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  HAZMAT Frequently Asked Questions
HAZMAT Frequently Asked Questions

HAZMAT Frequently Asked Questions


How has the federal USA PATRIOT Act affected holders of a Commercial Driver License (CDL) with a Hazardous Materials Endorsement (HME)?

 As of January 31, 2005, the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV) implemented provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act (Public Law 107-56 enacted by Congress on October 25, 2001) that apply to commercial drivers transporting Hazardous Materials.

The primary impact to CDL drivers is the need for a background records check before a hazardous materials endorsement (HME) can be issued or renewed. Drivers must submit fingerprints and a background records check application to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) who will approve or disapprove the driver for a HME.

  • As of January 31, 2005, a person with a CDL beginner permit may not obtain a hazardous material endorsement, based on Part 383.23 (c) (3) of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.
  • As of January 31, 2005 the SC Department of Motor Vehicles will not issue a first time SC HME to a CDL holder unless the driver submits fingerprints and obtains a TSA security clearance. As of May 31, 2005 the SC Department of Motor Vehicles will not renew any CDL HME unless the driver submits fingerprints and obtains a TSA security clearance.

Depending on the CDL’s expiration date, applicants must understand that they may have to surrender their current hazardous materials endorsement during the security threat assessment period until SCDMV has received the approval from TSA.

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What is a security threat assessment?

The security threat assessment of HME holders is a name-based FBI criminal history records check and a check of federal databases (occurring internally by associated federal agencies).

As of January 31, 2005, the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV) implemented provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act (Public Law 107-56 enacted by Congress on October 25, 2001) that apply to commercial drivers transporting Hazardous Materials.

The primary impact to CDL drivers is the need for a background records check before a hazardous materials endorsement (HME) can be issued or renewed. Drivers must submit fingerprints and a background records check application to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) who will approve or disapprove the driver for a HME.

  • As of January 31, 2005, a person with a CDL beginner permit may not  obtain a hazardous material endorsement, based on Part 383.23 (c) (3) of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.
  • As of January 31, 2005 the SC Department of Motor Vehicles will not issue a first time SC HME to a CDL holder unless the driver submits fingerprints and obtains a TSA security clearance. As of May 31, 2005 the SC Department of Motor Vehicles will not renew any CDL HME unless the driver submits fingerprints and obtains a TSA security clearance or waiver.

Applicants must understand that they may have to surrender their current hazardous materials endorsement during the security threat assessment period until SCDMV has received the approval from TSA.

Other checks will include citizenship status and international and federal databases for persons who:

  • have been convicted of certain felonies;
  • are not U.S. citizens or are not lawful permanent residents;
  • have been adjudicated as mentally incompetent or involuntarily committed to a mental institution; or,
  • who present a threat of terrorism or a threat to national transportation security.

Drivers who are found to be ineligible cannot have an HME on their CDL.  

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Why did the Transportation Security Administration TSA establish these requirements?

The TSA established security measures to help protect the national transportation system by adding more safeguards for those who transport the most dangerous commercial products. These measures help the TSA fulfill its obligation under the USA PATRIOT Act by ensuring the secure transportation of a range of products-from chlorine to gasoline.

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Who is affected by the Transportation Security Administration TSA requirements?

Only commercial drivers transporting hazardous materials are required to undergo a background record check. These requirements do not apply to drivers or applicants for a CDL that do not apply for a hazardous materials endorsement (HME).

  • As of January 31, 2005 the SC Department of Motor Vehicles will not issue a first time SC HME to a CDL holder unless the driver submits fingerprints and obtains a TSA security clearanceAs of May 31, 2005 the SC Department of Motor Vehicles will not renew any CDL HME unless the driver submits fingerprints and obtains a TSA security clearance.

Depending on the CDL’s expiration date, Applicants must understand that they may have to surrender their current hazardous materials endorsement during the security threat assessment period until SCDMV has received the approval from TSA.

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What are the circumstances that make a driver ineligible for a hazardous materials endorsement HME?

A driver will be disqualified from holding a hazmat endorsement on a CDL if he or she was convicted or found not guilty by reason of insanity within the previous seven years or was released from prison in the last five years for any of the following crimes:

  • Assault with intent to murder
  • Kidnapping or hostage taking
  • Rape or aggravated sexual abuse
  • Unlawful possession, use, sale, manufacture, purchase, distribution, receipt, transfer, shipping, transporting, delivery, import, export of, or dealing in a firearm or other weapon
  • Extortion
  • Dishonesty, fraud, or misrepresentation, including identity fraud
  • Bribery
  • Smuggling
  • Immigration violations
  • Violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. 1961, et seq., or a State law that is comparable, other than the violations listed in paragraph (j) of Part B: Permanently Disqualifying Criminal Offenses
  • Robbery
  • Distribution of, intent to distribute, or importation of a controlled substance
  • Arson
  • Conspiracy or attempt to commit the any of these crimes

A driver will be permanently disqualified from holding a hazmat endorsement on a CDL if he or she was convicted or found not guilty by reason of insanity for any of the following crimes:

  • Espionage
  • Sedition
  • Treason
  • A crime listed in 18 U.S.C. Chapter 113B—Terrorism, or a State law that is comparable
  • A crime involving a transportation security incident
  • Improper transportation of a hazardous material under 49 U.S.C. 5124 or a State law that is comparable
  • Unlawful possession, use, sale, distribution, manufacture, purchase, receipt, transfer, shipping, transporting, import, export, storage of, or dealing in an explosive or explosive device
  • Murder
  • Conspiracy or attempt to commit any of these crimes
  • Violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. 1961, et seq., or a State law that is comparable, where one of the predicate acts found by a jury or admitted by the defendant, consists of one of the offenses listed in paragraphs (d) or (h) of this section

A driver will be disqualified from holding a hazmat endorsement on a CDL if he or she is wanted or under indictment in any civilian or military jurisdiction for a felony listed above until the want or warrant is released.

Convicted means any plea of guilty or nolo contendere or any finding of guilt.

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Where can I get additional information about commercial driving and transporting hazardous materials?

Additional information may be found at South Carolina CDL Information or by calling transportation Security Administration (TSA) at (866) 209-9673.

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How will I be notified of the results of my security threat assessment?

TSA will notify both SCDMV and the applicant of the security threat assessment results. If approved, the applicant can then visit any SCDMV office to obtain a CDL with a HME. 

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Will a driver or applicant be informed why they are ineligible for a hazardous materials endorsement (HME)?

If the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) determines that the background records check information is sensitive or may compromise national security, the information cannot be released. However, if the information is not sensitive, TSA will release the information to the driver.

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Will employers be informed that a driver is not eligible to transport hazardous materials?

No. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) determines the driver's eligibility for a hazardous materials endorsement (HME) and then notifies SCDMV and the applicant whether the driver may or may not be issued an HME.

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How is the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) assessing the risk to security of CDL hazardous materials endorsement (HME) holders?

The TSA will use records in the national commercial driver license information system to identify all HME drivers. TSA will check for a criminal record on these drivers and any records that are found are reviewed against a list of serious crimes detailed on the TSA application. When the criminal record check shows that a CDL HME holder has committed a serious crime, the driver and state licensing authorities are notified that the driver must surrender the HAZMAT endorsement. TSA may also conduct background checks on current HME holders through other means.

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Are all holders of a Commercial Driver License (CDL) required to get a background records check?

SCDMV only requires CDL holders applying for an original or renewal with a hazardous materials endorsement to have a background records check and be fingerprinted.

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 How do I get or renew a hazardous materials endorsement (HME)?

  • Applicants for a first time or renewal CDL and HME are required to complete a background records check and fingerprinting.   See DMV’s information sheet for details DL-400 (IS)

  • Effective December 27, 2013, HME applicants may apply online at http://hazprints.tsa.dhs.gov, or contact a customer service agent, who can complete the application over the telephone, between 7am-9pm Eastern Monday-Friday at (877) 429-7746.

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Who reviews and approves the background records check?

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has the responsibility for receiving, screening and approving or rejecting each background records check. SCDMV does not conduct any background checks, approvals or denials.

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If I don’t renew or transfer my CDL HME, could I still be subject to a background check?

Yes. Current HME holders may be reviewed by TSA in order to determine whether or not the driver can retain their HME or if it should be cancelled.

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What other governmental entities are involved?

TSA is coordinating efforts at the national level with the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. SCDMV is working with TSA and their contracted agency and the regional office of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

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How long will it take to complete the process, start to finish?

Current hazardous materials endorsement (HME) holders will be notified  60 to 90 days prior to the expiration of their CDL. HME holders must allow at least 60 days to make application  and complete the background records check.

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How much will the background records check and fingerprinting cost?

The background records check fingerprint fees will total $86.50This cost does not include regular application, license and knowledge test fees.

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Who pays for the cost of the background records check and fingerprinting?

The driver is responsible for paying all fees. Employers may choose to pay these costs for the driver.

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What if I refuse to submit to the background records check or fingerprinting?

If you refuse or fail to complete the background record check, you are ineligible for a hazardous materials endorsement (HME). You will be prohibited from transporting hazardous materials until the background records check is approved and the HME is added to your CDL.

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Can I get a waiver or exemption from fingerprinting and the background records check?

No. Anyone required to have a CDL to transport hazardous materials will be required to be fingerprinted and complete a background records check in order to be issued a hazardous materials endorsement.

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If I am denied a hazardous materials endorsement (HME) as a result of the background record check, can I appeal?

Yes, a driver may appeal to TSA a decision that makes the driver ineligible for an HME. TSA will send a letter to you and provide details of the potentially disqualifying factor. You have 60 days to respond to TSA’s letter. SCDMV is not part of the appeal process and cannot answer questions regarding unfavorable results.

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HAZMAT Frequently Asked Questions

Related Sites
US DOT Office of Hazardous Material Safety
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