How to Attain a CDL X Endorsement


Commercial driver's licenses can be issued with a variety of additional privileges or "endorsements." A common endorsement permits drivers to transport hazardous materials. It is called the CDL-X or CDL-H. There are several steps required of commercial drivers who wish to transport hazardous materials. For instance, drivers who wish to obtain the CDL-X endorsement are required to undergo significant training and must pass a background investigation that is jointly administered by the TSA and FBI. The steps, when followed in detail, will lead to the endorsement's automatic issuance.

  • Before pursuing the CDL-X, you must first confirm that you are eligible. According to Transportation Safety Administration, commercial drivers must be U.S. citizens. Drivers who have been convicted of reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident, driving while under the influence (DUI), vehicular homicide or other serious violations are not usually eligible to obtain a CDL-X. Visit your local Department of Motor Vehicles' website for additional information about eligibility requirements.
    Note: You may skip the next two steps if you already have a commercial driver's license.

  • Schedule and pass the knowledge examination. The knowledge test is a written examination that will measure your comprehension of various commercial driving laws. It will also cover the proper way to transport cargo, basic questions about commercial vehicles, how safety checks are conducted and commercial driver eligibility. You may be required to take additional examinations to demonstrate your understanding of hazardous materials. Be sure to ask the DMV for information about additional testing.

  • Schedule and pass the skills examination. The skills test will measure your ability to safely operate a commercial vehicle and assess the safety of an actual truck. Prepare for this examination by taking courses at a truck driving school. Your state may also provide a copy of the grading rubric used in this driving examination which can be used for study purposes. Contact the DMV in your state for information about how you can study for and schedule your CDL examination.

  • Complete your fingerprinting and background investigations. Contact the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) via phone or online to make an appointment for fingerprinting. Pay for the fingerprinting service and take a state-issued photo ID to your fingerprinting appointment. The TSA will check your record for violent crimes, offenses involving conspiratorial activity, and other offenses that might "endanger the nation's transportation network." You will receive your results by mail within 30 days. If you do not pass your background investigation, you will not be eligible for the CDL-X endorsement.

  • Confirm your CDL-X with your local DMV. The TSA will notify the DMV of your eligibility, but you should contact the DMV to make sure they've received the information.

Tips & Warnings

  • The TSA only provides its services in 39 states. Consult the agency's website for a list of states that do not participate.
  • If your state does not participate in the TSA's program, you must contact your local DMV for information about how background checks are completed.
  • The fees for background investigations, testing, license issuance, and other administrative costs vary from state to state.

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  • Photo Credit Truck image by JASON WINTER from
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