A Commercial Driver’s License


I have been working on getting a commercial driver’s license over the past few months. In my spare time. Because I often have so much spare time that I find myself thinking about things to get. Like a commercial driver’s license.

There is a backstory here. It has to do with eventually getting ready to retire. I am not getting any younger these days and, before we know it, Lorraine and I will have to start thinking about what we will do in our golden years.

We have, of course, already given it considerable thought. We do intend to become snowbirds in our retirement years but we really do not want to be locked into a fixed property in one of the southern states. We would rather have our mobility and a little condo on wheels.

We are getting a motorhome.

We decided to get it now so that we could get used to operating the vehicle and begin taking some of our vacation breaks with it. Sometime over the next few years, we’ll take longer trips during the winter and perhaps forget to come back until late spring.

The type of motorhome we purchased is a Class A Diesel Pusher. It is a large coach, 40-feet in length and weighs in at about 36,000 lbs unloaded. In the province of Ontario, you are required to obtain a Class D commercial driver’s license if the weight of the vehicle you are driving exceeds 11,000 kgs or about 24,250 lbs. You also have to obtain a Z endorsement if the vehicle has air brakes.

Turns out that driving a motorhome in the retirement years can take quite a bit of work just to get licensed.

I had to pass an eye test. I had to complete a physical and submit a medical report. I had to write a test specific to operating large trucks and tractor-trailors. I had to write a test on air brakes. I had to be tested on my practical knowledge of air brakes on a tractor-trailer. And I had to pass a road test driving a large vehicle over 11,000 kgs.

Over the past eight weeks, I chipped away at each requirement. I passed all of the tests and I now hold a commercial driver’s license.

I really wondered whether learning to operate large commercial vehicles would be relevant to operating a large motorhome. After completing all of the training and testing, there is no question in my mind that I am far better prepared to take ownership of the motorhome and operate it safely.

Although I sometimes grumble at government rules and regulations, having to get this license before operating a large motorhome makes a lot of sense.

3 replies
  1. Rob
    Rob says:

    Hi, Richard, you never cease to amaze me with the things you get into.

    I know based on some of your prior posts, my wife Sue and I are retiring within a similar time frame! I have, in general terms, 332 days to go. (My “countdown to retirement clock”, purchased on Amazon keeps me up to date daily 🙂 )

    As I am sure you already know, if staying in the States for extended periods of time, be wary of the new Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act requirements for any extended duration south of the border.

    Unsure if it applies to Mobile Homes or not, but knowing the IRS, there is something in the fine print I’m sure. Paying the CRA is bad enough!


    All the best, and be safe riding (and doing everything else of course as well!)


    p.s. Our Goldens, Eddie and Ellie say hi! to Tabby.

    • Richard Cleaver
      Richard Cleaver says:

      Hi Rob,

      That clock does keep ticking 🙂

      And yes, we know about the residency requirements in Ontario (e.g., OHIP requires 153 days in any 12-month period) and how long we can stay in the US (Canadians can visit up to 182 days per calendar year). The Canadian Snowbirds Association is a great group and very helpful in terms of things to think about when travelling south (http://www.snowbirds.org/home).

      Hope all is well!

  2. Paul M
    Paul M says:

    Hi Richard,

    I was just curious. Your temporary paper license has “D” listed. Did your new photo card / drivers license have “D” on it as well or just “G” and “Z” for air brakes for example.




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