CDL Endorsements in California

California CDL endorsements must be earned by commercial drivers before they may operate specialized commercial vehicles. After reviewing the CDL endorsement list, commercial drivers can learn what endorsements apply to their driving situations and the steps they must follow to earn the specific endorsements. The types of CDL endorsements in CA can allow drivers to operate a passenger commercial vehicle, such as a bus, or to haul hazardous material with a tanker. When getting a CDL, a commercial driver should first learn the type of commercial vehicle and cargo he or she will be responsible for so the proper endorsement can be sought. When drivers learn about CDL license endorsement types available in the state, they can also review the processes, forms and tests that must be completed to earn these important license endorsements. If you want to add endorsements to your CDL, you will find that different processes are associated with different endorsements, so the procedure for earning an endorsement may vary. “Which CDL endorsements should I get?” is a common question from commercial drivers. These drivers can consult with their employers about the types of vehicles they will be responsible for and the cargo or passengers they will be transporting. The CDL endorsements information they gather from their employers will be helpful in finding out which endorsements must be earned for legal operation. To learn more about California commercial driver license endorsements and how they can be earned, review the following sections.

Types of CDL Endorsements in California

Operating certain vehicle types requires a California CDL license endorsement for legal operation in the state. A CDL endorsement is required to appear on the license of a commercial driver who is operating a:

  • School bus or another type of passenger transport vehicle.
  • Marked vehicles or tank vehicles transporting hazardous waste.
  • Tank vehicle of any kind.
  • Double and triple combination vehicles.
  • Firefighter vehicle.

When getting a CDL in CA, a commercial driver who is hired to drive one these types of vehicles must also earn the proper endorsement. The commercial license endorsement may be added to the CDL at a later time if a driver changes jobs or starts a new position that requires he or she drive a different type of commercial vehicle that requires an endorsement. However, to get a CDL endorsement, the driver will still be responsible for completing and successfully passing the mandatory tests associated with the endorsement. A new CDL license with endorsement will be issued to the driver once all steps in the process are completed. To find out more about the CDL endorsement list in CA and the types of vehicle categories associated with each endorsement type, download our comprehensive guide.

How to Add Endorsements to Your CDL in California

California CDL endorsements are not separate documents or additional licenses. A CDL endorsement is a printed letter or letters added to a commercial driver’s license. When a driver earns an endorsement for a CDL in CA, he or she is issued a new commercial driver’s license that includes the letters for the corresponding endorsement. For example, if a commercial driver earns his or her Passenger Vehicle commercial endorsement, he or she can now legally operate a commercial vehicle that transports passengers. A new commercial driver’s license with the letters “PV” printed on it is issued to the driver. The types of commercial drivers license endorsements that are displayed on commercial licenses confirm with law enforcement and DMV officials that the commercial driver can legally operate certain types of vehicles.

The DMV will only add endorsements to a CDL in California once it is proven that a driver possesses the proper skillset and has been trained to operate the type of vehicle associated with the endorsement. To earn a CDL endorsement, a commercial driver may need to complete a written or driving test. A driving test may be implemented before a CDL endorsement is added to a license so the driver can prove that he or she can safely operate the vehicle and responsibly haul the cargo or transport the passengers associated with the vehicle. Some CDL license endorsement types in CA require commercial drivers to complete written CDL exams with the DMV to prove their knowledge of proper and legal vehicle operation. To learn about what is required before getting a CDL endorsement on a commercial driver’s license, download our informative and detailed guide today.

Why CA CDL Endorsements Are Important

Commercial drivers who do not possess the proper California CDL endorsements for the types of vehicles they are driving are breaking California traffic laws. If a commercial driver does not have the proper CDL endorsement added to his or her license, law enforcement may take action. A commercial driver who recently earned his or her commercial license, has changed jobs or has changed work vehicles should review the CA CDL endorsement list and find out if a new type of endorsement is needed.

Commercial endorsements are important for a driver to earn because they confirm that he or she has the skills and knowledge to safely operate the vehicle. The DMV sets strict guidelines for commercial drivers who need types of CDL endorsements to test their knowledge and abilities. The CDL endorsement program is implemented by the California DMV to keep all drivers, passengers and pedestrians safe on the roads. Specific types of commercial vehicles, such as double trailers or tankers, require experienced and skillful drivers to safely operate them and to avoid accidents or traffic mishaps. A California CDL with endorsements allows law enforcement or DMV representatives to identify the skillset a commercial driver possesses to legally operate a type of vehicle. When commercial drivers earn certain CA CDL license endorsement types, they may be exposed to more work opportunities because of their expanded driving skillsets.