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Classes of Medical Certificates

An applicant may apply and be granted any class of airman medical certificate as long as the applicant meets the required medical standards for that class of medical certificate. However, an applicant must have the appropriate class of medical certificate for the flying duties the airman intends to exercise. 

For example, an applicant who exercises the privileges of an airline transport pilot (ATP) certificate must hold a first- class medical certificate. That same pilot when holding only a third-class medical certificate may only exercise privileges of a private pilot certificate. Finally, an applicant need not hold an ATP airman certificate to be eligible for a first-class medical certificate.


Listed below are the three classes of airman medical certificates, identifying the categories of airmen (i.e., pilot) certificates applicable to each class.

  1. First-Class - Airline Transport Pilot (this is the only class that requires an EKG.  A baseline EKG is performed between the ages of 35-40, then and annual EKG is performed after age 40) (Must be age 23 or older IAW 14 CFR part 61)
  2. Second-Class - Commercial Pilot; Flight Engineer; Flight Navigator; or Air Traffic Control Tower Operator. (Note: This category of air traffic controller does not include FAA employee air traffic control specialists) (Must be age 18 or older IAW 14 CFR part 61)
  3. Third-Class - Private Pilot or Recreational Pilot (Must be age 17 or older IAW 14 CFR part 61).  (Gliders and Balloons must be age 16 or older IAW 14 CFR part 61).

An airman medical certificate is valid only with the original signature of the AME who performed the examination or with the digital signature of an authorized FAA physician  


Expiration Dates of Medical Certificates:


1.  First Class Medical Certificate: 

A first class medical certificate is valid for the remainder of the month of issue; plus

6 calendar months for operations requiring a first class medical certificate if the airman is age 40 or over on or before the date of the examination, or

12-calendar months for operations requiring a first-class medical certificate if the airman has not reached age 40 on or before the date of examination, or

12 calendar months for operations requiring a second class medical certificate, or

24 calendar months for operations requiring a third class medical certificate if the airman is age 40 or over on or before the date of the examination, or

60 calendar months for operations requiring a third class medical certificate if the airman has not reached age 40 on or before the date of examination. 


2.  Second Class Medical Certificate: 

A second class medical certificate is valid for the remainder of the month of issue; plus

12 calendar months for operations requiring a second class medical certificate, or

24 calendar months for operations requiring a third class medical certificate, if the airman is age 40 or over on or before the date of the examination, or

60 calendar months for operations requiring a third class medical certificate if the airman has not reached age 40 on or before the date of examination.


3.  Third Class Medical Certificate: 

A third-class medical certificate is valid for the remainder of the month of issue; plus

24 calendar months for operations requiring a third class medical certificate, if the airman is age 40 or over on or before the date of the examination, or

60 calendar months for operations requiring a third class medical certificate if the airman has not reached age 40 on or before the date of examination. *


Operations Not Requiring a Medical Certificate

Glider and Free Balloon Pilots are not required to hold a medical certificate of any class. To be issued Glider or Free Balloon Airman Certificates, applicants must certify that they do not know, or have reason to know, of any medical condition that would make them unable to operate a glider or free balloon in a safe manner. This certification is made at the local FAA FSDO.

“Sport” pilots are required to hold either a valid airman medical certificate or a current and valid U.S. driver’s license. When using a current and valid U.S. driver’s license to qualify, sport pilots must comply with each restriction and limitation on their U.S. driver’s license and any judicial or administrative order applying to the operation of a motor vehicle.

To exercise sport pilot privileges using a current and valid U.S. driver’s license as evidence of qualification, sport pilots must:

• Not have been denied the issuance of at least a third-class airman medical certificate (if they have applied for an airman medical certificate)

• Not have had their most recent airman medical certificate revoked or suspended (if they have held an airman medical certificate); and

• Not have had an Authorization withdrawn (if they have ever been granted an Authorization).

Sport pilots may not use a current and valid U.S. driver’s license in lieu of a valid airman medical certificate if they know or have reason to know of any medical condition that would make them unable to operate a light-sport aircraft in a safe manner.

Sport pilot medical provisions are found under 14 CFR §§ 61.3, 61.23, 61.53, and 61.303).

For more information about the sport pilot final rule, see the Certification of Aircraft and Airmen for the Operation of Light-Sport Aircraft; Final Rule.