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What is a CLP and How Do I Get One?

If you're considering a career as a commercial driver, one of the first steps you'll need to take is obtaining a Commercial Learner's Permit (CLP). A CLP is one step toward earning your Commercial Driver's License (CDL). In this blog, we'll cover what a CLP is, how to get one, and the other steps required to obtain a CDL, including Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT). Let's dive in!

What is a Commercial Learner's Permit (CLP)?

A Commercial Learner's Permit (CLP) allows you to practice driving a commercial vehicle under the supervision of a licensed commercial driver. It's a temporary permit that prepares you for the final step of obtaining your CDL. With a CLP, you can gain the necessary driving skills and experience to safely operate commercial vehicles.

How to Get a CLP

To get your CLP, follow these steps:

1. Meet the Eligibility Requirements

Before applying for a CLP, ensure you meet the basic eligibility requirements:

  • Age: You must be at least 18 years old to drive intrastate (within one state) and 21 years old to drive interstate (across state lines) or transport hazardous materials.

  • Proof of Identity and Citizenship: You must provide proof of identity, such as a birth certificate or passport, and proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent residency.

  • Medical Certification: Obtain a medical certificate (medical card) from a certified medical examiner, confirming you meet the physical requirements to operate a commercial vehicle.

2. Study for the Knowledge Tests

Before heading to the DMV, preparing for the knowledge tests is crucial. These tests cover various topics, including:

  • General Knowledge Test: This section covers the basics of operating a commercial vehicle, including safety protocols, vehicle inspection, driving techniques, and regulations. It is mandatory for all CDL applicants.

  • Combination Vehicles Test (For Class A): This section is required for those who plan to drive combination vehicles, such as tractor-trailers. It focuses on the specifics of operating these types of vehicles, including coupling and uncoupling, vehicle handling, and other related topics.

  • Air Brakes Test: This section is necessary for those who will be driving vehicles equipped with air brakes. It covers the operation and maintenance of air brake systems, including how to inspect and use them properly.

Pro Tip: Make sure you can pass the practice tests at least three times with a score of 90% or better before taking the actual exam. We have knowledge test practice questions for our ELDT course.

3. Pass the Knowledge Tests

Visit your local DMV to take the knowledge tests. These exams will assess your understanding of commercial driving rules and regulations. Be sure to bring the required documents, such as proof of identity, proof of citizenship, and your medical certificate.

4. Obtain Your CLP

Once you pass the knowledge tests and submit the necessary documents, you'll receive your CLP. With this permit, you can start practicing driving under the supervision of a licensed commercial driver.

Additional Steps to Get a CDL

After obtaining your CLP, there are a few more steps to complete before you can get your CDL:

1. Complete Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT)

As of February 7, 2022, all new commercial drivers must complete Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) from a registered training provider. This training covers both theory and behind-the-wheel instruction, ensuring you have the knowledge and skills to operate a commercial vehicle safely.

2. Behind-the-Wheel Training

With your CLP and you need to attend a licanced behind-the-wheel training school in your area to get first-hand experience driving a CMV, before testing to get your CDL.

3. Pass the Road Test

Schedule and pass the road test at your local DMV. This test will evaluate your ability to operate a commercial vehicle safely and efficiently.

4. Obtain Your CDL

Once you pass the road test and meet all other requirements, you'll receive your CDL. Congratulations! You're now ready to start your career as a commercial driver.


Obtaining a Commercial Learner's Permit (CLP) is the first crucial step toward becoming a licensed commercial driver. By meeting the eligibility requirements, studying for the knowledge tests, and completing Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT), you'll be well-prepared to pass the exams and earn your CDL.

Ready to get started? You can get CLP practice questions together with ELDT theory on our site here.

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