Do You Need a Special Licence to Drive An RV?

Living small and ethical is becoming more popular. There has been a tiny home movement that makes it a dream item to drive a recreational vehicle and see the world. If you want to take this type of epic vacation, or if you are looking to simply give RV living a try, it is important to understand the rules about what you need in order to travel in a motorhome. 

From learning about all of the best campgrounds to determining where you are legally allowed to park your RV, there are many nuances that go into the decision to give RV life a try. While it can be a fun and adventurous thing to do, it is important that you take time to research the lifestyle before diving in.

Another consideration is whether or not you can drive a motorhome using your regular car license. Do you need a special type of license in order to drive an RV? What other documentation do you need in order to start your new life adventure?

Unless you are choosing a large RV, you probably do not need a special license to drive your motorhome. Most states do not require a special license for an RV that weighs less than 26,000 pounds. A vehicle that can carry 16 or more passengers will often be subject to a special license requirement.

Can I Drive a Motorhome With a Car License?

The type of license that is needed in order to drive an RV will depend directly on the state that you are living in. Even if you are planning to travel across the country in your RV and will be staying in many different states, you are only allowed to have one license and the requirements for your particular state will apply.

Each state has its own guidelines on what is necessary in order to drive an RV. It is important to be familiar with the state laws. Most of the time as long as the RV is under 26000 pounds, a special license will not be necessary. 

What Is a Special License?

Speaking broadly, there are two kinds of special licenses. These are a non-commercial license and a commercial license. There are some states that will require a person to have a non-commercial special license in order to drive an RV that is over a certain weight or length.

Some states require a person to get a commercial driver’s license, which is often referred to as a CDL. A CDL is the same license that is required to drive a tractor trailer, bus, and other heavy, large vehicles.

A CDL or non-CDL is for operation of vehicles in the United States.

To get either type of license you will need to apply with the Department of Motor Vehicles in your state. The requirements for a non-commercial driver’s license and a CDL will vary depending on the state that you are in. Additionally, the cost for this type of license will vary depending on state.

CDL License

Vehicles that weigh more than 26,000 pounds will require a commercial driver’s license to operate.

A CDL license will have an endorsement that allows the transport of fifteen passengers or more. Additionally, a person who has a CDL will be able to drive a tanker truck, a truck with a double or triple trailer, and trucks hauling hazardous materials.

You are only allowed to have a commercial license in one state.

Non-CDL License

Non-commercial driver’s licenses allow a person to operate a vehicle that has a weight of no more than 8000 pounds. This includes trucks, vans, SUVs, and passenger cars.

The difference between a regular license and a CDL is that you cannot operate a commercial vehicle without a CDL. The test requirements for a CDL are much stricter and have questions about using air brakes and other vehicle systems.

Special Licences

In some states a special license will be necessary to drive your RV. In these states there are extra endorsements required to operate a motorhome. The test for this type of license is often a bit more difficult and has questions about the operation of the larger vehicle.

In many cases, this type of special license will only be necessary if the recreational vehicle is over a certain size.

What States require a special non-commercial driver’s license?

The following states require a special non-commercial driver’s license if you are going to be driving an RV.

California: a Class B license is required for vehicles that are longer than 40 feet and weigh more than 26000 pounds. A class A license is needed for towing any more than 10000 pounds.

Maryland: a class B license is needed for any vehicle over 26000 pounds.

Michigan: A recreational double “R” endorsement is required if you will be towing a fifth wheel and a trailer. (This is not commonly needed).

North Carolina: a class B license is needed for a vehicle that weighs more than 26000 pounds. For multiple vehicles that have a combined weight of more than 26000 pounds will require a class A license.

Nevada: Single vehicles over 26000 pounds require a class B license. Multiple vehicles with a combined weight of 26000 pounds or more require a class A license.

New York: an “R” endorsement is needed for any vehicle that weighs more than 26000 pounds. 

Pennsylvania: a single vehicle that weighs over 26000 pounds will require a class B license.

South Carolina: A class F license needed for vehicles over 26000 pounds. A class F license is needed for 2 or more vehicles that have a combined weight of more than 26000 pounds.

Texas: Single vehicles over 26000 pounds require a class B license. Multiple vehicles that have a combined weight of 26000 pounds or more require a class A license.

Wyoming: Class B license is needed for 26000 pound vehicles and for towing under 10000 pounds. Class A licenses are needed for vehicles over 26000 pounds and for towing over 10000 pounds.

What States Require a CDL to Drive an RV?

The following states require a CDL to drive an RV: 

Arkansas: any vehicle over 26000 pounds requires a CDL.

Connecticut: CDL Class B for a vehicle weighing more than 26000 pounds.

Hawaii: CDL class B for any vehicle over 26000 pounds.

Kansas: CDL Class B for vehicles over 26000 pounds.

New Mexico: CDL Class B for vehicles over 26000 pounds.

Washington D.C.: CDL Class B for vehicles over 26000 pounds.

Wisconsin: CDL is required for any vehicle longer than 45 feet.

Which States Don’t Require A Special Licence?

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a class A license to drive an RV?

A class A license will be required in some states if the RV that you are driving weighs more than 26000 pounds.

Can I drive an RV with a class C license?

In most states a Class B or Class A license will be required to drive an RV. However, there are some states that do not require a special license at all and others that may allow you to drive an RV with a class C license.

Can I drive an RV with a class D license?

In most states a Class B or Class A license will be required to drive an RV. However, there are some states that do not require a special license at all and others that may allow you to drive an RV with a class D license.

Do you need a special license to drive an RV in Texas?

The state of Texas requires drivers of single vehicles over 26000 pounds to have a class B license. Multiple vehicles that have a combined weight of 26000 pounds or more require a class A license.

Do you need a special license to drive an RV in California?

The state of California requires a Class B license for vehicles that are longer than 40 feet and weigh more than 26000 pounds. A class A license is needed for towing any more than 10000 pounds.

Do I Need a CDL to Drive an RV?

If you live in Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, New Mexico, Kansas, Wisconsin, or Washington D.C. you will need to have either a class A or class B CDL license in order to drive the vehicle in your state.

Do you need a special licence to pull a fifth wheel camper?

There are some states that require you to have a special license in order to tow an item. Most of the time if the camper is under 10000 pounds, no special license will be required. However, it is important to check your particular state law regarding the towing of a fifth wheel camper.

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