Every nurse practitioner who administers prescribes, or dispenses any controlled substance must be registered with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Most nurse practitioners need a DEA license. Even if you never plan on prescribing a controlled substance, most employers and credentialing bodies want you to have a DEA license. Why is this? Your guess is as good as mine. It is just one more number to identify you and hold you accountable with, I guess. Regardless, most of you have or will need a DEA license.
After you finish school, your employer will usually apply for your DEA, but it can be done at this link if you need to do it yourself (which you will need to do if you are a nurse practitioner entrepreneur!):
Remember, when you apply for a DEA license, you must hold an active license or have one pending in the state you want to practice in. So, if you are relocating to another state, you better get that DEA license application started as soon as you have confirmation your license is approved. It can take 4 weeks to get the license. If you already have a DEA license, then a simple address change is all that is needed.
Your DEA license is good for 3 years. You need to plan on renewing it every 3 years as a practice owner. If you are working part time still, your employer will notify you, but if you are not, you need to keep track of this! I had a moment of panic last year when I saw that my DEA license was expiring in 2 weeks. Thank god the renewal was processed in a matter of days…
Here are some common questions I receive over on the Facebook group with the respective answers:
“Do I need to have a separate DEA license for each state I practice in?” YES! Once the DEA issues telemedicine licenses though, hopefully this will change.
“Do I need to have separate DEA licenses for different locations I practice at?” No, if it is within the same state you can utilize just one DEA license if you are only prescribing controlled substances.
“What address do I use for my DEA license?” You should use your principal place of practice. This can be your full or part time employer or your personal business. If you own a practice and store, administer or dispense controlled substances, then the DEA license needs to be registered at that location and each location this occurs at. So, for example, if I owned 2 men’s health clinics in the same state and administered testosterone injections from each one, I would need to have two separate DEA licenses for each one of those locations. As it stands now, I just have one DEA license registered at my practices address and I can see patients wherever in the state because I do not dispense or store any controlled substances elsewhere.
“What address do I use for an out of state DEA registration?” Remember, you cannot prescribe a controlled substance via telemedicine without one in person encounter first. Now, you can use your personal address for up to 60 days if you are registering for a DEA license in another state until you establish your practices address there. If you do not have a physical address in that state but cross the border to do in home assessments for example, then register your business in that state using a virtual address and use that for your DEA registration.
Understand these rules with your DEA license. It is not as complicated as many people make it out to be. Do not get analysis paralysis about this sort of thing when starting a business. If you are storing, administering or dispensing a controlled substance from your practice, then you MUST register your DEA license for that location. If you are not, then do not worry about it unless this becomes your principal place of practice!