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Do you need a special license or CDL to drive an RV?

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One of the most common questions when purchasing a new RV is whether you need a special license to drive it. In the majority of cases, you do not need a special license, however, it depends on the state you live in, the weight and size of your RV.

Although most states will not require a special license to operate an RV, it’s important to check the requirements of your state’s DMV. Some states require you to update your license to accommodate your RV type. Generally, RVs under 26,000 pounds do not require additional licensing. This includes Class B RVs, Class C, Toy Haulers, Travel Trailers, Fifth Wheels and Pop-up Campers. There are even some Class A motorhomes that are below 26,000 pounds that you are able to drive without special license requirements. Other states require additional licensing for RVs above a certain length.

One of the most common questions when purchasing a new RV is whether you need a special license to drive it. In the majority of cases, you do not need a special license, however, it depends on the state you live in, the weight and size of your RV.

Although most states will not require a special license to operate an RV, it’s important to check the requirements of your state’s DMV. Some states require you to update your license to accommodate your RV type. Generally, RVs under 26,000 pounds do not require additional licensing. This includes Class B RVs, Class C, Toy Haulers, Travel Trailers, Fifth Wheels and Pop-up Campers. There are even some Class A motorhomes that are below 26,000 pounds that you are able to drive without special license requirements. Other states require additional licensing for RVs above a certain length.

Types of Motorhome and RV Licensing Requirements

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What is the average weight of an RV? Class C RVs range between 10,000 to 12,000 pounds, where Class B RVs range between 6,000 to 14,000 pounds and the average weight of Class A RVs is 13,000 to 30,000 pounds.

Class A RVs are one of the types that you may need special licensing to operate because they weigh, on average, between 13,000 to 30,000 pounds, which is above the 26,000 threshold. Some Class A RVs are not this heavy, therefore, will not require special licensing. Make sure to check your RVs full load weight before you hit the road.

Class B RVs are typically in the clear! These RVs are smaller and tend to weigh, on average, between 6,000 to 14,000 pounds. No states require Class B RVs under 26,000 pounds to carry a special license.

Class C RVs have similar luxuries to a Class A RV, but with its smaller size, Class C RVs are unlikely to have special licensing requirements. The average weight of a Class C RV is 10,000 to 12,000 pounds, which is under the 26,000 limit.

What Are the DIfferent Types of Licenses?

Each state has its own requirements for special RV licensing. What are the different types of licenses you ask? They include CDL (Class A or Class B) and R Registration. Most vehicles under the threshold limits of 26,000 pounds will not require extra licensing. A common mistake often made is thinking you do not need a CDL license in states that require it if you’re not using your RV for commercial use. That is not always the case.

CDL License or Commercial Drivers License is the same kind of license commercial drivers and truckers use. A non-commercial CDL special license may be required by your state for those looking to drive a large, weighty vehicle for your own private purposes. There are two separate classes of CDL licenses:

Class A CDL is any combination of vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of 26,001 or more pounds provided the gross weight of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.

Class B CDL is any single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing a vehicle not in excess of 10,000 pounds gross weight.

R Registration License is additional registration on your license in your state for recreational vehicles.

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What States Require a Special License?

A small handful of states require additional licensing, such as a CDL, Class A or Class B, and R Registration for RVs over a certain weight or size.

States that require additional licensing include:

  • Arkansas CDL for vehicles over 26,000 pounds gross weight.
  • California Class B non-commercial license for motorhomes over 40 feet, trailers weighing over 10,000 pounds, or fifth wheels weighing over 15,000 pounds.
  • Connecticut CDL (Class B) required for a single vehicle over 26,000 lb; CDL (Class A) required for multiple vehicles with combined weight over 26,000 pounds.
  • Hawaii class A, B, and C CDL requirements for RVs over 26,000 pounds or multiple vehicles over 26,000 pounds gross weight.
  • Kansas CDL for RVs over 26,000 pounds or multiple vehicles over 26,000 pounds gross weight.
  • Maryland Class B non-commercial license for vehicles weighing over 26,000 pounds.
  • Michigan If you are towing a fifth-wheel plus a trailer behind that, you need a license called a recreational double “R” endorsement on top of your regular operator license.
  • New Mexico You need a Class B license for a single vehicle over 26,000 pounds; you need a Class A license to drive a combination of vehicles that weigh over 26,000 pounds.
  • New York R Registration for RVs with a gross combined vehicle weight over 26,000 pounds.
  • Nevada You need a Class B license for a single vehicle over 26,000 pounds; you need Class A license to drive a combination of vehicles that weigh over 26,000 pounds.
  • North Carolina You need a Class B license for a single vehicle over 26,000 pounds; you need a Class A license to drive a combination of vehicles that weigh over 26,000 pounds.
  • Pennsylvania You need a Class A non-commercial license for over 26,000 pounds with trailers; you need a Class B non-commercial license to drive a vehicle weighing over 26,000 pounds.
  • Texas Class B non-commercial license for single or gross combined vehicle weight over 26,000 pounds.
  • Washington DC You need a CDL Class B license for a single vehicle over 26,000 pounds; you need a Class A license to drive a combination of vehicles that weigh over 26,000 pounds.
  • Wisconsin Requires a CDL over 45 feet.
  • Wyoming You need Class A non-commercial license for vehicles over 26,000 pounds and towing over 10,000 pounds; you need a Class B non-commercial license to drive a vehicle weighing over 26,000 pounds and towed vehicles weighing under 10,000 pounds.
  • Some states’ rules may vary and change so always check with your DMV. The standard rule is that any vehicle under 26,000 pounds, gross weight, generally does not require a special license. This applies to Motorhomes as well as towables such as travel trailers, fifth wheels and toy haulers.

    States the DO NOT require a special drivers license include:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • North dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
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    Where can you go for help?

    Typically, if your RV is under 26,000, in most states you will not need additional licensing to operate your RV. The general rule is to double check with your state DMV for guidance. If you’re still unsure, reach out to our team at Lakeshore RV for help! We would be happy to assist you in navigating the rules and regulations of each states’ guidelines for operating an RV. Give us a call today! 231-788-2040 https://lakeshore-rv.com/