Can I Get a DOT Physical in Any State?
If you are going to be driving a commercial vehicle across state lines that weighs over 10,000 lbs, that carries more than 15 people, or are paid to transport more than 8 people, you’ll need to pass the DOT (Department of Transportation) physical. This physical assesses your overall health and ensures that you are healthy enough to operate such a large vehicle without putting your safety and that of others at risk. If you are preparing for your first DOT physical or your first in many years, make sure you read our overview of the DOT physical so you know what to expect.
Many drivers do their first DOT physical close to home, but what should you do if it’s time for your DOT renewal and you’re nowhere near your permanent address? Read on to find out.
Can I Get a DOT Physical in Any State?
Yes, you can get your physical in any state, whether you call that state home or not. That means if you’re traveling when your medical card needs to be renewed, or if you currently live in a different state to where you plan to find work, you can get your physical done as soon as you are ready.
Do I Have to Get My DOT Physical in the Same State I Got My CDL?
No, it doesn’t matter where you got your CDL, you can still get your physical in any state.
Does the DOT Physical Vary From State to State?
No – the DOT physical follows a standardized process and there are set requirements your Medical Examiner must follow and that you must meet, no matter where in the country you book your exam or what kind of doctor is doing it for you. Your first physical may be with a medical doctor in North Carolina, and your second with a Chiropractor in Nevada – unless there has been a change to the requirements between the two physicals, the exam itself should be exactly the same.
Where do I Get a DOT Physical?
You can get your DOT physical done by any Certified Medical Examiner who is registered with the FMCSA. The Medical Examiner doesn’t have to be a medical doctor (MD), but they will have a doctorate (or similar) in the medical field. All FMCSA registered examiners can be found on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners (NRCME), which can be found here.
How do I Find a DOT Physical Provider?
One of the easiest ways to find a registered Medical Examiner near you is to use the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners so you know the provider you choose has all the necessary training and registration number needed to ensure you get your medical card.
To search the database for providers near you, follow this link and scroll to the bottom of the page. There, you’ll find a search box that will allow you to find Medical Examiners within a certain radius of where you are. Remember, this doesn’t have to be near your permanent residence. Browse through the providers available and find one you’d like to go with. If the search function does not return any options, try broadening your search radius.
Of course, heading to Google and searching for “DOT physical near me” or your location should also yield results, and ask other drivers who work for the same company as you or are in the same area who they went to and if they would recommend them.
How do I Choose a DOT Physical Provider?
If you’re working with a new company, ask them if they have a recommended or preferred provider. When you find a potential provider, try to verify that they are certified by searching for them within the NRCME (National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners) database. Once you’ve confirmed that they are registered, here are a few other qualities to look for:
- Good reviews: check that any potential provider has good reviews. Ideally, these will be reviews of the DOT physical service, but if they are a new examiner look at the reviews for the other services they offer. Look for comments around professionalism, bedside manner, and level of care. Ignore any reviews that are negative because the examiner followed protocol (such as recommending someone for a sleep study when their BMI is over 40, which is mandatory). While it may be understandable that a driver found a requirement frustrating, the examiner was doing their job.
- Pricing: This may be of little consequence to you if the company you work for is paying for the physical, but if you’re paying for it, it’s worth looking at the pricing of different providers near you. The cost for a DOT physical varies from provider to provider and in different locations across the country, so choose one that feels good to you.
- Decide if the qualifications matter to you: A wide range of medical professionals can become certified medical examiners, and all have undergone the same training to complete DOT physicals. However, some drivers have felt more uncomfortable having a medical examiner that is not a fully qualified medical doctor (MD) as they worried the advice or assessment of their health would not be quite as accurate. While Chiropractors are just as capable of offering accurate physicals and medical advice, consider if you have a preference and if you require a medical examiner that is the same sex as you.
Do I Have to Pay for the DOT Physical?
Whose responsibility it is to pay for your physical varies from company to company – there are no rules or requirements. Some companies will pay for it because it is necessary to do the job and they want to either provide it as a benefit or have control over where the physical is done. Others, however, expect the driver to pay for it since it is likely the driver will need the physical anyway. It simply depends on the company you are working for.
Do I Have to Get a New DOT Physical if I Start a New Job?
No, from the DOT’s point of view, the medical card is valid anywhere in the country, provided it’s up to date. You can use that medical card no matter what company you work at, so if you get a new job, you do not have to get a new medical card.
However, it’s worth noting that some drivers find that the new company requires them to have a physical done by their medical examiner, and some have a company policy of requiring all new drivers to get a new physical before they start driving for them. However, if this is the case, they will usually pay for the physical.
The DOT physical may be new to you now, but after a few years, it will become routine and be a mild inconvenience to you every year or two. Provided the company you work for has no internal policies around their drivers’ DOT medical exams, you can get your physical anywhere in the country provided it’s with a Certified Medical Examiner. If you have any other questions about the DOT physical or your ability to pass, explore our DOT physical guides and articles for more information here.