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Frequently Asked Questions—Medical Certificates

Medical Certificates

Q. I understand that some third class medicals are valid for five years. If my medical was issued in 2007, is it now valid for five years?

A. Yes, it is, if you were under age 40 when the medical was issued. The extended duration of medical certificates for pilots under age 40 took effect in July, 2008. A third-class medical certificate issued to a pilot who was under age 40 at the time of issuance is now valid for a maximum of 60 calendar months. A first-class medical certificate is also now valid for 12 calendar months for pilots under age 40 and six months for age 40 and over. The second-class medical certificate duration did not change, and is valid for twelve calendar months for all age groups.

Q. I need to contact the FAA but don’t have an address and phone number.

A. If you need to send medical records or other correspondence to the FAA, use overnight express mail. First class mail is processed offsite and takes a few extra days to get into the review process.

Use this address to overnight your information:

Aerospace Medical Certification Division
AAM 300
FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute
6700 S. MacArthur Blvd.
Oklahoma City, OK 73169

Always keep copies of everything you send to the FAA in case the records are misplaced, and follow AOPA’s additional tips to avoid delays.

Q: My medical was deferred to the FAA in Oklahoma City. By the time I received it, I had lost three months since the exam. Why wasn’t it dated from the date of issuance?

A: FAR 61.23 explains the requirements for and duration of medical certificates. The FAR states that the effective duration of the medical begins with the date of examination, not the date of issuance.

Q: How many pilots are actually denied certification due to medical reasons?

A: The FAA processes about 450,000 medical applications each year. Only about 0.7% of applicants are denied, and many of those just accept the denial and don’t continue to pursue certification. Of those who do provide additional information to the FAA, about 0.1% of them receive a final denial. So, that boils down to about 300-400 final denials each year.

Q: What class of medical is a CFI required to maintain?

A: In most situations, a third class medical certificate is all that is needed to instruct. FAR Part 61.23 explains what operations can be conducted while holding each class of medical certificate as well as what operations can be conducted when not holding a medical certificate. FAR 61.23 (a)(3)(iv) states that a person must hold at least a third class medical certificate when exercising the privileges of a flight instructor certificate, except for a flight instructor certificate with a glider category rating, if the person is acting as pilot in command or is serving as a required flight crew member. FAR 61.23 (b)(5) requires that a person is not required to hold a medical certificate when exercising the privileges of a flight instructor certificate if the person is not acting as pilot in command, serving as a required pilot flight crewmember, or instructing in gliders.

Q: I’ve lost my medical certificate. How do I get a duplicate copy?

A: To obtain a duplicate medical certificate, fill out an Application for Replacement of Lost or Destroyed Airman Certificate(s) and Written Test Results and complete the section for replacing a medical certificate. You’ll need to include a check for $2.00 and mail it to:

Federal Aviation Administration
Airmen Certification Branch, AFS-760
P.O. Box 25082
Oklahoma City, OK 73125-0082

Q: I recently received a third class medical/student pilot certificate from my aviation medical examiner (AME) so I can solo. I wasn’t 40 on the date of my medical examination, so my medical is valid for 60 months, but my student pilot certificate is only valid for 24 months. Do I have to go back to the AME to get another student pilot certificate after it expires, even though my medical will still be valid for 60 months?

A: No, you don’t need to return to your AME for a new student pilot certificate. You can obtain a new student pilot certificate from an FAA Flight Standards District Office .

Q: I was hospitalized for more than a week with a problem that required surgery. I’ve completed the AOPA TurboMedical application and know generally what I need to provide the FAA, but if I have to send in copies of all my medical records, the stack of paper will be high as will the photocopying expense. Can I narrow the file down to just the relevant records and still avoid problems with the FAA?

A: Although the FAA asks for copies of all medical records, there are specific records that are more important to the FAA than others. In most cases, these records will satisfy the FAA requirements.

Q: I recently went to my aviation medical examiner (AME) to renew my FAA medical and was told that it would be deferred. Can you tell me what this means?

A: Having your medical deferred means that your AME has determined that your medical can’t be issued at the time of examination. The examiner will send, or has sent, your medical application to the FAA for review and approval. When your application is deferred, it could take several months before the FAA reviews your file, so you should be prepared to provide the FAA with adequate medical records to avoid further delay. AOPA’s TurboMedical can be instrumental in helping you recognize disqualifying medical conditions prior to their next FAA physical exam. For more information on how the FAA medical certification process works, see the Pilot’s Guide to Medical Certification .

Updated October 28, 2009