CompHealth Blog

Credentialing & licensing resources

Obtaining DEA registration

Every physician who administers, prescribes, or dispenses any controlled substance must be registered with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). 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 registration. You will also need your own registration if you plan to moonlight outside of your program while still a resident.

Applying for Your DEA Registration

Doctor on laptopTo apply online, go to When applying online, make note of the registration ID number. After waiting three business days, you can call 800.882.9539 to edit your online application or to find out if your application has been approved, issued, or renewed. You will need the registration ID number to check the status.

When you first apply for a DEA registration, you must hold an active license in the state where you are going to practice, or you must have a license pending in that state. 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.

For more information about DEA office locations including contact information, view our comprehensive list of DEA offices by state.

Renewing Your DEA Registration

DEA registration is valid for three years. Approximately 60 days prior to the expiration of your DEA registration, a renewal letter will be sent to you at the address indicated on your current registration. Remember these tips to help your renewal go smoothly:

Whenever you move, you must submit a change of address to the DEA. This can be done by calling the DEA at 800.882.9539 and following the steps outlined in the menu for address changes. The post office cannot forward your DEA renewal letter. 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.

If you do not have a business address, the DEA number can only be tied to your home address for 60 days. Then the address must be changed to a business address.

When you receive your renewal letter, make sure you complete the renewal online. Remember that it takes four to six weeks (online) and eight to twelve weeks (by mail)—and sometimes more—for the DEA to process your renewal. There is no grace period on renewing your DEA registration. 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 amount required for the application fee. If you fail to send the right amount, the DEA will return your renewal packet unprocessed.

DEA Registration and Locum Tenens Work

If you will be taking locum tenens assignments, you’ll need to update your DEA registration when you begin working in a new location.

For further information about the DEA’s policy for locum tenens, please visit the DEA website at:

Change of Address Forms and Renewals Can Also Be Found Online

At any time, you can go to the “registration validation” link online and check to see if your DEA registration has been renewed. You will need your DEA number and social security number to verify your DEA registration. If you would like a copy of your DEA license, go to the “Duplicate Certificate Request” link and then print a copy of your certificate.

To learn more about locum tenens, give us a call at 888.212.0816 or view job opportunities in your specialty.

1 Comment

Click here to post a comment

  • If I were to use a locum tenens physician to cover my solo private Cardiology practice in Arizona, would that practitioner use his own DEA number to prescribe medications or would medications be prescribed under my name while I was gone? Thank you for your response.