Frequently Asked Questions for Physician Assistant Applicants

What are the minimum qualifications to obtain a California physician assistant license?
When should I submit my application?
How do I apply for licensure?
Is a background check required for licensure?
What fees are associated with applying for licensure?
How long does it take to process my application?
What happens if my application is denied?
What are the requirements once my license is issued?
What documents do I receive once my license is issued?
What should I do if my license detail is incorrect?
Is my address of record, phone number, and email address available to the public?
When will I be required to renew my license?
When is my application considered abandoned?

1. What are the minimum qualifications to obtain a California physician assistant license?

  • Completion of an accredited physician assistant training program. To view a list of accredited physician assistant training programs, visit http://www.arc-pa.org/accreditation/accredited-programs/
  • Passing Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) score. The PANCE is administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). Information on the PANCE is available on the NCCPA's website.

2. When should I submit my application?

For current PA students, the Physician Assistant Board (Board) recommends applying no earlier than 45–60 days prior to graduation.

3. How do I apply for licensure?

4. Is a background check required for licensure?

Yes. Business and Professions Code section 144 requires applicants to complete a criminal history background check by submitting a full set of fingerprints and the fingerprint processing fees established by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). You are required to submit fingerprints for the Board to complete a criminal history background check, even if you were previously fingerprinted for another California employer or regulatory body.

  • If living in, or visiting California, please fulfill this requirement by completing a Request for Live Scan Service form before visiting an authorized Live Scan operator. Applicants are responsible for paying for all Live Scan fees at the time of service. The Board will not accept a Live Scan completed in another state. The results of the Live Scan are transmitted electronically to the Board, typically within 1-3 business days.
  • If you live outside of California and cannot access a Live Scan site in this state, you will need to complete your criminal history background check using the hard card fingerprint method. Please mail two (2) fingerprint cards and the fingerprint card processing fee ($49), if not previously paid, to the Board at 2005 Evergreen Street, Suite 2250, Sacramento, CA 95815. The fingerprint impressions must be distinct from each other as DOJ/FBI may reject fingerprint cards containing identical impressions. The Board submits fingerprint cards to the DOJ and FBI for processing on a weekly basis. The fingerprint cards are manually reviewed by the DOJ and FBI staff, the minimum processing time is 2-4 weeks.

Visit Fingerprint Card Requests for additional information regarding fingerprint cards.

5. What fees are associated with applying for licensure?

Application Processing Fee $25
Manual Fingerprint Card Processing Fee* $49
Initial Licensing Fee** $200

*Applicants submitting fingerprint cards are required to submit a fee of $49 to cover the fingerprint card processing fee charged to the Board by the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation.

**The initial licensing fee will be refunded if licensure is not granted.

6. How long does it take to process my application?

The Board will complete an initial review of the application within 30 days of receiving the application and required fees. You will be notified once the review has been completed. Updates will not be provided prior to completion of the initial review. Frequently, licenses are issued within 30-45 days of the date that the application is submitted if the application requirements are fulfilled.

7. What happens if my application is denied?

If your application is denied, you will be notified in writing of the reason(s) for the denial.

You may request a hearing under Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 1500) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code in writing within 60 days after service of the denial letter. Your right to a hearing is deemed waived if the written request for a hearing is not submitted within the 60-day period.

If, after your application is denied, you decide not to request a hearing or not to pursue licensure, you may reapply one year from the date of the denial letter.

For more information, visit Application Denial Information.

8. What are the requirements once my license is issued?

You may not begin practicing as a physician assistant in California until you:

  • Have been granted a license by the Board;
  • Have a supervising physician; and
  • Have a signed Practice Agreement

Business and Professions Code section 3502.3 requires the Practice Agreement to address all the following:

  • The types of medical services a physician assistant is authorized to perform
  • Policies and procedures to ensure adequate supervision of the PA
  • The methods for continuing evaluation of the competency and qualifications of the PA
  • The furnishing or ordering of drugs or devices by a PA pursuant to Business and Professions Code section 3502.1; and,
  • Any additional provisions agreed to by the PA and the supervising physician

9. What documents do I receive once my license is issued?

Once the license is issued, a wall certificate and pocket license will be mailed to your address of record within 2-3 weeks.

10. What should I do if my license detail is incorrect?

Notify the Board in writing if any of the information is incorrect.

11. Is my address of record, phone number, and email address available to the public?

The address of record is not disclosed to the public or displayed on the Board's website until a California physician assistant license is issued. All Board related correspondence is automatically mailed to the address of record.

A confidential address is not required, but if provided is not disclosed or displayed on the Board’s website. Phone numbers and email addresses are kept confidential and are not disclosed to the public or displayed on the Board’s website.

12. When will I be required to renew my license?

Your license will expire the last day of your second birth month after licensure. Therefore, your initial license may be valid for as few as thirteen (13) months or as many as twenty-four (24) months. Thereafter, your license will expire biennially on the last day of your birth month.

A courtesy renewal reminder is mailed to your address of record approximately 120 days prior to the license expiration date.

13. When is my application considered abandoned?

If an applicant fails to complete the application process within 12 months from the date the application is received by the Board, the application is deemed abandoned and the $200 licensing fee will be refunded to the applicant and mailed to the address of record on file.