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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 make 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.   If you have no “expectation,” you still must self-certify.  Select the category that you will  likely operate in. 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 based farm 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 / no trailer - No medical certificate required
  • Pickup / trailer - No medical certificate required
  • Straight truck / no trailer - No medical certificate required
  • Straight truck / trailer - No medical certificate required
  • Truck-tractor / semitrailer - No medical certificate required
Iowa farmer or helper – Interstate Commerce – within 150 airmiles of home farm:
  • Pickup / no trailer - No medical certificate required
  • Pickup / trailer - Medical certificate required if over 10,000 GCWR
  • Straight truck / no trailer - No medical certificate required
  • Straight truck / trailer - Medical certificate required
  • Truck-tractor / semitrailer - Medical certificate required
Iowa farmer or helper – Interstate Commerce – over 150 airmiles from home farm:
  • Pickup / no trailer - Medical certificate required if over 10,000 GVWR
  • Pickup / trailer - Medical certificate required if over 10,000 GCWR
  • Straight truck / no trailer - Medical certificate required
  • Straight truck / 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

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

Where can I get a physical examination?
Answer: Licensed medical professionals, such as medical doctors, doctors of osteopathic medicine, physician assistants, chiropractors and advance registered nurse practitioners can serve as medical examiners and conduct the physical examinations.

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 one that is to be presented to Driver Services.

http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/documents/safetyprograms/Medical-Report.pdf (long form) This is 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 is to be presented to 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.

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. CDLIS will change your physical qualification status 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 (FMCSA) 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 then click on 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 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 at:https://secure.iowadot.gov/ods_contact.aspx, e-mail questions to CDLMedCert@dot.iowa.gov, or call 800-532-1121 or 515-244-9124 in Des Moines.