You’re planning to hit the road in your new RV. It’s been fueled it up, you’ve packed everything you need, and the family is ready to go. However, before you hit the road, you may have some questions. One such question which many people have has to do with the proper licensing required to drive an RV. Do you need a special license to drive an RV?
It’s a question which many people have. Generally speaking, you most likely will not require any special kind of license to drive an RV. That said, this does differ from one state to the next, so it’s not quite as straightforward as we made it out to be. Let’s talk about what kind of license you need to drive an RV, and if it is anything special.
Do You Need a Special License for an RV?
For the most part, no, you do not require any kind of special license to drive an RV in the United States. If you are using the RV for personal use, such as for you and your family, your regular driver’s license will be enough, in most cases. Now, this does change if you plan on being a chauffeur of sorts, because as soon as you start accepting money in exchange for transportation, you become a commercial entity.
Commercial entities, such as bus charters, or if you use your RV to transport people, it is defined as a commercial activity, and therefore you will require a CDL or commercial driver’s license. However, if you are just on the road for personal pleasure, in most circumstances, a CDL or NCDL is not required.
RV Length and Weight
Something that is important to know in this regard is how the weight of an RV is measured. When RVs are measured, in regard to what license you require, something called the GVW or gross vehicle weight is used. The gross vehicle weight is calculated by adding the total weight of the RV to the weight of your cargo on board.
Specific States and Their Laws
As mentioned above, there are some states which require special licensing in order to drive an RV, especially if it is a very large RV over 26,000 pounds. Below we have a list of states which do not require any special license no matter what, a list of the states which require a CDL, and ones which require a special noncommercial driver’s license.
No Special License
In these states, even if the weight of the RV exceeds 26,000 pounds, you still won’t need any kind of special license besides your normal class D license.
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
A CDL (Commercial Driver License)
These are the states where you will need a special class A or B commercial driver’s license if your RV exceeds 45 feet in length or 26,000 pounds.
- Arkansas (If the GVWR is over 26,000 pounds)
- Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas, New Mexico, Washington, DC (for single motorhomes over 26,000 a class B license is required. If the RV is over 26,000 pounds and you are towing a car, apply for a class A license)
- Wisconsin – (CDL is required if the RV is over 45 feet long)
Special Driver’s License (Non-Commercial)
Here we have the list of states where you need a special non-commercial driver’s license given certain circumstances.
- California (If the RV exceeds 26,000 pounds or 40 feet, you require a class B license. If the RV is over 10,000 pounds that is being towed, you will need a class A license)
- Maryland – (Requires a class B license)
- Michigan – If you have a trailer and a fifth wheel)
- North Carolina – (If the RV exceeds 26,000 pounds you require a class B license. If the RV is over 10,000 pounds that is being towed, you will need a class A license)
- Nevada – (Motorhomes require a class B license. A class A license is required for multiple RVs being towed with a combined weight of over 26,000 pounds)
- New York – (Requires “R” endorsement for any motorhome over 26,000 pounds)
- Pennsylvania – (Class B license required)
- South Carolina – (Class E license required for a single motorhome. Class F license required for multiple RVs over 26,000 pounds)
- Texas – (If the RV exceeds 26,000 pounds you require a class B license. If the RV is over 10,000 pounds that is being towed, you will need a class A license)
- Wyoming – (For motorhomes under 10,000 pounds, a class B license is required. If you are towing a vehicle and have an RV, with a combined weight of over 36,000 pounds, you will require a class A license)
The fact of the matter is that in most US states, for most RV sizes, you do not need any special kind of license to drive it. Yes, there are some states which require a commercial or a noncommercial driver’s license, especially for very large and heavy RVs.
However, for the most part, besides your regular driver’s license, you won’t need anything special to drive your RV.
That said, always be sure to check the laws in the state which you live, as well as in the states you will be traveling through, for the exact requirements.