Medical Certificate

In order to hold a Canadian pilot licence, you must first have a Canadian medical certificate. Here's how to get one.

Find a Doctor

You need to visit a doctor who has been certified by Transport Canada to perform pilot medicals. Such doctors, called CAMEs (Certified Aviation Medical Examiners) are available all over the world, and if you are coming to Canada to do your flight training, it is highly recommended that you obtain a medical certificate first. Visit the Transport Canada site to find a Canadian Aviation Medical Examiner.  

The examination typically costs about $100. Your school may have recommendations for you for local doctors who have lower rates, or who are quicker at processing the paperwork.

If you are lucky, you can get an appointment within a few days, but it is not uncommon to have to wait a few weeks for an appointment.

If you want a private licence only, get a Category 3 medical. If you eventually want to fly airplanes for money, ask for a Category 1 medical.

The Examination

In the waiting room, you will be given a form to fill out. It asks questions such as how many hours you have flown, how much alcohol you drink, and for the details of any medical conditions you have had.  

You will be asked to provide a urine sample. At the moment, I believe this is tested only for sugars, to ensure you are not developing diabetes.

The doctor will ask you more questions about what you put on the form. He or she will also ask you about what kind of physical exercise you get, and your family medical history. If you have had any serious medical condition and you have a doctor's report attesting to your recovery, it may help to bring that. While the doctor is talking to you, he or she is also assessing your psychological condition. You may be asked about your finances or your schoolwork to see if you appear to be under undue stress.

You will be asked to read the 20/20 line on an eye chart, and to read small print from a card. You're allowed to wear glassesor contact lenses for these tests, but if you have had contact lenses for less than six months, you won't be approved to wear them in the airplane yet, so must bring your glasses, too.  Bring a copy of your lens prescription. To demonstrate that you are not colour blind, you will need to identify numbers from patterns of coloured dots, the Ishihara test. Don't worry if you don't see a number on every plate the doctor shows you: some of them don't have any numbers.

The doctor will also test your peripheral vision and your ocular balance (whether you're likely to go cross-eyed). The tests for these vary. Some use apparatus, but just looking at the doctor's finger is common

The doctor will listen to your breathing and heart, take your blood pressure, test your reflexes, examine your glands, and generally look for any physical abnormalities. You don't have to be perfect, just satisfy the doctor that there is no medical reason why you won't be able to fly an airplane safely.

Males may receive a digital rectal exam to check the condition of the prostate gland, and females a breast exam. I've never heard of a female receiving a pelvic exam at an aviation medical. If you're squeamish, ask a pilot of the same sex as you to recommend a doctor who won't.

You may also need to have a resting ECG taken. Ask when you book your medical appointment if you can get it done on the same day. You take off your shirt and socks and lie still for a few minutes with sticky electrodes all over you, until the technician can get a good reading of your heart. You may have to pay a separate fee, perhaps $15, for this ECG, and another similar fee for a specialist to interpret it.

On an initial, commercial medical you need to have a hearing test, which may also involve a separate appointment and fee.

The details of the required medical standards are given in Canadian air law at

Receiving your Certificate

After all the tests have been completed, the doctor sends your paperwork in to Transport Canada for approval. If you have not received a medical certificate in the mail after three weeks, call your regional Transport Canada office to ask about the status of your medical. They may require further tests or documentation. Many people have their medicals delayed, but most do receive one in the end.

When you do receive your medical certificate, check it over carefully for spelling errors, sign it, and keep it with you when you fly. Show it to your flight instructor so he or she can make a copy for your file.  

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This page written 10 December 2002 by Robyn Stewart.  Last revised 26 June 2003.
Copyright 2003 Flying Start Initiatives