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A Legacy of Innovation for Good

Commercial Motor Vehicle Classification Guide

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration offers a specific definition of a commercial motor vehicle. Learn the definition and classifications in this guide.

Commercial Motor Vehicle Classification Guide

What is a Commercial Vehicle?

Generally speaking, a commercial vehicle is one used to transport goods or people for a commercial industry. A commercial truck may be a company car or fleet vehicle. 

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration offers a more specific, concrete definition of a commercial motor vehicle. They define a CMV as “any self-propelled or towed motor vehicle used on a highway in interstate commerce to transport passengers or property” when the vehicle meets any of the following conditions:

  1. The vehicle has a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more; or
  2. Is designed or used to transport more than 8 passengers (including the driver) for compensation; or
  3. Is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, not used to transport passengers for compensation; or
  4. Is used in transporting material found by the Secretary of Transportation to be hazardous.

Now we know exactly what a commercial vehicle is, but how are they classified? 

There are 8 classes of commercial motor vehicles in the US and they can be subdivided into 3 general categories: light-duty, medium-duty and heavy-duty. 

CMVs operating on US highways are classified by their Gross Vehicle Weight Rating


What is a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)?

A GVWR is the maximum weight a vehicle can safely operate at. GVWR is the total weight of the vehicle, including the vehicle itself, drivers, passengers, fuel, and cargo.

Commercial trucks typically have their GVWR displayed on the inside of the driver’s side door.


Why It Matters

GVWR is an important safety standard set by the manufacturer. When this number is exceeded, there are serious risks to drivers and surrounding travelers.

The GVWR of a truck determines how and where it can be operated, what kind of permits are necessary to operate it, and if you need to stop at a weigh station.

Commercial drivers do not need a CDL to operate vehicles in Class 1 through Class 6, but each vehicle with a GVWR over 10,001 pounds must have the company’s name and USDT number displayed on the vehicle. 

As a commercial driver, be sure to check with the U.S. Department of Transportation to ensure compliance with the most current laws and regulations.

Now that we understand how CMVs are classified and why it matters, let’s look at the 8 classes of commercial vehicles.


Light Duty

Class 1: GVWR of 0 to 6,000 pounds
Example vehicles: Ford Ranger/Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon

Class 2 has two subclasses:

Class 2A: GVWR of 6,001–8,500
Example vehicles: Ford F-150/Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra 1500/RAM 1500

Class 2B: GVWR of 8,500–10,000
Example vehicles: Ford F-250/Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra 2500/RAM 2500


Medium Duty

Class 3: GVWR of 10,001–14,000
Example vehicles: Ford F-350/Chevy Silverado 3500/RAM 3500
Class 4: GVWR of 14,001–16,000
Example vehicles: Ford F-450(chassis cab only)/RAM 4500
Class 5: GVWR of 16,001–19,500
Example vehicles: Chevrolet Silverado 5500HD/Ford F-550/RAM 5500
Class 6: GVWR of 19,501–26,000
Example vehicle: Freightliner Business Class M2 106


Heavy Duty

Class 7: GVWR of 26,001–33,000
Example vehicle: Mack MD
Class 8: GVWR of 33,001 and above
Example vehicle: Freightliner Cascadia



Commercial vehicles are an integral part of our supply chains and industrial operations. There isn’t much we could do without them. The next time you see a semi-truck on the highway, you can remember the classification system in place to ensure that a particular vehicle is operating in a safe and efficient manner.

Morey’s vision is to lead the creation of connected products with the ultimate goal of empowering our partners to meet their business needs through smart solutions. Contact us today to discover how partnering with Morey can benefit your company.


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Commercial Motor Vehicle Classification Guide

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration offers a specific definition of a commercial motor vehicle. Learn the definition and classifications in this guide.


Morey’s blog posts are intended to provide information and encourage discussion on topics of interest to the telematics community at large. Morey is not providing technical, professional or legal advice through these blog posts. While every effort has been made to ensure the information in this blog post is timely and accurate, errors and omissions may occur, and the information presented here may become out-of-date with the passage of time.

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