Do You Need A Special License To Drive An RV?


Whether you’re planning on living in an RV soon or just planning to drive one for a holiday, you must be here because you’re wondering if a special license is needed for that. Worry not! Your confusion shall be clarified when you’ve read everything I have researched and gathered regarding RV license requirements.

Do you need a special license to drive an RV? Unless your RV weighs more than 26,000 lbs, most states in the US do not require a special license in driving an RV. There are some states, however, that do require commercial and non-commercial special licenses when your vehicle weighs over 26,000 lbs.

In this article, you will learn about whether or not you’re going to need a special license in driving an RV, the kind of license you’re going to need, and the different license requirements in each state of the US. 

Special Driver’s License

What Is A Special License?

A special license is basically a driver’s license that requires different qualifications than that of your regular driver’s license. Depending on the laws of your state, you might be required to have a non-commercial special license for you to be able to drive a recreational vehicle. Some states also require a commercial driver’s license subject to the weight or length of your vehicle.

Do You Need A Special License To Drive An RV?

Because most states in the US do not require special licenses when driving an RV, your driver’s license now will most likely suffice especially when your vehicle does not weigh over 26,000 lbs. However, the states that do require special licenses only do so when your RV or trailer does not fit your state’s requirements and exceed the weight limit. The latter is most applicable to vehicles that include an additional towed vehicle.

Commercial Driver’s License

https://www.mass.gov/service-details/commercial-drivers-license-cdl-classes-and-endorsements

What Is A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)?

Commercial driver’s license is the kind that truckers and bus drivers have. This is used to operate large and heavy vehicles. Some states, like Connecticut, require a commercial driver’s license when your RV weighs over 26,000 lbs (including additional vehicles as cargo).

Do You Need A Commercial Driver’s License To Drive An RV?

You are only required to have a commercial driver’s license in a few states, and it’s only when you exceed their weight and length limit. A different type of commercial license will be required for multiple vehicles that go beyond the restrictions.

Are There Special License Requirements For Every Type Of RV?

“RVs at Fishing Bridge RV Park” by YellowstoneNPS is marked with CC PDM 1.0

The kind of driver’s license you’re going to have to get will depend on the type of motorhome you have. Knowing which type your motorhome belongs to will easily let you know whether or not you’re going to need a special license before you start driving your RV.

Class A RV License Requirements

“The Motorhome & US RV Show at Stratford Racecourse June 2007” by The Motorhome Show is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Class A motorhomes can weigh up to 30,000 lbs, exceeding the weight limit of 26,000 lbs. Because of this, you will definitely be required to have a special license to drive your vehicle. However, most Class A RVs don’t weigh 30,000 lbs and actually weigh less than the weight restrictions, which won’t require a special license. Just to be sure, always double-check your vehicle’s full weight with your stuff already inside it before going on the road to avoid any legal problems.

Class B RV License Requirements

“Van Life Marcia -1” by Quick Shot Photos is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

If you have a Class B motorhome, then you won’t need any of these special licenses. This type of motorhome only weighs 6,000 lbs up to 8,000 lbs, making it easy to navigate even on narrow roads. With this weight, no states in the US demand for any special license requirements.

Class C RV License Requirements

“Grand Canyon Mather Campground SR 6018” by Grand Canyon NPS is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Class C motorhomes are a common favorite among RVers because of their functionality and ability to make Class A luxuries smaller and more affordable. Because they only weigh around 10,000 lbs to 12,000 lbs, having Class C RVs do not require a special license.

Fifth-Wheel Trailer License Requirements

“File:Jayco fifth wheeler with shade.jpg” by Flickr: j2davis2005 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Fifth-wheel trailers can weigh up to 20,000 lbs. If your fifth-wheel trailer exceeds the weight limit of 15,000 lbs, you may be required to have a non-commercial special license. There are also some special requirements in some states regarding fifth-wheel trailer licensing as they are considered to be the largest type of towable RV.

Bus / Skoolie License Requirements

“Cruise in Style” by tdlucas5000 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

When you purchase a bus or skoolie for personal use, most states don’t require a special license for you to drive a bus unless you use it for commerce. However, like any of the types of motorhomes, the state will require you a special license when it exceeds the state’s weight limit for motorhomes.

States That Require Commercial Licenses

Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas, New Mexico, Washington, D.C.

Weighing over 26,000 lbs, these states will require a Class B commercial driver’s license. For multiple vehicles (towed or cargo), if the combined weight exceeds 26,000 lbs, a Class A CDL will be required.

Wisconsin

For vehicles longer than 45 feet, the state will require a CDL. The state of Wisconsin does not restrict vehicles based on weight.

States That Require Non-Commercial Special Licenses

Michigan

The state of Michigan requires a special Recreational Double R driver’s license endorsement only when you need to tow a fifth-wheel trailer.

Maryland, California, North Carolina, Nevada, Texas, Wyoming, Pennsylvania

These seven (7) states will require a single vehicle over 26,000 lbs a Class B non-commercial driver’s license. In the case of having towed vehicles, these additional vehicles will cause you to get a Class A endorsement when the combined weight exceeds 26,000 lbs.

New York

For motorhomes that exceed the weight limit, the state of New York requires a non-commercial Recreational Vehicle R endorsement.

South Carolina

A Class E non-commercial driver’s license will be required when a single vehicle exceeds the weight limit of 26,000 lbs. For multiple vehicles, however, a class F endorsement will be required when the combined weight exceeds the limit.

Make Things Easier

When in doubt, go smaller! If you want to opt for a much safer choice, you can always go with a Class B or Class C RV. Both of these motorhomes are less likely to exceed the weight limit of 26,000 lbs and could, therefore, save you the time of getting a special license. If you’re new to the RV life, then maybe starting with these smaller RVs is a good idea so you’d be more confident in navigating them!

Does the number of passengers affect what license I need for my RV?

The number of passengers can be a factor for the type of license you’re going to need for your motorhome or vehicle. This only happens though when you exceed 16 passengers in total but if it’s just you and a couple of friends, then you’re on the clear.

Do I need a special license to drive my RV in Canada?

No, you are not going to need a special license when you drive an RV in Canada. You can still use your own valid driver’s license if you plan to rent an RV to explore the great white north!

Conclusion

There is no straight answer to the question: do you need a special license to drive an RV? You can achieve that answer, however, by knowing what type of motorhome you have and how much it weighs. Each state has specific and special requirements that are mostly based on how much weight your vehicle has, but if you’re uncertain about some things beyond that, you can always contact your local DMV to avoid any trouble on the road.

Ash

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