Do I Need A CDL For Private Use?

The CDL was created as a single type of license that can be used by heavy equipment and other qualifying vehicles for drivers to show their qualifications.

It is mostly used by commercial drivers of large and heavy vehicles. But do drivers of large personal vehicles like semis need it?

One of the questions that drives ask is whether they need a CDL for personal or private use.

There are several exceptions for personal use vehicles that are under certain categories.

These include vehicles such as farm equipment, military vehicles, and certain POVs.

Do I Need A CDL For Private Use?

Drivers Exempted From Getting CDL

There are certain situations when drivers aren’t required to have a CDL license.

These exceptions are issued because the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has established that they will not reduce the safe operations of heavy vehicles.

Here are the heavy vehicles that are exempted from getting a CDL. These are:

1)  Heavy vehicles operated by a farmer, or their family member or employee

Such vehicles are only supposed to be used to transport farm produce and supplies to and from the farm.

They should also be used within a radius of 150 mils for the far. The heavy vehicle should not be used for agricultural or nursery operations.

They should also not be used for a contract carrier.

However, the driver of the semi should be at least 21 years of age.

The vehicle they are driving should have a farm plate. View more requirement to obtain cdl here!

Such vehicles should also not be carrying farm produce to the market.

It’s also worth noting that the drivers are still supposed to take the right CDL road test before they are licensed.

2)  Operators of fire fighting equipment

Drivers of fire fighting equipment are often taken through an extensive program before they can be allowed to operate their equipment.

This makes the majority of states waive the requirement for a CDL.

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3)  Operators of military vehicles

Drivers of military vehicles are also not required to have a CDL.

Despite the efforts by different states to standardize the license requirement, this doesn’t apply to all states.

This exception also only applies to activities that are related to military or fire fighting operations.

For instance, a military driver who is qualified to drive a vehicle with a GVWR of over 26,000 lbs can’t jump into a civilian vehicle with a similar weight and drive it around.

4)  Operators of recreational vehicles

If you are using recreational vehicles for personal use, you are also not required to have a CDL.

This also applies only when the vehicle is being used for recreational use.

Both POV and farm drivers are supposed to get training for the kind of vehicle they drive.

Some of this training is almost similar to what drivers go through in order to get a CDL.

Drivers Who Must Get A CDL

The following drivers must obtain a CDL license. These are:

  • A driver of a combination vehicle that has a Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) of at least 26,001 pounds including where the GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) of the towed vehicle is over 10,000 pounds.
  • A single-vehicle that has a GVWR of over 26,001 pounds or  such vehicle towing a maximum of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any placarded vehicle that is carrying hazardous materials.

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Frequently Asked Queries!

Do I need a CDL to haul my own stuff?

You don’t need a CDL to haul your stuff. This is only necessary if you are making a commercial trip.

However, as we have already noted above, you may need certain special licenses depending on the weight and brake type of the vehicle.

At what weight do you need a CDL?

A CDL is required for a vehicle with a gross combined weight rating(GCWR) of 26,001 pounds as long as the GVWR of the vehicle that is being towed is more than 10,000 pounds. View our box truck vs cdl guide here!

How much weight can you pull before you need a CDL?

Do I Need A CDL For A Private Use Bus?Only vehicles with a GCWR of more than 26,001 require a CDL.

That means that you can pull a weight of 26,000 and below without requiring a C DL.

Do I need a CDL for a private use bus?

No. CDL is only required for commercial trips.

If you are driving the bus for personal use, you won’t need one.

Do I need a CDL license in Florida for private driving?

You will need a CDL to drive a combination vehicle with a minimum weight of 26,0001  or a vehicle that is designed to haul hazardous materials or to carry at least 16 passengers. Read about pricing in Florida!

Do I need a CDL for private use in Texas?

If you are driving a semi for personal use in Texas, you will not need a CDL.  However, like we already noted, the line that defines personal use is usually blurred.

Therefore, you should fully understand the law concerning the CDL exemption.

How heavy before you need a CDL?

You will need a CDL before you can drive a combination of a vehicle that has a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of at least 26,001 as long as the gross vehicle weight rating of the vehicle that is being towed is over 10,000. Read our cdl Vs 24 foot truck tips!

Do you need a special license to drive a bus for personal use?

If you are driving a school bus for personal use, you don’t need a CDL.

However, as we have already noted above, you may need special licenses depending on the weight, and the brake type of the bus.


If you are asking if you need a CDL for private, use, the answer is no.

However, like we have already noted the interpretation of what is private or not can be subjected to different meanings.

Therefore, it may be advisable to understand the federal and state laws before driving a heavy private vehicle without a CDL.