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What Information Must be on the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)?

What Information Must be on the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)?

One of the questions I ask attendees of my training – yeah, even though I’m the trainer I still sometimes ask the questions – is this:  “Do you examine a driver’s Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) before he/she leaves your site with a shipment of your HazMat?”  I’m no longer surprised by the blank stares I receive as a form of reply.  The answer, overwhelmingly, is “no”.  Most companies I have had the privilege to provide with HazMat Employee Training do not take what I consider to be a basic step to ensure the safe and secure transportation of their hazardous material once it leaves their property.  That is, to determine if the person operating the motor vehicle transporting their HazMat (including a hazardous waste) has a valid CDL with the necessary endorsements (more on that below).  But before you inspect a CDL, you must know what information is required to be on it.  That is the purpose of this article.

The FMCSA sets the minimum standards for Commercial Driver's Licenses

The FMCSA sets the minimum standards for Commercial Driver’s Licenses

Minimum standards for CDLs and Commercial Learner’s Permits (CLPs) are set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).  Read this article:  What is a Commercial Learner’s Permit?  Once these minimum Federal standards are met, the administration of the CDL program and the issuing of licenses is the exclusive responsibility of each individual state.  State responsibilities include:  the application process, license fee, license renewal cycle, renewal procedures, and reinstatement requirements after a disqualification.  At its discretion a state may exceed the requirements of the FMCSA for certain criteria, such as medical, fitness, and other driver qualifications.  So, be sure to check with the state that issued the license to determine if it has any additional requirements.

When inspecting a CDL look for the following information which is required to be present per the Federal regulations of the FMCSA at 49 CFR 383.153(a):

  • The words “Commercial Driver’s License” or “CDL” displayed prominently;
  • The driver’s full name, signature, and mailing address;
  • The driver’s date of birth, sex, and height;
  • Color or black and white photograph or image of the license holder;
Question:  May a state issue a CDL without a photo or image of the driver?
Answer:  Yes.  A state may issue a temporary CDL without a photo or image, if it is valid for no more than 60 days.  Refer to 49 CFR 383.153(a)(4)
  • The driver’s State license number;
  • The name of the issuing State;
  • The date of issuance and the date of the expiration of the license or permit;
  • The group or groups Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) that the driver is authorized to drive (read more about the Transportation of HazMat in a Commercial Motor Vehicle):
    • A for Combination Vehicle;
    • B for Heavy Straight Vehicle;
    • C for Small Vehicle;
  • The endorsement(s) for which the driver has qualified, if any:
    • T for double/triple trailers;
    • P for passenger;
    • N for tank vehicle;
    • H for hazardous materials;
    • X for a combination of tank vehicle and hazardous materials;
    • S for school bus;
    • If applicable, additional state endorsements if fully explained on the CDL.
  • Any restrictions placed on the driver from operating certain equipment or vehicles:
    • L for no air brake equipped CMV;
    • Z for no full air brake equipped CMV;
    • E for no manual transmission equipped CMV;
    • O for no tractor-trailer CMV;
    • M for no class A passenger vehicle;
    • N for no class A and B passenger vehicle;
    • K for intrastate only;
    • V for medical variance;
    •  If applicable, additional restrictions issued by the state if fully explained on the CDL.
Note: The Social Security Number must be provided on the application, but must not be printed on the CDL.

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Now you’ll know what to look for when you’re looking at a a driver’s CDL, which I strongly advise you to do.  Please note that as a shipper of a hazardous material you are required to provide training for all employees involved in its transportation (HazMat Employees).  Please don’t hesitate to contact me for a free consultation on which of your employees is a HazMat Employee and what training is required.