Ahhh, technology. It’s great… when it works. On January 6th, the CDL Clearinghouse went live. However, like most new websites, it has a few issues that still need to be worked out. Currently, carriers and their representatives have experienced difficulty with several features, including CDL license verification. The errors have caused confusion in the industry, and FCMSA has responded by clarifying expectations on the site.

How do I verify drivers if the CDL Clearinghouse isn’t working?

The following message appeared on the CDL Clearinghouse site shortly after it went live:

“Notice: If you are an employer currently experiencing technical difficulties accessing the Clearinghouse and are unable to conduct required pre-employment queries, you may hire a driver using solely the procedures set forth in 49 CFR 391.23(e). Once FMCSA has determined and announced that users are able to access the Clearinghouse, pre-employment queries must also be conducted as required by section 382.701(a).

While the Clearinghouse is up and running, the system is experiencing intermittent issues with verifying driver CDL information. We are monitoring the situation and resolving issues as they arise. If you experience an issue verifying driver CDL information, please try again later.” 

The ability to verify a driver’s CDL through the Clearinghouse is currently the top priority, and FMCSA is working diligently to fix the issue. However, you may run into problems during employment verification until a fix is in place.

The message means that, while you should try to use the Clearinghouse as directed, you can continue using your existing driver verification processes if you run into issues. You don’t have to let the Clearinghouse delay your driver-hiring timeline.

Remember: The CDL Clearinghouse reflects 2020-and-newer violations only. Existing violations are not being added retroactively to the database. You will continue to rely on both the Clearinghouse and your existing processes for CDL verification until such time as all active violations exist in the Clearinghouse.

Other CDL Clearinghouse issues you might experience


When the site went live on January 6th, many users experienced slow response times. As of January 9th, the site response times improved. However, as more carriers connect and use the site, additional slowness could be encountered. To avoid slow response times, try accessing the site outside of normal business hours, or simply wait an hour or two and try again.

Bulk Data Upload

Users have also experienced difficulty with bulk data uploads. These issues persist, despite claims that a fix went into place. If you have trouble uploading bulk data, you can attempt to upload each line-item independently. Alternatively, you can wait a day and try again. Be mindful, however, that the FMCSA may review any entries determined to be “late.”  Our hope would be that they would overlook late entries that result from technical issues. However, try to upload the data as soon as possible to avoid potential investigations and penalties.

Document your CDL Clearinghouse issues

The final rule states that the CDL Clearinghouse is a required component for CDL verification as of January 6th, 2020. However, the issues faced by carriers have caused a backlash in the industry. Your best option at this point is to make every effort to use the system, and document any failures. Abigail Potter, manager of safety and occupational health policy for American Trucking Associations states, “What we are recommending to employers and third parties and anyone who’s having technical difficulties is to document everything to show that you made an attempt to try to obtain [CDL verification] information.”

Report issues to improve the site for everyone

If you experience any issue with the CDL Clearinghouse, be sure to submit a trouble ticket. Each report helps the development team create a more stable, usable system that will–eventually–expedite CDL verification and reduce the potential for license violations.

Cut the confusion with F|Staff

Want access to a pre-screened and verified workforce without the hassle of navigating the CDL Clearinghouse? F|Staff is the app for you. With the F|Staff app, you can set your hiring criteria and wages, and hire short-term, long-term or single-job drivers right from your smartphone. Your F|Staff drivers can be onsite and ready to drive in less than an hour.

Sign your company up for F|Staff, and we’ll give you a call to start the short onboarding process. Within a day or two, you’ll have all the drivers you need in the palm of your hand without ever navigating the CDL Clearinghouse issues.

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