Owning a Class A RV is a wonderful way to travel and to enjoy living in a wide array of natural environments. What could be better than those panoramic views on your next road trip? But can anyone drive a Class A RV? Do you need a special Class A RV license?

You might. Let’s check out the rules and regulations surrounding Class As.

Can You Drive a Class A RV with a Regular Car License?

Depending on your state of residence and how much your RV weighs, you may be able to drive a Class A RV with a regular car license.

Many states don’t require a special Class A RV license, but others have different rules.

Let’s look at these rules in a little more detail:

Do You Need a Special Class A RV License to Drive an RV?

Probably not, but here’s the deal: Some states have requirements for RVs over 26,000 pounds. Since most Class A RVs weigh less than this, you might not need anything more than a regular driver’s license.

But if your RV weighs more, you may need a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or another special license called a non-commercial driver’s license (NCDL).

What Is a Commercial Driver’s License?

When people think of a commercial driver’s license, they often think of truck drivers, because state laws almost always require truck drivers to have a CDL. Basically, you need a CDL for large vehicles like tractor-trailers, buses, and sometimes RVs. Some people refer to these certifications as “Class A” licenses.

Driving an RV is different from driving a car and may require a Class A RV License
Driving a Class A RV is not the same as driving a car or a van or even a smaller RV. While you may not be required to obtain a special Class A RV license, learning how to safely operate a large vehicle is critical.

You might need a special license merely because a large vehicle can be dangerous in inexperienced hands. Additionally, the larger and heavier your vehicle, the more different it is from driving a car. Another situation that always requires a CDL is driving a bus, which includes the additional responsibility of carrying passengers for hire.

To earn your CDL, you’ll likely need to pass specific classes that teach you how to safely operate such a large vehicle.

RV Weight and Driver’s License Requirements

If your RV, plus the weight of anything you’re towing, exceeds 26,000 pounds, chances are good that you’ll need a specific driver’s license. For some states, you need a CDL. Others require a specialized but non-commercial license.

If you live in a state that requires a CDL or NCDL over a standard driver’s license, you must get the associated special permits. However, you can cross state lines without acquiring the permit required in that state, as the state you live in (or, if you’re a full-timer, the state you’re domiciled in) dictates licensing requirements.

For example, suppose your domicile is in Illinois, and you can therefore drive your large RV with your regular driver’s license. In that case, you might worry about going through Wisconsin, where residents need a CDL to drive an RV over 26,000 pounds. However, law enforcement will honor your state’s laws if you cross borders, and you won’t get a ticket if you don’t have a CDL while passing through Wisconsin.

States That Require a Commercial Driver’s License

You may not need a Class A RV license but be aware of any necessary special endorsements required for your rig.
Some states require a special CDL license if you’re towing a vehicle behind your Class A RV or if your RV exceeds a certain weight.

We wanted to give you a quick reference list of all the states that require a CDL for large RVs. Just because you live in one of these states and drive an RV or pull a fifth wheel doesn’t mean you need a CDL. Your situation must meet specific requirements.

You’ll need a CDL in the following states under the following circumstances (keep in mind that laws do change, so be sure to stay up to date on your state’s requirements as they may have changed since we published this post).

Arkansas: Your vehicle weight exceeds 26,000 pounds.

California: You’re towing more than 10,000 pounds.

Connecticut: You have a single vehicle or a combined vehicle/towable weight over 26,000 pounds.

Hawaii: You have a single vehicle or a combined vehicle/towable weight over 26,000 pounds.

Kansas: You have a single vehicle or a combined vehicle/towable weight over 26,000 pounds.

Michigan: Your vehicle weight exceeds 26,000 pounds.

Nevada: You’re towing multiple vehicles that have a combined weight that exceeds 26,000 pounds.

New Mexico: You have a single vehicle or a combined vehicle/towable weight over 26,000 pounds.

New York: Your vehicle weight exceeds 26,000 pounds.

North Carolina: You’re pulling multiple vehicles that have a combined weight that exceeds 26,000 pounds.

South Carolina: You have a single vehicle or a combined vehicle/towable weight over 26,000 pounds.

Washington, D.C.: You have a single vehicle or a combined vehicle/towable weight over 26,000 pounds.

Wisconsin: Your vehicle length exceeds 45 feet.

Wyoming: You have a vehicle that exceeds 26,000 pounds, and you’re towing over 10,000 pounds.

These are the requirements at the time of the writing of this article. Be sure to check your state’s DMV for the most up-to-date information or if you have questions.

States That Require a Non-Commercial Special Driver’s License

Even if you don't need a Class A RV license, be sure to check your state's regulations for driving a big rig.
Some states require you to have an NCDL or a Class B license under certain circumstances. Be sure to check the regulations of your home state.

You should also know which states require you to have more than a driver’s license in the form of an NCDL or Class B license.

The following states require you to have an NCDL or Class B license under the following circumstances:

California: Your vehicle is over 26,000 pounds or longer than 40 feet.

Maryland: Your vehicle is over 26,000 pounds.

North Carolina: You have a single vehicle over 26,000 pounds.

Nevada: You need a Class B license for a single vehicle over 26,000 pounds.

Pennsylvania: You need a Class B license for a single vehicle over 26,000 pounds.

Texas: You need a special Class B license for a single, non-commercial vehicle over 26,000 pounds (alone or when towing a vehicle up to 10,000 pounds… but a special Class A license is required for an RV over 26,000 pounds to tow a second vehicle over 10,000 pounds)

Wyoming: You need a Class B license if your vehicle is over 26,000 pounds and you’re towing less than 10,000 pounds.

Again, check the state’s DMV website for information on your domicile state.

States That Require Special Driver’s License Endorsements

You might not need a Class A or Class B license to drive your rig in some states, but you might still need to pass specific endorsements. These are often called Class C licenses.

You’ll need a recreational vehicle or recreational double or “R” endorsement if you’re pulling more than one vehicle. For example, if you’re pulling a fifth wheel and flat-towing your car, you might need an “R” endorsement on your license.

You could also need a “J” endorsement, which usually applies to towing vehicles. Currently, only one state requires a J endorsement under specific circumstances. Here’s a little more information on which states require a special endorsement.

New York: You need a Recreational Vehicle “R” endorsement if your vehicle is over 26,000 pounds.

Michigan: If you tow a fifth wheel and a trailer, you must have a Recreational Double “R” Endorsement on your license.

Nevada: If you’re towing over 10,000 pounds but less than 26,000 pounds in combined vehicle weight, you need a “J” endorsement.

Look into the specific requirements of these states to get a complete picture of how to acquire your special endorsement and when it’s needed.

There are many ways to travel and many sizes of RVs, not all require a Class A RV License.
Traveling with a Class A RV and a toad is our favorite way to roll, but it’s not for everyone. What’s important is deciding what works best for you.

Chances are, you won’t need a class A RV license. However, if you have a big rig or you tow something, check your state’s guidelines. If your total vehicle weight exceeds 26,000 pounds, many states require a special license.

Before deciding to purchase a Class A RV, it’s a good idea to understand the kinds of regulations that will apply to you and your travel partner(s) as drivers of a big rig. For some travelers, smaller may be better as you’ll avoid the need to deal with special considerations like these and you may also be more comfortable on the road in general.

A Class A RV is a fantastic travel vehicle and our favorite way to go, but it’s not right for everyone. There’s much to consider when choosing the best RV for your lifestyle. We hope this information is helpful to you as you choose your best travel rig and prepare to hit the road.

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How To Drive A Class A Motorhome — Off-tracking & Rear Overhang

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15 comments
  1. Keep in mind, if your state requires a CDL of NCDL and you do not get licensed accordingly there is a good chance your insurance will not cover you if you have an accident! Complying with the state requirement is cheap “insurance”.

    1. Great question, Joe. Not currently. Reciprocity between states allows a driver that is legally licensed for a particular type of vehicle in their home state to drive in every state. That doesn’t mean that couldn’t change at some point, such as California talking about making a change that would require ANY vehicle driving through their state to meet California emission requirements. Not law at this point but that’s the kind of thing that could conceivably happen at some point.

  2. Your article us incorrect regarding Texas and a CDL. Fir NON commercial (not for hire ) drivers of a Motorhome over 26000 lbs, a “ Class B exempt” license is all that is required. There is no CDL requirement for personal use, towing or not.

    1. Hi David! We accidentally included Texas in two different categories. We’ve removed it from the “States That Require a Commercial Driver’s License” category, and left it in the “States That Require a Non-Commercial Special Driver’s License” category. Thanks for catching that.

      1. Thank you, John and Peter! (37,000 miles of RV driving later and Tennessee still is unconcerned whether I have any additional driving training.) ;-)

  3. That’s a very good summary. Do you have similar data for Canadian Provinces and Territories?

    Happy Easter

    John

  4. Hello,

    I was wondering if our recent move to WA from NV would some how exempt me from having to get a CDL to drive our truck hooked up with our fifth wheel which has a combined weight over 26,000#. I saw this article and was excited that WA was not on the list anywhere as to having to have a CDL or special endorsement. Ahh, but always take the time to check your state’s rules. Sure enough, WA requires a CDL for combined weight over 26,000#. Bummer. You had me going there for about 30 seconds.

      1. Initially, my concern went the other way from Laura’s. I’m a resident of Wisconsin and drive an ’05 MADP that is over the weight limit for not having a CDL. Relieved to see the exception if under 45 feet. Also I noticed your back-up camera screen from the radio shows what appeared to be a very clear picture of your towed vehicle. Is that radio and screen original or a more recent replacement? I am looking to replace my radio and backup screen. Can you share your experience with a replacement or upgrade you may have had with your setup? Thanks for all the good information, experience, and knowhow you share with us, I’d be lost with out it.

        1. Hey Patrick, thanks for the nice words! Yeah… it can be a bit of a hodge-podge of rules/regulations regarding this. Glad to hear WI has an exception for under 45′! As for our backup camera/screen… that’s the original that came with our RV. Haven’t changed/upgraded it at all. Although, funny you should ask, it IS a project that’s on our “Honey Do” list. The volume knob on ours (a Pioneer AVH-P6400CD) has started giving us trouble (i.e. turning the volume knob “up” turns the volume down and vice-versa, etc). We haven’t begun any research on a replacement yet… but if/when we do, we’ll most likely do a post and/or video about it. Just not sure when we’ll get to it! ????

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