The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has permitted the extension by states of the waivers for renewals of interstate and intrastate commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs), commercial learner’s permits (CLPs) and medical cards to May 31, 2021.

Drivers with CDLs, CLPs or medical cards due for renewal on or after March 1, 2021 must renew and have them in place for commercial vehicle operations beginning June 1, 2021. This waiver does not apply to a CDL or CLP holder if the driver’s license or permit expired before March 1, 2020.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of many state licensing offices and medical facilities, FMCSA initially gave relief on March 24, 2020 to professional drivers whose CDLs, permits and/or medical cards had expired or were set to expire after March 1, 2020. The agency issued similar waivers on June 15, Sept. 18, and Dec. 15, 2020.

That relief is now extended through May, 2021 if the state permits the further extension. FMCSA is not requiring all states to extend this waiver, noting that the pandemic has affected state operations differently. Motor carriers and truck drivers should check with their state driver licensing agency to confirm the status in their state.

FMCSA has continued relief from specific hours of service regulations through May 31, 2021 for the transportation of COVID-19 relief supplies, vaccines, their components and supplies. Now FMCSA has set the same date of May 31, 2021 for compliance with licensing and medical certificate renewals.

Here are the specific extensions made by FMCSA.

CDLs and CLPs:

  • Permits but does not require states to waive until May 31, 2021 the renewal deadline for CDLs that expired on or after March 1, 2020.
  • Permits but does not require states to waive until May 31, 2021 the renewal deadline for CLPs that expired on or after March 1, 2020, without requiring the CLP holders to retake the general and endorsement knowledge tests.
  • Permits but does not require states to waive until May 31, 2021 the requirement that CLP holders wait 14 days to take the CDL skills test.

Medical requirements:

  • Waive until May 31, 2021 the requirement that CDL holders, CLP holders, and non-CDL drivers have a medical examination and certification, provided that they have proof of a valid medical certification and any required medical variance issued for a period of 90 days or longer that expired on or after Dec. 1, 2020.
  • Waive the requirement that, in order to maintain the medical certification status of “certified,” CDL or CLP holders provide the state driver licensing agency with an original or copy of a subsequently issued medical examiner’s certificate and any required medical variance, provided that they have proof of a valid medical certification or medical variance that expired on or after Dec.1, 2020.

Motor carriers and truck drivers should closely review this waiver extension and check with their state driver licensing agency to make sure they meet all terms, conditions, and restrictions are met. For example:

  • The extension of the medical card deadline to May 31, 2021 does not apply to medical certificates issued for less than 90 days or to drivers who never obtained a medical certificate.
  • Until renewal, drivers must still carry a paper copy of their expired medical certificates.
  • Drivers under legal suspension or disqualification of driving privileges are not eligible for these waiver extensions.

Many state driver licensing offices are still experiencing backlogs or limiting in-person visits. Similarly, many physician facilities are only serving patients who have an immediate medical need. FMCSA has warned that it may not extend waivers for CDLs, CLPs and medical cards beyond May 31, 2021, so act now.