Box Trucks That Require a CDL Vs. Non-CDL

Box trucks have always been our trusty go-to vehicle when it comes to the transportation of cargo. However, some trucks are larger than others and will require a CDL to operate. Not all vehicles require this special license, but it is important to know which ones do and don’t need that license. What box truck requires the attainment of a CDL?

Box trucks that weigh over 26,001 lbs. require a CDL, while all other trucks below this weight do not. Weight will primarily determine CDL and its license class attainment regardless of the truck variant and its purpose. Attainment of a CDL license is divided into three classes for specific trucks.

As you can tell, the primary verdict is based on the box truck’s weight. Apart from this, however, it is important to know what other factors can contribute to specific class types and what trucks and vehicles usually require a CDL. So keep reading to find out more!

Box Trucks


If you are planning to move, you likely are looking at rental companies to get a moving truck. You may see during your search that there is a CDL license, but what is it? Well, this is called a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). It allows you to drive larger trucks and carry larger cargo loads in your truck.

Big trucks or hard-to-operate vehicles like semi-trucks require this license for your safety. Have you ever seen a semi-truck make a right turn before? Do you remember how hard that looked to do? Well, this license shows rental companies and businesses that you are capable of driving those large vehicles, and that you know the rules and laws associated with large vehicles.

There are many types of trucks, and some of them require this license, and others don’t. So, depending on what you need, you may need to get this special license before you rent a truck.

Basic moving trucks will not require a CDL, which saves you time. But, you may find that you need it, even for towing larger trailers with your regular Ford truck.

Having the license versus not having the license does matter in terms of what is better than the other. It just depends on what you need to drive or rent. There are different classes of trucks that require the CDL and some that don’t, so read below for details!

Related Article: Largest Trucks You Can Drive Without A CDL

Class A, B, and C

There are three distinct CDL class licenses that a box truck driver may need. Each class type has its own specific criteria alongside the general rule of the previously mentioned weight limit.

Class A

For a CDL class A, the box truck must weigh at or above 26,001 lbs. combined with any towed cargo that exceeds a weight limit of 10,000 lbs.

Class B

A CDL class B box truck is similar to class A type requirements; however, does not include, nor requires, towed cargo. The weight of the truck alone will be the only factor required to attain a class B CDL.

Class C

Finally, at CDL class C, a box truck does not meet any criteria listed for either B or A class types but instead is required if the box truck transports at least 16 passengers or any hazardous materials. Having one of these two types of cargo will require a class C type regardless of box truck weight.

Before we move on, we also must note that those with a CDL class A type means they are allowed to operate any vehicles that would be under the class B or C type, while B class drivers can operate any C type vehicles, and class C type is restricted to only class C vehicles.

Box Truck Vehicle Classifications

You will find that there are trucks that will and will not need this specialty license. When you rent a truck, you can work with someone at the rental place who will tell you what trucks you are eligible to get when a standard driver’s license, and they will tell you about the ones you can get with a commercial driver’s license.

There are four distinct labels that any vehicle can be placed: light-duty, non-CDL medium-duty, CDL medium-duty, and heavy-duty. As we list some of the trucks and other vehicles, we will list them as one of these four for further information.

Endorsement Types

Before we talk about box trucks, we should also address the importance of specific CDL endorsements. What this means is that specific CDL endorsements allow one to operate specialized vehicles. In total, there are six endorsement types all requiring a written test, along with specific road skills and a combination of other endorsements depending on the endorsement.

For the situation of box trucks, only the H endorsement is applicable. The H endorsement is focused on transporting and dealing with any hazardous materials according to federal guidelines. Hazardous materials can be forms of flammable liquids to biohazardous waste. Methods of transportation for these can be through tanker trucks or box trucks with bags, gallon drums, buckets, or test tubes. The written test is the only required aspect needed for this endorsement.


You do not need a CDL for light-duty trucks like 12-foot cargo trucks, 12 and 16-foot box trucks, as well as 16 and 18-foot cabover trucks.

First, let’s start off with the basic box truck. What are box trucks? Simply, they are chassis cab trucks purposed for transporting a cargo of any type. They can come in a variety of sizes, such as 12 and 16-foot versions. For these two versions, a CDL is not required and is considered “light-duty.” We are describing box trucks like a U-Haul or other moving vehicles. It isn’t oversized, and the cargo load is below the criteria for a CDL.

Medium-Duty Without CDL License

However, if we want a long box truck, the purpose will most likely change. For example, having a 26-foot box truck will most likely label it as a CDL medium-duty, meaning its carrying capacity will exceed 26,001 lbs. We say most likely because it can retain a weight below 26,000 lbs., however, this won’t often be as they are meant to haul larger cargo daily such as a refrigerator truck.

There are trucks that you can drive without a CDL, and one quality it must have is to be a class 5 truck type. This means the truck is about 16,000-19,500 pounds when loaded. Not every truck in this category will not require a CDL, but you will have many options. Some examples of the trucks you can drive are Ford F650, Ford F750, any box truck for moving, and the Chevy Silverado 4500 HD/5500/HD/6500 HD. Some of these trucks will require a CDL depending on the manufactured year, but they are good bets.

Medium-Duty With CDL License

There are more medium-duty trucks that do require CDLs, and as long as you have this license, you can drive almost any truck. If you work in construction, you know there are licensing, training, and qualifications needed to operate other driveable tools and vehicles, but for trucks big and small, you are covered when you have a CDL. Any truck already listed and a truck that is considered heavy-duty you can drive when you have this license.


Now, let’s look at the larger and heavier-duty trucks that you can drive with a CDL. To give you an idea, trucks and other large vehicles that are similar to a semi-truck will need a CDL. If a truck is carrying an oversized load, then you will also need a CDL.

Related Article: Do I Need A CDL For Private or Non-Business-Related Use

How to Know the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating)

Knowing the weight that the vehicle can hold is important to be able to classify it under a class and know if it requires a CDL or not. So, firstly, here are the ways to find out the GVWR.

You can find out by looking in the owner’s manual. It will be listed in the manual, along with other information you may need to know.

You can also find it by looking online. Simply search the year, make, and model of the truck and see if you can easily find the weight rating.

And the last way to know is by looking at the door. If you open the door, you can find a sticker on the inside of the door where the door closes and latches onto. On this sticker, it will have some information on vehicle weight along with other information that mechanics like simple access to. And there you have it!

What Non-CDL Trucks Can You Rent?

A couple of well-known and widely used moving truck rental companies are Penske and U-Haul. There are some differences in what they offer for renting and if you will need a CDL or not.


U-Haul rental Trucks

For U-Hauls you will not need a CDL for any of their vehicles. They offer pickup trucks, cargo vans, 10-foot box trucks, 15-foot box trucks, 17-foot box trucks, 20-foot box trucks, and 26-foot box trucks. With this range of vehicles, you can do small and simple moves or large home moves.

U-haul keeps all of their trucks available for the everyday person and doesn’t require a CDL for any of their vehicles. As long as you have a driver’s license and you can drive the truck and back it up, you will be fine. Using this company is great, and you have a large list of vehicles to choose from because none are blocked off for needing a commercial driver’s license!


Penske Rental

Penske trucks are more heavy-duty than U-Haul trucks, so there are options that you will need a CDL to drive it and others where you don’t need a CDL. They offer light-duty trucks, electric cargo vans, medium-duty trucks, heavy-duty tractors, refrigerated trucks, flatbed trucks, semi-trailers, and one-way trucks.

As you can see, they have options similar to U-haul, like cargo vans, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty trucks. Above that, they have more large trucks and trailers that need CDLs. So, depending on your needs, you may need a U-Haul truck or a Penske truck.

If you are looking at rentals and deciding what you need, then you probably already have an idea of what size truck you need to drive, and through this article, you have likely decided if you need a truck that requires a CDL or not. So, if you don’t need a CDL, you can use U-Haul or the Penske trucks that are available without the license.

But, if you need a bigger truck that can carry a higher weight, then you will need a CDL, and you will want to look at Penske for their big rental trucks.

Related Article: What You Should Know Before Renting from Penske?

What Trucks Require a CDL?

Trucks that are 26,001 pounds and higher need a CDL to drive them. This includes semi-trucks, heavy-duty trucks, heavy-duty tractors, some tow trucks, some flat-bed trucks, and other utility trucks that are higher than the weight above.

As a good rule of thumb, trucks, trailers, and tractors that require a CDL are vehicles that drive from state to state. They carry more cargo and are heavier-duty than regular moving trucks that you see within cities. Trucks that do not require a CDL are going to be driven within a smaller radius and will likely only be driven within a city or two.

There is a difference in engines since the CDL required trucks to carry more weight. These trucks need a more powerful engine so that they are more capable of going long distances, carrying heavy loads, and being able to perform as they should. Non-CDL trucks have engines more powerful than your regular cars and pick-up trucks, but they are not as powerful as the engines commercial vehicles use.

Vehicles that do not need a CDL to drive it are moving vans, moving trucks, pick-up trucks, and any other vehicle that is under the 26,000-pound weight limit. If you are unsure about whether or not a truck needs a CDL or not, then call the company for information or call the rental company you are getting it from and ask them what your options are.

Related Article: Do I Need A CDL For Under 26000 LBS?

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