For those considering the RV lifestyle, a frequently asked question is, Do I need a special license to drive a class A or class C motorhome? Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple yes or no answer. Each state has its own separate guidelines and rules regarding motorhomes and licensing, and those guidelines aren’t always stated clearly. The following information is presented to help you better understand if a special license is required to operate your motorhome.
Commercial Drivers License
CDL's pertain more to why you are driving, rather than what you are driving. Very few states require you to have a CDL to operate a motorhome. CDL's are intended for vehicles with commercial use, so unless you drive a motorhome for a living, you probably don’t need a CDL. There are a few exceptions though. For motorhomes over 26,000 lb., Washington, DC, and Hawaii require you to have a CDL. In Washington, DC, the road test is not required to get your CDL, but you do have to pass the CDL knowledge test. Wisconsin and Indiana require a CDL for motorhomes longer than 45’. Most states rule that individuals operating a motorhome exclusively to transport personal possessions or family members, for non-business purposes, are exempt from CDL requirements.
Non-Commercial Class B License
Select states require a non-commercial class B license to operate a class A or class C motorhome, either based on the motorhome’s GVWR or length. California requires a non-commercial class B license for motorhomes over 40’. Kansas, Maryland, North Carolina, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wyoming require a non-commercial class B license for motorhomes with a GVWR over 26,000 lb. Illinois requires a non-commercial class B license for motorhomes over 16,000 lb.
Few states require you to get a special endorsement to operate a class A or class C motorhome, but there are some. In New York, an “R” endorsement is required for RVs with a GVWR above 26,000 lb. Michigan requires an “R” endorsement if you are pulling any additional unit behind your motorhome, such as a trailer or boat.
So, do you need a special license to drive a class A or class C motorhome? The simple answer is, maybe. Special licenses such as non-commercial class B licenses are required for a number of states, and CDL's are necessary for a select few. Because the guidelines vary greatly depending on your location, be sure to double-check the requirements of each state you plan to visit before driving through. It is recommended that you get a written response from the state’s DMV to eliminate any uncertainty or concerns you or your insurance company may have.