Do You Need a Special License To Drive an RV

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RVing is quickly becoming one of the most popular ways to travel - more and more people are beginning to recognize the benefits of owning or even renting a recreational vehicle. For good reason too! RVs offer the flexibility and freedom to travel where and when you want, while saving money on things such as hotel and airline costs. It’s pretty much a no-brainer to choose RVing for your next vacation. What’s slightly more complicated, though, is figuring out the proper licensing. Do you need a special license to drive an RV or a motorhome? If finding out the answer to that question is what’s holding you back from hitting the open road, you don’t have to worry any longer. While it’s not a simple yes or no answer, it doesn’t have to be confusing.

RV Driver License Requirements

You may hear people say that a regular old driver license is all you need to travel the country in an RV, and that is true most of the time, but not always! There are many factors that contribute to which type of license is needed, such as the state you’re traveling in, the weight of the vehicle, and even the length of the vehicle. RVs under 26,000 pounds don’t require a special license in any one of the 50 states, but if your rig weighs in any higher than that, you might be in need of a special license. So, while in most cases you won’t need to worry about meeting any fancy RV or motorhome license requirements, there are circumstances that will call for it. Along with the factors that determine where and when you’ll need a special license, there’s also two classes of license to be considered, commercial and non-commercial.

What States Require a Special License for RVs?

Most of the time RV licensing is simple and there’s nothing to worry about. But, if you’re not entirely sure that your RV meets the requirements to drive under a basic driver license, it’s better to be safe than sorry! The following states require a special license for driving an RV - but remember, not all of these states have the exact same requirements; some require different license classes and have different length and weight requirements. It's always a good idea to check your state’s specific laws before you hit the road.

● California
● Maryland
● Michigan
● North Carolina
● New Mexico
● Nevada
● Pennsylvania
● Texas
● Washington, D.C.
● Wyoming

Do You Need a CDL to Drive an RV?

While all this information may already seem a tad bit overwhelming, there is one more area that should be considered. That’s commercial driver licenses, or CDLs. This special type of license is used for driving commercial vehicles such as city buses. Sometimes, however, a CDL is required for driving an RV. There are eight states in particular that require a commercial license for RVs that clock in at higher than the maximum weight requirements:

● Connecticut
● Hawaii
● Kansas
● Michigan
● New York
● South Carolina
● Indiana
● Wisconsin

Remember, once again, that each state’s specific requirements vary, and should be looked into before beginning an RV journey. One more thing that might cause you some concern is figuring out do you need a CDL to drive an RV with air brakes. Thankfully, the answer to that question is pretty simple! Air brakes alone don’t determine whether you need a special license, that’s all up to the weight of your vehicle. However, while you might not need a CDL, some states may require you to get an air brake endorsement on your license.

Do You Need a Special License to Drive a Class C RV?

Are you feeling overwhelmed yet? It’s understandable if you are; there’s a lot of information to take in, and it can be daunting for someone that’s new to the RV world. Luckily, there’s an easy solution for newcomers. To avoid the stress of combing through long and sometimes confusing licensing laws, you can just rent an RV that’s under 26,000 pounds, which ensures that you won’t need a special license. There’s a type of motorhome that’s perfect for that job, too! Almost all class C RVs are under the weight requirement for a basic driver license. It’s almost impossible to find one that requires a species license! On top of that, they’re one of the easiest rigs to drive since they’re built on the chassis of a van or truck and are smaller than most motorhomes. They’re a great first choice for beginner RVers, it’s just one less headache for you to deal with!

What About a Special License to Drive an RV in Canada?

What if you’re planning on heading north, past U.S. borders? You might be worried about having the proper licensing, which is understandable, especially since Canadian law varies throughout the provinces just like in the U.S. There’s no need to fret, though! Unless you live in Canada, all you have to do is make sure that you meet the licensing requirements of your home state! If you’re good to go at home, you’re ready to explore the great wild north!


While it might seem like it first when you first start your research, figuring out the legalities of driving an RV doesn’t have to be challenging, confusing, or frustrating. True, there are many factors to consider, but once you know what you’re looking for it’s actually quite easy! Remember the rule of thumb, 26,000 and up might need a special license, below 26,000 is ready to hit the road with only a basic valid driver's license. If you want to be sure to avoid any confusion with licensing, choose a smaller RV such as a class B or C. And most importantly, when in doubt, contact your local DMV to find out for sure what your state laws are! If you follow these simple rules, you’ll be enjoying your stress-free road trip in no time at all! Happy travels!