Your Complete Guide to Tanker Endorsements

Your Complete Guide to Tanker Endorsements

If you don’t have a tanker endorsement, you could find yourself in a world of trouble. In order to ensure you’re hauling freight legally, you need to make sure you’re complying with the 2011 Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) definition of what qualifies as a “tank truck.” Read on below to find out what you need to do to make sure you have a tanker endorsement in full compliance.

What Is a Tanker Endorsement?

Quite simply, a tanker endorsement is a certification that gets attached to a trucker’s Commercial Drivers License (CDL) that indicates the trucker has the ability to safely haul liquids and gasses. The amount of training required to obtain a CDL tanker endorsement is extensive to make sure the trucker can safely haul these types of products.

Without the proper training, the transportation of liquids and gasses can be incredibly dangerous, and with a tanker endorsement, the FMCSA can make sure that there is a degree of assurance and safety when it comes to hauling liquids and gasses long distances. This helps to keep the truckers, and everyone else on the road, as safe as possible.

Driving a trailer with the shifting weight of a liquid is quite different from hauling a strapped-down freight shipment, as the liquids moving around can significantly influence the momentum of a truck. For that reason, there is a substantially increased risk of the trailers overturning or a truck being sent into heavy cross-traffic in an intersection.

When Do You Need Tanker Endorsement?

So when would a truck qualify for the need for a tanker endorsement? There are specific tanker regulations that indicate when this is necessary. If a tanker fits the following three definitions, the trucker needs to have a tanker endorsement:

  1. The cargo includes individual liquid or gaseous containers with a capacity greater than 118 gallons.
  2. The containers are loaded and not empty.
  3. The total combined volume of the liquid or gaseous materials on the trainer is greater than 1,000 gallons.

These criteria will ensure that only the most qualified truckers are handling these types of loads.

Keep in mind here, that if a trucker is driving 1,000 gallons worth of individual liters or cans of beverages, they do not need a tanker endorsement, because they do not fit the requirement of individual containers with a capacity greater than 118 gallons.

Difference Between Tanker Endorsement and Hazmat Endorsement

Difference Between Tanker Endorsement and Hazmat Endorsement

Keep in mind that a tanker endorsement is a completely separate certification compared to a regular hazmat endorsement. These two endorsements are often earned at the same time because many liquids and gasses that are transported - such as propane or gasoline - are also hazardous. A driver can earn a hazmat endorsement for passing a different set of requirements than a tanker endorsement. The driver will earn an “H” endorsement, compared to an “N” for a tanker endorsement.

Alternatively, drivers can also earn an “X” endorsement by passing a written exam that tests their knowledge of both tanker and hazmat hauling requirements. With an “X” endorsement, drivers can transport large quantities of hazardous liquids and gasses.

Does The Shipping Cost Depend on The Tanker Endorsement?

If you have liquid or gaseous freight to move that necessitates a provider having a tanker endorsement, the shipping cost will be a little bit higher. This is because obtaining a tanker endorsement requires an investment of the drivers’ resources and time, and as such, only a select group of truckers possess these endorsements. If you’re wondering how much a tanker endorsement is, it’s not particularly expensive, but it’s really the time and training required that is costly for a driver.

Certainly, the price for shipping will depend on a variety of factors, but one factor may be the supply of drivers in your area with a tanker endorsement. It may be very hard to predict just how much this will influence your final shipping price, but you can definitely expect to pay a little bit more to have drivers that meet these very specialized qualifications.

Be Sure to Understand Your Freight’s Requirements

So now you have all the information about tanker endorsements and why they are required. We’ve also gone over the other CDL certifications that may apply to your cargo to be shipped.

This may seem like a lot, but these certifications are absolutely crucial to make sure that potentially dangerous freight is transported in the safest possible manner.

As a shipper, it’s incumbent upon you to understand these requirements to understand if your provider requires a tanker endorsement, a hazmat endorsement, or both. Failure to properly inform your providers so that they can ensure their drivers have the proper endorsements can not only harm the business of your carrier, it can put the lives of everyone on the road at risk.

That being said, make sure that you’re communicating the specifics of the freight you need to get transported, especially making sure you’re paying attention to the specification requirements for a driver with a CDL tanker endorsement. In particular, be sure to indicate how much liquid or gas needs to be moved and in what size containers. Being transparent and upfront with your provider will ensure that they are well-prepared and can supply you with a certified driver to safely haul your freight.


It’s important to know that not all transportation service providers have the right kind of vehicles to be able to suit your needs. In fact, many shippers simply do not have the capacity to handle these types of loads. That’s why it’s absolutely critical that you work with a freight shipping company that has both the liquid/gas and hazmat transportation capabilities to safely move your freight.

Get a quote or contact us today at 817-590-8686 to speak with one of our trained professionals so they can help you fulfill your transportation needs!

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