Physicians and Surgeons

All physicians must receive a license from the Board prior to practicing medicine in California. Effective January 1, 2020, a Postgraduate Training License (PTL) is required to be obtained within 180 days after enrollment in an ACGME-accredited postgraduate training program in California.

The Board encourages applicants to check their application status online through the BreEZe online system. Please allow 60 days from the date your application and fees were received for a status update.

On September 30, 2020, the Department of Consumer Affairs Director issued DCA Waiver DCA-20-65 extending the deadline to December 31, 2020, for individuals who completed at least 36 months of approved postgraduate training outside of California, were enrolled in an approved postgraduate training program in California on July 1, 2020, and who are required to obtain a physician's and surgeon's license from the Medical Board of California (Board) within 90 days to continue the practice of medicine, pursuant to Business and Professions Code section 2065, subdivision (h).

This temporary waiver does not relieve such individuals from complying with any and all other requirements, including completing and submitting the required application forms and supporting documents to the Board.

If the individual fails to obtain a physician and surgeon license on or before December 31, 2020, or the Board denies the application, the individual must cease all clinical training in California until a physician and surgeon license is issued.

Additional Informational Links:

General Information

To be eligible for licensure in California, you must have received all of your medical school education from and graduated from a:

  1. U.S. or Canadian medical school accredited by the Liaison Committee for Medical Education (LCME), the Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools, or the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation; or
  2. A foreign medical school which has been evaluated by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) or one of the ECFMG authorized foreign medical school accreditation agencies and deemed to meet the minimum requirements substantially equivalent to the requirements of medical schools accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, the Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools, or the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation.

    The foreign medical school is listed on the World Federation for Medical Education (WFME) and the Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (FAIMER) World Directory of Medical Schools joint directory, or the World Directory of Medical Schools; or
  3. A foreign medical school that has been approved by the Medical Board of California (Board).

California Business and Professions Code section 30 requires mandatory disclosure of a Social Security Number (SSN), Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), or Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN). The number is used for tax enforcement purposes, for purposes of compliance with any judgment order for family support in accordance with Section 17520 of the Family Code, or for verification of licensure or examination status by a licensing examination entity which uses a national examination and where licensure is reciprocal with the requesting state.

NOTE: An FEIN may only be used for a business license type, not for an individual license type.

Section 31 of the Business and Professions Code allows the State Board of Equalization and the Franchise Tax Board to share taxpayer information with the Board. If a state tax obligation is not paid, an application for licensure may be denied and a license issued by the Board may be suspended (Business and Professions Code section 494.5).

Reporting a number on your application that is not your SSN, ITIN, or FEIN may be grounds for denial.

Additionally, in order to apply for licensure or check the status of your application online, an SSN or ITIN is required to register with the BreEZe online application system. If you do not have an SSN or ITIN, you will be required to complete your application by mail.

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 Medical Board of California considers violations of an ethical nature to be a serious breach of professional conduct.

General Questions About Licensure

  • Does California issue a resident or training license?
    Yes. Effective January 1, 2020, a Postgraduate Training License (PTL) must be obtained within 180 days after enrollment in an Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) accredited postgraduate training program in California.
  • How much training must I complete before I am eligible for licensure?
    To obtain a Physician's and Surgeon's License, U.S., Canadian, and International graduates must complete 36 months of Board approved postgraduate training with 24 months of continuous training in a single program to be eligible for licensure. Board approved training programs include ACGME in the U.S. or RCPSC/CFPC in Canada.
  • Should I report incomplete postgraduate training on the application? Is Form PTA/B required?
    Yes. You are required to document all postgraduate training (transitional, internship, residency, fellowship) on the application, whether or not the program was completed or credit was granted. You must have each current program director submit a Form PTA/B directly to the Board to document your dates of training for each program.
  • What are the costs related to licensure?
    • For a Postgraduate Training License (PTL), a non-refundable application fee, which is $491 and includes the $49 non-refundable fingerprint-processing fee. This fee must be paid before the review of your application can begin.
    • If transitioning from a PTL to a Physician’s and Surgeon’s license, you must pay an initial license fee of $808 before a license can be issued. However, if you are enrolled in an ACGME/RCPSC/CFPC training program on the date you apply or prior to the issuance of your license, you are eligible for a 50 percent reduction of the initial license fee, which is $416.50. To be eligible for the reduced fee, your program must document your current enrollment in the program.
    • For a Physician’s and Surgeon’s license, there are two fees involved in the licensing process. The first fee is the application fee, which is $491 and includes the $49 non-refundable fingerprint processing fee. This combined fee must be paid before the review of your application can begin.

      Once your application is complete, you must pay an initial license fee of $808 before a license can be issued. However, if you are enrolled in an ACGME/RCPSC/CFPC training program on the date you apply or prior to the issuance of your license, you are eligible for a 50 percent reduction of the initial license fee, which is $416.50. To be eligible for the reduced fee, your program must document your current enrollment in the program.
  • How do I know if I am entitled to pay the reduced license fee when I apply?
    If you are currently enrolled in an ACGME/RCPSC/CFPC accredited training program, you may be eligible for the reduced initial licensing fee. To verify your enrollment, you will need to submit a Current Postgraduate Training Verification (Form CTV). The completed Form CTV must be signed by the current program director and mailed directly from the program to the Board to be acceptable.
  • Can I charge my application fee by phone?
    No. However, you may use the Board’s online licensing processing process (BreEZe) if you wish to pay the fee by credit card. Please be aware, you must have an SSN or ITIN to use the BreEZe online licensing system.
  • Do I have to pay both the application fee and the license fee when I apply?
    If you use the BreEZe online system, you must pay all required fees to submit your application.
    • Postgraduate Training License requires the application fee only.
    • Transition Application from PTL to a Physician’s and Surgeon’s license requires the license fee only.
    • Physician’s and Surgeon’s license requires both the application fee and the license fee. If you only wish to pay the application fee when submitting your application, you must submit a paper application.
  • How do I send monies to the Board?
    You may print out a Licensing Fee Invoice Form and include your name, date of birth, file number and amount due, and include it with your payment.
  • When should I apply for a Physician’s and Surgeon’s License?
    You may apply for a Physician's and Surgeon's License after you have graduated from medical school and have successfully completed 36 months of accredited residency training and passed all required examinations. The three years of postgraduate training must consist of 24-continuous months of training in the same program.
  • When should I apply for a Postgraduate Training License
    You may apply for a Postgraduate Training License after you have graduated from medical school, but before you complete 36 months of accredited postgraduate training, passed all required examinations, and enrolled in an approved California residency program.
  • Should I take Step 3 before I apply for licensure?
    You are not required to take and pass the USMLE Step 3 before you apply; however, a license will not be issued to any applicant who has not passed all three steps. To obtain licensure in California, you must pass Step 3 within four attempts. Please refer to Section 2177 of the Business and Professions Code for specific details.

    A PTL cannot be issued until the applicant has passed Step 1 and both components of Step 2 (Clinical Skills and Clinical Knowledge) and a license will not be issued until you have passed Step 3.
  • How long is my Physician's and Surgeon's License valid?
    Upon approval of your application file and payment of the initial license fee, your license will be issued and will be valid for two years.
  • If I am unable to practice all aspects of medicine safely due to a disability, can I still get a license?
    Yes, California offers a Limited Practice License to physicians. To apply:
    • Complete the Limited Practice License, Form LPL, to elect to apply for the Limited Practice License. This form is to advise the Board that you wish to apply for the Limited Practice License and consent to sign an agreement to abide by the practice limitations indicated in the independent clinical evaluation and any further conditions or terms set forth by the Board.
    • A clinical evaluation must be performed by a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and/or treatment of disabilities of the same nature as your disability and is familiar with your area of medical practice. The reviewing physician must have a current valid California license with no history of discipline and may not have any personal, professional, business, or social relationship with you.
  • What if I move or change my name after I have submitted my application?
    If you move 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 on the Notarized Signatory page?
    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.

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How Long Does it Take to Get a License or a PTL?

  • What are the time frames for getting licensed?
    To be considered an applicant, you must submit both the application and the application fee. All application forms and supporting materials are stamped with the date and time they are received in the office.

    Once an application and the application fee have been received, staff must complete the initial review within 60 working days, although this often occurs in less time. The applicant then is notified in writing of the application status and given an itemized list of documents needed to complete the file. It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that any missing documents are sent to the Board. These subsequent documents also will be reviewed in order of receipt. The length of time it takes to obtain a license is related to how long it takes for all required documents to be received at the Board.

    Once the application is complete and approved, a license will be issued promptly.
  • Can I pay an extra fee to have my application expedited?
    The Board reviews applications in the order in which they are received. You cannot pay a fee to expedite the review of your application. When deciding when to apply, please allow sufficient time for all your documents to be received and reviewed by the Board, particularly if you have a deadline for licensure or the issuance of a PTL.
  • 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 once the application is reviewed. You will receive a deficiency letter from the Board.
  • If I apply online, do I still have to mail in a signed and notarized copy of my application with my picture?
    You must submit a signed, notarized copy of the Notarized Signatory page (with your photo attached) if you submit your application online.
  • Can I call or email my analyst if I have questions or want to check on my application’s status?
    You may call or email your analyst. Calls and emails are returned in the order received and will most likely take one or more days before they are returned due to the high volume of calls and emails received. Please be patient and do not leave multiple messages regarding the same issue. In addition, please note that the Board’s analysts have a heavy application work load and each call or email takes away from time available to review applications and documents. You will be notified if there are any missing documents or issues with your application. The Board encourages applicants to check their application status online through the BreEZe Online Services.
  • 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). Please note that the Board may close an application if the applicant fails to show progress toward licensure.

    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 (including new fingerprints), and pay the application fee.

    For additional information on what “failure to complete the application” means, please see Title 16 of the California Code of Regulations, Section 1306.
  • 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 Examinations

  • Are there any other exams besides the USMLE that are acceptable for licensure?
    The USMLE examinations are the most common examinations used for meeting the examination requirement. However, Title 16, Section 1328 of the California Code of Regulations includes a complete list of other acceptable examinations.
  • How are my examination scores verified?
    The Board must receive verification of your exam scores directly from the appropriate organization(s). Verification of examination scores may be obtained by contacting the following agencies:

    Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB)
    • Phone: (817) 868-4041
    Medical Council of Canada (MCC)
    • Phone: (613) 521-6012
    National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME)
    • Phone: (215) 590-9500
    Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates
    • Phone: (215) 386-5900

    Note: Although the Board does not require you to submit a FCVS package, if you choose to do so, the provided score report may be used. Please have the appropriate organization(s) send the examination scores directly to the Board's Sacramento headquarters address:

    Medical Board of California
    Licensing Program
    2005 Evergreen Street, Suite 1200
    Sacramento, CA 95815

  • How long are my test scores valid?
    For purposes of licensure, passing scores on a written examination are valid for a period of 10 years from the month of the examination. This period of validity may be extended by the Board for good cause and time spent in a postgraduate training program, including, but not limited to, residency training, fellowship training, remedial or refresher training, or other training that is intended to maintain or improve medical skills. The 10-year period also may be extended if you are licensed and practicing in another state; you will receive definitive information relative to your status upon receipt of a complete application.
  • Can I submit all of my application information via FCVS – Federation Credentials Verification Service Application?
    No. The Board accepts FCVS as a courtesy to applicants. FCVS is NOT a requirement for filing a Physician’s and Surgeon’s Application in California. You may request FCVS to submit directly to the Board your “Medical Professional Information Profile”. The Board will review the information provided, along with your application, and determine, on an individual basis, the items that will be accepted from FCVS. The Board will usually accept the following documentation from FCVS:
    • Examination Test scores;
    • Medical School Transcripts (if provided to FCVS directly from the medical school; transcripts submitted by the applicant to FCVS are not acceptable);
    • Medical School Diploma (if provided to FCVS directly from the medical school; diplomas submitted by the applicant to FCVS are not acceptable);
    • Verification of Postgraduate Training may be accepted in lieu of Form PTA/B – Certificate of Completion of ACGME/RCPSC/CFPC Postgraduate Training Form (if provided to FCVS directly from the ACGME/RCPSC training program); and
    • ECFMG Certification Status Report for international medical school graduates (if provided directly to FCVS by ECFMG).

    The Board does not accept the following documentation from FCVS:

    • Letters of Good Standing / License Verifications; and
    • Timeline of Activities (Form TOA).

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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.

    Applicants should be aware that the Board receives information regarding actions that have been dismissed or expunged, and the application forms advise applicants to disclose all prior convictions including those that have been dismissed or expunged. If in doubt as to whether a conviction should be disclosed, it is best to disclose the conviction on the application. Please be aware, the Board will be notified of all future criminal actions through subsequent reports from the DOJ and/or the FBI.
  • What happens if I fail to disclose information on a criminal conviction?
    As an applicant, you are personally 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.
  • How might a criminal conviction affect my application for licensure or a PTL application?
    The Board frequently receives questions about criminal convictions and how they could affect an application for a physician's and surgeon's license and/or an application for a Postgraduate Training License (PTL).

    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 physician, may, under closer scrutiny, be revealed otherwise (e.g.; reckless driving, DUIs, and sex crimes). 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 or PTL. If in doubt as to whether a conviction should be disclosed, it is best to disclose the conviction (see the Criminal Record history section on the Application).

    The Board has three options relative to licensure/PTL: issue a license or PTL; deny a license or PTL; or issue a probationary license. These actions must be substantiated by appropriate evidence.

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Questions Regarding Recognized Medical Schools

  • How do I find out if my medical school is approved or recognized by the Board?
    To determine if your medical school is Board-approved, you must verify that the school is listed on one of the following: It is the Board’s policy that the name of your medical school, as indicated on your diploma and transcripts, must match the name on the Board’s recognized school list exactly.
  • I attended more than one medical school; do I need to document all of the institutions I attended on the application?
    Yes. You must document all institutions you attended. Each institution must complete the Certificate of Medical Education (Form MED). Additionally, certified copies of medical school transcripts must be provided from each institution you attended.
  • Can I provide a certified or notarized copy of my transcripts?
    No. You must request certified copies of your medical school transcripts to be sent directly from your medical school to the Medical Board of California. Certified copies must:
    • Have the original signature of the dean or registrar of the medical school;
    • Be affixed with the official school seal; and
    • Include a statement attesting that the copy is a true and correct copy of the original.
  • Can I provide a certified or notarized copy of my diploma?
    No. You may utilize the services of Certified Electronic Diploma (CeDiploma™): CeDiploma Trust is a company that provides an alternative to a paper diploma and is accepted by the Medical Board of California. The Board does not mandate that you use this online service. If you were not issued a CeDiploma™ by your medical school, please contact your school directly. You may obtain further information regarding this electronic diploma service at: https://cecredentialtrust.com/. If this service is not utilized, certified copies of your diploma must be sent directly from your medical school to the Medical Board of California. Certified copies must:
    • Have the original signature of the dean or registrar of the medical school;
    • Be affixed with the official school seal; and
    • Include a statement attesting that the copy is a true and correct copy of the original.

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Questions About Postgraduate Training Authorization Letter (PTAL)

  • How do I apply for a PTAL?
    Effective January 1, 2020, the Board will no longer issue Postgraduate Training Authorization Letters (PTAL). All previously issued PTALs will expire on or before December 31, 2019, and will not be renewed. If you match into an ACGME accredited postgraduate training program in California, you will be required to obtain a Postgraduate Training License (PTL) within 180 days after enrollment into the program.

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Questions About Postgraduate Training License (PTL)

  • What is a PTL and who needs to have one?
    A Postgraduate Training License (PTL) is a license issued by the Board that authorizes an individual to participate in an ACGME accredited training in California. To be eligible for a PTL, the applicant must be enrolled in an approved ACGME accredited postgraduate training program in California, have received all of their medical education from, and graduated from, a recognized medical school, taken and passed an examination recognized by the Board, and be certified by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG).
  • When should I apply for a PTL?
    Effective January 1, 2020, a PTL must be obtained within 180 days after enrollment in an Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) accredited postgraduate training program in California. The PTL will be valid until 90 days after a resident has successfully completed 36 months of postgraduate training. If a physician’s and surgeon’s license is not obtained within 90 days, the physician must cease all clinical training in California.
  • How long is my PTL valid?
    The PTL will be valid until 90 days after a resident has successfully completed 36 months of accredited training if the resident is currently enrolled in an ACGME-accredited training program in California. If a resident has successfully completed a three year residency and is not currently enrolled in an ACGME accredited program, they would need to cease all clinical services in California until a Physician’s and Surgeon’s License is issued.
  • Do I have to have an SSN or ITIN to apply for a PTL?
    Disclosure of a United States Social Security Number (SSN) or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is mandatory prior to the issuance of a PTL. Section 30 of the Business and Professions Code authorizes collection of an SSN or ITIN. 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.
  • Which USMLE exams must I pass before applying for a PTL?
    For a PTL, the applicant must have passed Step 1 and both components of Step 2 (Clinical Skills and Clinical Knowledge) of the USMLE examination.

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Questions About Transitioning a License

  • Why do I need to transition my license?
    The transition process is for a PTL holder who has successfully completed 36 months of ACGME accredited postgraduate training, which includes 24-continuous months of training in the same program and passed USMLE Step 3 to obtain their Physician’s and Surgeon’s License.

    Note: If you have previously submitted official scores verifying passage of all parts of the Licentiate of the Medical Council of Canada (LMCC) examination, USMLE Step 3 is not required.
  • When do I apply to transition my license?
    You may apply 90 days prior to completing your 36 months of ACGME accredited training.

    The PTL will be valid until 90 days after a resident has successfully completed 36 months of accredited training if the resident is currently enrolled in an ACGME-accredited training program in California. If a resident has successfully completed a three year residency and is not currently enrolled in an ACGME accredited program, the resident would need to cease all clinical services in California until a Physician’s and Surgeon’s License is issued.

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Questions About Translations of Documents

  • Do I have to have my transcripts and diplomas translated if they aren’t in English?
    Transcripts, diplomas and any other academic documents prepared in a language other than English will need to be accompanied by a certified English translation. Please refer to the Translation of International Academic Credentials information sheet for details regarding acceptable English translations. The certified translation must be mailed directly from the translator to the Board to be acceptable.

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