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Membership: BasicMed Primer for Students

Getting a one-time medical certificate

BasicMed is an alternate medical certification pathway that became effective May 1, 2017, and allows pilots to self-assess their medical fitness to fly without the need for a current FAA-issued medical certificate. If you have held a medical certificate that was valid any time after July 15, 2006, and your most recent medical was not denied, suspended, or revoked, you may qualify for BasicMed and can skip the medical certificate issuance process altogether. Once you meet the requirements for BasicMed, participation involves visiting your state-licensed physician every 48 calendar months, when that doctor will affirm the absence of any medical condition that could interfere with the safe operation of an aircraft, and taking a free, online medical education course every 24 calendar months. Find details and resources for pilots online (

How can a new student pilot qualify for BasicMed? For student pilots who have never held an FAA medical certificate, BasicMed requires you to make contact with the FAA via a third class medical application and exam, and be issued a medical certificate once before pursuing the other requirements to exercise BasicMed privileges.

How do I get a medical certificate? The FAA application for airman medical certification is an online form that will be completed prior to visiting an FAA aviation medical examiner (AME) for the physical exam. Once you have completed the form and submit it to the FAA, you will be able to print out the form that will include a confirmation number at the bottom. You’ll provide that number to the AME who will input the number to retrieve your electronic medical application from the FAA system. Once the exam is complete and you are found qualified and eligible for the medical, the examiner will issue your paper medical certificate and you are ready to solo.

How will the AME determine whether to issue me a medical certificate in the office? The AME will review the application form you completed prior to the exam and note any medical conditions, medications, and visits to health care providers that you indicated on the application form. Some medical conditions will raise questions, even if the condition happened or was treated long ago. The application asks you to report any medical condition that happened in your life, so that’s a long look back into your past.

What about medications? The FAA considers some medications unacceptable for flying, sometimes because of the potential adverse side effects that accompany the medication, but also because of the underlying medical condition that the medication is treating. If you were on a medication previously but are no longer taking it, that medication doesn’t need to be reported on the application.

What about routine visits, checkups, and other doctor’s visits? Visits to health professionals in the past three years are reportable on the application. Routine wellness visits or visits to your family physician for minor illnesses such as sinus infections or flu can be reported as such; the FAA isn’t concerned about those types of interactions, but if you report seeing a specialist such as a cardiologist or neurologist for a heart or nervous system issue, the AME and the FAA will need to see more detailed information.

What if I receive a deferral? If for any reason the AME doesn’t feel comfortable issuing the medical to you, the application will go to the FAA as a deferral and the FAA will contact you directly for more information. Deferrals translate to lengthy delays, so don’t wait until you’re ready to solo to schedule a flight physical. Getting the medical out of the way should be one of the first priorities so your training won’t be disrupted.

If you have questions about medical certification, contact the AOPA Pilot Information Center at 800-872-2672 or [email protected].

Portrait of Gary Crump, AOPA's director of medical certification with a Cessna 182 Skylane at the National Aviation Community Center.
Frederick, MD USA

Gary Crump

Gary is the Director of AOPA’s Pilot Information Center Medical Certification Section and has spent the last 32 years assisting AOPA members. He is also a former Operating Room Technician, Professional Firefighter/Emergency Medical Technician, and has been a pilot since 1973.

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