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Commercial and non-Commercial Driver License Requirements

The following frequently asked questions (FAQs) were developed to highlight the specific requirements for foreign drivers with Commercial and non-Commercial driver’s licenses operating in the United States.  The FMCSA has published a significant number of FAQs for all motor carriers and drivers operating a commercial motor vehicle in the United States, therefore please refer to the FMCSA website for additional FAQs. 

Q1:  Which foreign country’s Commercial Licenses are reciprocally recognized for operating a CMV in the United States?

A1:  The only foreign commercial driver licenses (CDLs) that are accepted in the United States are from the federal government of Mexico and provinces and territories in Canada.  The United States has CDL reciprocity agreements with only these two North American countries.  In rare instances, FMCSA may issue temporary waivers (up to 90 days) or exemptions (up to two years) to allow drivers licensed in other countries to operate in the United States. These drivers are required to carry the waiver or exemption document with them.

Q2:  A driver with residence in Mexico drives for a U.S. company.  Does that driver need a state-issued commercial driver’s license?

A2:  No, the driver may hold a valid license for the type of vehicle operated that is issued by the Mexico’s Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes (SCT).  Licensing is not dependent on place of employment.

However, to clarify further, the U.S. only recognizes the license (Licencia Federal de Conductor) issued by Mexico's SCT (NOT a Mexican-state-issued license) as reciprocal for operations in the U.S.

Q3:  What is the restriction identified on a Canadian Commercial License for a Canadian driver when they are not permitted to operate in the United States for medical reasons?

A3:  Some of the Canadian Provinces or Territories have implemented this restriction with a code W on the Commercial License.  Please refer to the Canadian Driver’s License Reference Guide (PDF) to identify which Provinces or Territories have implemented the code W restriction.  The remaining Provinces or Territories that have not yet implement the code W restriction, have an internal implementation schedule and are working towards adding the code W restriction in their driver licensing systems.

Q4:  What is the restriction identified on a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) for a U.S. driver when they are not permitted to operate in the Canada for medical reasons?

A4:  The restriction is a code V on the U.S. CDL.

Q5:  Are U.S. commercial drivers required to possess a Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG) training certificate when transporting hazardous materials (HM) in Canada?

A5:  No, the HM endorsement on the U.S. Commercial driver’s license (CDL) is all that is required when transporting HM in Canada.

Q6:  Are Canadian commercial drivers who transport any liquid or gaseous material in a tank having a rated capacity of 1,000 gallons or more or multiple tanks having an individual rated capacity of more than 119 gallons and an aggregate capacity of 1,000 or more gallons in the U.S. required to display a tank vehicle endorsement on their Canadian Commercial License like the CDL for a U.S. driver?

A6:  No. Canadian drivers are not required to have a tank vehicle endorsement on their commercial licenses; however, they must possess a Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG) training certificate when transporting hazardous materials (HM) in a tank in the United States.

Q7:  What proof must a Canadian commercial driver possess to reflect a driver is qualified to transport hazardous materials (HM) in the United States?

A7:  A Canadian commercial driver must possess a Canadian Commercial License and a Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG) training certificate when transporting HM in the United States.

Updated: Monday, March 5, 2018
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