WHAT LICENSE IS REQUIRED?
So you’ve bought your skoolie and/or you’re contemplating, wondering, concerned, or even worried, about documentation, title, registration, plates, what license you’ll need to drive it, getting insurance, etc. Every state is different so you’ll need to check YOUR state and, if you’re planning on relocating THAT state, if it’s different, for their regulations on documenting your skoolie and what driver’s license is required.
MANY states allow you to drive a motor home with just a regular driver’s license. Others require a special endorsement, a separate license, or even a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). It’s all going to depend on the weight, length, and equipment (like air brakes) of your skoolie.
No, you don’t need to have a list of what restrictions there are in every state as you travel across the country, just the state in which you’re licensed. All states recognize the licensing schemes from every other state. So if your state says a Class C license is okay for a 40’ motor home with air brakes, you’re good to go in a state that requires a special endorsement, a Class B, Class A, or even a Class A commercial license. BUT, and this is a big one (no pun intended), your skoolie has to be titled as a motor home not a “commercial bus” in order to take advantage of motor home status.
So let’s use our skoolie as an example and the regulations for two neighboring states, California and Oregon. Our 1996 AmTran is 40 feet long, two axles, has air brakes, and a 31,800 pound Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) per the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) tag.
In California (as of the DMV website on May 5, 2021) a standard (Class C) license is all that’s needed to drive a two axle vehicle of 26,000 pounds GVWR or less. Well that’s out as our AmTran is 31,800 pounds GVWR.
Ahhh, but California Class C also allows “any housecar 40’ or less” and our AmTran is exactly 40’. So we’re golden right?
When purchased, our AmTran – and unless previously converted, your skoolie – was titled as body style BU (for Bus). A Class C license in California can’t drive anything over 26,000 pounds except a “housecar” which we are not until we convert the title
How about Oregon?
Per the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) website (as of May 5, 2021) With an Oregon Class C license “You may drive a recreational vehicle for personal use.” There is no length or weight provision but we still have the “bus” problem until we get it converted.
When I wrote this in May 2021, SIX states required a Commercial driver’s license for vehicles over 26,000 pounds and one more required it if you’re over 45’ regardless of GVWR. There are TEN additional states that require more than a Class C license.
Nevada is one of those ten so let’s take a look at their regulations. Nevada requires a Non Commercial Class B license if you’re over 26,000 pounds but you’ll need a Non Commercial Class A if you’re towing ANYTHING (even that empty trailer) and you’re over 26,000 pounds combined. You’ll even need a ”special endorsement” if you’re towing over 10,000 pounds even if you’re under 26,000. So that 9,000 pound F350 pulling a 10,001 pound fifth wheel comes in at 19,001 total but still requires more than a Class C.
Just make sure you know your state’s requirements and realize that it’s not a motor home or RV (or housecar in California) until the paperwork says so. The VIN record will always come back as what the manufacturer put down, so ours comes back as “city transit bus”. Our Vermont documentation clearly states MH so we are good with our Class C licenses.
So how did we get our bus titled as a motor home in Vermont when we live in Oregon?
Read Part 3 of this Blog series or watch Part 1 & 2 of our video series (Part 2 below) and we’ll walk you through the process of sending off for yours.