Have you ever seen someone driving a massive RV and wondered, does that person need a special license to drive that?
I know I have. This is a common question and the answer can be different depending on what state you reside in.
Here’s ALL you need to know about what driving licenses you need for each RV type.
Let’s dive in!
State Licensing Requirements For RVs
Here is a detailed chart explaining what the requirements are for each state.
|Alabama||No special license required.|
|Alaska||No special license required.|
|Arizona||No special license required.|
|Arkansas||Drivers need a CDL for vehicles that weigh more than 26,000 pounds.|
|California||Drivers need a Class B license for vehicles that weigh more than 26,000 pounds or have a length of over 40 feet. Drivers need a Class A license to tow anything more than 10,000 pounds.|
|Colorado||No special license required.|
|Connecticut||Drivers need a Class B CDL to drive single vehicles that weigh more than 26,000 pounds. Drivers also need a Class A CDL for vehicles with a combined weight of over 26,000 pounds.|
|Delaware||No special license required.|
|Florida||No special license required.|
|Georgia||No special license required.|
|Hawaii||Drivers need a Class B CDL to drive single vehicles that weigh more than 26,000 pounds. Drivers also need a Class A CDL for vehicles with a combined weight of over 26,000 pounds.|
|Idaho||No special license required.|
|Illinois||No special license required.|
|Indiana||No special license required.|
|Iowa||No special license required.|
|Kansas||Drivers need a Class B CDL to drive single vehicles that weigh more than 26,000 pounds. Drivers also need a Class A CDL for vehicles with a combined weight of over 26,000 pounds.|
|Kentucky||No special license required.|
|Louisiana||No special license required.|
|Maine||No special license required.|
|Maryland||Drivers need a Class B license for vehicles that weigh more than 26,000 pounds.|
|Massachusetts||No special license required.|
|Michigan||Drivers towing a fifth wheel plus a trailer at the same time need to get a special recreational double R endorsement.|
|Minnesota||No special license required.|
|Mississippi||No special license required.|
|Missouri||No special license required.|
|Montana||No special license required.|
|Nebraska||No special license required.|
|Nevada||Drivers need a Class B license for single vehicles that weigh more than 26,000 pounds. Drivers need a Class A license for vehicles with a combined weight of over 26,000 pounds. Drivers towing a vehicle that is more than 10,000 pounds need to get a special J endorsement.|
|New Hampshire||No special license required.|
|New Jersey||No special license required.|
|New York||Drivers need an R endorsement for vehicles over 26,000 pounds.|
|North Carolina||Drivers need a Class B license for single vehicles that weigh more than 26,000 pounds. Drivers need a Class A license for vehicles with a combined weight of over 26,000 pounds.|
|North Dakota||No special license required.|
|Ohio||No special license required.|
|Oklahoma||No special license required.|
|Oregon||No special license required.|
|Pennsylvania||Drivers need a Class B license for single vehicles that weigh more than 26,000 pounds. Drivers need a Class A license for vehicles with a combined weight of over 26,000 pounds.|
|Rhode Island||No special license required.|
|South Carolina||Drivers need a Class E license for single vehicles over 26,000 pounds. Drivers need a Class F license for vehicles with a combined weight of over 26,000 pounds.|
|South Dakota||No special license required.|
|Tennessee||No special license required.|
|Texas||Drivers need a Class B license to drive a single vehicle over 26,000 pounds. Drivers need a Class A license to drive vehicles with a combined weight of over 26,000 pounds.|
|Utah||No special license required.|
|Vermont||No special license required.|
|Virginia||No special license required.|
|Washington||No special license required.|
|West Virginia||No special license required.|
|Wisconsin||Drivers need a CDL for vehicles longer than 45 feet.|
|Wyoming||Drivers need a Class B license to drive a single vehicle over 26,000 pounds or to tow anything less than 10,000 pounds. Drivers need a Class A license to drive vehicles with a combined weight of over 26,000 pounds or to tow anything over 10,000 pounds.|
At this point, you’re probably wondering what all of this means.
First, let’s take a moment to clarify a few things.
- Any state where it says that no special license is required means just that.
For example, if you live in West Virginia, you can buy a giant class A RV and drive it with your regular driver’s license.
- When it says you need a special license to drive something with a combined weight, this just means your tow vehicle and the camper you’re pulling.
For example, if your tow vehicle is 10,000 pounds and your camper is 17,000 pounds and the combined weight limit is 26,000 pounds, you’ll need to get the special license.
(This is because 10,000 pounds plus 17,000 pounds is 27,000 pounds which is over the 26,000-pound limit.)
Types of Driver’s Licenses
There are different types of licenses that you might need to have based on the state you live in and the size of your RV. Here are what each one is and the basics for getting them.
Again, it could vary based on the state you live in.
1) The CDL Drivers license
The term CDL stands for commercial driver’s license. This is usually something that a professional trucker or bus driver would need but some states require people with large RVs to get them as well.
The nice thing about this type of license is that if you’re a professional driver, you probably already have it. Also, if you get it to operate your RV, you could then go into a career in trucking in some states.
How to Get a CDL
For starters, you’ll need to be over the age of 21 to get a true CDL. Some states will allow those who are under age 21 but over age 18 to get a CDL but this CDL will only be valid for their state. This could be useful for an 18-year-old RVer looking to camp in a large RV in their home state but it wouldn’t be useful if this same person wanted to explore the country in a large RV.
If you meet the age requirements you can take the written exam as well as the driving exam needed to get the CDL. Depending on your state, you may also have to spend a certain amount of time taking classes before you’re allowed to take either of these tests. Check with your local DMV for state-specific details on obtaining a CDL in your home state.
Once you have a CDL, you can get different endorsements which allow you to transport different types of materials. These endorsements are letter endorsements that will appear on your license. Here are the different endorsements you can apply for according to driving-tests.org.
Passenger (P) – The passenger endorsement allows you to carry passengers. This is an endorsement that a bus driver or a large van driver may need to get.
School Bus (S) – The school bus endorsement allows you to drive a school bus.
Tank (T) – The tank endorsement allows you to drive trucks with liquid cargo. This doesn’t allow you to drive trucks with flammable liquids as you’ll need a hazardous materials endorsement to transport these types of liquids.
Hazardous Materials (H) – The hazardous materials endorsement allows you to transport hazardous materials like flammable liquids and explosives. This is sometimes called a hazmat endorsement.
You can also apply for different classes of CDLs which allow you to drive vehicles and tow trailers that exceed different weights and sizes.
What Class Motorhome Can I Drive?
- Class A Motorhomes
Class A license allows you to operate any combination of vehicles with a gross vehicle weight over 26,000 pounds. In this case, the tow vehicle will need to be heavier than 10,000 pounds.
Professionals might get this type of CDL if they want to drive a flatbed truck, a livestock carrier, a tank vehicle, a large truck with a trailer, or a tractor trailer. Sometimes a Class A license will satisfy the requirements of a Class B license so you won’t need to get both.
- Class B Motorhomes
A class B license allows you to operate a single vehicle with a weight of over 26,000 pounds as well as a tow vehicle that is less than 10,000 pounds.
A professional might get this so they can operate box trucks, dump trucks, passenger buses, segmented buses, and tractor trailers.
2) Non-Commercial Driver’s Licenses
Non-commercial driver’s licenses come in different classes. A standard driver’s license is a Class C license. Most people get this type of driver’s license so that they can drive their personal vehicles.
Class A and Class B licenses are usually needed to tow large RVs and to drive large motorhomes. The requirements will vary based on the state you’re trying to get the license in but typically you only have to be 18 to get this type of license.
In most cases, you’ll also need to pass a written test as well as a driving test and you may need to pay a fee as well.
If you already have a commercial driver’s license, you may not have to worry about getting a non-commercial driver’s license as you may have already met the requirements with your CDL. However, a non-commercial driver’s license cannot be a substitute for companies that require you to have a CDL.
This may be worth looking into as you may be better off just getting a CDL in your state rather than just the non-commercial driver’s license. After all, why bother getting a non-commercial driver’s license when you may be able to get a CDL for the same amount of effort?
Endorsements for Non-Commercial Driver’s Licenses
Different states have different types of endorsements that you can get to drive specific types of vehicles. For example, Nevada requires you to get a special J endorsement to tow a camper weighing more than 10,000 pounds while Pennsylvania doesn’t even have this type of endorsement.
Getting an endorsement usually entails taking some tests and paying some fees. Study guides are usually available from the DMV and you can often print them off online.
How Do I Know If I Need a Special License?
Start off by taking a look at the chart at the start of this post.
If your state doesn’t have any special requirements then you don’t need to do anything.
Just keep in mind that the information provided on this page is not legal advice and you’re responsible for knowing whether or not you need a license.
If you’re in doubt, go ahead and call your local DMV.
Also, just because you don’t need a license, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend time getting to know and use your RV before heading out. It just means that nobody will be making sure you do.
When driving a large RV, my advice is to practice driving it on empty roads and in parking lots before you head out into unfamiliar territory.
Here are our 15 best tips on how to drive a big RV.
Taking this extra step may save your life as well as the lives of others on the road.
If your state does have requirements, they are usually by weight. Find out how much your RV weighs and you’ll know whether or not you fall into this category.
If you’re not sure what your RV weighs, check out our page titled, “Do Motorhomes Have to Stop at Weigh Stations“. At the bottom of that page, you’ll see detailed information on how to weigh your RV.
How to Make Things Easier
The best way to make this process easier is to avoid buying a large or heavy RV in the first place. Many campers now come in lightweight models and you can buy campers over 30 feet long without going over 5,000 or 6,000 pounds.
With a 6,000 pound camper, you’re unlikely to ever have to worry about going over the usual 10,000-pound trailer or 26,000 pound combined weight limits.
If you’re buying a motorhome, go with a smaller motorhome. Class B campers never weigh more than 26,000 pounds and class C campers rarely do either. Even many class A campers will weigh less than 26,000 pounds.
Buying a camper or motorhome that weighs less has side benefits as well. For example, you’ll probably have better gas mileage which will save you both time and money on your trips.
Failing this, you may want to move to a state that does not have extra licensing requirements. For some people, changing addresses is easy and something that they do regularly anyway. If you’re one of these people, move to a state that doesn’t require special licenses for driving RVs before you make your purchase.
Should States Require Special Licenses to Drive RVs?
This is more of a personal question but I think that most states are too lenient when it comes to RV licensing. In most states, an 80-year-old person can buy a 35 foot RV and drive it off of the lot without any experience at all.
This is dangerous as some of these trailers and motorhomes are difficult to tow and drive.
Ironically, many commercial van drivers need to get a special license just to transport everyday goods in the back of a large van.
In the future, I’m guessing that more and more states will continue to add additional licensing requirements for people who want to drive large motorhomes and tow large campers. For this reason, it might be a good idea to future-proof yourself by either purchasing a smaller RV or by getting a license anyway.
Getting the license in advance may cost you some time and money but it will give you additional training and confidence that you can take out on the road with you. Additionally, it may just open up some additional job opportunities along the way.
Do Americans Need a Special License to Drive an RV in Canada?
Americans do not need to get a special license to drive an RV in Canada. However, you will need to have your American driver’s license with you when driving in Canada. Even if you decide to get an International license, you’ll still need to keep your original on you.
Do Europeans Need a Special License to Drive an RV in The United States?
Europeans with a driver’s license from an English speaking country generally do not need any special licenses in the United States to drive an RV. However, if your license is not in English, you may need to get an International driver’s license to drive an RV or any other type of vehicle.
Many states do not have any special requirements or licenses for driving an RV. The states that do have special requirements usually only have them for people who are driving very large or heavy RVs.
While your state may not require you to get a special license now, they may choose to do so at any time in the future. This might not be a bad thing however, as it will make the roads safer for both you and anyone else who may be traveling on the road.
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Morten is the founder of GoDownsize. He has filmed and interviewed people living in tiny houses and RVs since 2011. He grew up on the coast where his dad took him boating from a young age. He has completely rebuilt two RVs in which he travels with his family for months at the time. Read more about Morten here.