Information about obtaining a CDL

Applying for a Standard CDL
Applying for an Enhanced CDL
Your Enhanced CDL and Hazardous Materials Endorsement

Commercial driver's license
A commercial driver's license is needed if you are operating a vehicle:

  • With a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more
  • Towing a trailer or other vehicles with a GVWR of 10,001 pounds or more with a gross combination weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more
  • Designed to transport 16 or more people (including the driver)
  • Carrying hazardous materials in amounts requiring placarding

Drivers between the ages of 18 and 21 who are a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident can operate a commercial vehicle only in Michigan. You must be at least 21 to operate a commercial vehicle across state lines or to transport hazardous materials in amounts requiring placarding.

The Department of State offers the commercial driver license in a standard and enhanced version. The enhanced CDL is an attractive alternative to the standard CDL because it allows you to re-enter the U.S. by land or sea from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda or the Caribbean without the need to show additional identity or citizenship documents at the border.

Applying for a Standard CDL

When ready to apply for your first CDL or commercial learner's permit (CLP):

1.  Visit a Secretary of State office and present: 
      a.  Proof of a valid Social Security number 
      b.  Proof of Legal Presence in the United States
      c.  If adding a hazmat endorsement present:
            I.  The Transportation Security Administration
                 background and fingerprint check approval
            II.  Proof of U.S. Citizenship or Lawful Permanent Residence

2.  Meet the driving record eligibility requirements

3.  Meet the medical and driver requirements

4.  Pass the appropriate vision and written tests

5.  Schedule the CDL driving skills test with a driving skills testing organization

6.  Pass the required CDL driving skills tests

7.  Return to a branch office and pay the CDL licensing fees

Applying for an Enhanced CDL* 

You may apply for an enhanced CDL at any time. If you are upgrading your standard CDL to an enhanced version, then your group designations and endorsements will be renewed with your enhanced CDL.

*Assumes you have successfully met all criteria to be issued a Commercial Driver License.


  1. You must be a U.S. citizen and a Michigan resident
  2. You must have no violations, suspensions, revocations or denials on your driving record that would prevent you from legally operating a commercial motor vehicle

Please note:  When applying for an enhanced driver's license, your first and last name and date of birth on your identity and citizenship documents should match. If your current legal name is different from what is shown on your citizenship document, you must present lawful proof of the name change, such as an original marriage license, divorce decree or court order..

To apply:

  1. Visit any Secretary of State office. Make sure you bring documentation of:
    1. A valid Social Security number (for example, a Social Security card)
    2. U.S. citizenship (for example, a certified copy of your birth certificate with a raised seal, must be issued by a governmental unit in the U.S. or U.S. territory)
    3. Identity (for example, a current Michigan photo license or ID card)
    4. Residency (for example, a current Michigan photo license or ID card)
  2. Please refer to the Documents Required for an Enhanced License or ID form for a complete list of acceptable documentation.
  3. Have a new photograph taken
  4. Pay the enhanced license fee

Once you complete the CDL application process, you will be issued a Temporary Operator's Permit to drive. The operator's permit for an enhanced license does not qualify as a secure document for border-crossing purposes. Your CDL is valid for up to four years and should arrive in the mail within two to three weeks. 

All documentation is subject to Department of State approval. In some cases, document approval may not occur in the same day and may require an additional visit.

Your Enhanced CDL and Hazardous Materials Endorsement

You must present valid, unexpired proof of U.S. Citizenship.

Your Transportation Security Administration fingerprint and background record check must be current when you apply for your enhanced CDL. If your TSA approval will expire before your enhanced CDL does, you must apply for a new background check before requesting an enhanced CDL.

Please note that the TSA fingerprint and background check takes 30-60 days to process. Complete the background check at least 60 days before applying for your enhanced CDL to allow enough time to meet all requirements.

Related Documents & Topics (CDL): 

Related Documents & Topics (EDL & Travel Requirements)