Can I Buy A Semi Truck Without CDL

Can I Buy A Semi Truck Without CDL? (And Other FAQs)

Can I Buy A Semi Truck Without CDL

We’ve put together this article to answer some of the most common questions we get from first-time semi-truck buyers.

Most of the inquiries are about commercial truck financing. These include:

  • Can I buy a semi-truck without CDL?
  • Can I own a trucking company without CDL?
  • How to buy a semi-truck without CDL?
  • How does semi-truck financing work?

Let’s discuss these FAQs in detail. You’ll learn everything you need to know to get into the transportation business.

1. Can I Buy A Semi Truck Without CDL?

The short answer is yes. This is because the person buying the truck can be different from the one who’ll do the driving.

In the trucking industry, we refer to individuals considering buying a commercial truck without a Commercial Driving License (CDL) as investor buyers. Say you’re looking to start a trucking business with a partner. You can be the investor buyer and your partner will be the driver. In such cases, a commercial driver’s license will be a requirement for the driver.

It is worth noting that there are several restrictions on, and fewer programs for, financing truck business owners without a CDL. That’s because most lenders in the transportation business review the asset you want to finance.

If the product requires a special license to operate, they’ll be interested to know whether you hold the required license. You’ll need a CDL to get funds from these lenders. Some semi-trailer financing lenders might request to know the years of experience with the CDL.

piggy bank

Generally, CDL drivers with more years of experience are lower-risk borrowers than those with less driving experience. Mission Financial Services is more forgiving, especially for first-time buyers. We finance drivers with limited CDL driving experience, including new owner-operators. Learn more about accessing commercial vehicle loans for first-time buyers.

2. Can I Own A Trucking Company Without A CDL?

Yes, you can. However, you’ll have to employ commercial vehicle drivers with a CDL to help you operate the company.

Hiring competent drivers might seem like a daunting task, and it can be. But it’s worth every effort because starting your own trucking company is a good investment.

The trucking industry is one of the most profitable industries in the U.S. It is worth over $700 billion and moves more than 70% of the total freight in the U.S.

That said, there are some things you need to know before you start your trucking business without a driver’s license.

What To Know Before Starting A Trucking Company Without A CDL

We’ve listed them below to help you see whether becoming a semi-truck business owner without a CDL is the right option for you.

1. Start-up costs: Starting small businesses requires money. It’s more costly if you don’t have a license. You’ll need enough funds to get a qualified driver and cover their pay until your business picks up.


Remember, you must hire a truck driver with the right qualifications. For instance, if you transport hazardous materials, you’ll need a driver with a class c CDL.

They have the driving experience to drive semis with dangerous materials across state lines. This is in accordance with the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act.

2. Insurance: There are different types of insurance needed to start and operate your own trucking company. Some examples include:

  • Insurance for commercial vehicles.
  • Insurance to cover the goods you transport.
  • General liability insurance to cover the entire business.

3. Trucking authority: You must provide proof of complying with all federal and state laws to get paid to haul cargo. Essentially, this is what the trucking authority helps you to do.

Getting a trucking authority involves filling in paperwork from the USA Department of Transportation (USDOT). You’ll be issued a USDOT number, and an MC number, among others.

Check out this article on getting your trucking authority to learn more about how this works.

3. How To Buy A Semi Truck Without CDL?

If you want to purchase semi-trucks for commercial use, the most affordable way is to get a loan. This is because commercial semi-trucks are pricey. A new truck costs about $80,000, but factors like fuel efficiency, horsepower, and cargo capacity can increase their prices to around $200,000.

Apart from the government’s SBA loan, several companies can finance your purchase. But, as we mentioned earlier, very few are willing to help you buy a semi-truck without a CDL.

Still, you can find different financing options to get a truck for commercial purposes without a CDL. It all depends on the in-house financing programs of lending trucking companies. Often, you’ll have to make a significant down payment and have some experience in the trucking business.

Man showing man documents

Some of the most common options you have to buy a truck without a CDL include the following:

CDL Driver Guarantee

CDL driver guarantee is the most popular option for first-time buyers, although it involves a trucking partnership. Meaning you have to apply for funding as a team.

One team member, the designated driver, must have a commercial driver’s license. They then guarantee the person without a CDL. It’s critical to note that both team members have to sign a finance agreement. So, choose the right partner if you take this option.

Minimum Three Years Of Experience Within The Trucking Industry

Another great financing option lenders provide for drivers without a CDL includes a minimum of three years of experience in the trucking business.

This is the best semi-truck financing option for individuals active in the transport business, who are now looking to become business owners.

You might have experience in dispatching or the freight brokering industry. You’ll require a down payment starting from 35% for this option.

4. How Does Semi-Truck Financing Work?

Most semi-truck financing programs offer you cash as a loan to buy different types of semi-trucks for commercial purposes. However, others provide an equipment lease instead.

Choosing the equipment lease option means making payments for using the truck for a specific period, known as a lease term. When this term expires, you can either walk away or buy out the truck’s remaining value and own it.

On the other hand, getting a loan guarantees ownership of the truck when you finish repaying the loan. The terms of the loans depend on the type of truck you’re looking to buy and other factors.

You can get loans for small trucks, big rigs or semi-trailers, warehouse trucks, delivery trucks, and more. These loans are known as secured loans because the vehicle acts as the collateral for the loan.

loan agreement

At Mission Financial Services, we offer both types of commercial truck financing – loans and leases. Our financing programs are flexible. We take into account different types of buyers and their specific credit situations.

With us, you can access various direct or dealership lending options even if you have bad credit. Read our comprehensive step-by-step guide on commercial vehicle financing to learn more.

5. What Are The Financing Requirements For A Semi-Truck?

Lenders look at several factors to determine your eligibility for truck financing. Some include:

  • Business owner or driver’s CDL experience.
  • Down payments.
  • Credit score.
  • The specs of the truck you want to purchase, such as model, year, make, and overall condition.
  • Several documents, including those from the US department of transportation.


Final Thoughts

If you’ve been wondering, “Can I buy a semi-truck without CDL?”, we hope you have the answer!

Becoming a trucking business owner is a gateway to financial independence, especially if you have the right financing partner. Mission Financial Services takes pride in being a commonsense lender and offers various affordable loan options.

Our loan approvals come as simple interest contracts that have limited terms. This helps you to quickly build equity in the loan you’re financing and to avoid additional charges. We also work with all major credit bureaus. So, you can have a chance to turn your credit around if you’ve been struggling with bad credit. Start your credit application with us today!

can i drive a semi truck without a cdl

Can I Drive A Semi Truck Without CDL?

can i drive a semi truck without a cdl

Have you ever wondered, “Can I drive a semi-truck without CDL?”

Many beginners and truck-driving enthusiasts ask this question hoping for a straightforward answer.

There are several misunderstandings surrounding this topic. This is due to the varying state laws on issuing and using a commercial driver’s license (CDL).

Let’s discuss this question in detail to help you understand the subject. We’ll also explain how to get a CDL license. So, when the time is right, you can land truck-driving jobs with ease!

Can I Drive A Semi Truck Without CDL? When?

The short answer is yes, you can. However, it’s not as simple as it sounds.

Driving a semi-truck without CDL is legal under specific circumstances. Some include those listed below.

Driving Within The Confines Of Your Private Property

You don’t need a CDL license to drive semis or any other truck inside your property.

You can drive different types of trucks, like warehouse trucks, dump trucks, delivery trucks, and straight trucks, without a CDL this way.

But, things change when you get out on a public road. You’ll almost always need a CDL to drive semis on a public road unless you operate the truck for personal use.

Driving For Personal Use

This point can be confusing if you’re trying to answer the question, “Can I drive a semi-truck without a CDL?”

What does driving a semi for personal or commercial use mean, and how does it determine the license you need?

Truck dashboard

Basically, if your vehicle qualifies as a commercial motor vehicle and you operate it for commerce, you need a CDL. This is a mandatory requirement by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

If your vehicle qualifies as a commercial vehicle, and you use it non-commercially, you can drive it without a CDL. You’ll still require a valid license, but it doesn’t have to be a commercial driver’s license (CDL).

So, based on FMCSA, what does commerce mean?

FMCSA defines commerce as any transportation, trade, or traffic within or across state lines. It is also any transportation, trade, or traffic that affects transportation, trade, or traffic between different points intra- and interstate.

Going by this broad definition, you can tell that there is no clear distinction between using semi-trucks as personal vehicles and for commercial purposes.

Sometimes, what seems like personal use may turn out to be commercial.

Personal Use Versus Commercial Use

A good example is driving an empty truck across states for repair or maintenance. It may appear as personal use, but it counts as interstate commerce.

You’ll need a CDL for such a trip. If you’re caught driving without a CDL license, you could face legal action.

Can I Buy A Semi Truck Without CDL

Ensure that your truck’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), or combined gross weight, doesn’t exceed 26 000 lbs. On weight, it doesn’t matter whether you operate the truck for personal or commercial purposes. The truck’s gross weight must be 26 000 lbs. or less for you to drive without a CDL.

It’s worth noting that a driver can qualify for a CDL exemption if they fall under specific categories laid out by their state law. We call these drivers non-CDL drivers.

CDL Exemptions

You can drive a semi without a commercial license if you qualify as a non-CDL driver. Be sure to check the law of the state you’re in, and ensure you have the right qualifications for CDL exemptions.

State laws vary, and different states offer various exemptions for a CDL. In Florida, for instance, some CDL exemptions include:

  • Military personnel driving commercial vehicles for military purposes.
  • Authorized emergency vehicle drivers.
  • Drivers of recreational vehicles.

Penalties For Driving Semi-Trucks Without A CDL

Driving commercial vehicles without a valid CDL can lead to major penalties. These penalties vary from state to state. Let’s discuss these.

  • License Suspension: This is one of the most common penalties for driving without a CDL illegally. The suspension may last between one and ten years, depending on your situation.
  • Criminal Charges: You may face criminal charges under certain circumstances. For instance, if an accident happened.


  • Fines: Fines for CDL violations are hefty. You can pay thousands of dollars depending on your state’s laws. The company you work for can also pay more than $10 000 in fines if they knowingly let you drive a semi without the required license.
  • Job loss: A CDL is a minimum requirement for most trucking companies. If you lie about having one, and the company you work for finds out later, you may lose your job.

How To Get A CDL

In most states, getting CDL licenses is straightforward. But there are several CDL requirements you must meet. We’ve summarized the entire process below to help you get your license stress-free.

Step 1: Submit CDL Application

The minimum age requirement to apply for a CDL is 18 years. However, you must first complete the FMCSA driver training before you make your application if you want to get a class A or class B CDL license.

Get this training from an FMCSA-approved driving school or training provider.

Step 2: Identity Verification

You must verify your identity and provide the required proof of address indicating that you’re a resident of the US and a specific state.

Different states may ask for different documents, but verifying your social security number is common in most states.

Step 3: Health Examination

For this step, you must provide two valid medical forms and pass a vision test. These forms include a medical examination report and a medical examiner’s certificate.

Eye test

Step 4: Knowledge Exam

Depending on the license class you seek, you’ll need to pass a knowledge exam. It might include:

  • General knowledge test.
  • Combinations and air brakes knowledge test.
  • Other tests such as one for the H endorsement (this will allow you to carry hazardous materials).

Once you pass your knowledge exam, you’ll get a commercial learner’s permit (CLP). Then, you’ll need to wait for 14 days before you schedule a road skills test.

Step 5: Skills Test

You must pass the pre-trip inspection and the driving skills test for the specific vehicle you’d like to drive.

Step 6: Pay Required Fees

After passing the skills test, pay the fees required by your state to get your CDL.

How Much Does A CDL Cost?

The cost of a CDL varies state-wise and depends on the type of CDL you want to get.

However, the total cost of a CDL ranges from $2000 to $5000, including the general fees and training school.

General fees may include fees for applications, tests, screenings, and background checks for endorsements to transport hazardous materials.

Final Thoughts

In summary, you can drive a semi-truck without a CDL, although you’ll have to be cautious to do so legally. We’ve outlined most conditions for driving vehicles without a CDL above.

However, if you wish to have a career as a truck driver, you need a CDL. You’ll qualify for more truck-driving jobs with more trucking companies. With a CDL, you can operate across various states, including some of the best places for truck drivers to work.

Whether or not you have a CDL, you might be interested in starting a semi truck business. Mission Financial Services may be your best bet!

2022 Walcott Truckers Jamboree: Recap

Photo Credit: Iowa80truckstop

An Interview with Charles Smith, Mission Financial

Iowa 80 Truckstop, The World’s Largest Truckstop, recently celebrated America’s truck drivers at the 43rd Walcott Truckers Jamboree. Approximately 45,053 drivers attended the event, along with their beloved friends and families, members of the local community, and visitors from over 27 different states and two Canadian provinces.

The Walcott Truckers Jamboree has been a yearly celebration, rain or shine, since 1979. The three-day extravaganza offers tons of features, including over 175 exhibits, an antique truck display, Iowa-style cookouts, the Trucker Olympics, contests, live concerts, an epic firework show, and so much more. And attendees didn’t have to worry about admission or parking for the event, because both were FREE!

The most popular feature of the Jamboree was the Super Truck Beauty Contest. This year featured 92 registered contestants, and the winners were something to admire. Ranging from turn-of-the-century trucks to modern marvels, there was something for everyone to appreciate.

This year, Mission Financial Services’ very own Charles Smith had the opportunity to attend the Walcott Truckers Jamboree.

“This was my first year attending, and while I didn’t participate in any of the exhibits or events, I was able to explore potential prospects for the future,” Charles said when asked about his time at the trucker’s event.

Charles also noted that there weren’t any other financial companies in attendance, which presents a huge opportunity for the commercial lender. “Mission Financial will definitely be attending the 2023 Walcott Trucker Jamboree. I encourage people to stop by our booth next year so they can take advantage of the industry knowledge and financial offers we specialize in everyday,” he said.

The 2023 Walcott Trucker Jamboree is scheduled for July 13-15, 2023. Click here to see the schedule of events.

Stay tuned for more information about the Mission Financial booth and the 2023 Walcott Trucker Jamboree!

Photo Credit: Iowa80

More Like This

–> Q&A: Trucking Expert Talks Inventory Shortage

Q&A: Trucking Expert Talks Inventory Shortage

What began as whispers of a potential vehicle shortage quickly became a leading source of concern for fleet owners and operators. This looming threat of operations being forced to shut down over inevitable repairs and mishaps or a lack of vehicles to move freight is troubling in these times of high demand. And with so much uncertainty regarding the issue, many in the industry are left with unanswered questions and concerns.

To answer the main questions surrounding the inventory shortage, we sat down with Charles Smith, Regional Business Development and Marketing Manager for Mission Financial Services. As an auto finance institution operating across the country, Mission Financial has provided Smith a unique opportunity to see behind the curtain on many of the industry’s pressing topics.

Exclusive Interview with Charles Smith

Q: What has been the most significant hardship for Mission Financial Services during the shortage, and how have you dealt with it?

A: The biggest hardship here at Mission Financial is the lack of applications being funded.

With the current situation, dealers just don’t have the inventory to meet the demand of the customer, which trickles down to financial institutions that are used to funding deals on a regular basis. One way we’ve dealt with this is to keep knocking on doors and letting my customers know that Mission Financial is still here for them.

Charles Smith, Mission Financial

Q: What has been the most considerable hardship for the dealers and/or others in the industry?

A: The biggest hardship for my dealers would be the lack of inventory. Now, the supply can’t keep with the demand. Not only is the trucking industry feeling the heat, but other industries are as well.

Q: Was COVID-19 the only cause of the vehicle shortage?

A: Yes, COVID-19 was the driving force of the shortage. When the pandemic hit China, the production of automotive microchips experienced a major decline, because that is where they are produced. Without these chips, manufacturers can’t produce new units, which is why we are where we are today. What we are currently experiencing is the result of a global domino effect.

Q: When and how do you think it will end?

A: Unfortunately, at the moment, I see no end in sight. According to recent market analysis, it may be another year before we can see some relief from this devastating virus. However, some of my dealers remain optimistic that we could feel some ease by the second quarter of 2022.

Q: Any advice for drivers, fleet owners, and other industry members?

A: To my drivers out there: keep your equipment well maintained so you can keep moving freight until you get the new rig you’ve probably already ordered. Plus, with spot rates at an all-time high, there’s a lot of money to be made out there. Just keep on truckin’ because we need you.

Related Content:

How to retain your top drivers during a shortage

Used truck prices continue to skyrocket


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