How Do I Renew My CFI Certificate?

A CFI certificate is awarded to certified single-engine aircraft flight instructor pilots by the FAA.

It is achieved when the required amount of hours have been logged and the relevant knowledge tests concerning their flight instructor rating have been passed. 

There are multiple ways to renew your CFI certificate before it expires and it is also possible to renew it once it has already exceeded its expiry date.

How do I renew my CFI certificate

You should opt for the method of renewal that accommodates your lifestyle and the time that you have available.

Some will offer greater convenience than others, simply requiring you to visit the FAA office and present them with a record of the necessary documentation.

Others will be more time-consuming requiring the individual concerned to dedicate more time to the process. 

The first and perhaps most common way that most pilots renew their certificate is through the completion of an industry sponsored flight instructor refresher clinic.

It is also possible to take this course online if you aren’t able to physically visit a location. Alternatively, you may wish to complete a practical test in the presence of an authorized examiner or the FAA.

Although this option is typically pursued by those with a certificate that has already expired, it is still a viable option for those with a certificate that is yet to expire.

For those with an expired certificate, this method is also referred to as reinstatement and typically requires individuals to take a ride with an FAA inspector.

You only need to complete one ride and a knowledge test is not necessary.

This can also be done for one rating on your certificate, but it will renew your other certificate's ratings too.

For those that want to add another rating to their certificate, it is possible to complete a practical test for the specific rating. Another option is applicable to those who have maintained proper documentation.

In this case, you can either show your record that demonstrates that you have passed at least five students for a practical test in the previous 24 months with an 80% first time pass rate.

Otherwise, if you have a record that shows that you have served as a company check pilot, chief flight instructor, company check airman, or flight instructor as part of a 121 or 135 operation in the last 24 months you can present the FAA with your credentials and logbook entries.

Furthermore, another way of renewing your CFI certificate is to take part in the FAA wings program. This program focuses on two areas; flight and knowledge and promotes air safety whilst strengthening knowledge of aviation. 

As you can see, there are plenty of renewal options available for those who renew their certification ahead of its expiration date. However, for those that have failed to do so, the renewal options available are much more limited. 

How long is CFI certificate good for?

A CFI certificate must be renewed every 2 years. The expiration date will be printed on a CFI certificate so the holder is aware of when they will need to apply for a renewal.

It is possible to renew a CFI three months before its expiry date if you would prefer. Should you choose to renew the certificate at an earlier date, it will retain its original expiry date.

If the certificate is not renewed by the expiry date, or it is renewed even one day past this date, individuals are required to complete the CFI practical test again, also known as the reinstatement procedure.

As previously touched upon, the process of reinstating a CFI certificate requires holders to complete a check ride with an FAA inspector.

The check ride will include an oral exam concerning safe flying practices. Essentially it is a test to check that you retained all of the knowledge that you require to receive the certificate and is likely to take around an hour and a half to complete.

Following this, is the flight portion where the individual being inspected will fly themselves and their examiner for approximately one hour.

 During this time, they must demonstrate that they still have the skills needed to fly aircraft and achieve the certification.

If this check ride is completed successfully, the candidate will be rewarded with a new CFI certificate that displays all the ratings that you had previously on the expired certificate. 

As the expiration date approaches, you can renew your certificate via one of the methods that we have mentioned above.

If your certificate isn’t renewed by the date stated on the document, you will not be able to teach students to fly until it is.

Those who do not intend to continue pursuing a career that requires this certification, they may choose not to go to the efforts of renewing it.