How do I apply for a CDL endorsement in California? California

Obtaining a Commercial License Endorsement

A CDL endorsement is like a specialized license to drive a specific type of vehicle within a class. For example, if you have a California Class C commercial license and you wish to get a job as a school bus driver, then you will need to learn how to drive a school bus, pass exams regarding the traffic and safety laws related to driving a school bus, and get a “S” endorsement on your license.

You may either apply for an endorsement at the time you apply to become a CDL driver, or you may decide later to add an endorsement to your license.

All endorsements require a specific written CDL exam. Two require additional skills testing, where you’ll have to drive the vehicle. 

Available Endorsements

The following endorsement require a knowledge test only:

  • H: Vehicles transporting hazardous materials or wastes
  • X: Tank vehicles transporting hazardous materials or wastes
  • N: Tank vehicles (this includes cement trucks)
  • T: Double trailer combination

These endorsements require both a knowledge test and a skills test:

  • P: Passenger transport vehicles
  • S: School bus

(Generally, only the CDL class C gets a P or S endorsement.)

The written exams can be taken at any CA DMV. The skills testing must be taken at a commercial driving DMV center; check the Web site for a complete list.

Fees

There is a $34 fee to add an endorsement without a driving test, and another $30 for the driving skills or driving skills retest.

CDL Practice Test

Study the commercial drivers handbook and the endorsement section you want to pass. Then take a few CDL practice written tests to see how well you know your laws.

California has short practice exams in their CDL handbook, or you can purchase a longer test from a drivers ed Web site. These Web site tests are drawn from the same material as the official tests and, at a relatively low cost, can save you a great deal of time and effort later by giving you an idea of how you'll do on the real CDL test.

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