What Are The Different CDL Endorsements?

CDL endorsements are additional skills commercial drivers can apply for when going to the DMV to get your commercial driver’s license.

These endorsements give special permissions to drivers who drive certain types of vehicles not covered under a regular Class A license.

There are many endorsements you can choose to add to your license. These range from multiple trailers to carrying passengers.

Although endorsements vary based on your states and their laws, you can find a few of these endorsements down below.

Double and Triple Trailer Endorsement


Double Trailers
Truck pulling Double Trailers

Typically, the traditional limits you to a single trailer vehicle. Once you pass a test in driving vehicles with multiple trailers, you gain the option to get a double and triple trailer endorsement.

With a double and triple trailer endorsement on your driver’s license you’re legally capable of driving with multiple trailers.

This opens you up for numerous trucking jobs located in your area, or state.

The double and triple trailer CDL endorsement requires commercial drivers to pass an additional knowledge exam.

The exam includes some of the following questions:

  • How to assemble and hook up units
  • Where to properly place the heaviest trailer
  • Handling and stability
  • Taking longer to pass other vehicles
  • The possibility of blocking entry ways and interrupting other motor vehicles on freeways
  • Moving slower on steep grades
  • Aerodynamic buffeting
  • Unintentional view blockages
  • Lateral placement.

Passengers Endorsement

Passenger Bus

A common flaw for the commercial driver’s license is that it doesn’t allow drivers to transport more than select number of passengers.

Getting a passenger endorsement added to your commercial driver’s license can legally expand the number of passengers you’re allowed to have.

This opens a bus load of job opportunities involving livery vehicles, motor coaches and public service motor vehicles. When applying for the passenger endorsement, you must completely pass the knowledge and skills test requirements.

In order to pass the knowledge portion of the CDL passenger endorsement test, the driver must be knowledgeable when it comes to;

  • How to properly load and unload passengers
  • How to use emergency exits, including push-out windows
  • Responses to emergency situations such as fires, or unruly passengers.
  • Procedures involving railroad crossings and drawbridges
  • Proper braking procedures

Once you’ve officially added the passenger endorsement to your commercial driver’s license, you’ll be legally allowed to transport more than just the standard number of passengers.

Tanker Vehicle Endorsement

If you want to drive more than just dry goods, you’re going to need to apply for a tanker endorsement.

While this endorsement involves more training, like how to load your vehicle or ensure that the load is safe. You’ll also need to know how to handle leaks if they were to take place while on the road.

You’ll need this endorsement if you’re planning on hauling things like liquids.

If you’re specifically looking for this kind of endorsement, there are a few things to consider when going in for your Tanker endorsement exam;

  • How do bulkheads differ from baffles?
  • What is an outage?
  • What are the ways that surge can be controlled?
  • Why is special care necessary when driving tank vehicles?

Hazardous Materials Endorsement

Photo by MySafetySign.com

Depending on where you live, the HAZMAT endorsement comes accompanied by a ton of job opportunities.

Unfortunately, obtaining the HAZMAT endorsement is a lot harder applying for a passenger endorsement.

This is because the USA PATRIOT Act restricts states from issuing a CDL license unless a driver has been cleared as a non-safety risk.

If you’re looking to obtain the HAZMAT endorsement, you need to be fully of passing the TSA Hazardous Material Endorsement Threat Assessment Program.

In order to receive this kind of endorsement, you must meet all the requirements listed below;

  • HAZMAT knowledge test
  • Federal Security Threat Assessment
  • Pass Background check through multiple databases
  • Proof of U.S Citizenship or appropriate immigration status
  • FBI fingerprint check
  • Federal Criminal History Background check with additional fees

Interstate CDL Endorsement

When you’re applying for a commercial driver’s license, you’re going to determine that there are two different types: Intrastate and interstate.

Depending on the state you live in, interstate driving can be added to any class of driver’s license. The interstate endorsement allows for you to legally carry loads across state lines.

No matter what state you live in, if you’re looking to get this kind of endorsement, you must be 21 years or older.

The number of endorsements a state provides varies depending on where you live.

Consider reaching out to your local DMV in order to determine what’s available in your area and how those endorsements can be applied to your driver’s license.

Applying any of these endorsements to your license could dramatically change the future of your trucking career.

CDL Endorsements Overview

Now that you have a general idea of what Endorsements are available to add to your CDL, which do you feel best suits you?

From personal experience, several companies want you to have your tanker endorsement so that you can haul liquids. Consider taking a few practice tests online, they’re pretty easy.

Getting your hazmat endorsement will open up a whole new opportunity for pay. Hazmat loads generally pay quite a bit more than regular dry freight.

If you’re a people person, consider getting your passenger endorsement as well. This will allow you to pursue a different path with your CDL. If you want to drive a school bus or a chartered bus for example, this is the endorsement you need.

Double and Triples are often used by logistics companies to transport packages. You’ll see often that carriers like UPS and FedEx are pulling these types of trailers.

When you look on the back of your commercial drivers license, you’ll see letters that represent the various CDL endorsements you have.

They look something like this:

  • (P) Passenger Transport Endorsement.
  • (S) School Bus/Passenger Transport Combo Endorsement.
  • (T) Double/Triples Endorsement.
  • (N) Tank Vehicle Endorsement (Tanker)
  • (H) Hazardous Materials Endorsement (HAZMAT)
  • (X) Tanker/HAZMAT Combo Endorsement.

If you’re just now looking into getting your CDL and exploring your options. I recommend you check out this article that describes what to expect your first year of driving. This will give you a good general idea for your first year.


Former Driver, Maintenance Coordinator, lover of all things technical. Eli writes for USA Breakdown covering multiple topics and breaking news in the trucking industry.

5 thoughts on “What Are The Different CDL Endorsements?”

  1. Thank for your detailed explanation of the different endorsement, I will refer this article to our clients when they ask about endorsements.
    Excellent resource!

    • Hi Robert,

      When you see a M on a CDL it’s a restriction that means the driver has a Class A CDL but obtained their passenger endorsement it in a Class B vehicle. This essentially means the driver can only drive a Class B or C passenger vehicle / school bus.

      You can read more about CDL Endorsements / Restrictions over on the FMSCA website.


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