There are three classes of CDLs:
Commercial A: Any legal combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds or more, provided the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle(s) being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
Commercial B: Any single vehicle with a GVWR of more than 26,000 pounds, any such vehicle towing a vehicle not in excess of 10,000 pounds GVWR, or a 3-axle vehicle weighing over 6,000 pounds.
Commercial C: Any Class C vehicle with one or more of the following endorsements:
Hazardous Materials (HazMat)
Passenger Vehicle (PV)
Tank Vehicle (TV)
Passenger vehicle drivers must have a CDL with a “P” endorsement if they drive a vehicle designed to transport more than 10 persons, including the driver.
A passenger transportation vehicle includes, but is not limited to, a bus, farm labor vehicle, or general public paratransit vehicle when the vehicle is designed, used, or maintained to carry more than 10 passengers, including the driver, for hire or for profit, or by any nonprofit organization or group.
If you take a driving test in a van designed, used, or maintained to carry 15 persons or less, including the driver, you will be restricted to driving a 15-passenger or less small-size bus.
To get the endorsement, you must pass a knowledge test on Sections 2 and 4 of this handbook. If your bus has air brakes, you must also pass a knowledge test on Section 5. You must also pass the skills tests required for the class of vehicle you drive.
Hazardous Materials Endorsement
Starting on January 31, 2005, new federal regulations require a person who is applying for a California commercial driver license (CDL) with an original Hazardous Materials (HazMat) endorsement to undergo a security threat assessment. The USA Patriot Act requires the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to complete a security threat assessment (background records check) before the DMV issues a HazMat endorsement.
An “N” endorsement is required for certain vehicles that transport liquids or gases. The liquid or gas does not have to be a HazMat. An “N” endorsement is required if your vehicle needs a Class A, B, or C CDL and you want to haul a liquid or liquid gas in a tank or tanks having an individual rated capacity of more than 119 gallons and an aggregate rated capacity of 1000 gallons or more that is either permanently or temporarily attached to the vehicle or chassis.
A CMV transporting an empty storage container tank not designed for transportation, with a rated capacity of at least 1,000 gallons that is temporarily attached to a flatbed trailer, is not a tank vehicle (CVC §15210(r)).