Do You Need a CDL to Drive an RV? State Licensing Requirements Explained

Hitting the open road in a recreational vehicle is the dream for many adventure-seekers and retirees alike. But before you hitch up your shiny new RV, there’s an important question to answer: Do you need a special driver’s license? The last thing you want is to invest in an RV only to find out you can’t legally drive it.

Unfortunately, RV licensing requirements can be a confusing maze of regulations that vary from state to state. Some campers need nothing more than a regular driver’s license, while others have to obtain a commercial credential. Here’s an in-depth look at what you need to know.

Types of Motorhome and RV Licensing Requirements

Types of Motorhome and RV Licensing

To understand RV licensing, you first need to know the different classes and types. The requirements largely come down to the vehicle’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) and length.

The main RV categories include:


  • Class A: The biggest rigs, often built on commercial truck chassis. Average GVWR ranges from 13,000 to 30,000 lbs.
  • Class B: Compact campervans, typically under 14,000 lbs GVWR.
  • Class C: Mid-sized motorhomes with a cab-over bunk area. Around 10,000 – 12,000 lbs.

Towable RVs

  • Travel Trailers: Ranges from lightweight around 3,500 lbs to over 10,000 lbs GVWR
  • Fifth Wheels: Designed to hitch to a truck bed. Up to 16,000 lbs or more.
  • Toy Haulers: For hauling ATVs, motorcycles, etc. Get very heavy when loaded.

In general, any single vehicle under 26,000 lbs GVWR can be driven with a regular license in most states. It’s when you creep over that 26,000 lb threshold that special licensing often comes into play.

Do You Need A Special License To Drive An RV?

The simple answer is: probably not, as long as your RV weighs less than 26,000 lbs GVWR. Most RVs fall into that category, especially compact Class B and C motorhomes as well as typical travel trailers. You can usually drive these with just a regular automobile driver’s license.

However, several states get more stringent about RV licensing at certain weight and length limits. If your RV qualifies as a “large vehicle” according to their rules, you may need to add an endorsement or obtain a non-commercial or commercial driver’s license (CDL).

What Are the Different Types of Licenses?

What Are the Different Types of Licenses?

When it comes to RV licenses, you may encounter several different requirements depending on the state:

Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)

  • Class A CDL: Required for any vehicle towing a trailer over 10,000 lbs, with the combined GVWR exceeding 26,001 lbs.
  • Class B CDL: Needed for a single vehicle over 26,000 lbs GVWR.

Non-Commercial licenses

  • Class A Non-Commercial: For combined vehicle combos over 26,000 lbs GVWR
  • Class B Non-Commercial: For single RVs over 26,000 lbs
  • RV Endorsement: Some states allow you to add an “endorsement” like an R or J to your existing license for larger RVs/combos.

Don’t assume that because it’s not for business, you’re exempt from CDL rules. Many states require a non-commercial CDL if your RV meets their weight or length criteria, regardless of whether you’re using it for work or pleasure.

Read Also This Blog: How to Dewinterize Your RV? A Step-by-Step Guide 

What States Require a Special License?

While the majority of states only require a regular driver’s license for RVs under 26,000 lbs GVWR, these states have special rules for larger RVs:

  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • Kansas
  • Maryland (including D.C.)
  • Michigan
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

States that require additional licensing include:

  • Arkansas: CDL for vehicles over 26,000 lbs gross weight
  • California: Class B non-commercial for motorhomes over 40 feet, trailers over 10,000 lbs GVWR, or fifth wheels over 15,000 lbs
  • Connecticut: CDL Class B for single over 26,000 lbs; CDL Class A for combined over 26,000 lbs
  • Hawaii: Class A CDL for combo over 26,001 lbs with trailer over 10,000 lbs; Class B CDL for single over 26,001 lbs
  • Kansas: Class B CDL over 26,000 lbs; Class A CDL for multiple over 26,000 lbs
  • Maryland/D.C.: Class B non-commercial for single over 26,001 lbs
  • Michigan: Double “R” endorsement for fifth wheel + trailer
  • Nevada: Class A/B non-commercial over 26,001 lbs; Endorsement J for towing over 10,000 lbs
  • New Mexico: Class E endorsement for over 26,000 lbs
  • New York: Class D with “R” endorsement for over 26,000 lbs GVWR
  • North Carolina: Non-commercial Class A for combo over 26,001 lbs; Class B for single over 26,001 lbs
  • Pennsylvania: Non-commercial Class A for combo over 26,001 lbs; Class B for single over 26,000 lbs
  • South Carolina: Class E non-commercial for single over 26,000 lbs; Class F for combo over 26,000 lbs
  • Texas: Non-commercial Class A for combo over 26,001 lbs; Class B for single over 26,001 lbs
  • Wisconsin: May require CDL for RVs over 45 feet
  • Wyoming: Class A CDL for combo over 26,001 lbs with trailer over 10,001 lbs; Class B for single over 26,001 lbs

As you can see, the rules get very specific depending on the RV type, weight ratings, trailer Weight, and even overall combined length. Some only require a basic endorsement, while others mandate a full non-commercial or commercial credential.

RV Driver’s License Requirements By State

RV Driver's License Requirements By State

Let’s look at some of the key states in more detail:


One of the stricter states for RV licensing is Texas. Their requirements are based solely on gross vehicle weight ratings:

  • Class A Non-Commercial License: For any single vehicle or vehicle combo with a GVWR over 26,001 lbs, if the towed vehicle exceeds 10,000 lbs GVWR.
  • Class B Non-Commercial License: For any single vehicle over 26,001 lbs GVWR. Also for towing a trailer under 10,000 lbs behind a vehicle over 26,001 lbs.

So in Texas, you’d need a Class B non-commercial license at minimum for anything over 26,000 lbs, whether it’s a single motorhome or truck towing a travel trailer. Stepping up to a Class A gets you legal for towing over 10,000 lbs as well.


Rather than weight, California’s rules primarily revolve around vehicle size and type. You’ll need:

  • Non-Commercial Class A License: For towing travel trailers at or above 10,000 lbs GVWR, or fifth wheels at or above 15,000 lbs GVWR.
  • Non-Commercial Class B License: For any single RV from 40-45 feet in length OR any RV under 40 feet but still over 10,000 lbs GVWR.

So in California, you could have a lighter weight Class B or C motorhome under 40 feet and not need any special license. But once you start towing a larger travel trailer or fifth wheel, that non-commercial credential is a must.


Michigan has a unique requirement for those towing multiple trailers:

  • “Double R” Endorsement: You must add this endorsement to your regular driver’s license if you want to tow a fifth wheel trailer with an additional trailer behind it.

So a truck towing just a fifth wheel doesn’t need it. But if you want to add a trailer-behind-trailer setup, that Double R is legally required in Michigan.

Other State Examples

Here are some additional examples of RV driver’s license requirements in other states:


  • Class A or B Non-Commercial License: Needed for any single vehicle or vehicle combo over 26,001 lbs GVWR
  • Endorsement J: Required for towing a trailer over 10,000 lbs GVWR

New York

  • Class D License with “R” Endorsement: If your RV’s GVWR exceeds 26,000 lbs, you must add the “R” recreational vehicle endorsement


  • CDL May Be Required: For operating motorhomes or towing vehicle/trailer combos over 45 feet in total length


  • Class B CDL: For a single vehicle over 26,000 lbs GVWR
  • Class A CDL: For combined vehicles with a GVWR over 26,000 lbs (e.g. motorhome towing a trailer)


  • CDL Required: For any single vehicle over 26,000 lbs gross weight

As these examples illustrate, the criteria for needing a special RV license can involve weight ratings, vehicle class, trailer weights, total combo length, and more. Some states are stricter than others.

It’s also important to note that these are just some key examples. Requirements can change over time, so always verify the latest rules with your state’s DMV or driver licensing agency. Don’t risk getting ticketed or having your license downgraded because you missed an update.

States the DO NOT require a special drivers license include:



















The laws around RV driver’s licensing are a complicated patchwork of state-specific rules and regulations. In most cases for smaller RVs under 26,000 lbs GVWR, you can get by with just a regular automobile driver’s license. But larger motorhomes and towable RV combos often require stepped-up credentials like non-commercial or commercial driver’s licenses.

The requirements hinge on factors like your RV’s weight ratings, size, whether you’re towing a trailer, and even the overall combined length in some states. Failing to have the proper license could mean risking citations or even having your driving privileges revoked.

So before you hit the road in your RV this travel season, take the time to understand your state’s latest rules and get properly licensed. An RV represents a major investment – make sure you can legally drive your home-on-wheels to all the destinations on your bucket list! Safe travels.

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