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Drivers who operate commercial vehicles like trucks and buses will require a CDL. However, does a camper require a CDL? We have the answers.

Do you require a CDL to pull a camper? What is a CDL? What is the driver's license requirement for different types of trailers? What are the steps of applying for a CDL?

Most states in the US allow the use of a primary driver’s license to pull a camper. However, you will require a CDL if the RV weighs 26,000 pounds or more, the trailer towed weighs 10,000 pounds or more, the height exceeds 45 feet, and if the carrying capacity is more than 15 passengers.

This article will take an in-depth study of whether you require a CDL to pull a camper and the driver’s license requirement on the different types of trailers. So, if you are planning to buy a camper but are unsure what kind of driver's license to use, this article will give you comprehensive answers on this.

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A commercial driver's license is a particular type of license given to drivers that operate on commercial vehicles like buses, tractor-trailers, and some RVs. Driving large vehicles can be more complicated than other vehicles, and therefore, commercial drivers need to have more experience. You would have to go for training and pass exams set by FMSCA to qualify and get a CDL.

Campers are known to provide an ideal outdoor activity experience. Access to amenities like bathrooms, kitchen, and bed offers the same comfort as when one is at home. Going on vacations and adventures can be enjoyable and exciting. However, this becomes difficult because different states have different laws and requirements for you to drive or pull a camper. Some states will need you to have a primary driver's license.

At the same time, some will ask you for a commercial driver’s license depending on the type of camper, its size, and the activity you are using it for. In Oklahoma, you do not need to have a CDL for your trailer if you are using it for recreational transport of people or properties,  traveling for a non-business purpose, and traveling to stay for a temporary period.

Do you require a CDL to pull a camper?

The kind of driver’s license you will need will depend on the size, length, and weight of the camper. Larger campers weighing more than 26,000 pounds, accommodating at least 15 passengers, and height over 45 feet will require you to have a CDL, while the smaller campers with less of these features can use a primary driver's license. There are different trailers, each with its own driver's license requirement. They include;

Traveling trailer

These are the most common types of non-motorized RVs. They have a height of between 13 to 40 feet and can weigh from 1,200 to 9,000 pounds depending on the size. The smaller traveling trailer weighs about 3,500 pounds on average, while the larger ones can weigh up to 10,000 pounds when there are people and luggage. You do not require a CDL to pull a traveling trailer because the weight is lower than the maximum weight you need to have a CDL, which is 2,600 pounds or more.

Fifth wheel trailer

This type of non-motorized RV is suitable for those people who love to travel full time or take extended trips. It features a bedroom suite, a kitchen, and a living room with an approximate height of 25 to 40 feet. The weight of a fifth-wheel trailer is about 13,000 to 20,000 pounds. It can accommodate ten people. Therefore, you will only need a primary driver's license to pull a fifth-wheel trailer.

Lightweight trailers

Lightweight trailers are RVs that can tow with SUVs, crossovers, and smaller trucks. They are made with lighter materials that are more lightweight than the standard camp trailer. They weigh around 6,000 pounds or less. It can accommodate about  2 to 4 people and have a length size of about 22 feet. They require a primary driver's license to move through different states without restrictions.

Class A motorhomes

They are the largest of all the campers and other RVs. Class A motorhomes have the same construction and framing as commercial buses and trucks that provides a spacious area for lounging and sleeping with the availability of a kitchen and a bathroom. These motorhomes weigh between 13,000 to 30,000 pounds and are about 26 to 45 feet. You require a CDL to drive these types of recreational vehicles.

Class B motorhomes

The most common class B motorhomes are the campervans which offer a space suitable for a small group of people. It features a bathroom, full kitchen, air conditioning, entertainment place, and a power inverter. They are about 21 to 24 feet and can accommodate two people. Class B RVs can weigh between 6,000 to 8,000 pounds, and therefore, you will only require a primary driver's license to drive class B motorhomes.

Class C motorhomes

You will recognize a class C motorhome with raised storage or sleeping areas extending over the RVs cab that offer a cheaper and better living space than class B motorhomes and are about 24 to 32 feet. Class C motorhomes usually accommodate 11 people. They weigh about 12,000 to 20,000 pounds, and therefore, they do not require a CDL to drive them.

Steps for applying a CDL

For you to qualify to become a commercial driver of trucks, buses, and other RVs, you need to be eligible for the following requirements;


Age is a crucial factor when applying for a CDL. You will have to be 18 years to apply for a CDL. At this age, you will drive within the state of residency because you are not familiar with other states' different laws and regulations. At 21 years, you will now be able to drive to different states.

Type of vehicle

Whether you wish to acquire a truck or class a motorhome CDL, you must go for driver's training at FMSCA, which is a governmental agency that will ensure you have the skills necessary to avoid accidents and injuries when driving a commercial vehicle. They will also ensure that you are physically fit and in good health before you get a CDL. The advantage of getting a CDL is that you gain the flexibility to operate different types of RVs.

CDL application and Verification

You will need to submit a complete CDL application form and pay for the amount stated. Typically, the amount is around $120. After submission, you will need to verify your social security number and provide your identity. Then check with your state's requirements to become familiar with the laws and regulations.

Citizenship Proof and the Medical Examination Report

You need to prove that you meet all the requirements stated by FMSCA. For instance, you will need to confirm your citizenship by providing a valid US passport or a birth certificate. If they accept your credentials, you will take a medical examination and submit the report with a medical examiner's certificate.

Commercial Learners permit

You will obtain a commercial learner's permit after passing the knowledge exam. You have to wait for 14 days or less to schedule for CDL when they are over. During the driving skills examination, you must have your vehicle. After passing the test, you will pay the stated fee to get your CDL.