When Do You Need a CDL for Towing a Trailer?


While requirements for obtaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL) license may vary slightly from state to state, the federal regulations are universal covering interstate transportation of cargo. This includes cargo that originates or terminates out of state even if you pick up and or deliver it in your state. Here are a few of the basic CDL license requirements for towing a trailer, as well as those specific to the state of Texas.

The vehicle you are driving as well as applicable federal and state laws (which may have have more stringent requirements) will determine the requirement for a CDL. There are three types of Commercial Motor Vehicles under state law requiring a driver to have a CDL.

Commercial Motor Vehicles Requiring a CDL

Class A

A Class A CDL license is required for any vehicle with a semi-trailer or trailer with two or more axles, including any combination of vehicles with a gross vehicle rating greater than 26,000 lbs. providing that the gross vehicle weight rating of the towed vehicle is greater than 10,000 lbs.

Class B

A Class B CDL license is required for any heavy straight vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 26,000 lbs. as well as any towing vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating less than 10,000 lbs.

Class C

A Class C CDL license is required for any vehicle designed to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) or that is used to transport hazardous materials.

Basic CDL License Requirements

Common requirements for CDL licenses include the following:

  • Age Requirements
  • Documentation, including proof of citizenship
  • Medical and physical standards
  • Language requirements
  • Written and knowledge tests
  • Skill and road test

Texas CDL License Requirements

According to Texas CDL license requirements, applicants must be at least 18 years of age, have a valid Texas driver’s license, pass a vision exam and obtain a medical certificate. The transportation of materials across state lines is governed by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). To drive a truck with double/triple trailers, additional endorsements may be needed. Endorsements may be needed to transport hazardous materials as well.


A CDL is not required under federal law for a vehicle or combination of vehicles with a GVWR or GCVWR of 10,001 lbs to 26,001 lbs., being driven interstate or intrastate. State laws, however, may have more stringent legal requirements and may require one. In some cases, the FMCSA does allow states to grant a farm exemption so long as the driver stays within 150 miles of home. Be sure to know the CDL laws of your state and for each state in which you drive. For more information about CDL requirements, don’t hesitate to contact us here at Gooseneck Trailers with the link below!

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