Thinking of buying, or just purchased, a school bus?
Now what?

Do I need a CDL?

The simplest answer for most Skoolies is "No, you do not need a CDL."

It's best to knock out the first myths:
 

  • A bus is a commercial vehicle.

  • I need an "Air-brake Endorsement." 


The term "commercial vehicle" is not a vehicle classification recognized by either the federal government or any state legislature. 

A Commercial Driver's License (referred to from here on as CDL) is a license to drive commercially. It is not a license to drive a "commercial vehicle." The entirety of the CDL regulations are based solely on nature of your trip, and only if that trip is commercial in purpose do the regulations apply. If the trip is not commercial in purpose, CDL Regulations do not apply.

Once the nature of your travel is established as non-commercial, then all vehicles are governed by weight and trailer classifications. A "Class B" CDL allows vehicles in excess of 26001lbs to be driven. A "Class A" adds a trailer in excess of 10000lbs (Semi). Only in this instance are buses treated differently.

If you drive a bus commercially, you need a "P" (passenger) endorsement. If it's a school bus you need "P" and "S" (School Bus), but if you are driving ANY of the above vehicles for purely private, recreational, or domestic reasons, none of that applies.

Since we have ruled out your need for a CDL you have to look at what your state driver's license rules allows.

Most states, when you pass your driving test, issue you a "Class D" driving license. Generally this covers cars and light trucks. Any passenger vehicle up to around 15 seats is covered for private driving, over that there may be more rules.

Many states make no reference to "heavy vehicles" in their state regulations, so drivers are good to go on their regular license. Some states have passed laws covering the private use of heavy vehicles. They did this by adding required Classes to their state driving licenses, and those laws tend to follow the CDL classification system.

Air brake endorsements do not exist in any state, but in Pennsylvania you are required to pass the same test a Non-Commercial Class B driver would have to pass, for ANY vehicle with air-brakes, regardless of weight. They do exist in some Canadian provinces.

Reciprocity:

A US Driver's License, properly issued, is valid in all 50 states and in the whole of Canada. If you are legal in your state, you are legal everywhere and that includes the provinces in Canada that require their own provincial license holders to pass an air-brake test. You do not.

My state requires school buses to be titled as motorhomes/rvs, now what?
 

State Licensing Requirements For RVs:
 

Here are the license requirements for each state with your RV or Skoolie, once converted.
 

License Requirements by 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 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 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 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 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 Mexico 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 over 26,000 pounds.
     

  • 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 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 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 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 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.

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