expires and you continue driving, you could:
- Face penalties and fines
- Have your license revoked
- Have points added to your license
- Face higher insurance premiums
If you’re driving with an expired CDL and get pulled over, you could receive a traffic ticket and a hefty fine. You may also be required to appear in court, which could prove difficult if you’re on the road for work.
Do You Need a Physical for a CDL Renewal?
CDL license renewal may require a physical or medical examination, but you’ll need to refer to your state’s laws. Every state has its own requirements for license renewal. If you do need to have a physical examination and you fail, you may be able to retake the test to see if you pass.
Unfortunately, if you still fail the exam, you may be found unfit to be a commercial driver.
Do You Need to Renew License Endorsements?
In most cases, you will not be required to renew an endorsement. Instead, the endorsement will renew when you renew your license. However, your application for renewal will have all of the state-specific information to follow.
Also, depending on the state, you may need to pay a fee for each endorsement.
How Long Does A CDL Permit Last?
Before you can obtain your CDL, you need to get a CDL permit, or Commercial Driver’s Instruction Permit (CDIP). Without a CDIP, you won’t be able to practice driving a rig legally. A permit allows you to drive a rig on the highway as long as someone with a valid CDL is in the truck with you.
To obtain your CDIP, you need to:
- Pass a vision test
- Pass the written CDIP test
- Hold a valid Class D license
- Be at least 18 years of age
If you pass the test, your CDIP will be valid for six months. You can renew your permit once within a 2-year period of its issuance.
If you renew your permit twice within a two-year period, you’ll need to retake the CDIP exam and reapply for a new permit.
Keep in mind that your state may also have other requirements for obtaining and/or renewing a CDIP.
Can You Renew a CDL Permit After it Expires?
CDIPs are valid for a period of six months, and if the permit expires, you can renew it one time within the two years of your permit being issued. However, if you have already renewed, you must retake all of your qualification exams.
Ideally, you’ll work quickly upon your permit’s renewal to obtain your CDL license.
Where Do You Renew Your CDL License?
For CDL license renewal, you’ll need to visit your state’s DMV. Each state has its own requirements for renewing CDL licenses.
For example, in Michigan, you must pass a vision test to renew your license. No other written tests are required unless you want to add an endorsement, remove air brake restrictions or upgrade the group designator.
Having a Hazmat endorsement can complicate things. For example, Michigan requires you to also have proof of U.S. citizenship and a Federal Security Threat Assessment letter from the TSA.
CDL renewal is handled on the state level. If you have a CDL license that is about to expire, you can be sure that you’ll receive a reminder a month or so before the expiration date. However, if you do not receive a reminder, contact your state to learn how to renew your CDL.