Driving a recreational vehicle and living a nomadic life have become trends these days. For occasional adventures or as a permanent lifestyle, living small has become popular and RV-ing is an important part of that movement. But you can’t just buy a motorhome and set out for an epic adventure. Plenty of preparations involved here and more importantly, you need a license. The question is: do you need a special license to drive an RV?
Whether you want to explore the life on the road or are craving for just one vacation on the wheeled home, it’s important to know what kind of license do you need to drive an RV. Is a regular car license enough or may you need a special RV drivers license?
What’s a Special RV License?
A special license refers to all licenses other than a regular driving license. The term includes a commercial vehicle license, restricted license, chauffeur license, and more.
Each state in the United States has its own rules and regulations regarding the types of licenses to issue for vehicles of different categories. Always check with your local DMV to get the latest updates. Licenses for driving an RV depends mostly on its weight limit. Based on that, you may or may not need a special license.
Speaking broadly, special licenses could be two types: commercial and non-commercial. Some states demand the drivers have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) for hefty, large vehicles like tractor-trailers and buses. Likewise, some states require the drivers to apply for a non-commercial special license to drive a motorhome that crosses a specific weight or length.
Do You Need a Special License to Drive an RV?
There is no single answer simply because motorhomes come in various lengths and weights, and the states have different laws regarding these factors. Do you need a special license to drive an RV? We’ve covered the basics so you can figure out the answers by yourself. Don’t forget to check the website of your local DMV to be sure about all the requirements.
Commercial and Non-Commercial Licenses
The requirements for a commercial or non-commercial license depend on where you live and what kind of RV you drive.
CDLs are required for driving vehicles used for commercial purposes such as trucks for transporting goods, pickups for delivering products, buses, and more. If you drive an RV for a living, you should have a CDL. Some states demand CDLs for driving an RV that crosses a certain weight cap.
These states call for RV classes license requirements. For example, a vehicle weighing over 26,000 requires a Class B CDL and you have to get a Class A motorhome license when the weight of all vehicles in your caravan (consisting of the camper and towing car) exceeds the limit of 26,000 pounds. Some states issue just one type of CDL for vehicles of different categories.
A non-commercial license refers to a regular driving license that you get for a commuter car. However, the laws regarding issuing a non-commercial license for an RV can vary from state to state. In most cases, it depends on the weight of the motorhome.
Special License Classes
Do you need a special license to drive an RV? No, unless you have decided to drive a huge RV such as a Class A diesel pusher. Most states don’t demand the RV drivers to have a special license unless the motorhome and towing vehicle exceed 26,000 and 10,000 pounds, respectively. Considering the size, you may require a special license for owning an RV that can accommodate over 16 people. It means that you will need that license when driving a Skoolie.
The weight of an average Class B RV is somewhere from 6,000 to 8,000 pounds. It could be between 10,000 and 12,000 pounds for a Class C motorhome, while the Class A category stays within the limit of 13,000 to 30,000 pounds.
The average weight of the classes indicates that there is no need for a special license unless you want to drive a giant Class A motorhome. However, you should still know about the RV classes license requirements to be on the safe side.
Requirements for a Commercial Driver’s License
Almost all the states demanding this license have the same requirements. Which are:
- Class B CDL for a single vehicle exceeding 26,000 pounds
- Class A CDL for multiple vehicles over 26,000 pounds (combined weight)
Some of these states are Washington, D.C., New Mexico, Connecticut, Hawaii, and more.
Non-Commercial Special Driver’s License Requirements
The rules and guidelines vary from state to state. For example,
California: Demands a Class B license for one vehicle larger than 40 feet or weightier than 26,000 pounds. You will need a Class A license for towing over 10,000 pounds.
Nevada: This state wants you to have a Class B license required for driving one vehicle weighing over 26,000 pounds and a Class A license for multiple vehicles having a combined weight crossing 26,000 pounds.
When the combined weight is less than 26,000 pounds but the towed vehicle is over 10,000 pounds, you will need an Endorsement J.
Wyoming: You will need a Class B license for driving an RV over 26,000 pounds and towing under 10,000 pounds. The license should be converted into Class A when the towing weight is over 10,000 pounds.
No Special Driver’s License Required
More than 30 states don’t demand RV drivers to get a special license, no matter how large or heavy the vehicle is. Some of them are Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Washington, and more.
Do you need a special license to drive an RV? We hope you have got the answer. Checking your state’s DMV website will give you a clearer idea. If you are in doubt or don’t want to spend extra for a special license, buy a smaller vehicle. There are plenty of Class B and C category vehicles that are suitable for family living. Handling a huge rig is not a noob’s job; you will need adequate skill, years of experience, and a good budget for that.