Driving a Class A or Class C motor home usually doesn’t require a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), but there are exceptions in some states. There are also some restrictions that require an “endorsement” on your standard driver’s license for certain RVs in several states. Before hitting the road in your RV, it’s a good idea to check the laws in your state. The good news is, you can drive any RV weighing less than 26,000 pounds with a standard driver’s license. Once your rig surpasses this weight limit or a specific length, matters get a bit more complicated. We’ve put together some general guidelines to get you started:
RVs Less than 26,000 Pounds
No special licensing or endorsements are needed. A valid driver’s license is all you need.
States Requiring a CDL License
If your recreational vehicle weights over 26,000 pounds, you will need a CDL license in the following states:
- New York
- South Carolina
- Washington, DC
The state of Indiana requires a CDL for RVs weighing over 45,000 pounds.
In Wisconsin, the CDL requirements are based on the vehicle’s length rather than weight. If your RV is longer than 45 feet, you will need a CDL license.
States Requiring a Non-Commercial Class B License
While you won’t need a CDL license in some states, you may need a Class B license. In California, you’ll need a Class B license for any RV longer than 40 feet. In Illinois, you’ll need a Class B license for any vehicle weighing over 16,000 pounds; this is a lower weight requirement than most states, so be sure you know the weight of your recreational vehicle and get the appropriate class of license.
There are several states that require a Class B license if your RV weights over 26,000 pounds, including:
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
States Requiring an Endorsement on a Standard Driver’s License
An endorsement is a special classification on a standard driver’s license that may be required in certain states. Generally, these are indicated on the back of a driver’s license or with a designation on the front of the license. In Michigan, you will need an “R” endorsement if you are towing anything behind your RV. In New York state, you will need an “R” endorsement if your vehicle weighs over 26,000 pounds.
What About Canada?
Licensing requirements vary from province to province in Canada, much like the variations between states in the United States. But fear not, if you have a valid license from our home state, you can safely drive anywhere in Canada.
The final answer to the question, “Do I need a special license to drive my RV?” is, “IT DEPENDS.” To protect yourself, make sure you contact the Department of Motor Vehicles in your state before you hit the road in your recreational vehicle and find out what licensing requirements you need to meet.