Iowa CDL Requirements

Once known as a corn farming state, Iowa's economy is now much more diverse than that. Financial services, heavy industry, IT, biotech and green technology now make up the rich and diverse Midwestern state. The state capital is Des Moines, a city of just over 200,000 people. Today, it's known as one of the insurance capitals of the country. Despite its history as farmland, it's not a flat landscape. It's largely rolling hills from west to east and north to south, with the northeast making up the Driftless Zone of the Mississippi River. It's home to its own set of "Iowa Great Lakes" in the north-west which also contains remnants of a wetland past. It joined the Union in 1846 as the 29th state, previously having been part of French Louisiana and Spanish Louisiana.

Which CDL Licenses are Available in Iowa?

The state of Iowa offers the following driver's licenses. Applicants must pass all required tests before legally permitted to drive a CMV.

Class A CDL

Applicants should apply for this license type if they are required to drive a vehicle weighing 26,001lbs or heavier that tow trailers 10,000lbs or heavier

Class B CDL

Applicants should apply for this license type if they are required to drive a vehicle weighing 26,001lbs or heavier that tow trailers lighter than 10,000lbs

Class C CDL

Applicants should apply for this license type if they are required to drive vehicle lighter than 26,001lbs. Class C also applies to hazmat vehicles and passenger vehicles for 16+ or more users

Class D License

Applicants require the standard driving license before being permitted to apply for the above

For A-C classes, applicants must fulfil minimum criteria in medical examinations, then pass a general knowledge test and a practical driving test. Endorsements (for such vehicles as combination vehicles and tankers) mean additional testing. See more here:

CDL Eligibility in Iowa

Iowa is required to submit to Federal laws in some cases but permitted to set standards beyond those Federal requirements. Each state government regulation is subject to regular review to ensure it works for safety, industry efficiency and technology. TSA screening and medical tests are required for all CDL applicants in Iowa.

License and Permits

  • You are required to have a regular driver's license in for a minimum period of two years without any current penalties
  • Health tests are required with all applicants required to fulfil minimum health standards on such issues as eyesight
  • While not obligatory, most applicants will benefit from one of many CDL education courses
  • You must pass both a written exam and practical driving test


  • Only applicants aged 18 and over may apply for a CDL
  • Only applicants aged 21 and over may drive in other states
  • Only applicants aged 21 and over may drive hazmat vehicles
  • 18-year-old applicants are limited to drive their CMV only within the state

Proof of Residence of Iowa

  • All applicants must provide proof of current Iowa residence. Address must be current; by law, any change must be registered within 30 days
  • You must provide ID at the time of application
  • Your Social Security Number Card is required

CDL Requirements for Iowa Residents

  • Your standard driver's license must have been issued in Iowa. Address must be current
  • A valid Social Security Number Card is a legal requirement
  • Present valid proof of insurance
  • TSA screening and further security testing may be required of you

Iowa CDL Requirements for Out-of-State Residents and Transfers

Each state may set its own criteria and requirements for out of state applicants:

  • You will be required to surrender your license from another state and convert it to an Iowa license
  • If your license is no more than two years out of date, only a simple transfer is required
  • You will be required to present proof of US citizenship or Permanent Residence
  • Details of your address in Iowa is required, as is your SSN
  • If you have any present and valid medical documentation in support of your CDL application, you must present them with your application. Otherwise, you will be subject to medical testing
  • If you are in possession of exemptions, you must present these too

Non-U.S. Citizen Requirements for Iowa CDL

Non-US Citizens may apply for a CDL so long as you have a right to reside in the US as a Permanent Resident. Iowa may require further documentation:

  • The Permanent Resident Card issued on arrival and any other associated paperwork
  • Foreign passport or other official documentation relating to your country of residence (a birth certificate)
  • Your home address in Iowa, including proof of residency
  • Your driver's license from your country of birth may support your application and should be presented if you still have it. Iowa Department of Transport may require that you surrender it permanently

Do I Need a CDL?

Iowa introduced a military waiver scheme in 2012, referred to nationwide informally as "Troops to Trucks". Under the scheme, serving military personnel on the verge of retiring or recently retired (between 90 days and one year of discharge) may bypass the driving test. Applicants must successfully complete the written test and any required extra sections for further license endorsements. Personnel qualified to drive heavy military vehicles will also be exempt from the driving section of the test. Firefighters and police drivers have a special status in some cases. Check the Iowa DOT for further details.

For all applicants, any current driving convictions will render your application ineligible including DUI (including drugs and alcohol), leaving the scene of an accident and excess speed. Should your driver's license have been revoked, suspended or canceled for any reason, this too will render you ineligible for a CDL. This will include felonies involving motor vehicles.

Further waivers are:

  • Drivers of hazmat vehicles of small volume
  • Any person, when directed by a peace officer, is permitted special permission to drive a CMV in any emergency situation
  • Drivers of RVs
  • Farm vehicle drivers within a radius of 150 miles of their farm, ranch or other place of work
  • When instructed to operate an emergency clearing vehicle
  • Firefighting, police and other large military public service equipment

Medical and Physical CDL Requirements

  • All applicants for a CDL in Iowa must submit to all necessary medical tests. Please see the resource link at the end of the article for authorized medical professionals nationwide
  • Upon completion of the medical tests, the applicant receives two documents: a Medical Examination Report Form and a Medical Examiner's Certificate
  • These documents are required in support of your application and should be forwarded to Iowa DOT
  • At the time of submission, applicants may apply for a CDL for intrastate or interstate driving. The former is within the borders of Iowa; the latter permits travel to other states
  • Your Federal Medical Card will be issued once Iowa DOT is satisfied with your eligibility. Interstate drivers need the FMC
  • Any applicant that fails medical testing you apply for Iowa DOT restrictions
  • In most cases, as an employee of a business, your employer will pay for medical testing. If this is the case, queries should go through the employer

Background Check for CDL Applicants

All applicants are required to submit their personal details for TSA screening. In some cases such as hazmat driving, you will also be required to submit fingerprints for further checks. Only US citizens and permanent residents may apply for a CDL.

CDL Testing in Iowa

You are not permitted to apply for the Knowledge Exam or the Driver's Test prior to medical testing and TSA screening.

CDL Knowledge Test

Iowa's Knowledge Test is 50 a series of multiple choice general knowledge questions. Should you require license endorsements, you will need to answer 20 further questions per endorsement.

CDL Road Skills Tests

You are only permitted to take the road skills test once you have passed the Knowledge Test.

  • The examiner will check the vehicle to ensure roadworthiness including road safety checks
  • The examiner will then require the applicant to demonstrate control over the vehicle's adjustable features such as mirrors
  • Once demonstrated that the applicant understands the vehicles basic controls will he or she be permitted to take the Driving Test in normal road conditions

Iowa CDL Office Locations

In Iowa, CDL licenses are issued by the Secretary of State. Office locations are as follows:

In Ames

  • Driver's License Station
    3708 Lincoln Way
    Ames, IA 50014
    (515) 296-2393
  • County Treasurer's Office
    900 Sixth St.
    Nevada, IA 50201
    (515) 382-7340
  • County Treasurer's Office
    201 State St., Ste. 9
    Boone, IA 50036
    (515) 433-0522
  • County Treasurer's Office
    2300 Superior St.
    Webster City, IA 50595
    (515) 832-9540

In Cedar Falls

  • County Treasurer's Office
    428 6th St.
    Allison, IA 50602
    (319) 267-2145
  • Fayette County Treasurer's Office
    25 West Charles St.
    Oelwein, IA 50662
    (319) 283-4080

In Cedar Rapids

  • County Treasurer's Office
    901 Court Ave.
    Marengo, IA 52301
    (319) 642-3371

In Council Bluffs

  • County Treasurer's Office
    227 S. Sixth St.
    Council Bluffs, IA 51503
    (712) 328-5631
  • Department of Transportation Driver License Office
    1751 Madison Ave., Ste. 330
    Council Bluffs, IA 51503
    (712) 323-1219
  • County Treasurer's Office
    418 Sharp St.
    Glenwood, IA 51534
    (712) 527-5314
  • County Treasurer's Office
    111 N. Second Ave.
    Logan, IA 51546
    (712) 644-2371
  • County Treasurer's Office
    612 Court St. Room 207
    Harlan, IA 51537
    (712) 755-5898

In Davenport

  • County Treasurer's Office
    600 W. Fourth St.
    Davenport, IA 52801
    (563) 326-8664
  • Department of Transportation
    902 W. Kimberly Rd., Suite 6D
    Davenport, IA 52806
    (563) 386-1050
  • Department of Transportation
    1903 Park Ave.
    Muscatine, IA 52761
    (563) 263-5414
  • County Treasurer's Office
    414 E. Third St.
    Muscatine, IA 52761
    (563) 263-6764
  • Department of Transportation
    316 S. Second St.
    Clinton, IA 52732
    (563) 243-7144
  • County Treasurer's Office
    1900 N. Third St.
    Clinton, IA 52732
    (563) 244-0573

In Des Moines

  • County Treasurer's Office
    111 Court Ave.
    Des Moines, IA 50309
    (515) 286-3030
  • Department of Transportation Driver License Office (Note: this office is only for license renewals)
    2339 Euclid Ave.
    Des Moines, IA 50310
    (515) 244-1052
  • Driver's License Station
    6310 S.E. Convenience Blvd.
    Ankeny, IA 50021
    (515) 244-1052
  • County Treasurer's Office
    301 N. Buxton, Ste. 102
    Indianola, IA 50125
    (515) 961-1144
  • County Treasurer's Office
    918 Court St.
    Adel, IA 50003
    (515) 993-6992
  • County Treasurer's Office
    112 N. John Wayne Drive
    Winterset, IA 50273
    (515) 462-1542

In Dubuque

  • County Treasurer's Office
    720 Central Ave.
    Dubuque, IA 52001
    (563) 589-4450
  • Department of Transportation
    2460 Gateway Drive
    Dubuque, IA 52003
    (563) 583-9844
  • County Treasurer's Office
    340 First Ave. E.
    Dyersville, IA 52040
    (563) 875-6052
  • County Treasurer's Office
    201 W. Platt St.
    Maquoketa, IA 52060
    (563) 652-2617
  • County Treasurer's Office
    500 W. Main St. Room 106
    Anamosa, IA 52205
    (319) 462-2137
  • County Treasurer's Office
    111 High St. NE
    Elkader, IA 52043
    (563) 245-1807

In Iowa City

  • County Treasurer's Office
    913 S. Dubuque St.
    Iowa City, IA 52240
    (319) 356-6091
  • Department of Transportation Driver License Office
    1700 S. First Ave.
    Iowa City, IA 52240
    (319) 338-5294
  • Driver License Office
    3726 Queen Court SW, Suite 204
    Cedar Rapids, IA 52404
    (319) 377-6461
  • County Treasurer's Office
    400 Cedar St.
    Tipton, IA 52772
    (563) 886-2557
  • County Treasurer's Office
    935 Second St. SW
    Cedar Rapids, IA 52404
    (319) 892-5500
  • County Treasurer's Office
    222 W. Main St.
    Washington, IA 52353
    (319) 653-7789

In Sioux City

  • County Treasurer's Office
    822 Douglas St. Trosper-Hoyt Building
    Sioux City, IA 51101
    (712) 279-6500
  • Department of Transportation
    3005 Hamilton Blvd.
    Sioux City, IA 51104
    (712) 255-5539
  • County Treasurer's Office
    215 4th Ave. SE
    Le Mars, IA 51031
    (712) 546-1663
  • County Treasurer's Office
    610 Iowa Ave.
    Onawa, IA 51040
    (712) 433-9566
  • County Treasurer's Office
    104 First St. SE
    Orange City, IA 51041
    (712) 737-8430
  • Sioux County Treasurer's Office (Driver's License)
    251 North Main Ave.
    Sioux Center, IA 51250
    (712) 722-2923

In Waterloo

  • County Treasurer's Office
    316 E. Fifth St.
    Waterloo, IA 50703
    (319) 833-3013
  • County Treasurer's Office
    415 E. Bremer Ave. Room 101
    Waverly, IA 50677
    (319) 352-2615
  • County Treasurer's Office
    210 Fifth Ave. NE
    Independence, IA 50644
    (319) 334-2005
  • County Treasurer's Office
    706 G Ave.
    Grundy Center, IA 50638
    (319) 824-1212 ext 1
  • Benton County Treasurer's Office Driver's License
    111 E. Fourth St.
    Vinton, IA 52349
    (319) 472-2450

Iowa CDL Endorsements

Iowa's CDL endorsements include:

  • H: for hazardous material (HazMat) vehicles
  • N: for tank vehicles
  • P: For passenger vehicles
  • S: for school buses
  • T: for double and triple trailers
  • X: for tank vehicles to carry fluid and/or gas

Iowa CDL Disqualifications

CMV drivers when in possession of a CDL have higher driving standards with driving quality. Therefore, convictions for CDL drivers are often more severe. The following are offences under Federal law:

  • A blood alcohol reading at 0.04% or above while CDL holder is driving a CMV
  • A blood alcohol reading at 0.08% or above while CDL holder is driving any other type of vehicle
  • The driver refuses to take a test when directed, to record levels of blood alcohol and controlled substances
  • The driver registers a positive result when tested for controlled substances
  • The driver is involved in an accident and fails to report it when driving any vehicle
  • The driver is involved in an accident and leaves the scene
  • Using any CMV for felonies other than traffic related offences
  • Where recklessness leads to a fatality
  • Driving a CMV knowing that your license is revoked, suspended or canceled

For all of the above offences, each first instance carries a 12-month disqualification. Each second offences result in your CDL's life suspension. Courts in Iowa may impose further punishment. Hazmat drivers are subject to further penalties. Three-year disqualifications will apply to a first offence. Abusing a CMV for offences involving controled substances results in a life suspension. If an alcohol test registers a reading .04% or lower, You will be subject to a 24-hour suspension.

There are lesser offences resulting in lower penalties for infractions. Any second offence from the below list in three years means a 60-day suspension (no penalty for a first offence); third offences in same three-year period results in a 120-day suspension:

  • Driving at a speed in excess of 15mph above the legal limit
  • Instances of dangerous or reckless driving
  • Risking the safety of other road users through erratic driving. This includes improper lane changing
  • Driving close to vehicles in front deemed dangerous - referred to as "tailgating"
  • Failure to comply with Iowa's state laws on what to do during a fatal accident
  • Driving a CMV without legally holding a CDL
  • Driving a CMV without legal and sufficient CDL privileges
  • Driving a CMV without legal and sufficient endorsements where required
  • Driving a CMV while not in possession of your CDL

Out of Service violations are when an inspector decides your vehicle is unsafe, requiring repairs. Driving a vehicle in this condition incurs a 90-day disqualification for a first offence. Second offences result in a ten-year disqualification. Hazmat vehicle equivalents are a two-year disqualification for a first offence and 3-10 years disqualification for a second offence.

Iowa's railroad violations:

  • The driver fails to slow to check the tracks are clear of trains at a crossing where not required to stop
  • The driver fails to stop before reach the crossing when the tracks are not clear of trains or traffic on the other side of the crossing
  • The driver fails to stop before driving on to the crossing at a junction where vehicle is always required to stop
  • The driver does not leave sufficient space to drive through the crossing without needing to stop at any point
  • Where traffic control devices or an enforcement officer is present, failing to obey instructions
  • Where insufficient undercarriage clearance leads to a failure to negotiate the crossing

A 60-day disqualification will apply to any first offence from the list above and a 120-day penalty for any second offence in a three-year period. A 12-month suspension (minimum) applies to a third offence in the same period.

Iowa CDL Salary, Employment, and Prospects

BLS is a Federal government body researching employment data in the US. Most recent information suggests a growth of 5% in the period 2014-2024 for all driving jobs. The national average of all jobs is presently 7%. Therefore, commercial driving is growing at a lower than average rate. Technology and a rise in outsourcing to self-employed drivers could account for this slowdown.

Heavy Trucks

Driving heavy transport vehicles is traditionally the better-paid of commercial vehicle driving. National averages are $41,340 salaried employees and $19.87ph for hourly paid employees. The salary range $26,920 the lowest 10% pay grade and $63,140 for the highest. The salary for heavy truck drivers in Iowa reflects this national average at $41,620 and hourly pay $19.11 (median) and $20.01 (mean).

Light Trucks

Small transport vehicle jobs expect a 4% growth between 2014 and 2024, largely due to the rise in self-employed delivery driving. National averages are $34,790 salaried and $16.73 hourly. Light truck driving in Iowa is just below the national averages. Iowa average salary is $32,970 and $14.30 (median) and $15.85 (mean).

Passenger Vehicles

Bus driving has a projected 6% increase in job openings and employment between 2014 and 2024. This is approximately the national average of all jobs. Average national salary stands at $31,920 and hourly pay average is $14.96. Prospective bus drivers in Iowa have an average salary of $33,370 which is slightly higher than average. Hourly pay equivalents are $15.76 (median) and $16.05 (mean).

BLS Source:

Resources for Iowa CDL Requirements

Learn more about Iowa trucking schools.

Truck Driver Salary in Iowa

Location 25th Percentile 75th Percentile Annual Salary
United States $31,270 $48,330 $38,700
Iowa $30,590 $48,120 $39,960
Ames, IA $30,590 $45,030 $36,410
Cedar Rapids, IA $35,820 $46,770 $41,830
Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL $31,740 $46,550 $39,420
Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA $35,270 $53,020 $43,620
Dubuque, IA $29,800 $45,940 $38,330
Iowa City, IA $40,990 $51,070 $44,980
Sioux City, IA-NE-SD $33,130 $45,800 $38,990
Waterloo-Cedar Falls, IA $25,850 $44,240 $32,230

Table data taken from 2015 BLS (