New FMCSA Medical Certification Requirements – Deadline Approaches


The new FMCSA medical certification requirements affect all CDL holders.

Many CDL holders are still confused as the deadline approaches.


The Federal Requirements

If you’re a CDL holder, here’s what you need to know about the new FMCSA medical certification requirements:

Deadline – January 30, 2014

  1. Self-Certification Affidavit: You must self-certify the type of commercial motor vehicle operation you drive
  2. Medical Examiner’s Certificate: If you operate in certain types of commerce, you must also provide a current medical examiner’s certificate.
  3. Variance Document: If your medical examiner’s certificate is only valid with a vision, diabetes or a skills performance evaluation variance granted by FMCSA, you may also be asked by your SDLA to provide a copy of that variance document.


You Must Report This Information To Your SDLA

You must provide this information to your State Driver License Agency by the January 30, 2014 deadline or your CDL is at risk.

Each State is responsible for reporting the information into the Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS), which is a nationwide computer system based on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

Once provided, your certified medical status will be kept as part of your driving record.


The Responsibility Falls On The CDL Holder

Confusion abounds because each State has its own process for collecting this information and getting it into the Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS).

Some States have been preparing for this reporting requirement since January 30, 2012.

If you’ve had a CDL transaction such as a new CDL, a renewal, upgrade, endorsement, or transfer since 2012, you may already be in the system. If you’re not sure, then it’s best to check with your SDLA.

Many States have mailed notices to drivers. If you have a different mailing address than the address recorded on your license, you may have missed the notice.

The bottom line is that the responsibility falls on the CDL holder to make sure their driving record is updated with this information by the deadline, January 30, 2014, or they risk their CDL being downgraded or suspended.

Reports such as an Ohio news story, late September 2013, show that a large number of CDL holders  (120,000 according to Ohio BMV) have not self-certified and risk losing their CDL privileges.

Some drivers are aware that “something’s up” and have heard about it, but don’t really know what “it” is, and have no idea how it impacts them, or what they’re supposed to do.


How To Provide This Information To Your SDLA

The process for providing this information to your SDLA differs from State to State.

DOTPhysicalDOCTORS has compiled information to assist both commercial drivers and DOT doctors, on a state-by-state basis.

CDL - State Regulations

Check these links for instructions for your SDLA.
Please leave your feedback on the State page to help other drivers.

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What Self-Certification Means

The Federal requirement focuses on Interstate Commercial Driving. If you drive interstate, unless you fall into ‘excepted’ categories, you must meet the Federal DOT medical certification requirements. Most CDL holders who drive CMVs in interstate commerce fall within the Interstate Non-Excepted category.

You must self-certify in one of these four categories:

  1. Interstate non-excepted: You are an Interstate non-excepted driver and must meet the Federal DOT medical card requirements.
  2. Interstate excepted: You are an Interstate excepted driver and do not have to meet the Federal DOT medical card requirements.
  3. Intrastate non-excepted: You are an Intrastate non-excepted driver and are required to meet the medical requirements for your State.
  4. Intrastate excepted: You are an Intrastate excepted driver and do not have to meet the medical requirements for your State.

For more information go to US DOT FMCSA official website.

How to determine what type of CMV operation you should self-certify:

Step 1. If you operate in both intrastate commerce and interstate commerce, you must choose interstate commerce.
Step 2. Decide from the Federal and State regulations if you fall into a non-excepted or excepted category.


Because you must decide on a single type of commerce category to certify, a recommendation would be to certify the category that keeps your driving options as open as possible.

  • If you can pass the DOT medical exam and meet the FMCSA requirements, then certify Interstate Non-Excepted to give yourself the most commercial driving opportunities.
  • If you cannot meet these requirements, you will have to certify in another category.


Why do commercial drivers have to do this?

This statement from Washington State Department of Licensing sheds light on this question:

In 2007, federal and state authorities found over 100,000 commercial vehicle drivers were operating illegally without valid medical certificates. Commercial vehicle crash data also shows that more than 3,000 truck crashes per year result from the driver having a heart attack or other physical impairment. Requiring self-certification and valid medical certificates will help to prevent medically unqualified drivers from operating commercial vehicles on our highways.


What If You Do Not Self-Certify and/or Meet The Medical Requirements By The Deadline?

If you don’t meet the new requirements by January 30, 2014 your SDLA will notify you that your CDL has being downgraded or suspended.

What this means to your CDL depends on your State requirements. The status on your CDLIS driver record will be changed to “not certified”. Each state differs in the number of days until the downgrade process is implemented. Each state differs on the time period at which you lose your CDL and are required to retest. Each state has their own requirements and fees to get back your CDL privileges.


Keep Your Medical Certificate Up To Date With Your SDLA

As of January 30, 2014 your SDLA will be monitoring the medical certificate expiration dates of all CDL holders. If your SDLA does not have a current medical examiner’s certificate in your CDLIS record, they will downgrade you to “not-certified”, and your CDL license may be downgraded or suspended.

Your SDLA will notify you that you are no longer medically certified to operate a CMV in non-excepted commerce. Make sure that they have a valid mailing address so you are aware if this situation arises.

TIP – Renew Your Medical Card Before It Expires

Your SDLA may take some time to update your records. To ensure that you maintain your CDL current, it’s probably best to renew your medical card a few weeks before it expires, and get this new information to your SDLA.

TIP – Not Driving But Want To Keep Your CDL

If you are not currently driving a CMV, and you want to maintain your CDL but are not in a position to certify for a medical certificate, or do not want to keep your medical certificate current, check with your SDLA. Your SDLA may allow you to self-certify in a category that does not require a medical certificate, if you state allows it.


  1. laura says

    Hi ok my husband has cdl class A bmv in columbus has wrong expiration date that what is on his card went to local bmv to change date now on certificate nurse that did examine for to put her register number so we can change expiration date at bmv been making lots of calls darn nurse doesnt practice at place he went to changed to different medical system noone has records to get register number how do I help him get number its a real problem someone of course wasnt doing job at front desk .Hopefully get some help dyer importantance Thank you! I have nurses name.

    • says

      1. The place that did the DOT examination must have that nurse’s registry number.
      2. Even if they don’t, which is unlikely, they can look it up on the national registry.
      3. They have to keep records for 3 years, so they should have your husband’s paperwork on file.
      Otherwise, post a reply here with the nurse’s name, and the city and state, and we can look the number up for you.

  2. Kelly says

    My fiance has a class A Cdl, and recently found out he has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the heart specialist cleared him, and he went back for his medical card with the paperwork and now the dot dr is appealing it. For now he has not worked in two weeks, and my question is, how long is the appeal process, and who makes the decision? Is there any way for us to find out? Thank u in advance.

    • says

      Who is appealing what?
      Your heart specialist is not a CME and what is the CME appealing.
      The CME needs a medical release form from your heart doctor saying that the driver is ready to be tested to return to work because he is fit for duty.
      The CME will make that final decision, the driver is fit for duty and can return to driving. So not sure who is doing what here.

  3. Tracy says

    I own and operate 2 cattle farms. I purchased a semi in 2014 so I can transport equipment and supplies between these 2 farms ( about 10 miles apart ). I doubt I will ever drive more than 500 miles per year. Do I really need to maintain an annual physical in NC for such a limited operation? I do have high blood pressure controlled with medication, so I have to see my regular doctor every 6 months. Why can’t he issue the physical without me having to make a separate visit to another doctor who knows nothing about my overall health?

    • says

      Most of this should be taken up with your local state Driver’s License Department.
      There may be some “farm equipment” waiver that works better for you.
      And your local doctor can provide you with an examination, you just need to make sure, before hand, that your state is going to accept the examination paper work.

  4. Tonya says

    I have had a GA CDL for 24 yrs. In March 2014, I had what my neurologist assessed as an anxiety attack. After an MRI, CT Scan, and several other tests I was released back to work in May 2014. The DOT examiner did not agree with the release back to work and requested I have a “neuropsychiatric eval” and disqualified my CDL. The problem with this is when I tried to schedule appointments with either neurologists or psychiatrist no one understood why the DOT examiner would request this particular test. I have been back to work now since July, but recently was terminated because I still have not had this test. My primary physician, neurologist and myself disagree with the request. I don’t know what to do now to get my job back. How do I appeal this DOT examiners request? Is a neuropsychiatric eval a common request?

    • says

      First choice is to go to someone else. Someone is over-stepping their understanding of the FMCSA’s regulations.
      Second, you can enter into conflict with the examiner through the FMCSA. It may be a long drawn out process, but useful. You’ll need to search the FMCSA website for their conflict resolution information.
      If your primary doctors are comfortable enough to complete your medical release form for you, then take that with you to another facility and get a new medical exam.

  5. Cory says

    I have a question I’m currently on a low dose of methadone now when I go for my dot card the day I start trucking school will they check for methadone? I’m almost off it but not yet

    • says

      Your DOT examination does not check for drugs, but your employer will.
      Don’t know how the driving school operates so I can’t point you in any direction for that one.
      Once you are off your meds, make sure you have a medical release form completed by your doctor and take it with you. Good Luck

  6. Ed Godsey says

    I work at a large elevator as there semi mechanic, I very rarely haul any grain. Was wondering if I could change anything so I don’t need a medical card. All I do is test drive trucks after being repaired.

  7. Troy Hanson says

    I pump septic tanks in several counties but only in Illinois. As no one at the driver’s license facility was sure which box I was to mark on the self certification form after renewing my medical examiner’s card, I apparently chose incorrectly and was mailed a new form informing me that my choice was not clear. I marked the box, that I assumed was correct and faxed the information on November 30, 2013. Today (February 28th, 2014) I received a letter requesting my license to be mailed back to the secretary of state as it was being cancelled as of March 5th, 2014. I am a small business owner and the only one who operates our trucks (no employees) and can not afford to close my business due to the lack of understanding or help to get my documents completely correctly. The CDL Medical Unit was closed when I called immediately after opening my letter. I will be calling on Monday to hopefully get this situation straightened out, but was hoping you could tell me what box should be marked on my self certification form. I sent a second form with the NA marked on the second form. Please help!!!! Thanks :)

    • says

      @ Troy
      In most cases, if you can pass the DOT medical examination, and you are operating your business as a cdl holder, then you probably want to check the non-exempt box. I have not checked the IL. self certification, but in UT. that would be the answer.

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