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Old 03-08-2017, 04:07 PM   #1
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The big CDL question

Hey all, as stated in the new member area, I'm newly in the market for a bus and the biggest question I have right now is the issue of a CDL.

I understand that anything over 26000 lbs GVWR requires a CDL license.
I see buses for sale that are 8-9 window but due to axle weight have GVWR of 28-29000 and vice versa I've seen buses with 10 window having GVRW of 23500 lbs...

Recently I've seen a 12 window bus for sale on craigslist that has been partially converted and the seller claims you do not need a CDL to drive it yet all the 12 window buses I've seen are at least 27000 lbs...

Obviously there are a lot of larger bus conversions out there, do they all have CDLs?!?
I'm very confused about all of this!

Thanks in advance for any help!
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Old 03-08-2017, 04:32 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nightfury View Post
Hey all, as stated in the new member area, I'm newly in the market for a bus and the biggest question I have right now is the issue of a CDL.

I understand that anything over 26000 lbs GVWR requires a CDL license.
I see buses for sale that are 8-9 window but due to axle weight have GVWR of 28-29000 and vice versa I've seen buses with 10 window having GVRW of 23500 lbs...

Recently I've seen a 12 window bus for sale on craigslist that has been partially converted and the seller claims you do not need a CDL to drive it yet all the 12 window buses I've seen are at least 27000 lbs...

Obviously there are a lot of larger bus conversions out there, do they all have CDLs?!?
I'm very confused about all of this!

Thanks in advance for any help!
HI IF you fined out let me no as I am in fla too
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Old 03-08-2017, 05:01 PM   #3
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Your understanding is wrong,
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Old 03-08-2017, 05:22 PM   #4
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Your understanding is wrong,
I assume there was an explanation there that got lost?

I also forgot to mention, I called the MA state police the other day and the guy told me that even if converted to an RV it was built to be a school bus and would require a CDL...
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Old 03-08-2017, 05:22 PM   #5
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This is less an answer and more of a suggestion.

I think it's in a skoolie's best interest to have a CDL certified driver. It's weird that one needs a license to drive huge things like buses and semis, AND tiny things like motorcycles, but needs nothing to drive an RV.
When learning how to pass a CDL test you also learn more about your rig, most importantly about air brakes, which are quite different from your standard hydraulic brakes.
Not having a CDL, I hear, can also make getting a skoolie insured more difficult.

The best thing to do would probably be to contact the DOT in your state, since vehicles that require CDLs are their responsibility.
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Old 03-08-2017, 05:22 PM   #6
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everything is by state.. but in MOST states if you convert the title of your bus to a Motor-home and register it as a Motorhome, the CDL requirements do not apply...
your state should have an online resource for completing the task.. they are all a little different about it but similar.
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Old 03-08-2017, 05:24 PM   #7
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I assume there was an explanation there that got lost hehe

I also forgot to mention, I called the MA state police the other day and the guy told me that even if converted to an RV it was built to be a school bus and would require a CDL...

the TITLE and registration must be converted to Motorhome and then its effectively no longer a school bus...
-Christopher
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Old 03-08-2017, 05:26 PM   #8
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I assume there was an explanation there that got lost hehe

I also forgot to mention, I called the MA state police the other day and the guy told me that even if converted to an RV it was built to be a school bus and would require a CDL...
In Ca it goes by length , Under 40ft Class C only over 40ft Class B endorsement req, {Not a Class B license }, Your State police are wrong, once it's titled as a RV then RV rules apply,
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Old 03-08-2017, 05:29 PM   #9
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My shorty doesn't require a CDL. My big bus is a "mobile office" and doesn't either. Both are for personal use, in FL.
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Old 03-08-2017, 05:41 PM   #10
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Thanks for all the replies, it was very helpful!
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Old 03-21-2017, 07:31 PM   #11
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I was just looking at buses in Tampa (under 26k) and the dealer said that he would update the title to be RV or a Van and it wouldn't require a CDL. It has air brakes so is there a class or anything that I need to take? I hopped in and drove down the road just fine.
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Old 03-21-2017, 07:46 PM   #12
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I was just looking at buses in Tampa (under 26k) and the dealer said that he would update the title to be RV or a Van and it wouldn't require a CDL. It has air brakes so is there a class or anything that I need to take? I hopped in and drove down the road just fine.
You can make any bus into an RV by signing a paper and turning that paper in at the tag office.
Hard to find RV insurance for a converted school bus, let alone an un-converted "rv".
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Old 03-21-2017, 08:09 PM   #13
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You can make any bus into an RV by signing a paper and turning that paper in at the tag office.
Hard to find RV insurance for a converted school bus, let alone an un-converted "rv".
So you're thinking I'll have issues getting insurance on it and making it a food truck if I reclassify the title? Should I just get a CDL and be done with it and keep it as a bus on the paperwork?
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Old 03-21-2017, 08:12 PM   #14
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If the GVWR is 26 or higher you'll need a cdl for that food truck anyhow.
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Old 03-21-2017, 08:42 PM   #15
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If the GVWR is 26 or higher you'll need a cdl for that food truck anyhow.
But would that be the bus as-is (which both are 25,500), or would it have to be weighed once I got my equipment inside?
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Old 03-21-2017, 09:28 PM   #16
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But would that be the bus as-is (which both are 25,500), or would it have to be weighed once I got my equipment inside?
GROSS vehicle weight rating is from the manufacturer and how the laws are based concerning CDL's. You should really look into this stuff!
Its the maximum weight the vehicle is rated for.
If under 26k you will not need a cdl.

I'd not pay top dollar for leaky power steering or high miles, but do what you think is best.
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Old 03-22-2017, 03:32 AM   #17
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Regardless of the GVWR of the bus, once it has been retitled and licensed as an RV it will not require a CDL to drive it. Different states have different rules that classify non-commercial drivers licenses by weight class. The operative word being non-commercial.

If you are taking a bus and turning it into a food truck or any other sort of commercial business then you will need to make sure the GVWR is less than 26,000 lbs. If the GVWR is over 26,001 lbs. you will be required to have a Commercial Drivers License with the appropriate endorsements for things like air brakes. The operative word being commercial.

If the bus is required to have CDL driver driving it you will then be required to get a USDOT number in order to get a license on the vehicle. Getting a USDOT number then requires you to comply with a myriad of rules and regulations governing the use of the vehicle and who can drive it and when. You will then also be subject to random inspections of both your vehicle and your office paperwork to make sure you are operating safely and complying with all of the rules and regulations.

In other words, you do NOT want to turn a bus into a food truck if the GVWR is over 26,001 GVWR.
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Old 03-22-2017, 06:35 AM   #18
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In PA, you DO NOT need a CDL to drive a motor home. You DO need a CDL to drive a bus, and you need your air brake endorsement if it is equipped with them.

So, when you first buy your bus, and are still converting it, you technically need a class B CDL (assuming a full sized bus). This is because it is titled as a Bus, and GVWR is 26,001 or more.

If you change the title to a motor home, you no longer need a CDL. But in PA, it is commonly forgotten (by police, DMVs, RV sales, etc.) that you still need a Non-Commercial Class B license. Again, due to the GVWR. This becomes an issue if you get in an accident and your insurance drops you for not being properly licensed.


In PA, if you already have a Class C license (your typical license) then all you need to do is go to the DMV, pay $5, and they give you a permit. Then you need to schedule your test at a CDL testing facility because they always have someone capable of testing you in a vehicle of that weight rating, and your all set! This test is no different than a Class C, no special driver's manual, it's just in your Bus.

One area of grey that remains are the air brakes. Non-commercial licenses have no such air brake endorsement in PA, but some testing facilities will still make it part of the test if you show up in a vehicle with air brakes. Since air brakes are a foreign subject to most, I highly recommend being fully aware of what the state would expect you to know, and be ready to be tested on it. This will help prevent you from failing your test if they choose to test you on them, and it will make you more knowledgeable about your brakes. The testing requirements for air brakes can be found in Section 5 of PA's CDL Driver's Manual.


Hope this helps for Skoolies in PA!
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Old 03-22-2017, 06:51 AM   #19
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Thanks BeeLDub, I was planning on the Class B CDL but didn't know that a air brake endorsement might be part of that. Thanks for the head up.
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Old 03-22-2017, 10:47 AM   #20
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It also sounds like we would need class B licences to enter and exit Canada, even though we're not required to have a class B in the US. I'm unaware of any such policy in Mexico, but maybe someone else can put some light on that issue.
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