Frequently Asked Questions for Physician Assistant Applicants

What are the minimum qualifications to obtain a California physician assistant license?
If I am a current PA student, when should I submit my application?
How do I apply for licensure?
Is a background check required for licensure?
What are the required fees associated with applying for licensure?
How long does it take to process my application?
What happens if my application is denied?
What is required after 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 an approved physician assistant training program. To view a list of approved physician assistant training programs, visit http://www.arc-pa.org/accreditation/accredited-programs/
  • Pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). Information on the PANCE is available on the NCCPA's Web site.

2. If I am a current PA student, when should I submit my application?

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. Completed fingerprint cards are submitted 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 are the required fees associated with applying for licensure?

  • Applicants submitting a Request for Live Scan Service with the application submit $225 (Application processing fee ($25) and initial licensing fee ($200)).
  • Applicants submitting fingerprint cards with the application submit $274 (Application processing fee ($25), initial licensing fee ($200)).

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

The Board will notify you of any application deficiencies a minimum of 30 days of receiving your application and fees for licensure. If supporting documentation is received without delay, licenses are typically issued within 30-45 days after the application is submitted.

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. You must make the request for hearing in writing within 60 days after service of the denial letter. Unless the written request for a hearing is made within the 60-day period, your right to a hearing is deemed waived.

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 is required after 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?

Once you receive written notification from the Board that your license has been issued, you should verify your license detail by visiting DCA License Search and 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?

As an applicant, 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.

Confidential address, 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.