Whether you are renting or planning to buy your own RV, this is something that all RVers should ask themselves…
“Do you need a special license to drive an RV?”
And the answer to this common question is that most of the time, all you need is your regular license. But there are times when there are specific requirements that you shouldn’t miss.
These requirements depend on some factors like which state you are in or what the total weight of the RV is.
I remember spending so much time looking into whether I need a special license or not before finally deciding to get my own RV.
It helped that there are many RV online communities with people who were in the same shoes as I was.
If you’re driving a normal-sized RV, your regular license is enough for you to drive around. But if your vehicle is the bigger type, then that’s another story.
Each state has different licensing requirements for bigger RVs. Some would require a special license only for vehicles that weigh more than 26,000 lbs, while others may require a special license if your vehicle carries more than 16 passengers.
So what is a normal-sized RV and what type needs special licensing then?
Read on as I give you a breakdown of what license you need before hitting the road.
Special License Requirements for RV Drivers
As I said, vehicles that weigh under 26,000 lbs usually do not require a special license.
This is true for all 50 states across the country. Which means, almost all RVs fit this specification.
If your vehicle weighs over that, then you must acquire license requirements for the type of RV you have.
There are two types of special licenses to be taken into consideration and each type has different specs: commercial and non-commercial.
A non-commercial driver’s license (non-CDL) is required in some states for vehicles that exceed a certain length or weight of less than 8,000 lbs.
A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is required for commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) such as passenger buses, trailers, semi-trucks, and dump trucks.
It has three classes that determine which kind of vehicle you are allowed to drive: Class A, Class B, and Class C.
The classification is also defined according to the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle.
To give you a general idea, Class A vehicles weigh around 13,000 to 30,000 lbs. On the other hand, Class B vehicles weigh between 6,000 to 8,000 lbs, and Class C vehicles weigh approximately 10,000 to 12,000 lbs.
In short, a vast majority of the vehicles are okay to drive using regular licences.
However, if you plan to drive a large RV, here’s a list of the states that require special licenses.
States that require CDL for RVs weighing more than 26,000 lbs.
- New Mexico
- Washington, D.C.
States that require non-CDL for RVs weighing more than 26,000 lbs.
- North Carolina
- New York
- South Carolina
The rest of the states not listed do not require any special driver’s license. However, as there may be changes in state regulations from time to time, do check before going interstate just to be sure you have everything covered.
Are There Any RV Driving Schools?
If you’re a beginner, you’d probably think that driving an RV around is just like driving a regular vehicle.
Maybe you’re like me who thought at first that my driving lessons back in the day and my years of driving experience is enough.
That wrongly placed confidence would’ve gotten me into trouble if an RVer friend didn’t convince me to enrol in an RV driving school.
Yes, there are driving schools specializing in driving RVs and other large vehicles. It taught me things I didn’t know I needed to learn.
And was I glad I took that advice!
It saved me from making all the mistakes I would’ve committed had I not taken those RV driving lessons.
Mind you, the curriculum wasn’t just about how to maneuver the vehicle. It taught me how to turn and park correctly in different situations.
I also learned defensive driving techniques which are critical in heavy traffic.
And what I enjoyed most is the module for safety inspection. Tinkering with the RV before each trip is something that is fun for me.
The first time I drove my RV, I felt kind of nervous when we got to the campground seeing the place almost packed.
It took me some time to get to it. But because my driving school taught me well, I got the hang of it in no time.
If you’re looking for an RV driving school, there are a lot of options with reasonable rates to choose from.
You don’t even have to travel to school because a lot of instructors would get to where you are to give you the training using your own RV. They’d bring you to the nearest campsite to teach you how to pull your vehicle safely into the campground.
But if you don’t really have the luxury of time to do all that, there are online training resources that you can take at home. This is a practical alternative that you shouldn’t miss.
What Classifies A Vehicle As An RV?
More commonly known as RV, it is a generic term for vehicles that have the same amenities you have at home.
Basic RVs typically have a kitchen and one or more sleeping quarters but may or may not have a bathroom.
The more luxurious types have added features such as air conditioning system, heater, television, and other facilities you can find in the comfort of your own home.
RVs can either be self-motorized or trailers which are towed behind your motor vehicles. While double-decked RVs exist, single-deckers are more common among RVers.
The four classifications of RVs are as follows:
- Class A – the largest and most luxurious among all RVs.
- Class B – usually called campervan. Majority will have a sleeping facility and a cooking area but may not have bathroom spaces.
- Class C – this is the middleground between Class A and Class B. It has a trailer built at the back of the truck that is often used as a private bedroom and separate compartments for toilet and bath.
- Towable RVs – these are detachable trailers towed behind trucks or vans and provide RVers with more space to utilize.
While you do not need a special license to drive an RV everywhere, it’s good to know beforehand what you need as different states have different laws. Prepare yourself before hitting the road to avoid violating any traffic rules.
Now that you know all about whether or not you need a special license to drive your RV, check out some of our top 10 RV trips to start planning your next great adventure!