Already a member? Please login below for an enhanced experience. Not a member? Join today
Menu

Common CFI Renewal and Processing FAQsCommon Renewal FAQs

If you can't find an answer to your question here, call 800-USA-AOPA (872-2672) Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., ET. For phone support, press option 2 for general FIRC questions or press option 5 and then 2 for technical support.

I need to renew my flight instructor certificate within the next few months. What are my options?

You have several options available to you, each with their own advantages. They are:

  • Attend an approved Flight Instructor Refresher Course (FIRC).
  • Take an online Flight Instructor Refresher Course (eFIRC)
  • Take a practical test with the FAA or an authorized designated examiner.
  • Present a record of training showing that during the past 24 months you have endorsed at least five students for a practical test, and at least 80 percent (four students) passed on the first attempt.
  • Present a record that shows within the past 24 months that you have served as a company check pilot, chief flight instructor, company check airman, or flight instructor in a Part 121 or Part 135 operation, or in a position involving the regular evaluation of pilots in which the FAA inspector is acquainted with the duties and responsibilities of the position, and has satisfactory knowledge of its current pilot training, certification, and standards.

WHICH RENEWAL METHOD SHOULD I CHOOSE?

The one that fits your particular lifestyle and time constraints. Each renewal method has its different advantages.

WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS FOR RENEWAL IF MY INSTRUCTOR CERTIFICATE HAS EXPIRED?

You have only one option — a checkride. The FAA refers to this as a "reinstatement." In most areas, this means a ride with your local FAA inspector, but some flight standards district offices (FSDOs) have authorized designated examiners to handle reinstatements. The good news is that you don't need to take a knowledge test, and one ride will suffice to renew all the ratings listed on that expired flight instructor certificate.

I HOLD A FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR CERTIFICATE WITH AIRPLANE AND HELICOPTER RATINGS. WILL TAKING A FIRC RENEW BOTH RATINGS, OR MUST I ATTEND ONE PROGRAM FOR MY AIRPLANE RATING AND ANOTHER FOR MY HELICOPTER RATING?

You may participate in any FIRC program and renew all the ratings on your flight instructor certificate.

I RECENTLY ADDED AN INSTRUMENT RATING TO MY FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR CERTIFICATE. I RECEIVED MY ORIGINAL CERTIFICATE 12 MONTHS AGO. DO I NEED TO RENEW MY ORIGINAL FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR CERTIFICATE IN ANOTHER 12 MONTHS (24 MONTHS FROM THE ORIGINAL ISSUANCE), OR DOES THE RATING I JUST ADDED TO MY INSTRUCTOR RATING EXTEND THE RENEWAL PERIOD?

An additional flight instructor rating "resets" the renewal clock. Because you were issued a new rating on your flight instructor certificate, you should have a certificate with an expiration date 24 months from the date you obtained that rating. That new date is your expiration date.

WHAT ADVANTAGE IS IT TO ALLOW ASI TO HANDLE THE PAPERWORK TO REVALIDATE MY CFI? CAN'T I JUST DROP IN AT THE LOCAL FSDO, SHOW THEM MY ASI FIRC GRADUATION CERTIFICATE, AND LET THEM TAKE CARE OF IT?

Unlike other FIRC providers, ASI does not charge extra for processing your CFI revalidation, and allowing ASI to handle the revalidation will save you an immense amount of hassle. If you decide to take your renewal program paperwork to the local FSDO yourself, be aware that you can no longer just walk into the FSDO. You must make an appointment - well in advance, in most cases - and be prepared to go through identification procedures. Also, all the extra security duties that have been assigned to FAA inspectors leave them with precious little time for routine duties, such as renewing CFI certificates. There have been cases where CFIs declined ASI's offer to renew their certificates, and then were unable to get an appointment with an FAA inspector until it was too late.

I WAS ABLE TO RENEW MY CERTIFICATE TWO YEARS AGO BY TAKING IT TO THE LOCAL FSDO AND HAVING IT REISSUED BASED ON THE INSPECTOR'S PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE OF ME. I DON'T SEE THAT OPTION LISTED UNDER FAR 61.197. WHAT HAPPENED?

That option still exists but is not formally recognized in the regulations. An FAA inspector may renew your flight instructor certificate based on his or her personal knowledge of you as a flight instructor. You may, however, find inspectors reluctant to exercise this option.

Instead you can submit your application for CFI Renewal online;

  1. Watch the video above about Submitting Your Application for CFI Renewal
  2. Download ASI's Guide for Submitting Your Application for CFI Renewal for step-by-step instructions.
  3. Submit Your Application in IACRA
  4. Send ASI Your ID, CFI Certificate and FTN for Processing

FAR 61.197 ALLOWS YOU TO SUBMIT AN APPLICATION FOR RENEWAL WITHIN FOUR-MONTHS OF YOUR CERTIFICATE'S EXPIRATION DATE AND STILL RETAIN YOUR ORIGINAL EXPIRATION MONTH. HOW DO YOU DETERMINE THAT RENEWAL WINDOW? DOES THE 4 MONTH PERIOD START THE DAY OF YOUR FIRC GRADUATION?

No. The renewal window is four calendar months prior to your expiration date. For example, if your certificate expires in July, you could complete a FIRC as early as April 1 and you would retain your original expiration date of July.

Watch the introduction video to the eFIRC for a visual representation of the renewal window.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I COMPLETE A FIRC PROGRAM MORE THAN FOUR MONTHS IN ADVANCE OF MY EXPIRATION DATE?

If you complete the FIRC more than four months prior to your expiration month, your new expiration date will be the end of the month in which you completed the FIRC. For example, if your certificate expires in July, you could complete a FIRC on March 31 and you would have a new March expiration date, not your original expiration date of July.

WHAT IF MY FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR CERTIFICATE HAS EXPIRED? CAN I STILL RENEW ON THE BASIS OF GRADUATING FROM A FIRC?

No, you must hold a valid, unexpired flight instructor certificate at the time you submit your application for renewal. Although attendance at a FIRC, or completing an online eFIRC, certainly would be beneficial from a knowledge standpoint, it could not be used as the basis for your renewal.

I JUST DISCOVERED THAT MY FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR CERTIFICATE IS MISSING. WILL THIS PREVENT ME FROM RENEWING, OR CAN I RENEW WITHOUT MY INSTRUCTOR CERTIFICATE?

You must submit a copy of your flight instructor certificate with your application. If your certificate is lost, you may request a verification of privileges from the FAA's Airman Services web page, https://www.faa.gov/licenses_certificates/airmen_certification/airmen_services/. This requires you to set up an account and request an emailed or faxed verification directly from the FAA. This confirmation notice may be used in lieu of the actual certificate. You also can contact your local FSDO for assistance.

MY MEDICAL CERTIFICATE EXPIRED LAST MONTH, AND I HAVE NOT HAD TIME TO GET A NEW ONE. DO I NEED A CURRENT MEDICAL CERTIFICATE TO RENEW MY FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR CERTIFICATE AT YOUR PROGRAM?

No. A current medical is not required to renew your flight instructor certificate. In fact, a current medical is not even required to instruct as long as you do not act as the pilot in command of the aircraft.

WHAT IS ASI'S FOUR MONTH GUARANTEE?

Renew your CFI through ASI, either live or online, no more than four months prior to your expiration date. When done in accordance with FAR 61.197b, and ASI handles your renewal paperwork, we guarantee you'll keep your original expiration date. For example, if your certificate expires August 31st, you may complete a FIRC anytime in May, June, July, or August and retain the August 31st expiration.

HOW DO I TURN OFF POP-UP BLOCKERS ON MY BROWSER?

Pop-up blockers are required to be turned off during your completion of the 8710 form in the IACRA website. IACRA utilizes pop-ups throughout the completion steps for review and authorization of information. If you are getting messages that the form is incomplete, turn off your browser's pop-up blocker and review the form to make sure you did not miss a step that was located in a pop-up.

How to turn off Pop-Up Blockers:

WHERE DO I UPLOAD IMAGES OF MY CFI CERTIFICATE AND GOVERNMENT ISSUED ID AND FTN FOR PROCESSING?

After submitting your application to IACRA, you will need to send ASI images of your government issued ID, CFI certificate front and back (full color is preferred) and your FTN. You can do this through the "Preparing for your CFI Renewal" module within the eFIRC or by uploading the images via the online form or via email at [email protected].

HOW LONG WILL PROCESSING MY APPLICATION TAKE?

It generally takes us two business days after you've submitted your completion information to us before we can verify your ID and complete our processing in IACRA. Once we've done that, you'll receive an email from ASI along with your eFIRC Graduation Certificate and Temporary Airman Certificate. Near the end of the month, priority is given to those renewing in that particular month.

You can also access your transcript and processed certificates under your profile in the eFIRC. In the eFIRC, in the upper right side in the top bar, use the menu to select "My Profile." There you will find your transcript of course progress and certificates once they are issued.

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE FOR THE FAA TO PROCESS MY APPLICATION?

It takes the FAA about 6-8 weeks on average to process a renewal application. You can check the Airman Certification homepage, https://www.faa.gov/licenses_certificates/airmen_certification/, to see the approximate date of applications they are processing. It is at the top of the page under News & Highlights.

HOW DO I CHECK ON THE STATUS OF MY APPLICATION WITH THE FAA AFTER IT’S BEEN SUBMITTED?

You can check the airman certification division processing status here: FAA Airmen Certification.This page will let you know what application date the Airman Certification branch is currently processing. 

You can also see whether the FAA has processed your personal application or not on IACRA or through an airmen certificate information search at: FAA Airmen Information.

You can also check your application status via the Applicant Console in IACRA. Select the appropriate application under “Your Existing Applications” and look at the Status column. It will change from “Complete” (ASI finished our processing) to “Received by Airman Registry” (FAA is doing their processing) finally to “Airman Registry – Complete” (the FAA has issued the new CFI certificate.)

WHAT DO I DO IF I’M HAVING PROBLEMS WITH IACRA?

First, try reviewing our guides:

  1. Watch our about Submitting Your Application for CFI Renewal
  2. Download ASI's Guide for Submitting Your Application for CFI Renewal for step-by-step instructions.

Still need help:

Contact the FAA’s National AVS IT Service Desk:

Hours of operations are: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 
Telephone number: Toll-free at  877-287-6731 (ask for Tier 2) 
E-mail address: [email protected]
The Web address for IACRA is http://iacra.faa.gov/iacra

I FLY UNDER BASIC MED AND SELECTED THAT IN IACRA BUT MY 8710-1 IS SHOWING AN ISSUE DATE OF 1/1/1900, HOW CAN I CORRECT THAT?

You can’t. That’s a known glitch in ICARA and will be fixed during a future update to the program. It will not affect your ability to renew your CFI certificate.

CAN I SUBMIT A PAPER 8710 IF I DON’T WANT TO COMPLETE THE ONLINE PROCESSING?

Yes – you may fill out a paper 8710 and mail to us at:

eFIRC Processing
AOPA Air Safety Institute
421 Aviation Way
Frederick, MD 21701

When filling out the form, please use the Guide to Submit Application for Renewal document as reference. Pay particular attention to using the name on your current CFI certificate as well as citizenship, height, and gender. If you need to change your name, citizenship or gender or your height by more than two (2) inches, you have to do so at your local FSDO. You may not change those items with an 8710 for CFI renewal.

Sign and date the form with the date of your eFIRC course completion.

We'll still need to verify your ID for the 8710 just as we would if you were completing the application within IACRA. You can either scan and email an image of your CFI certificate to [email protected] or upload it on our "submit application for renewal" of the eFIRC.

WHAT IF IT’S GETTING CLOSE TO MY TEMPORARY CERTIFICATE EXPIRATION DATE AND I STILL HAVEN’T RECEIVED MY CERTIFICATE FROM THE FAA?

You should contact the FAA’s Airman Certification Branch

If necessary, you can also request an extension through the FAA airman certification branch. In order to request the extension visit the FAA’s website at: http://www.faa.gov/licenses_certificates/airmen_certification/airmen_services/ , login and request temporary authority – this will issue a 60 day extension to your temporary CFI certificate.

DO I NEED TO TURN IN MY INSTRUCTOR CERTIFICATE?

No, but you will need to submit a legible (preferably color) copy of your flight instructor certificate. 

Send ASI Your ID, CFI Certificate and FTN for Processing

Your old certificate will no longer be valid after the date of expiration without also holding a FIRC graduation certificate which acts as your temporary certificate for 120 days.

WHEN FILLING OUT THE 8710 OR IACRA APPLICATION FORM FOR MY RENEWAL, DO I NEED TO COMPLETE SECTION III, RECORD OF PILOT TIME, WHEN SUBMITTING AN APPLICATION FOR RENEWAL?

There is no requirement to complete the record of pilot time section of the 8710 form for a flight instructor renewal. You may, however, want to do this for other reasons. It might serve as possible proof of previous time should you lose your logbooks.

I HAVE A GOLD SEAL ON MY CFI CERTIFICATE BUT I DON’T SEE A WAY TO INDICATE THAT ON THE 8710-1 IN IACRA. WILL IT STILL SHOW UP ON MY NEW CERTIFICATE?

Yes, if you already have a Gold Seal it will carry through to the new renewal. If you want to add a Gold Seal you must go to your FSDO to do that. When our ACRs review your credentials, we note the presence of a Gold Seal and confirm that in the Certifying Officers processing of your 8710.

Renewal Processing Questions

WHERE DO I UPLOAD IMAGES OF MY CFI CERTIFICATE AND GOVERNMENT ISSUED ID AND FTN FOR PROCESSING?

After submitting your application to IACRA, you will need to send ASI images of your government issued ID, CFI certificate front and back (full color is preferred) and your FTN. You can do this through the "Preparing for your CFI Renewal" module within the eFIRC or by uploading the images via the online form or via email at [email protected].

HOW LONG WILL PROCESSING MY APPLICATION TAKE?

It generally takes us two business days after you've submitted your completion information to us before we can verify your ID and complete our processing in IACRA. Once we've done that, you'll receive an email from ASI along with your eFIRC Graduation Certificate and Temporary Airman Certificate. Near the end of the month, priority is given to those renewing in that particular month.

You can also access your transcript and processed certificates under your profile in the eFIRC. In the eFIRC, in the upper right side in the top bar, use the menu to select "My Profile." There you will find your transcript of course progress and certificates once they are issued.

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE FOR THE FAA TO PROCESS MY APPLICATION?

It takes the FAA about 6-8 weeks on average to process a renewal application. You can check the Airman Certification homepage, https://www.faa.gov/licenses_certificates/airmen_certification/, to see the approximate date of applications they are processing. It is at the top of the page under News & Highlights.

HOW DO I CHECK ON THE STATUS OF MY APPLICATION WITH THE FAA AFTER IT’S BEEN SUBMITTED?

You can check the airman certification division processing status here: FAA Airmen Certification.This page will let you know what application date the Airman Certification branch is currently processing. 

You can also see whether the FAA has processed your personal application or not on IACRA or through an airmen certificate information search at: FAA Airmen Information.

You can also check your application status via the Applicant Console in IACRA. Select the appropriate application under “Your Existing Applications” and look at the Status column. It will change from “Complete” (ASI finished our processing) to “Received by Airman Registry” (FAA is doing their processing) finally to “Airman Registry – Complete” (the FAA has issued the new CFI certificate.)

WHAT DO I DO IF I’M HAVING PROBLEMS WITH IACRA?

First, try reviewing our guides:

  1. Watch our about Submitting Your Application for CFI Renewal
  2. Download ASI's Guide for Submitting Your Application for CFI Renewal for step-by-step instructions.

Still need help:

Contact the FAA’s National AVS IT Service Desk:

Hours of operations are: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 
Telephone number: Toll-free at  877-287-6731 (ask for Tier 2) 
E-mail address: [email protected]
The Web address for IACRA is http://iacra.faa.gov/iacra

I FLY UNDER BASIC MED AND SELECTED THAT IN IACRA BUT MY 8710-1 IS SHOWING AN ISSUE DATE OF 1/1/1900, HOW CAN I CORRECT THAT?

You can’t. That’s a known glitch in ICARA and will be fixed during a future update to the program. It will not affect your ability to renew your CFI certificate.

CAN I SUBMIT A PAPER 8710 IF I DON’T WANT TO COMPLETE THE ONLINE PROCESSING?

Yes – you may fill out a paper 8710 and mail to us at:

eFIRC Processing
AOPA Air Safety Institute
421 Aviation Way
Frederick, MD 21701

When filling out the form, please use the Guide to Submit Application for Renewal document as reference. Pay particular attention to using the name on your current CFI certificate as well as citizenship, height, and gender. If you need to change your name, citizenship or gender or your height by more than two (2) inches, you have to do so at your local FSDO. You may not change those items with an 8710 for CFI renewal.

Sign and date the form with the date of your eFIRC course completion.

We'll still need to verify your ID for the 8710 just as we would if you were completing the application within IACRA. You can either scan and email an image of your CFI certificate to [email protected] or upload it on our "submit application for renewal" of the eFIRC.

WHAT IF IT’S GETTING CLOSE TO MY TEMPORARY CERTIFICATE EXPIRATION DATE AND I STILL HAVEN’T RECEIVED MY CERTIFICATE FROM THE FAA?

You should contact the FAA’s Airman Certification Branch

If necessary, you can also request an extension through the FAA airman certification branch. In order to request the extension visit the FAA’s website at: http://www.faa.gov/licenses_certificates/airmen_certification/airmen_services/ , login and request temporary authority – this will issue a 60 day extension to your temporary CFI certificate.

DO I NEED TO TURN IN MY INSTRUCTOR CERTIFICATE?

No, but you will need to submit a legible (preferably color) copy of your flight instructor certificate. 

Send ASI Your ID, CFI Certificate and FTN for Processing

Your old certificate will no longer be valid after the date of expiration without also holding a FIRC graduation certificate which acts as your temporary certificate for 120 days.

WHEN FILLING OUT THE 8710 OR IACRA APPLICATION FORM FOR MY RENEWAL, DO I NEED TO COMPLETE SECTION III, RECORD OF PILOT TIME, WHEN SUBMITTING AN APPLICATION FOR RENEWAL?

There is no requirement to complete the record of pilot time section of the 8710 form for a flight instructor renewal. You may, however, want to do this for other reasons. It might serve as possible proof of previous time should you lose your logbooks.

I HAVE A GOLD SEAL ON MY CFI CERTIFICATE BUT I DON’T SEE A WAY TO INDICATE THAT ON THE 8710-1 IN IACRA. WILL IT STILL SHOW UP ON MY NEW CERTIFICATE?

Yes, if you already have a Gold Seal it will carry through to the new renewal. If you want to add a Gold Seal you must go to your FSDO to do that. When our ACRs review your credentials, we note the presence of a Gold Seal and confirm that in the Certifying Officers processing of your 8710.