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Do You Need a Special License to Drive an RV?

While planning a road trip, much consideration goes into getting the right RV. Plus, learning to drive an RV as a first-time renter or owner can be an experience because of its extra size and weight. Since driving an RV has a different feel, you may wonder if you really need a special license to drive one.

Well, the answer is no. You don’t need a special license to drive an RV. You can drive an RV with a regular driver’s license if you drive any RV class under 26,000 pounds. However, it may slightly differ depending on the state you’re driving in or the total weight of your RV.

Nevertheless, if you’re worried about whether your state requires RV license requirements, worry no more! We’ve broken everything down in this guide so you can hit the road without second thoughts.

What is a Special License?

A special license is a requirement for operating an RV that’s larger and heavier than a regular RV. It proves you have the required experience and knowledge to operate the vehicle. There are two common types of special licenses: commercial and non-commercial.

Each state issues its own unique types of licenses. Some states require a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) to drive heavy, large trailers or buses (above 26,000 pounds). Other states require you to have a non-commercial license to drive an RV over a certain weight or length.

However, if you’re a licensed driver in the US with a plastic card, you’re free to drive or rent a normal-sized RV. So, to obtain a special (commercial driver’s) license to operate an RV, you’ll need to pass the necessary tests and meet all your state’s requirements. In addition, you may be required to submit the vehicle’s proof of insurance before taking the test.

Types of Special Licenses for an RV

Every state has regulations regarding whether you need special licenses for an RV or not. Although the requirements may vary depending on your location and RV class, the license will still be part of one of these categories.

Commercial Driver’s License:

A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is required for driving RVs (delivery vehicles and buses) for commercial purposes. Simply put, anyone who drives an RV will need a CDL. Additionally, some states require a CDL if you’re driving an RV above the maximum weight requirement.

Non-Commercial Driver’s License:

The regular driver’s licenses are under the non-commercial driver’s licenses but come in different variations to meet specific requirements. Some states will require you to get a specialized non-commercial driver’s license to drive an RV, depending on the motorhome’s weight class.

Driver’s License Endorsement:

A driver’s license endorsement grants you permission to operate a particular type of RV and transport specific items. Simply put, it gives you additional driving privileges.

The description of your endorsement is printed on the back of your license document, and the endorsement codes are on the front, on the line under the “Expiration date” field.

What License Do You Need to Drive an RV?

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The type of RV driver’s license you need depends on the size and weight of the vehicle. Let’s go over the specific requirements for each motorhome.

Class A Motorhome License Requirements

Class A RVs are probably the only motorhomes for which you may require a special driving license. That’s because they weigh between 13,000 and 30,000 pounds, which is above the 26,000 threshold. They’re often in the form of commercial truck chassis or commercial buses.

It’s necessary to always double-check the RV’s fully loaded weight before setting off to avoid problems. These motorhomes have a driving compartment attached to the back (living quarters) and drive more like a bus than a car.

Class B Motorhome License Requirements

Class B motorhomes don’t have special license requirements. They weigh 6,000 to 8,000 pounds and are easily navigable on unpaved or narrow roads. In short, they’re often described as luxurious vans.

These RVs are comfortable, easy to drive, and fuel-efficient. Although they don’t have slide-outs like other motorhomes, they still have a comfortable living area, beds, a bathroom, and a kitchen.

Class C Motorhome License Requirements

Class C RVs are less likely to have special license requirements because they weigh between 10,000 and 12,000 pounds. They’re smaller, more affordable, and easy to handle. While it looks like a cab, it drives like a van. These motorhomes have luxurious and comfortable living quarters, steering columns, and seats.

Fifth Wheel License Requirements

To drive a fifth-wheel recreational trailer of between 10,000 lbs. and 15,000 lbs., you must have a fifth-wheel license endorsement and a Class C driver’s license. However, the endorsement isn’t required if you have a non-commercial or commercial Class A RV driver’s license.

Does a Class A RV require a CDL?

You may need a non-commercial CDL for Class A RVs that weigh more than 26,000 pounds, depending on your state. The state may also require a non-commercial special license from drivers looking to drive weighty and large vehicles for private purposes. A CDL is a requirement for vehicles over 26,000 pounds.

Some states may require an endorsement or special permit to drive a fifth wheel or tow multiple vehicles. So, getting a Commercial Driver’s License allows you to drive any ‘over 26,000-pound luxury truck or bus while adhering to safety regulations.

States That Require a Special Commercial Driver’s License to Drive an RV

Drivers that drive motorhomes for commercial purposes will need a CDL, especially if the vehicle exceeds the maximum weight requirement (according to your state).

The following states have laws requiring CDLs for RVs weighing above 26,000 pounds. Non-compliance with the laws comes with punitive measures.

StatesSpecial Commercial Driver’s License Requirements
ConnecticutVehicles weighing over 26,000 pounds
KansasClass A vehicles weighing over 26,000 pounds
HawaiiVehicles weighing over 26,000 pounds
WisconsinVehicles weighing over 26,000 pounds
IndianaVehicles weighing over 26,000 pounds
South CarolinaClass B for a single vehicle of over 26,000 poundsClass A for vehicles of over 26,000 pounds combined
New YorkClass B vehicles weighing over 26,000 pounds
MichiganClass A vehicles weighing over 26,000 pounds

States That Require A Non-Commercial Special Driver’s License for Driving an RV

Regular RV drivers require a non-commercial driver’s license. In these states, you may need a special Class A or Class B RV license to drive vehicles weighing above 26,000 pounds, but not a CDL.

StatesNon-Commercial Special Driver’s License Requirement
CaliforniaClass B to drive a vehicle weighing over 26,000 pounds
MarylandClass B to drive a vehicle weighing over 26,000 pounds
PennsylvaniaClass A for a vehicle weighing 26,000 pounds with trailers
Class B to drive a vehicle weighing over 26,000 pounds
TexasClass B for a vehicle weighing over 26,000 pounds
WyomingClass A for vehicles over 26,000 pounds and towing over 10,000
Class B for vehicles over 26,000 pounds and towing under 10,000

States That Don’t Require a Special License to Drive an RV

Below are states where you’re free to drive a recreational vehicle with just your regular driver’s license.

AlaskaFloridaKentuckyMissouriNew JerseyRhode IslandVermont
AlabamaGeorgiaLouisianaMississippiNebraskaSouth DakotaWest Virginia
ArizonaIndianaMinnesotaMontanaOklahomaTennesseeWashington
ColoradoIowaMassachusettsNorth DakotaOhioUtah
DelawareIllinoisMaineNew HampshireOregonVirginia

Benefits of Having a Special License for RVs

Each state has laws on whether you need a special license for an RV. However, these laws vary depending on where you live and your RV’s weight.

Those with special commercial driver’s licenses stand out as drivers making a living off driving RVs. Also, you can handle multiple vehicles with just one special license.

For example, if you tow multiple vehicles weighing over 26,000 pounds, you’ll need just the Class A motorhome license (CDL). Having a CDL also indicates that you have expert knowledge of handling an RV above the maximum weight requirement.

Conclusion

Driving an RV shouldn’t feel impossible or frustrating just because you don’t have the special licensing requirements. What you should do instead is find out the RV laws applicable in your state and take steps to fulfill the requirements.

Remember, any RV under 26,000 lbs. may need a special license, but if it’s below that limit, you can hit the road with your regular driver’s license. If you want to avoid any issues with the state, choose a smaller RV like Class B or C.

Adhere to these rules, and you’ll always enjoy a stress-free road trip. If you have any questions or need more clarifications about special licenses for RVs, drop your comments below.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you drive an RV with a regular license?

Yes, you can drive an RV with a regular license. But if the vehicle is more than 45 feet long or above the 26,000-pound weight limit, you may need to apply for a CDL.

Plus, some states have additional requirements for minors driving RVs. So, ensure you check the regulations applicable in your state before traveling.

What RV can you drive with a regular license?

A regular license is enough for Class B and C RVs. Also, you can use it to drive trailers under a specified weight requirement.

Which states require a special license to drive an RV?

States that require a special license include New York, Michigan, Connecticut, Kansas, Hawaii, Wisconsin, Indiana, and South Carolina.

However, most states don’t require a special license to drive an RV unless it’s more than 45 feet long or weighs over 26,000 pounds.

In such cases, you’ll need a CDL with proper classification. Also, there are extra requirements for minors driving motorhomes.

What is the largest RV without a special license?

RVs below the 26,000-pound weight limit or towed vehicles under 10,000 pounds don’t require a special license. Most times, only vehicles carrying more than 16 passengers require special licensing.

Is a special license required to drive an RV?

You don’t need a special license to drive a recreational vehicle. However, if the vehicle exceeds the 26,000-pound weight limit or is more than 45 feet long, you may need to obtain a CDL with proper classification. Also, endeavor to check the RV laws applicable in your state to avoid any problems.

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