Iowa CDL Requirements

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Iowa CDL Requirements

Before you are eligible to apply for a CDL in Iowa, you must obtain a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP). The permit will be issued after you pass the applicable knowledge tests and must be held for at least 14 days before you can begin the skills testing to obtain your CDL.

To qualify for a CLP, you must pass the required knowledge tests, which cover the following subject matter:

  • General knowledge for any CDL
  • Combination vehicle for Class A
  • Air brakes
  • Passengers
  • School buses
  • Doubles/Triples
  • Hazmat
  • Tanks
  • Iowa operator (if applicable)

During the period in which you hold your CLP, you are allowed to drive the type and class of commercial vehicle for which you are training to be licensed, while accompanied by another driver who has a valid CDL for the same type of commercial vehicle. You are not allowed to drive a commercial vehicle by yourself, use a cell phone while driving a commercial vehicle, carry passengers while operating a commercial vehicle, drive a commercial vehicle containing hazmat or a tank vehicle that previously carried hazmat and has not been purged of residue, or drive a tank vehicle containing cargo.

According to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations, current CDL holders who wish to upgrade their existing license to include an endorsement or remove a restriction must also apply for a CLP and pass the required skills and knowledge tests for the desired endorsement or restriction they want to remove.

After you’ve held your CLP for at least 14 days, you are eligible to take the skills and driving tests for your CDL. The skills test has three phases:

  1. Pre-trip vehicle inspection test: required to demonstrate that the vehicle is safe to drive. The license examiner will walk around your vehicle with you as you point to and name each item that requires inspection and explain why.
  2. Skills test: this test will require you to demonstrate your ability to maneuver around cones and back your vehicle.
  3. Driving test: you will drive on public roads accompanied by an examiner to demonstrate your skills and knowledge.

Before you can complete the Iowa CDL tests, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Provide proof of full name, date of birth, and Social Security number
  • Provide proof of citizenship, lawful permanent residency, or an employment authorization document (EAD) or I-94 document
  • Provide proof of Iowa residency (a current Iowa driver license is acceptable)
  • Pass a vision test
  • Have a clear driving record in all other states, showing that you are eligible for commercial licensing in any state
  • Provide certification on how you will use the commercial vehicle (this may require you to obtain a medical certificate)
  • Must be between 18 and 72 years old and have a current Iowa driver’s license
  • Pass a medical exam and maintain a medical certificate to ensure physical ability to operate a commercial vehicle. The medical exam must be completed by one of the following: licensed U.S. doctor of medicine (M.D.), doctor of osteopathy (D.O.), licensed physician assistant (P.A.), advanced practice registered nurse, or chiropractor.

For drivers seeking a hazmat endorsement, a federal background check and federal fingerprint check will also be required.