Getting Your First CDL
Get a CLP
All of the following must be true for you to be eligible for a commercial learner's permit (CLP):
- You are a permanent resident of South Carolina.
- You are 18 or older.
- You have a valid, unexpired SC driver's license.
An out-of-state CLP is not transferable to SC. In order to change your out-of-state CLP to one issued by this state, you must pass the general knowledge test and any other applicable tests before being issued an SC CLP. You must hold your new CLP for at least 14 calendar days before you may test for your commercial driver's license.
Applying for a CLP
To apply for a CLP, you must do all of the following:
- Complete the Application for a Commercial Learner's Permit and Commercial Driver's License (SCDMV Form 447-CDL)
- Bring all of the correct identity documents. Reference the US Citizen's Checklist (SCDMV Form MV-93)
- Bring your medical certificate, if applicable
- Pass all required knowledge tests for the class of vehicle you plan to drive
- Pay the $15 application fee, $2 for each knowledge test, and $2.50 for the CLP which will have a one-year expiration date.
If you decide at a later date to add an endorsement, you will be required to retake and pass all applicable knowledge tests.
You're eligible to take the skills test if you've held your CLP for at least 14 days. You are not required to take the skills test until you are prepared to pass the vehicle inspection, off-road, and on-road driving for a commercial driver's license (CDL). Study the Commercial Driver License Manual.
To renew a CLP, you must retake and pass all applicable knowledge tests.
The endorsements on a CLP are limited to the following:
- N - Tanker Vehicle
- P - Passenger Vehicle
- S - School Bus
The restrictions that are unique to a CLP are all of the following:
- P - No passengers in a CMV bus
- X - No cargo in a CMV tank vehicle
If you received your commercial learner's permit after February 7, 2022, you will need to complete an FMCSA approved ELDT training program to be eligible to take the CDL skills test.
To get a CDL for the first time in South Carolina, all of the following must be true:
- You are at least 18 to drive within SC.
- You are at least 21 to drive outside SC.
You passed all required knowledge tests for a CDL or CLP in the class vehicle you intend to drive.
There is a $2 fee for each knowledge test taken.
- You held your CLP for at least 14 days before testing.
- You passed the road test, which includes the pre-trip inspection, off-road, and on-road driving.
You must meet these additional requirements to get your first CDL.