Canadian Truckers Get A Pass On Medical Certificates

The FMCSA rule does not apply to commercial drivers' licenses issued by Canadian provinces.

Earlier this year when the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced that commercial drivers were still required to possess actual paper medical certificates for another year, what they didn't make widely known at the time was that Canadian truck drivers will be exempt. But it's not  because they're getting preferred treatment courtesy of some last-minute, government deal ... it turns out the Canadians are already ahead of the U.S. in converting paper records to electronic.

“Essentially, the U.S. process will be very similar to the process currently occurring in Canada,” Heather Ness, editor for Transport Operations at J.J. Keller & Associates explains.

Canadian jurisdictions don’t issue commercial licenses until drivers’ medical information has been submitted and verified. What’s more, in 1999, the U.S. and Canada entered into a reciprocal agreement to accept each other’s commercial driver’s licenses. Because of this agreement, CDLs issued by Canadian jurisdiction are already proof of medical fitness and the U.S. considers them legitimate without the need to carry additional medical certificates.

However, Canadian truck drivers may need to address one little thing related to driver licenses and driver medical status according to Ness.

“You might have heard about a relatively new restriction code, Code W, which some jurisdictions are placing on driver’s licenses and driver abstracts,” Ness says. 

Code W indicates the driver is not medically qualified to operate into the United States; specifically, Code W means “restricted commercial class – Canada only.” It most recently made the news in Ontario almost a year ago when more than 45,000 drivers that operate into the United States were notified that they were no longer medically qualified for operation into the United States. 

In the majority of cases, it turned out that the drivers were simply late in submitting their medical information to Ontario. Nevertheless, it’s something drivers should be aware of as several other jurisdictions have already started placing Code W on the driver’s license and the driver’s abstracts. To read more, click HERE.