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“You can get past the dead end. You can break through the ceiling. I did and so have countless others.”

Understanding Your DEA License

Men's Health

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!

11 Responses

  1. Thank you! I have began to apply for my DEA in both MO and IL after reviewing your telemedicine course, which is very informative. I was hoping that an employer would assist me with this due to the high cost, but that has not been the case in the last 5 months since me obtaining my initial license. As I began to apply for the DEA in MO, it appears that I need a CSL which is an initial step prior to applying for the DEA. For the DEA in IL, it appears that I must have a collaborating physician in order to apply. I feel these steps will allow me more opportunities for employment, but also are barriers. I also need to take these steps prior to applying for licensure in an independent state in order to operate my telemedicine practice.

    Do you know of these steps and stipulations to be true or am I possibly misunderstanding the application process? Thanks again.

    1. The CSL in MO is no big deal, some states require a separate controlled substance license, just apply for it and get your DEA. Don’t let this be a barrier. Why are you wanting to practice telemedicine in IL? Isn’t it a restricted state? If the regulation states you need a collaborator to apply for your DEA, then you are SOL working on your own. You really should focus on other states. I believe NV allows for the prescription of controlled substances without an in person encounter plus it is a FPA state, just FYI.

    2. In Illinois, where I am originally licensed, you will need to be hired and have your collaborating physician sign the application for controlled substance agreement. In this state, you will least each specific medication you are allowed to prescribe in the agreement you and your collaborating physician have. Typically this is the same for all practitioners in a practice and the list of drugs is rather generic but the same on all the licenses in that practice or office.

      In Missouri I had to have my employer sign off that I worked 1,000 hours under their supervision and he/she can attest to my competency as a prescriber. Then had to provide CME and a signature from a previous preceptor. It was a LOT of paperwork in Missouri. I already have my DEA, but in both cases could not apply for the state controlled license until I was employed. When changing companies in Illinois, required new controlled substance agreement.

      My organizations paid for my state controlled substance agreements. I have had to maintain my own DEA. Not every NP I work with chooses to get their DEA. With my current employer that is not an issue. The annual face-to-face visit requirement can make it tricky.

  2. Is it necessary for me to have a medical license of some sort to obtain a DEA license? I would like to offer it in my weight loss clinic.

  3. I need to have 2 DEA licenses for a telehealth. I would like to get one in Florida. I tried to use a virtual address and my application in Colorado was denied and will not refund the application fees. How do I obtain in Florida when my home state is TN? What address can I use if I do not have a physical practice location yet?

    1. You would need to get a DEA at a physical address. Some people just partner with a clinic in the state or pay them a fee to use their address. Some people have used virtual addresses with success, but it appears the DEA has recently changed their stance on this.

  4. Justin—if you do not dispense testosterone or store it in your practices then how do you administer it to the patients? Do you have the patients bring in their own vials (vial mailed directly to their homes from the pharmacy) so that you or your MA administers it? I really don’t want to get into the logistics of storing or dispensing a controlled substance in my clinic but would love the income generation that an injection could give. I may use a “dispensing system/service” in the office but it would only be for a few select medications (no scheduled med). TIA for the info.