Commercial Driver’s License Guide: New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut

Written by Miranda Pennington

If you live in New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut, learn the guideline for getting your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) below. For information regarding other states, TheJobNetwork has published a very comprehensive guide on how to apply for a CDL in all states.

New York

To apply for a Commercial Driver License (CDL), you must have a New York state driver license (Class D, Class E, or Non-CDL C) or a valid CDL from another state. When you apply for an original NYS CDL (Class A, B, or C) you must:

  • Certify you have not held a driver’s license in any state except New York or in the District of Columbia in the last 10 years or
  • Report every state (or the District of Columbia) where you have held a driver’s license in the last 10 years
  • Prove your legal presence in the United States

If you are not U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident, your CLP or CDL document will have “NON-DOMICILED” printed on documents issued on it. The “TEMPORARY VISITOR” and the expiration date of your legal status documentation will continue to be displayed on the CLP and/or CDL document.

The DMV will check for any open suspensions or revocations you may have in any state; your application will be rejected if you have an open suspension or revocation.

What do I need to do to get a CDL?
  • Obtain the New York State Commercial Driver’s Manual (CDL-10), which will have a section covering the type of CDL you need describing the classes, restrictions, and endorsements of CDLs.
  • Apply for a CLP at a DMV office. You must pass the written CDL test for your vehicle. There is $10.00 application fee, which allows you to take all written tests (knowledge and endorsement) required for your desired permit and license. There is a $40.00 fee to take the CDL road test (skills test), which you must pay before you can schedule your road test.
  • Prepare for your road test and practice with a supervising driver who has a license valid to drive the commercial motor vehicle you use for practice.
  • Schedule your road test using the Road Test Scheduling System; you must wait at least 14 days from being issued a CLP. If you do not pass the road test, you must pay $40.00 before you can schedule another road test.

The following CDL restrictions may affect CLP holders taking a Skills Test in a vehicle without full airbrakes and/or a manual transmission:

  • E—No Manual Transmission Equipped CMV
  • L—No Airbrake Equipped CMV
  • Z—No Full Airbrake Equipped CMV restrictions

If the vehicle used for your skills test has:

  • An automatic transmission, and CDL, and this is your first road test in a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), you will be given an E restriction.
  • No form of airbrakes and this is your first road test in a CMV, you will be given an L restriction.
  • Air over hydraulic brakes and this is your first road test in a CMV, you will be given a Z.

If you have a CDL with an L restriction and you test in a vehicle with air over hydraulic brakes, you will be upgraded from an L to a Z restriction.

New Jersey

CDL Requirements
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have a basic New Jersey driver license (Class D)
  • Have 20/40 vision in each eye (with or without glasses)
  • Be able to recognize the colors red, green, and amber
  • Be physically fit. Federal law requires commercial drivers to carry a medical examiner’s fitness statement at all times and renew it every two years.
Application Process

After preparing for the exam, you will  visit your local MVC Agency. You will be asked to:

  • Pass the 6-Point ID Verification
  • Present a Social Security card for an initial commercial permit
  • Pay $125 CDL permit fee (non-refundable)
  • Take the CDL knowledge test and the CDL road test, as required

Note: CDL applicants under 21 years old may only travel within New Jersey and may not receive HAZMAT or passenger endorsements.


The following do not need a CDL: 

  • Taxi drivers (carrying less than eight passengers) and ride-sharing van drivers
  • Firefighters
  • Operators of rescue or first-aid squad vehicles
  • Farmers hauling their own products and equipment within 150 miles of their farms
  • Non-civilian operators of military equipment
  • Operators of construction equipment not designed for operation on public roads
  • Operators of recreational vehicles, provided the vehicle is being operated only for personal use


The Connecticut road test includes pre-trip inspection, an off-road course, and a road test.

To obtain a Connecticut CDL, you must complete a written exam. The written exam is given on a walk-in basis at select DMV offices. To prepare ,  study the Connecticut Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Manual.

You will need to bring the following items with you to the DMV office on your testing day:

  • A CT driver’s license
  • A Social Security card or your most recent W-2 form.
  • A physical examination dated within the last 2 years, reported on by a physician on an Examination to Determine Physical Condition of Driver form or a Medical Examination Report (Form 649-F)
  • A completed Application for Commercial Driver’s License (Form CDL R-229a).
  • Printed confirmation of notice of self-certification with the DMV

About the author

Miranda Pennington

Miranda K. Pennington is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared on The Toast, The American Scholar, and the Ploughshares Writing Blog. She currently teaches creative nonfiction for Uptown Stories, a Morningside Heights nonprofit organization. She has an MFA from Columbia University, where she has also taught in the University Writing program and consulted in the Writing Center.