Midwives Application for Licensure

A "licensed midwife" is an individual who has been issued a license to practice midwifery by the Medical Board of California. The practice of midwifery authorizes the licensee to attend cases of normal pregnancy and childbirth, and to provide prenatal, intrapartum, and postpartum care, including family-planning care, for the mother, and immediate care for the newborn. The practice of midwifery constitutes the furthering or undertaking by any licensed midwife to assist a woman in childbirth as long as progress meets criteria accepted as normal.

Licensed midwives, who have achieved the required educational and clinical experience in midwifery or met the challenge requirements, must pass the North American Registry of Midwives' (NARM) comprehensive examination. The NARM examination is administered twice a year, usually in February and August, at various locations throughout the United States, including at the Medical Board's office in Sacramento. After successful completion of this examination, prospective applicants are designated as a "certified professional midwife" and are eligible to submit an application for California midwifery licensure.

The profession of midwifery also has another designation, that of "certified nurse-midwife" (CNM). CNMs are licensed by the California Board of Registered Nursing. CNMs are registered nurses who acquired additional training in the field of obstetrics and are certified by the American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM). They commonly work in hospitals and birthing centers that also are licensed by the state. Further information or verification of licensure for a CNM may be obtained by contacting the Board of Registered Nursing at (916) 322-3350, (800) 838-6828, or at www.rn.ca.gov.

General Information

There are two pathways to licensure as a midwife in California:

  • Education
    Candidates must complete a three-year postsecondary education program in an accredited midwifery school approved by the board. These schools usually are accredited by the Midwifery Education and Accreditation Council (MEAC), whose accreditation mirrors that of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) requirements, and satisfies Medical Board of California criteria. Upon completion of educational requirements, including clinical experience evaluation, the candidate also must successfully complete the comprehensive licensing examination administered by NARM.
  • Challenge Mechanism
    As defined in Business and Professions Code section 2513(a)-(c), the challenge process offers a midwifery student and prospective applicant the opportunity to obtain credit by examination for previous midwifery education and clinical experience. This opportunity is provided by two approved "challenge process" programs. Maternidad La Luz (MLL), in El Paso, TX, and the National Midwifery Institute, Inc., (NMI) in Bristol, VT, are the two board-approved challenge process mechanisms that are available for California licensure. Upon successful completion of the challenge process, the candidate also must successfully complete the comprehensive licensing examination administered by NARM. The candidate then may submit an application for California licensure.

    Beginning January 1, 2015, new licensees will not be permitted to substitute clinical experience for formal didactic education at an approved midwifery program.

Section 31(e) of the Business and Professions Code allows the State Board of Equalization and the Franchise Tax Board to share taxpayer information with the Board. An application for licensure may be denied and a license issued by the Board may be suspended if a state tax obligation is not paid (Business and Professions Code section 494.5). Disclosure of your United States Social Security Number is mandatory. Section 30 of the Business and Professions Code and Public Law 94-455 (42 USCA 405 (c)(2)(c)) authorizes collection of your social security number. An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is not acceptable. Reporting a number on your application that is not your U.S. Social Security Number may be grounds for denial of licensure.

For more specific information related to licensed midwives, please call (916) 263-2382, email Webmaster@mbc.ca.gov, or write to:

Medical Board of California
Attn: Midwifery Program
2005 Evergreen Street, Suite 1200
Sacramento, CA 95815

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General Questions About Licensure

  • Does California issue a student or training license?
    No. California only issues a full, unrestricted license which allows a person to practice midwifery in California.
  • What are the costs related to licensure?
    There are two fees involved in the licensing process:
    • Licensing Application fee – This fee is $300 and must be submitted when you apply for licensure. The fee, which is non-refundable, also covers the initial period of licensure. The application fee is payable to Medical Board of California and can be submitted by money order, cashiers’ or personal check.
    • Fingerprint Processing Fee – This fee is $49 and is non-refundable. If you use Live Scan for your fingerprints, the $49 fee is paid to Live Scan and is collected at the time of fingerprinting. If you live outside of California and submit paper fingerprint cards, the $49 fee is payable to the Medical Board. In addition, whether you use Live Scan or paper fingerprint cards, you will be charged an administrative fee, which may vary, by the local agency that scans the prints or provides the ink impressions.
    When your license is due for renewal, the Licensing Renewal Fee will be $200 (plus any delinquency fees, if you did not renew on time).
  • How long is my license valid?
    Upon approval of your application file and payment of the license application fee, your license will be issued and will be valid until the last day of your second birth month after licensure. The expiration date is based on your birth month–not birth date. If you wait until your birth month for licensure, then your license will be valid for a full 24-month period. Should you choose to be licensed as soon as possible, your license may be valid for as few as 13 months – depending upon when you reach the second birth month after licensure.

    For example, if your birth month is November and your license is issued in November, your license would be valid for 24 months. However, if your license is granted in October (instead of November), then you license would be valid for only 13 months.
  • If I want to be licensed during my birth month, what do I do?
    To request licensure during your birth month, simply submit the Birth Month Licensure Request form to the Board. If the Board does not receive a birth month licensure request, your license will automatically be issued as soon as your application is complete and there are no deficiencies in your file.
  • What if I move or change my name after I have submitted my application?
    If you movie after you have submitted your application, you must submit an Applicant Address Change Request Form. This form may be faxed or mailed to the Board.

    If you change your name after you have submitted an application, you must submit a signed Notification of Name Change form, along with photocopy or electronic copy of a current government-issued photographic identification (e.g., driver license, alien registration, passport, etc.) and one of the following legal documents as proof of the name change:
    • Marriage Certificate
    • Dissolution of marriage (divorce)
    • Certified Court Order
    The form and supporting documents must be mailed to the Board.
  • Can I submit a 2 x 2 inch passport photo?
    Yes. The photo must meet the instruction specifications. It must be recent and of your head and shoulder area only.
  • Will you discard or destroy any documentation received prior to my application?
    Any documents received prior to your application will be maintained for six months. If you do not submit your application and fees in that time frame, the documents will be destroyed through confidential destruction.
  • How can I find out if the Board has received or reviewed my documents?
    Most documents are reviewed within 2 weeks from the date they are received. Please allow at least 2 weeks from the date you submitted a document before contacting the Board to verify if it has been received or reviewed.
  • How will I know if there are missing documents or other issues with my application?
    You will be notified if there are any missing documents or issues with your application after it is reviewed. You will receive a deficiency letter from the Board.
  • How long do I have to complete the application process?
    You have one year from the date the application was received by the Board to complete your application. Applications incomplete after 1 year are considered “abandoned” and may be destroyed (including all supporting documentation). If you wish to keep your application open, you must resubmit the California Midwife License Application Form prior to the date of the previous application’s expiration date.

    If your previous application was abandoned, any subsequent application will be treated as a new application and you will be required to meet all licensure requirements in effect at the time of the subsequent application. You must also resubmit all required documentation.
  • How long will it take for me to receive my license once it is issued?
    Please allow 2-4 weeks from the date of issuance to receive your pocket identification card and wall certificate.

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Questions Regarding the NARM Examination

  • How do I register to take the NARM exam?
    Taking and passing the NARM exam is a requirement for licensure. Although the exam is administered two times each year at the Medical Board’s offices in Sacramento (typically in February and August), you may take the exam at any US location. Registration for the exam is done directly through NARM.
  • Can I send my exam scores to the Board?
    No. You must contact NARM and ask that your written exam scores be sent directly to the Board by NARM.

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Questions Regarding Fingerprints

  • Do I have to get fingerprinted?
    Yes. In California, the process is completed using Live Scan, which is an electronic fingerprinting process. Your prints will be sent to both the California Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to search for any criminal history. Out-of-state applicants may submit the traditional paper fingerprint cards approved to be used in California or come to California to use Live Scan.
  • I don’t live in California; how can I get paper fingerprint cards?
    If you live out of state, once you have submitted your application and fees, the Board will automatically send fingerprint cards to you. If you have already submitted your fees and application but have not yet received the fingerprint cards, you may contact the Board’s Consumer Information Unit at 1-800-633-2322 to request that they be mailed to you. You may have your fingerprints taken by a local law enforcement agency or any other business approved for fingerprinting.
  • I already have been fingerprinted previously; can the Medical Board access those prints?
    No. Federal law allows a Criminal Records Report to be released only to the requesting agency. You will need to undergo the fingerprinting and criminal history check process again specifically for the Medical Board.

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Questions About Criminal Convictions

  • Must I disclose all criminal convictions, even minor offenses in college?
    You must disclose all convictions as well as all cases in which you pled guilty or nolo contendere, even if they have been expunged pursuant to Section 1203.4 of the Penal Code. This includes every citation, infraction, misdemeanor and/or felony, including traffic violations. Convictions that were adjudicated in the juvenile court or convictions under California Health and Safety Code sections 11357(b), (c), (d), (e), or section 11360(b) which are two years or older should NOT be reported. Convictions that were later expunged from the record of the court or set aside pursuant to section 1203.4 of the California Penal Code or equivalent non-California law MUST be disclosed.
  • What happens if I fail to disclose information on a criminal conviction?
    As an applicant, you personally are responsible for all information disclosed on your Application, including any responses that may have been completed on your behalf by others. An application may be denied based upon omission, falsification or misrepresentation of any item or response on the application or any attachment. The Board considers violations of an ethical nature to be a serious breach of professional conduct.
  • I was arrested but not convicted of a crime. How should I respond to the Criminal Record questions?
    You are not required to disclose an arrest which did not result in a conviction.
  • Do I need to report traffic citations?
    Traffic citations such as reckless driving, driving under the influence of alcohol/drugs, hit and run, evading a police officer, failure to appear, driving while the license is suspended or revoked MUST be reported. This list is not all-inclusive or exhaustive. If in doubt as to whether a citation should be disclosed, it is better to disclose the citation on the application.
  • How might a criminal conviction affect my application for licensure?
    The Board is unable to provide legal advice to applicants or their representatives. Every situation is unique and is addressed on an individual basis. The Board reviews each conviction based not only on the conviction itself in relation to the statutes, but also on the underlying issues that led to the conviction.

    The Board does receive information regarding actions that have been expunged, and the application forms advise applicants to disclose all prior convictions, including those that have been expunged. In addition, pending charges must be reported by an applicant immediately upon notification of the charge. The Board will learn of these actions through the fingerprint criminal history check.

    A conviction that does not, at first glance, appear to be substantially related to the qualifications, functions or duties of a midwife, may, under closer scrutiny, be revealed otherwise (e.g.; reckless driving, DUIs, etc.). All information related to an applicant's criminal history is considered. The specific conviction; when it occurred; the circumstances surrounding the conviction; the number of convictions; compliance with the court's terms and conditions; and rehabilitation are all factors considered when determining an applicant's eligibility for licensure. Failure to disclose a conviction is considered to be dishonest, and therefore an egregious breach of ethics and is unprofessional conduct. The failure to disclose a conviction is grounds for the Board to deny an application for licensure.

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Questions Regarding Recognized Midwifery Schools

  • How do I find out if my midwifery school is approved by the Board?
    You may select the link below to determine whether your school is on the Board’s recognized midwifery school list.
  • Can I provide a certified or notarized copy of my transcripts or diploma?
    No. You must request certified copies of these documents be sent directly from your midwifery school to the Medical Board of California.

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Questions Regarding the California Challenge Mechanism

  • I didn’t attend a formal midwifery education program, but received my training and experience via apprenticeship with a licensed midwife. Can I still qualify for licensure?
    The California Challenge Mechanism is currently an option for midwives who have received their training via apprenticeship. The Challenge Mechanism includes a verification of clinical competency and experience. There are currently two Challenge Process programs that have been approved by the Board: Maternidad La Luz, located in El Paso, Texas, and the National Midwifery Institute, located in Bristol, Vermont. Individuals who pursue licensure via the Challenge Mechanism must also pass the NARM examination. NARM has a “Portfolio Evaluation Process” for experienced midwives which is part of the application process for the NARM examination. For more information, contact NARM. Important Note: On January 1, 2015, the Challenge Mechanism, which provides credit for previous midwifery education and clinical experience, will no longer be a pathway for midwifery licensure in California. Recent legislation amended Section 2513 of the California Business and Professions Code. Beginning January 1, 2015, new licensees may no longer substitute clinical experience for formal didactic education at an approved midwifery education program.
  • I received my midwifery training and experience in another country. How can I qualify for a midwife’s license?
    California law does not include a provision for recognizing international midwifery education and training. However, internationally trained and educated midwives can qualify for licensure via the California Challenge Mechanism. As with all applicants applying via the Challenge Mechanism, they must also pass the NARM exam. NARM has a “Portfolio Evaluation Process” for international midwives which is part of the application process for the NARM examination. For more information, contact NARM.

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Additional Information