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The Optometrist’s Guide to DEA Licensure with Checklist

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10 min read

This guide to Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) licensure for optometrists lists free DEA-approved courses and has a downloadable application checklist.

The Optometrist’s Guide to DEA Licensure with Checklist
On June 27, 2023, an updated Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) opioid training requirement took effect, impacting optometrists both applying for and renewing a DEA registration.
This article examines the new requirement, walks through the entire application and renewal process, provides a checklist of necessary documents, and outlines the attestation instructions.
Included in this guide is a comprehensive list of accredited free courses and a summary of US states with controlled substances laws which will ensure DEA compliance and empower optometrists to exercise their full prescribing privileges in each state.

The history of the DEA

The DEA was created in 1973 to enforce the laws and regulations of controlled substances in the United States.1
Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 contains the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), a statute that places all substances into schedules or categories based on medical use, potential for abuse, and safety.2

DEA licensure

All healthcare professionals, including optometrists licensed to dispense, administer, or prescribe controlled substances, must register with the DEA’s Diversion Control Division for a DEA Registration Number.
This unique identifier is used for authenticating and tracking controlled substances.3

New opioid training requirement

Recently, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 enacted a new one-time, 8-hour training requirement for DEA-registered practitioners regarding the treatment and management of patients with opioid or other substance use disorders.
By June 27, 2023, upon renewal or new registration, DEA providers must attest to the completion of this 8-hour training requirement.4

Training courses by DEA-accredited groups

The DEA points out that the 8-hour education can be completed virtually, in person, and in more than one session as long as the instruction is presented by a DEA-accredited group.5
The following are courses given by accredited groups that meet all requirements:
  • The Providers Clinical Support System (PCSS) provides free 8-hour training options, available either online, in-person, or through live webinar sessions.6
  • The American Medical Association Education Hub (AMA Ed Hub) delivers free training courses to satisfy the DEA requirement. They offer 25.25 hours of online continuing education (CE) that can be taken in any combination to fulfill the 8-hour requirement.7
  • The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) Knowledge+ platform offers a free 10-hour continuing education course on the treatment and management of patients with opioid or other substance use disorders.
    • The NEJM advertises that its online content is streamlined for learning with resources such as downloadable summary PDFs. A case-based test with 62 questions is given at the end for the completion of credits.8
  • The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) produces paid e-learning courses and 9.5 free CE hours that satisfy the training criteria.9
  • The American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP) endorses instruction through PCSS mentioned above.10
  • The American Academy of Physician Associates (AAPA) is granting two free complete training courses to all providers, with one available until the end of June 2024 and the other until the end of November 2024.11,12,13

Download the DEA License Application Checklist here

DEA License Application Checklist

Use this DEA license application checklist to collect the required information and track the progress of your application.

DEA license pre-application

To avoid any delays, a couple of items should be in place prior to submitting an application for DEA licensure.

State Controlled Substance Registration (CSR)

Check your state’s controlled substances license requirements. The DEA mandates that all state licensing requirements must be met before obtaining DEA registration for that state.14
Almost half of all US states require a CSR certificate to prescribe controlled substances. In these states, along with an optometric license, it is necessary to apply for the CSR license and have it in place, or at least pending approval, before applying for a DEA license.
The following states require CSRs for optometrists with controlled substance prescribing authority:15
  • Alabama
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • Oklahoma
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Wyoming

Email address

Since May of 2022, all new applications and renewals for DEA registrations have been submitted electronically. Registrants must have a current and active email address listed.
The DEA will verify the email address before proceeding with the application process.16


New and renewing practitioners will be required to check a box on the online DEA registration form.5
The attestation instructions are outlined below:17
  • During the registration or renewal process, an attestation screen will pop up with specific requirements. The verbiage will vary depending on the type of application. Check the applicable criteria and click “Okay.”
  • The pop-up should disappear, replaced by information and terms. Click the box indicating that the information has been read and understood. Then click “Continue.”
You have attested! From this point, the application process progresses to the different sections described below.

Check out the DEA License Application Checklist to track your progress

DEA application sections and checklist

Individual/business information

This first section deals with basic identifying information.18

Individual registrations

Personal applicants will be asked to fill in the following:
  • Full name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Social security number
  • Date of birth
  • Optometry school information
  • Graduation year
  • National provider identification (NPI) number
  • Enter “OD” in the “Professional Degree” area

Business registrations

To register for a practice, alternate information consists of:
  • Business/practice name
  • Address
  • Tax ID number (TIN)
  • Business/practice phone number
  • Contact person information

Business activity

The Code of Federal Regulations recognizes optometrists as mid-level practitioners (MLPs) who are permitted to work with controlled substances in the state of practice.
Each state has specific schedules for MLPs:19
  • New applicants: New applicants should check the “mid-level practitioner (MLP)” box.
  • Renewals: For renewals, there is an option to register for the same drug schedule(s) or request a change that is allowable in the state of practice. Skip to Section 4.

Drug schedules

New applicants will be asked to choose the drug schedule(s), according to state prescribing laws. Renewing licensees will be given the option to keep or change drug schedules, per state prescribing statutes.18
For drug selection guidelines, the DEA has a listing of MLP drug schedule authorizations by state.
Listed below are the various drug schedules:
  • Schedule 2 Narcotic
  • Schedule Non-Narcotic (2N)
  • Schedule 3 Narcotic
  • Schedule 3 Non-Narcotic (3N)
  • Schedule 4
  • Schedule 5

State license(s)

Licenses reported in this section must be valid and active. If your state mandates a CSR, both the optometric and CSR licenses should be documented. In states that do not require CSRs, only the optometric license is necessary.18
The license information includes:
  • State of licensure
  • Optometric license number with expiration date
  • State CSR license number with expiration date if applicable


Individuals and businesses are required to reveal (1) past federal or state convictions related to controlled substances, (2) exclusion from Medicare or state programs, and (3) surrender, revocation, suspension, restriction, denial, or pending action of a federal or state controlled substance registration.18
For any affirmative answers, reference each one separately with the liability question number and disclose the:18
  • Date of the occurrence
  • Incident location
  • Nature of the circumstances
  • Disposition or resolution of the event

Application fee exemption

In individual cases, this portion will not be pertinent unless the business is a governmental institution exempt from administration charges. If this does not apply, move on to the next section.18


The non-refundable registration fee for renewals and new applicants is $888 for 3 years.20
The following credit cards are acceptable forms of payment:18
  • American Express
  • Discover
  • MasterCard
  • Visa


All information can be reviewed, edited, and updated before submission. Once the electronic signature is accepted, the registration process is complete.18


Whether applying for the first time or renewing a current DEA license, optometrists must attest to completing the new 8-hour opioid training requirement. This article has offered many no cost educational options to fulfill the DEA mandate.
Also, by understanding specific state laws regarding controlled substance registration requirements and drug schedules prior to applying for DEA licensure, optometrists can ensure a smooth application process, allowing the practice of optometry with the fullest prescribing authority possible.

Before you go, download the DEA License Application Checklist

  1. Our History. United States Drug Enforcement Administration. Accessed March 23, 2024.
  2. The Controlled Substances Act. United States Drug Enforcement Administration. Accessed March 23, 2024.
  3. About Us. US Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration Diversion Control Division. Accessed March 23, 2024.
  4. Medication Assisted Treatment. US Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration Diversion Control Division. Accessed March 23, 2024.
  5. Prevoznik TW. DEA Registered-Practitioners. US Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration. Published March 27, 2023. Accessed March 23, 2024.
  6. 8-Hour DEA Training. Providers Clinical Support System. Accessed March 31, 2024.
  7. Substance Use Disorders and Addiction Education to Meet New DEA Requirements. AMA Education Hub. Accessed March 31, 2024.
  8. Pain Management and Opioids. NEJM Knowledge+. Published 2024. Accessed March 31, 2024.
  9. About Meeting the DEA Education Requirements on Substance Use Disorders. ASAM eLearning. Published 2024. Accessed March 31, 2024.
  10. 8-Hour DEA Training. American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry. Accessed March 31, 2024.
  11. Treating and Managing OUD and SUD Series. American Academy of Physician Associates. Published 2024. Accessed March 31, 2024.
  12. Providers Clinical Support System (PCSS): 8 Hour Online Buprenorphine Training. American Academy of Physician Associates. Published 2024. Accessed March 31, 2024.
  13. New DEA Requirement for Registered Practitioners to Complete SUD, OUD Training to Take Effect June 27. American Academy of Physician Associates. Published June 7, 2023. Accessed March 31, 2024.
  14. Registration Q&A. US Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration Diversion Control Division. Accessed March 23, 2024.
  15. State Controlled Substance Registration. Medical Licensure Group. Published 2024. Accessed March 23, 2024.
  16. Registration. US Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration Diversion Control Division. Accessed March 23, 2024.
  17. Practitioner Attestation Pop-Up Window and Attestation Questions. US Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration Diversion Control Division. Accessed March 23, 2024.
  18. APPLICATION FOR REGISTRATION: Under the Controlled Substances Act. Oregon State University. Accessed March 30, 2024.
  19. Mid-Level Practitioners Authorization by State. US Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration Diversion Control Division. Updated December 2, 2022. Accessed March 23, 2024.
  20. Application for registration; time for application; expiration date; registration for independent activities; application forms, fees, contents and signature; coincident activities, ‌21 CFR §1301.13. Accessed March 23, 2024.
Cindy Hui, OD
About Cindy Hui, OD

Dr. Cindy Hui was born a myope and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. In her youth, she spent countless hours at her optometrist’s office as a patient, and then later on as a very eager protege. She graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and then attended the Southern California College of Optometry and has been a practicing optometrist ever since.

She dedicates her time seeing patients and has an affinity for treating nursing home and psychiatric patients.

Dr. Hui stands up for integrity, authenticity, and kindness to animals. In her spare time, she likes watching true crime shows, crocheting and cave diving.

Cindy Hui, OD
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