When do I need a student pilot certificate?

Before you can fly solo. You don't need a student pilot certificate to take flying lessons.

Am I eligible for a student pilot certificate?

You are eligible if:

  • You are at least 16 years old. If you plan to pilot a glider or balloon, you must be at least 14 years old.
  • You can read, speak, and understand English
  • You hold at least a current third-class medical certificate. If you plan to pilot a glider or balloon, you only have to certify that you have no medical defect that would make you unable to pilot a glider or balloon.

How do I get a student pilot certificate?

Upon your request, an FAA-authorized aviation medical examiner will issue you a combined medical certificate and Student Pilot Certificate after you complete your physical examination. Student Pilot Certificates may be issued by an FAA inspector or an FAA-designated pilot examiner. Applicants who fail to meet certain requirements or who have physical disabilities which might limit, but not prevent, their acting as pilots, should contact the nearest FAA office. Locate an Aviation Medical Examiner.

How long are my student pilot certificate and my medical certificate valid?

Please refer to 14 CFR 61.19 and 14 CFR 61.23 for complete information.

A student pilot certificate expires 24 calendar months from the month in which it is issued. A third class medical certificate expires:
  • If under age 40 on the date of examination, at the end of the last day of the 60th month after the month after the date of examination.
  • If age 40 or older on the date of examination, at the end of the last day of the 24th month after the month after the date of examination.

Can I renew my student certificate and medical certificate?

No, but you can get a new one.

If my original Student Pilot Certificate has been endorsed for solo flying, do I lose this endorsement on my new certificate?

No, the endorsements are still valid. However, they are not transferred to the new certificate. Keep the old certificate as a record of these endorsements.

Should my flight instructor endorse my student pilot certificate before or after my first solo flight?

Before the solo flight. The endorsement certifies that you are competent to solo.

If I solo in more than one make or model of aircraft, must I have an endorsement for each on my student pilot certificate? If so, who should endorse the certificate?

Yes. Your flight instructor must make this endorsement before you solo in each make or model of aircraft.

Does the endorsement to solo allow me to make solo cross-country flights?

No. You also have to get a cross-country flight endorsement from you flight instructor.

Must I carry my student pilot certificate with me when I am piloting an aircraft in solo flight?


Is there a charge for the student pilot certificate?

Not when it's issued by an FAA Flight Standards District Office. However, an FAA-designated pilot examiner can charge for issuing student pilot certificates. Also, an FAA-authorized aviation medical examiner can charge for your physical examination in connection with issuing the combination medical certificate and student pilot certificate.