If you’re an aspiring pilot or have an interest in aviation, you might be wondering what a pilot’s license looks like.

As you will see below, a pilot license is similar to other forms of ID in the information that is displayed, such as sex, height, weight, hair color, and eye color.

You will quickly notice that despite the vast difference in experience and privileges between student pilots and airline pilots, the licenses look almost identical.

The only difference is under IX which states that the pilot “has been found to be properly qualified to exercise the privileges of” the type of license that they are qualified for.

What Does a Student Pilot’s License Look Like?

Student Pilot's LicenseA student pilot certificate is required for anyone who wants to start working towards obtaining higher certification.

While a medical certificate isn’t required to just hold a student pilot license, it is required to log solo flight time to obtain higher certification.

A student pilot license is not required to take flying lessons.

Requirements

  • 16 years old (or 14 if flying gliders or balloons)

What Does a Sport Pilot’s License Look Like?

Sport Pilot's LicenseA sport pilot license allows you to fly light sport aircraft, including small airplanes, gliders, powered parachutes, balloons, and airships.

Requirements

  • 17 years old (or 16 if flying gliders or balloons)
  • Hold a student pilot certificate
  • Complete at least 20 hours of flight training
  • Pass written and practical exams

What Does a Recreational Pilot’s License Look Like?

If you aren’t happy with flying light-sport aircraft and want to fly something bigger and more powerful, the recreational pilot license is just the ticket.

Requirements

  • 17 years old
  • Hold a student or sport pilot license
  • Complete at least 30 hours of flight training
  • Pass a written knowledge and practical test

What Does a Private Pilot’s License Look Like?

Private Pilot's LicenseA private pilot license enables the command of any aircraft (subject to appropriate ratings), the ability to carry more than one passenger, and fly internationally.

While many restrictions are lifted compared to lesser licenses and with additional ratings, a PPL will still not make a pilot eligible for compensation or hire.

Requirements

  • 17 years old (or 16 if flying gliders or balloons)
  • Hold at least a student pilot license
  • Hold a third-class medical certificate
  • Complete at least 35 – 40 of flight time minimum
  • Pass a written knowledge and practical test

What Does a Commercial Pilot’s License Look Like?

Commercial Pilot's LicenseWith a commercial pilot license, you can be financially compensated for flying.

This can include carrying persons or cargo, engaging in commercial air tours, aerial work like crop dusting, banner towing, and more.

Requirements

  • 18 years old
  • Hold at least a private pilot license
  • Hold a second-class medical certificate
  • Complete 250 hours of flight time for part 61 and 190 for part 141
  • Pass a written knowledge and practical test

What Does an Airline Transport Pilot’s License Look Like?

Airline Transport Pilot's LicenseAn ATPL is the highest level of piloting ability in civil aviation and therefore requires the most stringent qualifications.

There is also a restricted form of the ATPL (referred to as an R-ATPL), which will let you be a first officer – in other words, a co-pilot.

Requirements

  • 23 years old
  • Hold a commercial pilot license with instrument and multi-engine ratings
  • Hold a first-class medical certificate
  • Complete a minimum of 1,500 flight hours
  • Pass a written knowledge and practical test

Do Pilots Have Paper Pilot Certificates?

The FAA has stopped pilots who hold paper certificates from being able to exercise their flying privileges since March 31st, 2013.

The FAA moved away from paper certificates to plastic cards for security reasons.

As you can see from the images above, each plastic, credit card-sized license features a hologram of the FAA seal.

The rollout began in July 2003 when the FAA started to issue the new pilot license to replaced paper certificates to the USA’s 600,000 active pilots.

What Pilots Need to Carry Anything Other Than Their License?

Pilots must also carry government-issued photo identification and their medical certificate.

When requested by the FAA, an authorized representative of the National Transportation Safety Board or TSA, or a law enforcement officer, pilots must also present photo identification.