How to obtain a DEA license

February 1st, 2024 8 Min read How to obtain a DEA license Blog

What is DEA registration, and why is it required?

Obtaining DEA registration allows healthcare providers to prescribe or administer controlled substances to patients. To receive a license, providers must first apply for one and undergo screening by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Because controlled substances have a higher rate of misuse, DEA registration ensures physicians and other healthcare providers understand and comply with federal laws concerning these substances.

Who needs to obtain a DEA license?

Every healthcare provider who administers, prescribes, or dispenses any controlled substance must be registered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Healthcare providers working with controlled substances need DEA registration.

As a resident working within your program, you are covered under the registration of your training hospital or institution. When you complete your training, you must obtain your own individual DEA license. You will also need your own registration if you plan to moonlight outside of your program while still a resident.

Make it official: How to apply for a National Provider Identifier number

How do I submit a DEA application?

To apply online, go to When applying, make a note of the control number. Usually, after one business day, you can go online (click on "Check the Status of My Application") to edit your application or to find out if your application has been approved, issued, or renewed. You can also call 800.882.9539 to verify your application status.

To check the status of your DEA application, you will need:

  • The control number
  • Your Social Security number
  • Your date of birth
  • The zip code for the facility where you have the application

When you first apply for a DEA license, you must hold an active license in the state where you are going to practice. If the state requires its own controlled substance permit (about half of them do), you must also obtain this or apply for it before seeking federal DEA registration or renewal.

Regulations for applying for a DEA license

How do I renew my DEA registration?

Your DEA license is valid for three years. Approximately 60 days prior to the expiration of your DEA license, a renewal letter will be sent to you at the address indicated on your current registration.

You will need your DEA number, last name, Social Security number, current zip code, and the expiration date listed on the DEA license you are updating.

Note that the post office cannot forward your DEA renewal letter to a different address if you move. If you applied for an individual DEA registration while you were an intern or resident, the renewal letter will be sent to the address you used on the registration application. Don’t forget to inform the DEA of any move after completing your training program.

When you receive your renewal letter, make sure you complete the DEA renewal online. Remember that it takes four to six weeks (online) and eight to twelve weeks (by mail) — sometimes more — for the DEA to process your renewal. There is a 30-day grace period following the expiration date if your renewal is in process. If it expires before you receive your renewal, you may not administer, dispense, or prescribe controlled substances in the meantime.

Make sure that you submit the exact dollar amount required for the application fee. If you fail to send the right amount, the DEA will return your renewal packet unprocessed.

For more information on new applications and renewals, visit the Diversion Control Division website.

Practice all over the country: Learn about the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact

What do I need to do once my registration is completed?

Once your DEA registration has been issued, it is your responsibility to keep your DEA information up to date with your current license and Controlled Substance Permit (CSP) information (if applicable).

To verify the information on file, you can go to the “registration validation” link online. To view the information, you’ll need your DEA number, Social Security number, and the expiration date of your DEA registration.

Whenever you move, you must submit a change of address to the DEA. This can be done either by calling the DEA at 800.882.9539 and following the steps outlined in the menu for address changes, or online by clicking on “Make Changes to My DEA Registration” on the homepage. Failure to keep your information updated could result in termination of your DEA registration.

If you would like a copy of your DEA license, go to the "Duplicate Certificate Request" link to print a copy of your certificate.

Interested in locum tenens work? What to know about DEA registration

If you're considering working locum tenens assignments, you'll need to update your DEA registration anytime you begin working in a new location.

Locums physicians need to update their DEA licenses when they switch locations.

For further information about the DEA's policy for locum tenens, please visit the DEA website.

Interested in learning more about locum tenens? Give us a call at 800.453.3030 or view today's job opportunities.

The article was last updated on February 1, 2024.



Alisa Tank

Alisa Tank is a content specialist at CHG Healthcare. She is passionate about making a difference in the lives of others. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, road trips, and exploring Utah’s desert landscapes.

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