How to Apply for California Letter (PTAL)? www.USMLE-Forums.

Unlike all other states, California requires a special authorization in order for medical school graduates whether US or IMGs to practice medicine or to be enrolled in residency programs. The authorization to practice medicine is called California License. The authorization to be enrolled in a residency program is called Postgraduate Training Authorization Letter (PTAL) or commonly referred to as California Letter. Before talking about the steps on how to get the California letter it's important to note down the contact information of the Medical Board of California (MBC). This is going to be needed throughout the process. California Medical Board Contact information Email: which is unlike the they usually respond promptly and give you courtesy. Mailing Address: MEDICAL BOARD OF CALIFORNIA LICENSING PROGRAM 2005 Evergreen Street, Suite 1200 Sacramento, CA 95815 Telephones: 800 6332322 or 916 263 2382 Fax: 916 2632487 Now let's walk through the application process step by step: First Step is the online application: Go to Click on applicants tab and in the resulting new page scroll down and click on "continue" You'll be taken to this page Click on "Online Licensing Application Payment" on the right upper corner

Then click on "Professional Licensing Log-in" Which should take you to this page Of course you click on the first time users link thereafter you choose a username and password, email, mailing address, SSN (optional), and a credit card to be charged later on.

The total amount that you have to pay is $493 broken down into $442 (Application Fee) and $51 (Finger Print Processing Fee). The page that you'll see when you finish the online application looks like this:

You'll later receive an email confirmation from and they'll say in it the following: *************************** You have successfully registered with the State of California Online Professional Licensing system. You are registered as: FirstName LastName Your User ID is: xxx Please keep it for your records. You will need this User ID to login into the system or to reset your password. *************************** Thereafter you can go to

Log in with your username and password print out the online receipt because you'll need this for the next steps. Alternatively, if you don't like to pay online you can send money order or certified check or personal check and make it payable to "Medical Board of California" and enclose it with your application papers. Next Step is to do the Finger Printing: You can go to and print out live scan forms (three copies) then you can locate a live scan center here or you can choose to send them a finger printing card instead if you don't reside in California or you won't be visiting California. But in this case you have to contact them in order they mail you the finger printing cards. Note that usually you will be charged $25 when you go to the fingerprinting center, this is another charge to be added to the $51 that you paid already. So your total so far is 493+25= $518 Although you completed three copies but you will send only one copy to MBC to be attached to L1A-L1E forms. The other two copies one will go to the FBI and DOJ and the other can be kept with you. The Next Step is to fill out and notarize forms L1A, L1B, L1C, L1D, and L1E: These forms can be downloaded from this page L1A: just answer the questions; Mention any of the exam scores that you have taken so far. It's better you mention at least one exam though it is not mandatory. L1B: not needed for IMGs; definitely we did not do any ACGME accredited postgraduate training so far and we don't have a state license yet. So leave questions 14 and 15 blank, just sign at the bottom and put your date of birth. L1C and L1D: Leave ABMS certifications if you are applying for the PTAL and answer all questions 17-38. (this is only required for the California license not the PTAL. L1E: This form you have to sign in front of the Notary Public who should put his seal and signature in addition to yours. Now Your are considered an applicant: Once you send the notarized L1A-L1E along with the application fees (Online Receipt if you paid online, money order or check if you are not) and the finger printing request document then you are considered an applicant and you should receive a notice from the MBC within 90 days. The letter looks like this In which you can see that you now have application tracking system (ATS) number.

This number is very important because you will later on be able to follow your case by entering it in this page Once you get a number you will be assigned an application analyst. They have people assigned to the first letter of your last name. For example if your last name is James then the person in charge with the "J" letter will be in charge of your case. Most of these clerks are friendly, supportive, and helpful. They will respond to your emails and telephone contacts promptly and professionally. Once you know who's your assigned clerk, keep his/her contact info handy as you will frequently need to be in contact with him/her for various issues and most importantly to expedite your letter should the match season starts and you don't have it yet. Although the complete list of required documents is more than what's mentioned so far but the above steps are enough to get you into the process. It's recommended that you complete the above steps early in April so that you enter their system so that later on updating your case with exam scores and med school papers get considerably shorter time to finish and you will be able to apply to California programs in September. Here's a screenshot of the latest required documents:

The Next Step is to fill out and send L2, L3A, L3B, L4 and L5: L3A and L3B and L4: these forms have to be filled when you finish your residency and you want to apply for a California license (to practice). It's not needed when you apply for PTAL. L6: is needed if you have attended clinical training and clerkships outside your core primary medical school training (a big example here is Caribbean medical schools where they usually send their students for clerkships in US) L2 Form should be completed and signed by your medical school L5 Form should be completed and singed by you medical school A very important point about L5 Form: The most common reason of IMG rejection is the number of psychiatry hours during your core medical curriculum, make sure to send them a total of at least 80 hours of psychiatry rotations. If your medical school curriculum did not meet this requirement then you have to top up your application with a certified psychiatry clerkship here in the US in order to get it through. Another big advice regarding from L5 is to try to find a colleague from your school who has done it before and got accepted. This way you can adjust the number of hours in lieu with what he/she has done, of course changing the dates as appropriate if does not match yours. The Next Step is to send them your exam scores: for exam scores go here You need to have passed both Step 1 and Step 2 CK before your are granted a California letter. However, my advice is that you can start the application above (L1A-L1E + Finger Printing + Fees) before you have passed these exams. This will buy you sometime, so that then you can just update them with your exam scores which should not take a long time. So for example start the application in February then when your exam scores are ready in July or August you can update them with the scores and your letter would be ready in September or October otherwise if you start the application in July-August you may not get the letter until February or March next year jeopardizing your potential match in a California program The Next Step is to send them your Medical School Transcript and Degree (Diploma): In their instructions they mention that your medical school should send to MBC directly (not through you) certified copies of your transcript and degree. Certified copies means that the photocopy should be stamped (true copy of original) and sealed with the college stamp and signed by the authorized school official. The previous paragraph is the ideal situation. However, if you are having difficulty with your medical school sending the transcript and the degree (diploma) then the alternative is that you yourself send them the original documents along with translated copies (if they were not in English). In their official instructions they don't mention that but in reality they do accept this method as I have experienced (and several friends of mine) such a scenario with them.

What you can do if the letter is not yet out and you started applying for the match in ERAS? You can scan the receipt notice that you received and send to ECFMG for scanning. This is considered equivalent to the original letter by most California programs. However, they'll ask you to bring the final letter when you appear for the interview. At the time of the interview you should have completed all the requirements.

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