Will I be fingerprinted when applying for a hazmat endorsement?

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Fingerprinting and a background check are standard procedures for every CDL driver who wishes to add a HAZMAT endorsement to his or her commercial license.

The requirements for most CDL endorsements are fairly straightforward, but a HAZMAT endorsement falls into its own category. Because transporting any kind of hazardous material brings special risk to national security, there are extra requirements for adding this endorsement to your license. Having your fingerprint on file and undergoing a criminal check fall into that category.

Do I Need a Hazardous Materials Endorsement?

Hazardous materials include poisons, explosives, radioactive materials, and other items that could pose a danger to public safety if you were to be involved in an auto accident.

You can drive a vehicle containing hazardous materials if it does not legally require placards. If display placards are maintained, however, you must have a HAZMAT endorsement in order to drive the vehicle. A tank endorsement is also necessary if you are hauling the materials in a cargo tank on a truck larger than 26,000 pounds Gross Vehicle Weight Rating.

You can learn more about the regulations for determining if a vehicle requires placards by reviewing the HAZMAT section of your state's commercial driver manual.

Applying for a HAZMAT Endorsement

  1. Get a valid license for the CDL class of vehicle you wish to drive. You can't get an endorsement without a valid CDL. If you already have a CDL, take a look at your driving record. During your HAZMAT application process isn't a great time for any surprises to pop up.
  2. Take a test demonstrating that you understand how to safely transport hazardous materials and how to contain the threat in the event of a spill or leakage. You can find the information needed for this test, as well as CDL practice test questions, in your state's commercial driver manual.
  3. Get a background check. The USA Patriot act requires a criminal check and fingerprinting for all drivers who wish to obtain a HAZMAT endorsement. The background check looks for certain felony level crimes such as arson, espionage, terrorism, or distribution of explosives. Misdemeanor drug charges will not cause you to fail the background check.

Renewing Your HAZMAT Endorsement

When it's time to renew your hazardous materials endorsement for your commercial license, you'll need to submit to a new background check. Fees for this service vary; contact your state DMV office for details.

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