Is it hard to get the Hazmat Endorsement for CDL

May 6, 2021

While it’s not necessarily hard to get the hazmat endorsement for a commercial driver’s license, it does require time, patience, and lots of studying.  It also requires a good driving record to prove you can consistently respect the rules of the road.

If you’re a  truck driver who wants to gain more opportunities (and earning power), then, adding hazmat transportation to your list of skills can be very lucrative. Drivers with the hazmat endorsement on their CDL  are highly sought after in many states.  These drivers have many opportunities for mobility, and their salaries reflect their special skills.  Understanding the basic facts of hazmat transportation is key for aspiring hazmat drivers.

Hazmat transportation is the conveying of hazardous materials such as; peroxide, flammable gasses, nitrate, radioactive substances, and explosives from one location to another.

The hazmat endorsement gives permission to qualTRANSPOified truck drivers to transport large amounts of hazardous materials. The endorsement of these drivers is carried out by the state governmental body ‘The Transportation Security Administration’ (TSA).

The commercial driver’s license (CDL) does not automatically give truck drivers the Hazmat endorsement from the DOT.

So how do CDL holders become Hazmat drivers?

The endorsement of drivers for the transportation of Hazmat materials follows due procedures and involves specific requirements.

In the states, before a CDL holder can begin the application process for Hazmat endorsement, the following requirements have to be met.

Must be a U.S citizen

Hazmat endorsement for drivers in the U.S is mainly open to citizens of the United States. Without citizenship or proof of legal status in the U.S, the endorsement cannot be granted.

Must be at least 21 years old 

Although the legal age to get a driver’s license in the U.S is 16 years, to become a Hazmat driver the driver has to be at least 21 years old.

Possess a valid CDL 

The driver should have a valid CDL in the state where they intend to submit their Hazmat application. If their CDL isn’t valid in that state, there’s a possibility their application t could be rejected.

FMCSA Approved Hazmat Endorsement Education

Individuals who wish to add a Hazardous Materials Endorsement (H) onto their CDL license will need to complete this course before they will be permitted to take their knowledge test for hazardous materials.
How do I get hazmat endorsement on my CDL

Own a valid DOT health card

A DOT health card is needed for commercial drivers license holders because the card certifies a  good health state for the driver.  It is absolutely necessary for drivers who want to gain the Hazmat endorsement.

A DOT includes the testing of; eye vision, hearing capacity, color recognition, etc. According to the FMCSA in the state of New Jersey, the card is valid for 24 months. To get the hazmat endorsement, the  DOT card has to be up to date.

Have no unlawful offences

Because the transportation of hazardous materials requires the expertise of a careful driver. Potential Hazmat drivers must be able to prove they have a safe driving record. . They must have no history of traffic violations.  They must absolutely have no history of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A serious past driving offence can put an end to the application of a would-be Hazmat driver. 

If a CDL holder meets all requirements above, the process of applying for a  hazmat endorsement can begin. The steps of this process are  as follows:

Fill out the Hazmat endorsement application

The application is needed for the government body in charge of the Hazmat endorsement, so they have key information on the driver to help them make their decision.

This application can be carried out online or in-person at either a DMV OR TSA center. This can vary from state to state, so applicants should check before they apply.

Also, the application process involves submitting fingerprints. Without fingerprints, the process can not be completed and accepted.

All necessary documents such as a drivers’ CDL, DOT card, and birth certificate must be shown as part of the application.

The applicant will need to pay a fee to submit their application.   This fee varies from state to state but is around  $90 on average. 

Complete  a background check

After the submission of a hazmat driver application, a  background check on the applicant is carried out by the TSA to determine if the driver is eligible for approval.

An applicant is required to submit all necessary information in order for the TSA to complete the background check. Without including this information,  the driver’s application is likely to be cancelled.  The background check is mandatory in all 50 states.

The fee for the background check is non-refundable. If any criminal offences are discovered, the application will likely be rejected.

This includes applicants that would possibly fail the HME exam after passing the application stage. 

After the application is submitted, the applicant will receive a reply within 60 days.  At this point, the driver will find out if their application was rejected, or if they will be moving to the next step in the process: the HME exam. 

Complete CDL License Requirements

Study and take the test

Before a CDL holder can become a successful hazmat beginner driver, the applicant will have to pass the hazmat written examination.

After their application has been approved,  applicants should take to take the approval documentation to the DMV in their state. 

Once this is done,  applicants should begin studying for the Hazmat test. It is recommended to use different resources and to study both online and by book reading.

It is also recommended that applicants study the CDL manual of the state they’ve applied in, and pay special attention to the chapter on hazardous materials.

Once applicants pass the written test, they will receive their Hazmat endorsement.  The endorsement is valid in most states for four years

If denied an HME endorsement, there may be some grounds for an applicant to try to appeal the decision. As an example: if criminal charges were found during a background check, but the applicant was found not guilty, they may be able to convince the TSA to reverse their decision. 

The TSA typically responds within 30 days of receiving the appeal.   If no response comes within that period, the applicant will be contacted, stating that the rejection of their application has been upheld.

How to comply with hazmat regulations?

In compliance with the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR), hazmat employees registered to DOT must have complete hazardous materials training.

Training requirement:

General Awareness. All hazmat employees must be well-informed about the objectives and significance of the HMR.

Function-specific training. In this training, individuals will learn about the essential skills and abilities of a hazmat employee to perform their job.

Safety and security training. Hazmat employees will be given awareness about the different hazards and risk information in handling hazardous materials. Additionally, they will also be trained about the basic emergency response procedures and security implementation applicable during the transportation of hazardous materials.

This training is required for individuals who will handle, prepare, manage, or transport dangerous materials, including hazardous wastes, substances, or pollutants.

1. Hazardous material ( HAZMAT) Endorsement (HME). New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission.accessed April 8,2021,
2. Hazmat Endorsement.Transportation Security Administration.accessed April 8,2021,
3. What is a DOT medical April 8,202,
4. CDL Test Practice Questions (2021).Test.Guide.accessed April 8,2021,
5. How to Comply with Federal Hazardous Materials Regulations. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.accessed April 22, 2021,

About the author

I’m Luis Uribe, author of this website. I am the owner and head publisher for Trucker Daily and a freight brokerage Total Connection Logistics. I have been in and around the trucking industry for over 15 years. It is my mission with Trucker daily to equip truck drivers, with the latest in industry updates, news, and helpful tips to help further your trucking career and life. Whether you are a truck driving veteran, or beginner, you will find information on this site to save you a lot of time in your driving journey.

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