Flatbed Certifications and Clearances For Drivers

In the quest for higher income, drivers are always on the lookout for ways to maximize their earning potential. One proven method? Broadening your skill set by getting flatbed certifications and clearances!

Ordinarily, truck drivers do not require flatbed security clearances unless they are involved in specialized or sensitive transportation operations. In specific cases, such as when transporting goods or materials related to national security, classified information, or sensitive installations, certain security clearances may be mandatory. However, accumulating a variety of clearances, certifications, and endorsements provides you with more opportunities.

Within this article, you will discover a list of flatbed certifications and clearances available to expand your freight options, enabling you to transport more and earn a higher income.


The TWIC card, issued by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in the United States, serves as an identification card that enhances security measures at maritime facilities and regulates access to sensitive areas within the transportation industry.

Individuals requiring unescorted access to secure areas of maritime facilities or vessels regulated by the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) of 2002 are required to hold a TWIC card. This includes workers involved in maritime transportation, such as longshoremen, port workers, truck drivers, mariners, and others who, notably, need entry to restricted zones.

  • Obtaining a TWIC card necessitates fingerprinting and a background check to ensure that cardholders undergo security vetting. The card functions as a form of identification and grants authorized personnel access to restricted areas like ports, terminals, and other maritime facilities.
  • Without a TWIC card, accessing authorized locations necessitates an escort. This often incurs fees, and you become reliant on their availability. It is worth noting that some ports prohibit escorts, making a TWIC card essential for entry.

It is important to differentiate the TWIC card from other flatbed certifications and clearances issued by entities like the Department of Defense (DOD) or other government agencies. Additionally, it is distinct from a TSA certification.

Related: What is a TWIC Card for Truck Drivers


For truck drivers, a passport represents a valuable investment as it enables them to cross the borders into Canada and Mexico for transporting lucrative freight. A TWIC card does not grant international travel capabilities; its purpose is solely to access ports.

To get a passport, drivers should follow this steps:

  1. Gather the necessary documents for a passport application, typically including proof of U.S. citizenship (e.g., birth certificate or previous passport), a valid form of identification (e.g., driver’s license), and any additional supporting documents requested by the passport agency.
  2. Complete the DS-11 Application, either online or by manually filling out the form. Ensure that accurate and up-to-date information is provided.
  3. Obtain passport photos meeting the specifications outlined by the U.S. Department of State. Passport photo services are often available at drugstores, photo studios, or post offices.
  4. Locate a passport acceptance facility nearby, such as post offices, government offices, or select public libraries. Bring the completed application form, necessary documents, photos, and any applicable fees. The acceptance facility will review your documents, administer an oath, and accept your application.
  5. Pay the passport application fees, including an application fee and an execution fee. The fees vary depending on factors such as the type of passport, whether it is a new application or renewal, and processing options.
  6. If you have imminent travel plans, and require expedited service, additional proof of your travel itinerary or an expedited service fee may be necessary.
  7. Following the submission of your application, the processing time for the passport typically spans several weeks. You can track the status of your application can online using the provided reference number. Once the authorities process the passport, they will mail it to the address specified on the application form.

Upon receiving your passport, some drivers choose to enroll in the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) program for commercial vehicles. This clearance program expedites customs procedures for low-risk drivers transporting low-risk shipments, allowing them to use special lanes at busy border crossings.

Government Security Clearance

To transport Transport Protective Service (TPS) freight and Arms, Ammunition, and Explosives (AA&E), drivers must complete the Standard Form 86 (SF-86). This comprehensive questionnaire is for conducting background investigations for individuals seeking security clearances in the United States.

  • The SF-86 needs detailed information about an individual’s personal, educational, employment, and financial history. It covers aspects such as residences, employment history, education, references, foreign contacts, military service, criminal record, drug usage, financial history, and more.
  • While the SF-86 may not be directly related to truck driving, certain drivers may need to complete this form if their job entails handling sensitive or classified materials, transporting goods related to national security, or working in positions that require a security clearance.
  • The requirement for a truck driver to complete the SF-86 form depends on their specific job responsibilities and the security protocols established by their employer or the government agency they work for. Truck drivers in such roles may need to undergo a background investigation as part of the security clearance process, and completing the SF-86 would be one of the necessary steps to initiate that investigation.

For example, if a driver intends to transport freight for the Department of Defense (DOD) with their trucking company, completing the SF-86 and receiving security clearance would grant them access to highly profitable DOD freight.

Hazmat Endorsement

Although a Hazmat endorsement (H endorsement) does not grant access to specific locations, it is essential for transporting much of the aforementioned freight, particularly military freight for the DOD.

To obtain a Hazmat endorsement on a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) in the United States, drivers must follow a specific process mandated by the TSA and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Assuming eligibility, obtaining a Hazmat endorsement involves the following general steps:

Request a Hazmat endorsement application from your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or licensing agency. Fill out the application form accurately and comprehensively.

How to get the Hazmat Endorsement:

  1. Arrange a meeting with a fingerprinting location approved by the TSA to fulfill the necessary background check. The TSA conducts a security threat assessment to determine eligibility for the Hazmat endorsement. Additionally, note that the fingerprinting fee is typically separate from the application fee.
  2. Prepare the necessary documents for your application, which may include your CDL, proof of citizenship or immigration status, Social Security number, and any other documents specified by your state’s licensing agency. State-specific document requirements should be verified with your local DMV.
  3. Study the Hazardous Materials section of the CDL manual and adequately prepare for the Hazmat knowledge test.
  4. Pay the application and endorsement fees required by the DMV or licensing agency. Fees vary depending on the state.
  5. The TSA reviews your background check results and application. Successful completion of the security threat assessment, meeting all requirements (including passing the knowledge test), leads to the TSA notifying your state’s licensing agency of your eligibility for the Hazmat endorsement.
  6. Upon TSA approval, visit the DMV or licensing agency to receive your updated CDL with the Hazmat endorsement. Be prepared to take a new photo and surrender your old CDL if necessary.

It is worth noting that the process and requirements for obtaining a Hazmat endorsement may vary slightly between states. Consult your local DMV or licensing agency for precise guidelines and procedures in your state.

TSA Certification

TSA-certified drivers gain access to TSA-controlled airports and facilities. This certification permits drivers to enter TSA areas and facilitate the movement of freight from their trucks to aircraft. Also, is important to note that this certification is not required for drivers picking up freight that has already been cleared at an airport. Given the stringent regulations surrounding air travel and the transport of goods by air, TSA certification enhances safety measures.

Cargo Securement Certification

Cargo Securement Certification is a program that offers training and certification to individuals involved in transporting cargo via commercial motor vehicles. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandates this certification to ensure the safe and secure transportation of goods.

  • The certification process entails completing an online course, which typically takes between four to six hours. The course covers cargo securement principles, regulations, and best practices. Following the completion of the course, applicants must pass an examination to obtain their certification.
  • The cost of the Cargo Securement Certification varies depending on the provider, typically ranging from $50 to $100 USD. Furthermore, some states may require additional fees or registration costs before allowing applicants to take the exam.

Once certified, individuals demonstrate their knowledge of safe cargo securement practices, and as a result, receive a valid certificate that complies with FMCSA requirements for transporting cargo on commercial motor vehicles.

Hours of Service Certification

The Hours of Service Certification is a program designed to assist truck drivers and motor carriers in complying with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations. Its purpose is to ensure that drivers are well-informed about the FMCSA’s Hours of Service rules. These rules dictate the maximum hours a driver can spend on the road within a given day or week.

How to get the Hours of Service Certification:

  • The certification process generally takes between two to four hours and consists of an online training course followed by a final exam. The cost of certification varies depending on the provider, with a typical range of $50 to $100.
  • To become certified, one must first locate an approved provider offering the Hours of Service Certification program. Following registration and payment of the associated fee, participants gain access to the online training course. Upon completing all modules, a final exam must be passed to obtain certification.

Doubles/Triples Endorsement

The Doubles/Triples Endorsement serves as an additional endorsement to a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), allowing the holder to operate vehicles with two or more trailers. This endorsement is required for any vehicle combination featuring three or more trailers. It is often referred to as a “T-Endorsement” due to the inclusion of the letter “T” on the CDL license class.

  • To acquire this endorsement, drivers must pass a written exam and a road test. The exam covers the following topics: air brakes, coupling and uncoupling procedures, and safe driving techniques for double and triple-trailer combinations. During the road test, drivers perform maneuvers such as backing up, turning, shifting gears, and other relevant skills while operating a vehicle with two or more attached trailers.
  • The cost of obtaining the Doubles/Triples Endorsement varies by state but typically falls within the range of $20 to $50. Processing times typically span 1-2 weeks, subject to the processing times of each state.

Transport More Freight with Flatbed Certifications and Clearances

Expanding your expertise as a truck driver can significantly enhance your earning potential. By acquiring various flatbed certifications and clearances, you unlock new opportunities for transporting freight and accessing restricted areas. 

By obtaining these flatbed certifications and clearances, you substantially increase your earning potential and gain access to more diverse and lucrative freight options. It is essential to note that the specific requirements and processes for obtaining these credentials may vary. Consulting local authorities and agencies is advisable for accurate and up-to-date information.


Do I need security clearances as a truck driver?

Ordinarily, truck drivers do not require security clearances unless they are involved in specialized or sensitive transportation operations. However, certain freight and locations may require specific flatbed certifications and security clearances, or endorsements.

 What is a TWIC card and how can I obtain one?

A TWIC card (Transportation Worker Identification Credential) is issued by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in the United States. It enhances security measures at maritime facilities and regulates access to sensitive areas within the transportation industry. To obtain a TWIC card, you need to provide personal information, undergo a security threat assessment and pay a fee.

 How can I obtain a passport?

To obtain a passport, you need to gather the necessary documents. Complete the DS-11 Application, obtain passport photos, visit a passport acceptance facility, pay the application fees, and submit the application. The processing time for a passport typically spans several weeks.

 What is a Hazmat endorsement and how can I get one on my CDL?

A Hazmat endorsement allows truck drivers to transport hazardous materials. To obtain a Hazmat endorsement on your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), you need to request an application. Afterward, complete a background check, gather necessary documents, study the Hazardous Materials CDL manual, and pay application and endorsement fees. Visit the DMV or licensing agency to receive your updated CDL with the Hazmat endorsement.

 What is the Doubles/Triples Endorsement and how can I acquire it?

The Doubles/Triples Endorsement allows truck drivers to operate vehicles with two or more trailers.
To acquire this endorsement, you must pass a written exam and a road test. The cost and processing time for obtaining the endorsement may vary by state.

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