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Medical certification requirements as part of the commercial driver license (CDL)

Frequently asked questions


Although I do not currently use my CDL, I want to keep it. How do I self-certify?
Answer: All CDL holders are required to complete a self-certification. The federal regulation specifies that a driver self-certify to the type of transportation he/she engages in or expects to engage in. Select the category that you will likely operate in or the category that best describes how you use your CDL. Details on how to self-certify are available at: http://iowadot.gov/mvd/ods/mcRforCDL.html.

When do farm drivers have to meet physical qualifications?
Answer: Under federal rules, drivers of commercial vehicles must be medically qualified and carry a copy of a Medical Examiner's Certificate when they are driving across state lines. These rules have also been adopted by the State of Iowa for intrastate commerce. However, both federal and state laws provide exceptions for some farm vehicle drivers when driving within the scope of the farm operation. The list below will assist in determining when an Iowa licensed and farm-based vehicle driver needs to be medically qualified and carry a copy of their medical certificate with them.

Iowa farmer or helper – intrastate commerce – no mileage limit
  • Pickup without a trailer: No medical certificate required.
  • Pickup with a trailer: No medical certificate required.
  • Straight truck without a trailer: No medical certificate required.
  • Straight truck with a trailer: No medical certificate required.
  • Truck-tractor/semitrailer: No medical certificate required
Iowa farmer or helper – interstate commerce – within 150 air miles of home farm:
  • Pickup without a trailer: No medical certificate required.
  • Pickup with a trailer: No medical certificate required.
  • Straight truck without a trailer: No medical certificate required.
  • Straight truck with a trailer: No medical certificate required.
  • Truck-tractor/semitrailer: No medical certificate required..
Iowa farmer or helper – interstate commerce – over 150 air miles from home farm:
  • Pickup without a trailer: Medical certificate required if over 10,000 gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR).
  • Pickup with a trailer: Medical certificate required if over 10,000 GCWR.
  • Straight truck without a trailer: Medical certificate required.
  • Straight truck with a trailer: Medical certificate required.
  • Truck-tractor/semitrailer: Medical certificate required.

How do I determine which category to self-certify in?
Answer: See the flow chart

What is a “K” restriction and what does it mean?
Answer: Drivers that certify to intrastate driving, either excepted or nonexcepted, will have a “K” restriction placed on their license. The restriction limits the driver to intrastate driving whenever they operate a commercial motor vehicle.

How can I change my certification?
Answer: To change your certification category, please visit a driver’s license issuance site to complete a new certification form. Drivers that certify to intrastate driving are required to have a restriction placed on their license (“K” restriction). Changing your certification category may require the addition or the removal of this restriction on your driver’s license.

Do I have to get a new physical and Medical Examiner's Certificate if my current certificate has time remaining on it?
Answer: No, you may use the current certificate. Before your medical certificate expires, you must obtain a renewed certificate and submit it to the Iowa DOT to remain in compliance.

Where can I get a physical examination?
Answer: Medical certificates issued on or after May 21, 2014, must be issued by a medical professional listed on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. This means that a commercial driver who is renewing or obtaining a new medical certificate on or after May 21, 2014, must be examined by a medical professional listed on the national registry. Medical examiners must complete training and pass a certification examination required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to become certified. To learn more about the national registry and search for a certified medical examiner, visit: https://nationalregistry.fmcsa.dot.gov.

What if my current Medical Examiner’s Certificate was not issued by a certified medical examiner listed on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners?
Answer: Medical certificates issued prior to May 21, 2014, are still valid until their expiration date. However, when it is time to renew the certificate, you must be examined by a medical professional listed on the national registry.
If my chosen medical examiner does not have the appropriate forms, where can the forms be obtained?
Answer:
http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/documents/safetyprograms/Medical-Examiners-Certificate.pdf (short form)
This is the only form that you need to be presented to the Iowa DOT’s Office of Driver Services.

http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/documents/safetyprograms/Medical-Report.pdf (long form)
This form must be given to the employer or kept in the self-employed driver’s business papers.

There are two forms; the Medical Examination Report for Commercial Driver Fitness Determination (long form) and Medical Examiner's Certificate (short form). Which one should be submitted to the Iowa DOT?
Answer: The short form is the only one that must be presented to the Iowa DOT’s Office of Driver Services.

The long form is given to the employer or kept in the self-employed driver’s business papers.

What do I do with the long form?
Answer: Give it to your employer. If you are self-employed, keep it in your personal business papers.

How often does a Medical Examiner's Certificate have to be renewed?
Answer: Generally, every two years. Certain medical conditions may require a driver to renew more often.

If I do not meet the physical qualification standards, is there a waiver possibility?
Answer: You should consult with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Their website is www.fmcsa.dot.gov and contains information regarding medical qualifications. Their Midwestern Service Center is located at 4749 Lincoln Mall Drive, Suite 300A, Matteson, IL 60443; phone 708-283-3577 and fax 708-283-3579.

What should I do if I change my type of driving and will no longer need a Medical Examiner's Certificate?
Answer: Make a new self-certification with the Iowa DOT. You may change your self-certification at any time by visiting a driver's license issuance site.

What will happen if I remain a nonexcepted interstate driver, but fail to renew my Medical Examiner's Certificate?
Answer: The Iowa DOT is required to downgrade your CDL to a noncommercial privilege. This downgrade will happen after advance notice. However, the Commercial Driver's License Information System (CDLIS) will be notified immediately. Your physical qualification status in CDLIS will be changed to “not certified.” Law enforcement officers routinely check CDLIS, so you could be taken out-of-service if operating in nonexcepted interstate commerce with an expired Medical Examiner’s Certificate. It is important to renew your certificate and provide a copy to the Iowa DOT before it expires.

What do I need to do if the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has granted me a variance or waiver from the qualifications?
Answer: In most cases, FMCSA will notify the Iowa DOT of the variance or waiver. A restriction will be placed on your CDL and you must carry the specific variance or waiver information with you while driving. As your variance or waiver nears expiration, you must apply to FMCSA for the renewal. Variances and/or waivers of physical qualifications are granted only by FMCSA. Information on waivers and variances is available on FMCSA’s website: www.fmcsa.dot.gov and by clicking "Medical Program."

After I provide the Iowa DOT with an unexpired Medical Examiner's Certificate, do I still have to carry an original or copy of my Medical Examiner's Certificate?
Answer: Until the program is fully implemented on Jan. 30, 2015, you must carry an original or copy of your Medical Examiner's Certificate with you and provide a copy to your employer for your driver qualification file.

Beginning Jan. 30, 2015, you will need to carry an original or copy of the Medical Examiner's Certificate with you as proof of medical certification for 15 days after it is issued. This will allow time for the Iowa DOT to record the medical certificate in your electronic driving record. The renewed certificate must be presented to the Iowa DOT before the previous certificate expires. Once received, the Iowa DOT will record the medical certificate in your electronic driving record. The electronic version will become the valid version of your medical certification and you no longer need to carry the certificate with you. It will remain valid in the system for two years from the date of issuance, unless you have a medical condition that requires more frequent examination. You must still provide your employer with the Medical Examination Report for Commercial Driver Fitness Determination (long form). If you are self-employed, you must also keep a copy of the long form in your personal business papers.

How can I get further information?
Answer: Submit questions online at: https://secure.iowadot.gov/ods_contact.aspx; email questions to CDLMedCert@dot.iowa.gov; or call 800-532-1121 or 515-244-9124 in Des Moines.