California Physician Medical License


How to Get a California Physician Medical License in 6 “Simple” Steps!

Are you considering applying for a California Physician License?

Around 300 physicians apply for a California Medical License each month, making California one of the most popular states for physicians. Depending on your credentials and practice history, expect the process to take between 3-6 months. Minimize your frustration by following these six proven steps.


Determine your eligibility for a California Physicians License.

The California Physician Medical License is issued by the California Medical Board. California is one of 17 states that has established separate boards for Allopathic and Osteopathic physicians. The Medical and Osteopathic Boards have different eligibility requirements. We will review the process for a California Physician Medical License in this post.

Understanding and ensuring you meet your boards’ eligibility requirements prior to completing the application will save you hours time, hundreds of dollars and the possibility that you will be required to make an appearance in front of the Board.

The requirements for a California Physician Medical License include –

  • Graduation from an accredited allopathic medical school
  • American & Canadian Graduates – 1 year of postgraduate training
  • International Graduates – 2 years of postgraduate training, in the same specialty
  • Successfully passing USMLE, NBME, FLEX, or a combination of these exams. The Puerto Rico licensing exam will not satisfy this requirement.
  • International Graduates – ECFMG certification
  • Demonstration of current clinical competency by –
  1. Being licensed in another jurisdiction and have actively practiced medicine in another jurisdiction for at least two of the immediately preceding four years, or
  2. Passing a board-approved clinical competency examination within the year preceding filing of the application, or
  3. Successful completion of  board approved postgraduate training program within two years preceding filing of the application, or
  4. Passing all parts of a national examination (NBME, FLEX, or USMLE) or currently licensed in the U.S. or Canada, and has actively practiced pursuant to such licensure for at least 10 years, has passed a state board or LMCC examination, and passed the SPEX examination, or
  5. Be licensed on the basis of a state board exam prior to 1974, and is currently licensed in at least three other jurisdictions in the U.S. or Canada, and practiced pursuant to such licensure for at least 20 years.



Completing the Application

The California Medical Board provides online and paper versions of the application. To avoid delays, it is recommended that you complete the online application.  Allow one to two hours to complete the application. You should spend a few minutes reviewing the paper application so you know what to expect. The paper application can be reviewed here.

Most questions are fairly routine. However, there are a number of questions dealing with adverse or non-routine situations.

If you answer “Yes” to any questions related to any adverse actions, the Board will require a written explanation and documentation. The type of documentation the Board will require varies, but at the least, they will require –

  • Documents detailing the action and recourse taken by the adjudicating authority
  • Orders, resolutions, and satisfactions related to the action
  • The Board could request any transcripts of depositions, interviews or meeting minutes

Question #6 – Criminal History

You must disclose any conviction, guilty plea, nolo contendere or no contest to any felony or misdemeanor, other than minor traffic offenses. Any DUI is required to be reported.

The criminal background check is comprehensive, so practice “Full Disclosure”. Failing to report an offense will likely require an appearance before the Board and possibly license denial. “My attorney told me not to report” is not a defense accepted by the Board.

If you answer yes to this question you must include –

  • A written explanation of the event to include the precipitating factors, any pleas or verdicts, and how penalties or sentences were satisfied.
  • The arrest report.
  • All court documents.
  • Explanation for Application Question

Submit the California Physician Medical License Application and Pay the Fees

  • 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.
  • If you are applying for a Full California Physician or Surgeon Medical License, the licensing fee is $808.
  • If you are enrolled in an ACGME/RCPSC training program on the date you apply or are licensed, you are eligible for a 50 percent reduction of the initial license fee.

Credential Verification Requests

As part of the California Physician Medical License process, the Board will require a number of your credentials be verified. All of the verifications will need to be sent from the credential holders directly to the California Medical Board.

Verifications required

  • Medical School Diploma*
  • Medical School Transcripts*
  • Verification of ALL medical licenses ever held
  • Exam Scores*
  • ECFMG certification Status Report for international medical school graduates
  • Verification of Postgraduate Training may be accepted in lieu of Form L3A & B – Certificate of Completion of ACGME/RCPSC Postgraduate Training Form

*If you are having your FCVS packet sent to the Board, you will not need to request these

You may send copies of the following directly to the Board –

  • Letters of Good Standing / License Verifications; and
  • Timeline of Activities.

A couple of days after you request your medical school and training verifications, you should call and confirm receipt of your request. Make sure to ask about turn around time for completion and then follow up again to confirm the verifications were completed and forwarded to the Board.


Criminal Background Check

Make this priority!
The results take 6-8 weeks for the Board to receive, often making this the last thing the Board needs to issue your license. California will not issue your medical license before they receive the results of your criminal background check

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.


DO NOT fingerprint yourself. Yes, there have been those who have tried, but these fingerprints are ALWAYS rejected.


Malpractice Actions

The Board will require reporting of malpractice actions if –

  1. There was a judgment issued in a court where the incident of malpractice occurred after November 2, 2004, or
  2. There was a malpractice incident that results in a payment of over $100,000

For each case that meets the above criteria, the Board will require you to submit –

  • A written explanation of the details around each case, including your involvement, the complaint, and the resolution.
  • Explanation for Application Question
  • Copies of the initial plaintiff complaint and, either the judgment or settlement order
  • Any additional documentation you would like to submit

Numerous malpractice payments might require an appearance before the Board. Generally, malpractice actions are of little consequence IF FULLY DISCLOSED AND DOCUMENTED UPFRONT.


Address Deficiencies Quickly

About one month after you submit the application, you should receive either an email or letter from the processor of your California Physician Medical License application. This letter will detail deficiencies that need to be satisfied before your license is issued. This letter will also contain information you will need to check the status of deficiencies through the Board’s online portal.

Many times, verification’s are completed incorrectly or are not sent to the Board, making it likely that you will need to follow up with the credential holders again.  Consistent follow up with the credential holders, and with the Board, is the single most important step for the issuance of you California Physician Medical Licenses.

Historically, a California Physician Medical License is known for being one of the most difficult physician medical licenses to acquire. Follow these 6 steps and make your California Physician Medical License process quick and easy!


The California Physician Medical License process is known to be lengthy and difficult.  Expect to spend numerous hours preparing the application, making the verification requests, following up with your credential holders, and addressing deficiencies on your notices from the California Physician Medical Board, but…

What if someone offered to…
  • Determine your license eligibility
  • Make all credential verification requests
  • Follow up with credential holders
  • Handle additional Medical Board requests
  • Make your license process incredibly simple!
You should probably let them!

Only $629 per State

Discounts available for multiple states, training licenses, and military.

Are you considering applying for a California Physician License or have you already applied? What is your experience?  Do you have questions? Leave them below and we’ll help!


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