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How do I surrender my DEA license?

March 21, 2024 Uncategorized

How Do I Surrender My DEA License?

Surrendering your DEA registration is a major decision with serious consequences for your medical career. It should not be done lightly without understanding the implications. This article provides an overview of key considerations when deciding whether to voluntarily surrender your DEA registration.

When DEA Registration Surrender May Be An Option

In some cases, surrendering your DEA registration may be an appropriate resolution to avoid further investigation or disciplinary action:

  • You are under investigation for diversion, improper prescribing, or other DEA violations.
  • Your state medical board or other licensing board has suspended or revoked your medical license.
  • You wish to retire from medical practice or will no longer be prescribing controlled substances.
  • You are suffering from addiction or medical issues that prevent you from safely prescribing.

However, even in these situations, surrender may not be your best option. Consulting with an attorney is highly recommended before making any decision.

Consequences of DEA Registration Surrender

Surrendering your DEA registration has several potential consequences you should consider:

  • You will no longer be authorized to prescribe controlled substances or possess DEA schedules II-V drugs. This effectively ends your ability to practice medicine.
  • It may trigger investigation or disciplinary action by your state medical board or other licensing boards.
  • These actions could result in restrictions, suspension, or permanent revocation of your medical license and other professional licenses.
  • Surrendering your registration does NOT necessarily prevent criminal prosecution for controlled substance violations.
  • It can damage your reputation and medical career, especially if the surrender becomes public.
  • If you change your mind, you would have to re-apply for a new DEA registration which can be difficult to obtain.

Alternatives to Surrendering DEA Registration

Depending on your situation, there may be alternatives to surrender that mitigate risks while still allowing you to practice:

  • Voluntarily restrict your DEA registration to exclude certain controlled substances.
  • Enter into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with DEA to abide by certain prescribing restrictions and monitoring conditions.
  • Allow your registration to expire and do not renew it until issues are resolved.
  • Enter into a monitoring program through your state physician health program (PHP).
  • Temporarily suspend prescribing controlled substances while undergoing treatment or monitoring.
  • Transition to a practice area that does not require DEA registration.

The DEA Registration Surrender Process

If you do decide to surrender your DEA registration, here is the basic process:

  1. Send a letter to your local DEA office stating you wish to voluntarily surrender your registration. Include your DEA number, registration expiration date, and the reason for surrender.
  2. DEA may request additional documentation such as medical records, prescribing data, or investigative reports.
  3. DEA will likely conduct an on-site inspection to inventory any controlled substances you have.
  4. You must properly dispose of any remaining controlled substance inventory under DEA supervision.
  5. DEA will issue a letter accepting your registration surrender and providing final instructions.
  6. You must immediately stop prescribing controlled substances upon surrendering your registration.

This process cannot be reversed. Once your registration is surrendered, your ability to prescribe controlled substances is ended unless you obtain a new registration.

Legal Considerations When Surrendering DEA Registration

It is critical to consider the legal implications of surrendering your DEA registration:

  • Surrender does not necessarily prevent criminal prosecution or administrative action against your other licenses.
  • Any statements made or documents provided to DEA may be used against you.
  • Surrendering your registration can be construed as an admission of improper prescribing or diversion.
  • You are giving up your DEA registration without due process protections that apply in revocation proceedings.

Before surrendering, you should consult with a lawyer experienced in DEA registration defense. They can provide legal advice and help negotiate an agreement to protect your interests.

Key Takeaways on Surrendering DEA Registration

Here are some key points to keep in mind when considering giving up your DEA registration:

  • Surrender has serious career consequences and should not be done without legal guidance.
  • It effectively ends your ability to prescribe controlled substances.
  • It can prompt action against your medical and other professional licenses.
  • It does not prevent criminal prosecution for controlled substance violations.
  • There are alternatives in many cases that may be better options.
  • Consult with an experienced attorney before agreeing to surrender your registration.

With careful consideration of these factors and expert legal advice, you can make an informed decision on whether surrendering your DEA registration is the right choice in your specific situation.


How do I surrender my DEA license?

DEA badge

If you hold a DEA registration but no longer need it due to closing your practice or retiring, you must formally surrender the license to avoid penalties. The DEA has specific procedures for giving up your registration. Here we discuss reasons for surrendering, the process, restrictions, and alternatives like expiration or renewal.

Why You May Need to Surrender Your DEA License

Common reasons for surrendering your DEA registration include:

  • Closing your medical practice
  • Retiring from prescribing controlled substances
  • Letting your DEA registration expire
  • Moving to a new practice that doesn’t require it
  • Switching to an administrative position
  • Having your application denied or registration revoked

You must take affirmative steps to surrender in these situations.

The Consequences of Failing to Surrender Your Registration

If you do not properly surrender after closing your practice or retiring, you risk:

  • DEA investigation and inspection
  • Allegations of improper prescribing
  • Fines and penalties
  • Registration being revoked
  • Delay of any future DEA applications

Formally giving up the registration avoids complications.

The Process to Voluntarily Surrender Your DEA License

To voluntarily surrender, you must send a written notification to the DEA stating:

  • Your name, address, and DEA number
  • The registration being surrendered
  • The reason for surrendering
  • The date you wish surrender to be effective

Send this by certified mail with return receipt to your regional DEA office. Keep documentation of your surrender request on file.

Restrictions After Surrendering Your Registration

Once surrender is effective you are prohibited from:

  • Purchasing, administering, or prescribing controlled substances
  • Conducting any other activities requiring DEA registration

Follow state medical board guidelines on retiring or closing your practice after surrendering your DEA license.

Alternatives Besides Surrender

Instead of surrendering, you may be able to:

  • Expiration – Let your DEA registration expire and do not renew.
  • Inactive Status – File for temporary inactive status if closing your practice less than 2 years.
  • Renewal – Keep your DEA number current if potentially returning to practice.

Discuss options with your state’s medical board if unsure whether to surrender.

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