How to Apply in IACRA for a Student Pilot Certificate

Student_PilotAccording to the new FAA rule, as of April 1st, 2016 all new pilots now have to apply for their student pilot certificates through IACRA or on a paper 8710-1 (not encouraged). It helps to repeat after me “IACRA is my friend” because a positive attitude helps immensely when navigating this website for the first time. All DPEs (and many FAA Inspectors) initially struggled with this process but it works amazingly well once you understand the logic. You have probably worked this site recommending pilot applicants, this is a similar process. There is actual necessity for the complexity when you consider how many diverse certificates and ratings it needs to produce. The site requires everyone to log in as a “recommending instructor” to be a validator. The pdf manual for IACRA is here. The help desk number is now (844)322-6948.

First, remember you (CFI, DPE, ACR) are the validator of this applicant’s identity and ability to read, speak, write and understand English. The FAA guidance is from the 61.65G “In accordance with §61.193(b), before processing an application for a student pilot certificate, the authorized individual must ensure the applicant meets the eligibility requirements of § 61.83 as well as verify the applicant’s identity. The authorized individual should use AC 60-28 and the ICAO Web site to prepare for the assessment. (speaks English)”  And yes, you of course need to meet face-to-face; a virtual arrangement is not acceptable!

Every “validator” or agent will login for this process with the role of “recommending instructor” (as DPE I have done many glider and sport pilots with that role but that is gone). Make sure to advise your applicant before the meeting they  will need valid proof of identity: an unexpired government ID with a photo with printed expiration date. For young people without a license or passport that can also be a “Sheriff’s ID” so get that process started early. Make sure you have a fairly new web browser (without a pop-up blocker activated) and you have a pdf reader installed on your computer. You have to certify that your applicant can adequately speak, read, write, understand the English language also per AC 20-28.

This IACRA process begins with your applicant. They need to access the IARA website and establish a login and password and obtain their FTN (Federal Tracking Number). The new 61.65G is a little misleading here.

Your student will now log out and then back into IACRA with this unique FTN and apply for their student pilot certificate. This is simple with 6 fields to complete.


They are applying for a “pilot certificate” and the selection should be “student.” Like gliders and sport, no medical is needed here. The medical travels separately and could be acquired later (before solo obviously) according to the help desk. Here are some FAQs from the FAA guidance.

Once all six tabs in the application process are green, click “review”. This button should pop up a pdf of the application (depending on your internet connection this might require some waiting). Make sure you do not have a pop-up blocker set in your browser. This “review” step is required first before “submit” to make that button active. Once the applicant has reviewed the application (opened the pdf) close the document at the top of the pdf and they click “submit.” Once this is complete it should be available on-line for the CFI , DPE or ACR to retrieve and validate.  All validators for a student pilot certificate will enter IACRA in the role of “recommending instructor.”

So now finally it’s the CFI’s turn to login. You will need to meet with your student here since you validate their identity and command of English for this certification. This process cannot be performed remotely. ON the IACRA site, put in your (CFI) username and password and accept the “terms of service” in the role of “recommending instructor.”
When the page loads you will enter the student’s FTN in the box and it should bring up their application for action. There should be a pull down with several options here. This will open a page with a list of hyperlinked actions you need to complete in order. First is verification of identification. You must enter the data from the approved government ID accurately…check it twice!

There will be a link for the applicant to now login again to accept the PBR then “review” and “sign” their application (in each case “close” the pdf with the button on the top). The “signature” is a blue hyperlink which will center on the pdf and only requires a mouse click. If this does not appear, check for a pop-up blocker or suitable pdf reader installed on the computer. This can be slow depending on your internet connection. Once the application is “signed”, close this at the top of the document and the student’s part is complete.

As the final step, the CFI logs back in (with your CFI login/password) and again enters the student’s FTN as before. Now you should be able to complete the certification process with a “review” and “sign”. Both are pop-up pdfs and you might again need to wait for them to load depending on the speen of your connection.

There is lots of discussion about which browser to use for the IACRA process but most webkit versions work fine. My favorite, that seems to work on Mac or PC, is latest Firefox Browser. Remember in every step you will always have to “review” before you “sign” or the field will be gray and inoperative. Check your browser for a “pop-up blocker” or the pdfs will not load. Take your time and remember to always scroll to the bottom of the page for the action buttons…be patient and good luck!

Personally I would copy the final result with the date so you can track the progress on the application. There are many guesses on how long the plastic student pilot certificate will take coming from the FAA. You can always look up the date the gov. is currently working on [here]

Let me know if you discover snags in this description and I will update this so we create a clean and usable document for all CFIs and move this process forward. When I put a student through this process I will add any details that differ in the new sequence…good luck. If you have a problem, please write a comment and we can all learn something. Thanks…I hope this helps.

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About the author

David St. George

David St. George is an FAA DPE (Sport to Multi ATP) and a Part 135 charter pilot flying the Pilatus PC-12 in the NYC area. He recently renewed his Master Instructor for the tenth time and is a Charter member of SAFE. Formerly a 141 Chief Instructor for over 25 years, with a Gold Seal CFI. David started flying at 16 and has logged over 15,000 hours. He owns a 1946 7AC Aeronca Champ and wrote the SAFE Toolkit app.

Karl Karvonen - April 6, 2016

I just did my first one. The only snag I discovered was that my student had to log on to my computer to sign his application after I reviewed it. That was our delay since we live 50 miles apart and were doing it on our own computers. We had to meet so that I could allow him to sign while I was loged in to IACRA. There was a box at this point that specifically said that he had to do this.
Other than the fact that he had an expired previous student certificate to enter, it was straight forward enough.

    David St. George - April 6, 2016

    Excellent point Karl and so glad you mentioned this! Yes, you must meet personally because you are qualifying this applicant for a student pilot certificate. You are assuring they “read, speak, write English” and are the person in the identification presented! Thanks Karl.

Chris Volk - April 8, 2016

How about students who are in training and already have the old Student Pilot certificate?

    David St. George - April 8, 2016

    Fortunately, current paper student pilot certificates remain valid until their expiration…you are fine! Thanks for the question.

    Jim Efird - April 16, 2016

    Old style paper certificates remain valid until expiration.

      David St. George - April 16, 2016

      Yes, I had a young man who had to get a new medical (he is on a special issuance good for only a year) He now has his prior (paper) 60 month student pilot certificate and a fresh new medical stapled together in his logbook.

    David St. George - December 5, 2017

    Old student pilot certificates are good until their expiration date.

Chris - April 12, 2016

Great write up.
My only real issue with the new system is the “verify identity” wording. I am happy to sign that I have seen their Government issued identification but that is quite different from saying I have verified their identity. Our plan is to send applicants with anything other than Driver’s Licenses to the local FSDO.

    David St. George - April 12, 2016

    Yes, positive identification is obviously essential to maintain the security of this system, and it occasionally is difficult from a bad or dated photo. My biggest problem historically has been with young people who can change so dramatically in appearance within the space of a renewal period. Thanks for the comment…Best of luck!

Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) – SAFE Educational Opportunities! - June 27, 2016

[…] FAA Approved Testing Center and then apply for certification with an FAA Pilot Examiner (similar to applying for a student pilot certificate). There is a new Airman Certification Standard for Unmanned Aircraft Systems that provides guidance […]

Richard Eastman - August 22, 2016

Doesn’t work the way you show it. When try to register and get FTN takes me to a screen that requires entry of a certificate number, and won’t accept credentials without it.

Michael Gawley - September 5, 2016

Good writeup, but I would suggest being clearer about WHOSE ID and password to use. In the sentence “As the final step, the CFI logs back in (with your login/password) and again enters…….” does the “your” refer to the Student’s or the CFI’s? It’s a little labored, but would be clearer to say, “As the final step, the CFI logs back in (with the CFI’s login/password) and again enters……” This removes all doubt.
Thanks for taking the time to address the process!

    David St. George - September 5, 2016

    Good suggestion (thanks!) I added that. The objective here is clear path to successful completion and submission of the form (not grammatical elegance) Best of luck…

Willie J Robison - October 11, 2016

The above instructions says, First student establishes “and” account. It should say “an” account.

    David St. George - October 11, 2016


aircraftdriver - November 25, 2016

Am I able to act as a recommending instructor if I only hold a Ground Instructor rating at this time? Thanks

    David St. George - November 25, 2016

    My guess is “yes” since you are an instructor in the IACRA system, but I would write directly to IAC help desk to verify that. (Your role in this process is primarily to verify the ID of the applicant for the FAA)

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    David St. George - November 29, 2016

    Yes, personally I *hate* WordPress! A bloated dinosaur they keep trying (unsuccessfully) to optimize. In our modern web world their are far superior options. I will look at your suggestions….thanks!

hal s. - December 17, 2016

does a student pilot certificate obtained under the newer method preclude a flight instructor the responsibility imposed by the TSA to verify citizenship and make logbook entries to the fact ?

    David St. George - December 17, 2016

    The new certificate does *NOT* relieve that responsibility. All the TSA requirements remain the same as before (verify USA with passport or license/BC…foreign need to go through TSA portal before flying)

    Reply - May 23, 2017

My Certificate Type is a student pilot, but is Medical Certificate mandatory for IACRA application?
I have not received medical certificate yet.
Because I could only make a reservation after a month at a nearby clinic.

    David St. George - May 23, 2017

    NO medical is required to apply for student pilot certificate. You will need this (for power) before solo. You *will* need a CFI physically present to verify your government ID and identity and send off the IACRA application: Best of luck!

    Reply - May 26, 2017

      Thank for very much for your support

Tsvetan Tenev - December 27, 2017

what if you’ve received the mail with the plastic certificate inside but you didn’t saw it and threw it away?

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