Paper FAA Certificates to Expire March 31
February 21, 2013 - March 31 signals the end of an era, as the last paper airmen certificates become invalid that day. Those include FAA certificates for A&P mechanic, repairman, flight engineer, and ground instructor, meaning that if you only have a paper certificate, you are not eligible to exercise those privileges until you receive a new, plastic certificate from the FAA.
The transition cost from a paper certificate to plastic is $2, and airmen may apply for a new card online. Applications submitted by mail typically take four to six weeks for processing, but forms submitted online take only seven to 10 days to process.
The FAA's elimination of paper certificates began in 2005 when the current, difficult-to-counterfeit plastic card was introduced as part of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. In 2008, the final rule was published, providing two years for pilots and five years for nonpilots to adopt new plastic certificates.
Airmen are not required to surrender their paper certificates and may retain them as keepsakes. However, those paper certificates will no longer be officially recognized after March 31 - even if you have ordered a plastic replacement that has not yet arrived.