What can I do if my not-so-newly issued temporary pilot certificate is about to expire and I haven't gotten my permanent certificate yet? Is there any way that I can keep flying while waiting for it, and is there a way to check on the status of the permanent certificate?
You also can look up your current status here:
In my case, this was updated about a week before my card arrived in the mail.
You can also see what date's submissions they have processed here:
The FSDO can issue you a new temporary certificate if your previous one has or is about to expire and your permanent one hasn't arrived in the mail yet.
When I got my ATP, I had to file on paper rather than through IACRA and my certificate was delayed long enough that I needed to ask an inspector to write me out a new temporary. Took about ten minutes start to finish, the hardest part was the drive to the FSDO.
I passed my checkride on April 19th and was told by both the DPE and my instructor that typical wait times to receive the permanent certificate in the mail are around 90 days. The DPE told me to mark the 120 expiration date of the temporary certificate on my calendar and that I should call the local FSDO if I had not received the permanent one in the mail and it was approaching two weeks from the expiration of the temporary. The FSDO can grant 30 day extensions to your temporary certificate.
Just keep this in mind: It's is very important not to let the temporary expire since that temporary certificate "supersedes" all previous certificates. This means you have NOTHING if a temporary Private Pilot certificate has expired and you have not yet received the permanent one. Even your original Student Pilot certificate is no longer in effect, since it was superseded when you were issued your temporary private certificate; therefore you won't even be able to fly solo anymore.
As long as you contact your local FSDO within a couple weeks prior to the temporary certificate's expiration, you should have no problems.