Certain medications, such as sedatives and opioid drugs, are listed as controlled substances under federal law. Pharmacists, dentists, physicians and other medical professionals who prescribe these medications are required to have a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) license and a unique identifier, known as the DEA number. The DEA license must be renewed every three years or it will expire and you will lose the right to prescribe controlled substances. Depending on your preferences, you can either file a DEA renewal application online or send it by fax or mail.

Apply for DEA Renewal Online

If your DEA license is about to expire, you will receive a notification from the U.S. Department of Justice DEA Office of Diversion Control approximately 65 days prior to the expiration date. This document will be sent by email. DEA renewal takes about four weeks, so make sure you send your application ahead of time.

To renew your license online, access the DEA Diversion Control website. Click About Us and then select DEA Forms and Applications. Select Renewal Application for Registration under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 and enter the required information, such as your DEA number, business name or last name, Social Security number, ZIP and state.

Once you're logged in, fill out the application form. Make sure you have your personal or business information and state license at hand. Pay the processing fee with your credit card, submit your DEA renewal request and wait to receive a confirmation by email.

Don't Let Your License Expire

If you fail to renew your DEA license on time, it will expire and become invalid on the expiration date. In 2017, the DEA eliminated the grace period for practitioners who failed to file their renewal applications on time. This means that after your license expires, you can no longer handle controlled substances. Your only option is to apply for a new DEA license rather than a simpler license renewal.

DEA Licenses Are State Specific

If you operate in more than one state, you must register and renew your DEA license for each principal place of business. This requirement does not apply to medical professionals who register at one location in a state but practice at another location within the same state.

Also, the DEA registration may be transferred from one state to another, which allows you to renew your license in the new location if you move to another state. Practitioners who work solely in a hospital or clinic are allowed to use the facility's DEA number instead of registering independently with DEA Office of Diversion Control. To do so, they must receive approval from the facility.

The DEA renewal process is quite simple and takes just a few minutes. Plus, everything can be done online. Take the steps to renew your DEA license before it expires. Applying for a new license is more expensive and time-consuming than renewing your existing license.